Day 1 – Bangkok – Overnight train – Chiang Mai. It’s our first day of our 40-day tour through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and as much as I have pretty much covered all these countries before I am still buzzing to get to visit the again! Luckily Leo hasn’t been to any of these places yet so I am stoked I will be able to be excited with him! We checked out our Air B n B and were welcomed at the Stray shop at 3pm where we met our guide Chao and were given information about how everything works on our tour.
From there we hopped aboard a couple of small mini vans to the train station and after buying FAR TOO MANY delicious snacks we boarded the new sleeper train we would be getting to Chiang Mai 13 hours later. I have previously traveled on these trains twice over the past 8 years and I can tell you now…. BOOK THE NEW TRAIN! Man, it’s flash, we had lights, power points, a great menu if you needed dinner and it was comfortable and clean.
If you do not want to want to eat on the train then there are plenty of places to buy food at the station and just bring it with you. We totally over-killed and bought enough food that I could easily set up my own stall for the journey but still managed to eat it all (what the F**k is wrong with me?) **Top tip** - bring ear plugs, a good book and download Netflix on your phone so you have things to watch. It’s also freezing overnight so I would recommend bringing some extra clothes to wear through the night as even-though a little blanket is given, I prefer being toasty warm. It may not be the best sleep of your life but as trains go, it’s really comfortable and quite the adventure.
If you have ever been to Chiang Mai you will already know how awesome it is. Named ‘The City of 300 Temples’, The city has more than 300 "wat" scattered throughout the old city and surrounding suburbs. Each one can be dated back between the 13th and 18th centuries built with beautiful "Lanna" style which characterised by lavishly carved wooden panels golden decorations. Leaving the chaotic nightmare, which is Bangkok, entering Chiang Mai was a refreshing change to the hustle and bustle and on top of this we were welcomed with pretty chilly temperatures! We arrived at 8am and was welcomes with 14degree heat and a coronavirus scanning centre. Cold and tired we all made it through before making our way to our accomo for the next 2 nights ‘Hugnur Hostel’.
I was bloody exhausted so today we spent enjoying the food – my god please try the Khao Soi, it is the traditional dish in Chiang Mai and it is out of this world good. Thick, tasty, full of flavour, herbs, curry and slurpy noodles, this dish is a win in our eyes, and in some restaurants, they even do it is vegetarian so all the more reason to try it…every day you are here! As there are so many temples here it would be rude not to try and explore as many as possible, so we did! That afternoon we wandered the old town in search for the shiniest, highest most elegant temples in the city and each one out did the other – the place is literally teaming with them!
Overall, if you come to Chiang Mai, explore the temples, eat all the food, get a Thai massage and enjoy the night markets. It is also the city of elephants and there is a brilliant Elephant sanctuary…but please please please do not go to any center where you ride elephants…it’s cruel and makes you a terrible human, Instead opt for the this one here. We have worked with this institution in the past and it is tried and tested fabulous!
Chiang Mai has always been one of my favorite Thai destinations and each time I visit I enjoy it more and more. We spent the 2 days we had here exploring mostly by foot immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds, culture of this region and eating, well , all of the food. I reckon I will be going back to NZ a little heavier for sure! This metropolis has a plethora of things to do for all budgets from cooking classes, zip lining, temple visits, massage, walking tours, elephant sanctuaries and there are so many beautiful accommodations it makes for a really beautiful destination to suit all types of travelers.
Tomorrow we leave Thailand to head over the border into Laos. I’ll keep you posted! Ciao for now 😊