Take two personal days + a weekend + a cheap AirAsia flight and you too can spend 4 days in Chiang Mai, the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, and the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is located 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is on the Ping river, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya river. (Wikipedia).
We stayed at the delightful little guest house, Vanilla Place (just a hop, skip & a jump away from the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar). Our host, Kim, was extremely helpful and friendly. He can organise anything for you and nothing is too much trouble, including a pick up and drop off at the Airport.
A couple of doors down, is the Antique House Restaurant – very nice food, so we ate there twice. English wasn’t really spoken there, so you have to do a lot of pointing at pictures!
Our first afternoon was spent wandering around the local streets and of course visiting the famous Night Bazaar that is open every night! The next day we hired a Songthaew Taxi, drove to Baan Tawai, a crafts village in the district of Hang Dong 20kms south of Chiang Mai, had lunch at the Tiger Kingdom, stopped at the Butterfly Farm and rode ATVs for 45 minutes in the “jungle”.
We didn’t drive up to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep; Chiang Mai’s most important temple because the air was thick with “burn-off” smog – unfortunately that’s usual around the months of Jan-March each year. Nor did we visit Borsang, the Umbrella Village where the dainty and colourful parasols are produced, in the San Khampaeng district, 10kms east of the city. We didn’t furniture shop along Hang Dong either (a miscommunication with our songthaew taxi driver, I think). Oh well, just a couple of good reasons to visit Chaing Mai again, someday.
The highlight of the trip was Jungle Flight! Ziplining in the Jungle. We chose the shorter Zone A – which comprised of 22 platforms, 15 ziplines, 3 Abseils, 2 skybridges & 1 spiral staircase! Unfortunately, on our way back from the Jungle Flight Adventure, we stopped to look at a natural hot-water spring (hole in the ground with bubbling 90 degree Celsius hot water). Ben slipped into a hole in the ground by the fenced off spring – severely burning his toes and the top of his foot through his sneakers! No clean, cold water, and 35 minutes from the nearest hospital resulted in a very painful trip in the van. The local hospital staff were fantastic and his foot was cleaned, creamed and bandaged. As you can probably guess, our last afternoon and night in Chiang Mai was very quiet.