chiang mai is a small town in the north of thailand with only 150.000 people living there. besides the old district - the area where you will find most of the attractions, famous temple and the sunday market - there is actually not that much to do nor to see. so i'd rather like to introduce to a few other things that are close-by.
how to get there
there are a few options to get to chiang mai. on my way there i decided to take the night train from bangkok and i returned taking the plane. i actually was really surprised how great the train was, but my expectations were also very low. the most difficult part was to get the ticket for the train. there is no way of buying or making a reservation online so you do have to go to the trainstation. while that is only possible 5 days before the departure, you have to plan that in advance. don’t go and try to buy your ticket last minute though, because it might already be sold out. you can choose between the bed on the bottom or the one on top - last one is a bit more pricy (price of the both options.) when you finally get your ticket it is time to prepare your night on the train.
rule #1 bring your own food and something to drink. besides some snacks they don’t offer any meals or other kind of food options.
rule #2 bring a sweater, long pants and some socks - it is freezing in there. and i am not somebody who gets cold easily.
now you are ready for the journey. board the train and find your seat - yes seat. the first 30 - 60 minutes you will be sitting. after that a train guard will walk through every car and prepare your bed. the seats will turn into two beds - with sheets, blankets and pillows. my bed was the top one and i didn’t want to leave my backpack downstairs so i took it with me and put it at the end of the bed. please keep in mind that asian people are not that tall, therefore the beds aren’t that big. but i still was able to get a good night sleep.
on my way back i decided to fly to save some time so i bought my planeticket on skyscanner for only 50€ back to bangkok.
where to stay
at this point i would like to recommend you a guesthouse or hotel, but i really didn’t like both places i stayed in - guesthouse chiang mai white house and the hug hostel. i mean they weren't the worst but i think you will find something better than those two places. just have a look at agoda or booking.com.
what to see
wat phrathat doi suthep is not just a temple but also an amazing lookout and the town's landmark. since it is only 15km from the city center you can access it easily - by taking a songthaew taxi or just rent a scooter. the best time is to get there like 30 minutes before the sunset so you can see it by daylight but also when it gets dark outside. and the entrance fee is only 30 baht.
is one of the most amazing waterfalls i have ever seen. it is not very big or famous but totally worth to check it out. you ask yourself why? well the name says it all - it is sticky. so take the path to the lower level, take off your shoes and walk the waterfall back up. you won't slip and it is pretty easy to climb. who can say that they walked up a waterfall, right? it is about 60 km / or one and a half hour outside chiang mai but easy to reach if you have a scooter. there is also no entrance fee - but be careful if you bring for example your food. you might end up with a fine, because they want to keep the area clean.
#3 grand canyon
chiang mai quarry or the red mud quarry is by far my favorite spot in the area. i actually don't have words to describe it - it is just stunning.
#3 grand canyon
chiang mai quarry or the red mud quarry is by far my favorite spot in the area. i actually don't have words to describe it - it is just stunning. the closed down quarry is now basically a pig pool - you can go swimming and also jump from the cliffs. but be careful, it can be dangerous. you won't see any local people and just a handfull of tourists which means that you have the canyon almost all by yourself.