Fun Stuff to do in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a beautiful mix of temples, people, parks, restaurants and everything a city has to offer. It’s easy to keep yourself busy just wandering around or scheduling sightseeing from sun up to sun down. But here are some of my favorites so far:
Massages! Thai massage is incredible and at 250฿ per hour, it’s a steal. Rough day of sight-seeing? Get a 1-hour foot rub for 200฿. Chipped a nail? Swing by a salon for a 150฿ manicure. I’ve had 4 services in 7 days.
Shopping! Negotiating is your best friend at the Thai markets. You can talk the price down
on anything from tuk tuk rides to food to clothing. The night markets are insane. Street after street filled with yummy treats and handmade goods. Thai pants are pretty much the most amazing things every made and I’ll probably continue wearing them in Texas when I get back. They run for about 100 Baht. Comfy, flowy clothes are all you need. No one cares. No one judges. Yup, it looks like a moo moo, but when it’s 97 degrees of 89% humidity, you’re lucky I’m wearing anything.
Food! There is food everywhere. For about 40 Baht you can get a full meal. But it’s hard to stop at cheap when there are kebobs, gyoza, shrimp, sushi… everything you ever imagined! But, OK, truth time. I got sick as hell on the food. It’s good, some of it. I can’t do the soupy, broth things. It’s hot as hell, why am I eating hot goop? It’s hard to eat in the heat and my stomach hasn’t agreed much with anything except smoothies and iced coffee and things I recognize like Pad Thai. About a week in I became so ill I couldn’t leave my hostel.
This is where wonderful friend-making comes into play. I met two British girls that were sharing my bunk – Harriet and Emily. Wonderful 20-year-olds traveling before university (that’s going to college for us Americans). They gave me the magic tip that changed my life. Eat McDonald’s. I’m not kidding. After 2 days of barely eating and a week of eating very, very little, I had McDonald’s delivered to the hostel. I was starving, I was already living in the bathroom, mine as well try. 1 cheeseburger, a 6-piece chicken nuggets and a small fry later and I was singing rock covers at North Gate.
Apparently protein deficiency is a very real thing. They experienced it living on a vegetable-only diet in India and passed their wisdom onto me. Blogs will tell you that you’ll get sick. Travelers diarrhea is very common and it’s practically expected, but NO ONE says go have a Big Mac and you’ll be fine.
I also learned that eating and immediately needing a bathroom is very common for travelers. I met 2 other American travelers, Danielle and Sara, who taught me the term “lightening”. Basically, you’re like out and about and all the sudden it hits you like lightening and everyone is more than open about it. You can know someone for 4 minutes, man or woman, and they’re telling you they’ve pooped 4 times that day. It’s comical, gross, but also comical.
My advice: Bring Imodium, baby wipes and travel toilet paper whenever you leave your hotel.
Drinking! Believe it or not, I’m not drinking a lot. However, I’ve been moderately intoxicated twice. The first time I got caught in a downpour at the Saturday Night Market and ducked into a bar patio with live reggae music. There I met 2 American guys traveling around Southeast Asia on a photoshoot. I believe they were around 24. Anyways, we shared stories, listened to the band and eventually the shots came out.
The second time was just last Friday, June 3. My hostel has proved to be very helpful in meeting people and a few guys befriended me. 2 of them even went to the movies with me earlier that day since I was still uneasy about being sick and didn’t want to push it. All under 25, a German, a Brit, and 2 Dutchman, went to the North Gate to see live music. I said I was going to stay for an hour. After closing it down, a few rounds and them teaching me about the toasties at 7-11 (on every corner), they went looking for weed.
Apparently everyone in Thailand sells pot. Another thing blogs don’t tell you. Tuk Tuk drivers are more than happy, along with hotel concierge and other respectable patrons to oblige tourists with a little grass. For the record, I’m a total pansy and basically ran away because Thai jail scares the shit out of me. This probably played into the nickname they gave me, mom.
Mom also comes from my ability to herd twenty-somethings into day excursions and the fact that I’m in my, gasp!, 30s.
I’m elderly in a sea of college students and freshly graduated gap-year’ers. But more of that later. Let’s just say, I’m ok with it and my new friends don’t seem too put off by it.
So far, life is good in Chiang Mai. I love the laid back attitudes, how easy it is to make friends and the ability to walk around the city pretty effortlessly. However there are some hassles when it comes to getting out of town. Excursions can be very expensive, time consuming and oftentimes they aren’t exactly what you want. So, Saturday I talked my new friends into an economical field trip to Doi Inthanon.
But that’s for my next post.