Part 2: Chiang Mai – Pai – Chiang Rai

Last saturday, we left Thailand to start the next chapter of our 1234 journey: Laos. There is a lot to tell about the North of Thailand, so we’ll try to keep it short. 😉

Chiang Mai

On the first of May, we were excited to leave the south of Thailand and start the second part of our journey. We took a plane to Chiang Mai. We stayed in the Old Town, located in the heart of Chiang Mai and surrounded by water. We had a great stay at Pudsadee House and were able to fix a motorbike for 4 euros/day, which we rented for 7 days.
Here’s a list of the top things to do in Chiang Mai we did ourselves:
– Rent a motorbike and go to the mountain. It’s right next to the city center and a good training for your biking skills (if you’re totally unexperienced like we were). You have some cool viewpoints, you can visit a mountain village and one of the most pretty temples we’ve seen so far: Wat Doi Sutep.
– Visit the waterpark in the Grand Canyon. When renovating the airport of Chiang Mai, a lot of sand was used from a field 20km out of town. When the airport was finished, the Thai people thought the field looked a bit like the big Grand Canyon. They filled the big holes with water and added an inflatable water park. The water park is real fun!

Laura and the duck at the water park

– Visit the night market. Every evening there’s a massive night market just outside the Old Town. You can buy almost everything you’re looking for!
– Go to a cabaret show. That was by far the funniest thing we did in Chiang Mai. Every night at 9.30pm a new shows starts where a bunch of ladyboys fill the stage with their dancing and singing skills: hi-la-ri-ous! Hint for the men: try to avoid the seats in the front unless you like getting kissed or given a lapdance by these lovely (wo)men. Maarten got a lapdance and his neighbour had to take off his shirt, so watch out!
– Follow a cooking class at Basil Cookery Class and ask for Pim. Pim was the best cook we could ever imagine. She was super funny and helped each of us (we were a group of 8 people) to make 6 typical Thai dishes. Pim, make sure to contact us if you have the opportunity to fly over to Europe, we’d love to meet again and show you around Europe! And we’ll make you some spicy food, because more spicy, more sexy, right, Pim? 🙂

Our cooking class mates and cook Pim!

There’s a funny story to tell; when we were staying at Pudsadee Hotel, we went out to one of the most popular bars in town: Zoe in Yellow. We were planning on having 1 cocktail each, but then we started talking to people. 4 hours and some cocktails and dancing later, we were walking home when we realized we didn’t have hotel key with us. Maarten decided to run back to the bar to look for our key (which wasn’t the best plan, since it was a 15 minute run in 30 degrees, but the cocktails helped him making that call). In the mean while, Laura searched for the key at our hotel, where everyone was sleeping. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the key, so we were standing in the middle of the street at 1am without a place to stay. Luckily, Nan, a very kind women of a bar/hotel nearby helped us out and we spent the night in of her rooms. The next day, when walking back to our hotel, preparing to pay the fine for loosing the key, the lady at the reception told us we forgot our key on her desk and she taped it on the reception door for us to find…. Lesson learned!

Pai

There’s another thing you must do when you’re in Chiang Mai: rent a bike and make the trip to Pai, a city 160km up north. The road to Pai is amazing: through the mountains, along some waterfalls and coffee bars. Making the trip really is experiencing the ultimate feeling of freedom..

One of the many incredible viewpoints on the Chiang Mai – Pai road

Pai is a small but cosy town, surrounded by some waterfalls and hot springs. Those are worth visiting since, except for the cosy streets in the center of Pai at night, there’s not a lot to do in the city.

The jungle we went through to get to one of the waterfalls

When we were in Pai, we made the trip to the Lod Cave. When you visit the cave, you pay for your own guide. Our guide was a friendly older women whoose English was limited to: look, there, elephant shape, look, bat, look, stalagmite… The cave is incredible, up to 45 meters high! After walking around the cave, you can make a short trip on a bamboo longtail in the cave to end up at a place filled with hundreds of bats and batpoo flying around! Laura got some shit on her camera and on one of her fingers, by far the best moment of the day!

Our guide at the Lod Cave lightning her oil lamp

Chiang Rai

After our stay in Pai and our long stay in Chiang Mai, we were feeling sad to leave this lovely part of Thailand. We went off to Chiang Rai, our last stop in Thailand before crossing the border to Laos.

We can be quite short about Chiang Rai: it’s a rather small city and there’s not a lot to visit. 🙂 There is a cool night market and you can find some trendy bars (The Wanderer & Palatable), but as the Lonely Planet summarizes it, it is ‘more liveable than visitable’. It’s the perfect place to have some good food, walk around the streets or rent a bike to visit the green lands surrounding the city and the beautiful Khun Korn waterfall.

We rent a bike and drove through the wonderful fields of Chiang Rai
The Khun Korn waterfall in Chiang Rai

Last but not least: The White Temple, which is close to the city, is worth visiting! It’s a project of an architect and it consists out of a lot of temples/buildings in white and gold. The architect is training people to continue the project since it won’t be finished before 2070.

The incredible White Temple near Chiang Rai

After 4 amazing weeks in Thailand, we have 4 more words to say:

Thailand, chapoencha(p)!
Laos, Sabaidee!

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