Thinking of including Chiang Mai over your Indochina Trip?
Discovering new places, venturing into new activities, trying out various food and delicacies, the nature, the temples, backpacking experience, the sleeper bus escapade, the serene and the party vibes Thailand has to offer – these were all part of my Indochina Trip ending it with my 3rd country; Thailand.
I caught myself being in awe as I caress the elephants, as I savor those authentic Pad Thai and Mango sticky rice, the Songkran experience and the bonding my BFF Kim and I had ventured on. Placing this last over my Indochina Escapade (from Vietnam and Cambodia) I was pretty much sure that this is a perfect travel ender for the said backpacking experience.
After heading to Bangkok, we immediately travelled for 10 hours all the way to the 2nd largest city in Thailand – Chiang Mai.
I’ve read that it has more nature vibe than the city feels of Bangkok, I wanted to have a relaxing activities in a less touristy place. Plus, I was eager to see and experience the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai; which lets me really eager to come visit it as well.
You might think that long bus ride isn’t worth the time to spend when on a vacation – but I say that everything is all part of the experience at the same time.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing my detailed itinerary and guide during my Chiang Trip for 4D/3N. This is jam packed with new experiences and exciting escapades, so read on…
CHIANG MAI, is a land of misty mountains and colorful hill tribes, a playground for seasoned travelers, a paradise for shoppers and a delight for adventurers. It is the 2nd largest in Thailand next to Bangkok and the largest city in northern Thailand.
HOW TO GO TO CHIANG MAI:
- There are actually various ways to travel all the way to Chiang Mai depending on your budget, you time allotted and your adventure you’d want to achieve!!! (*hahahaha! I go for the adventure)
FROM MANILA :
- There is no direct flights from Manila to Chiang Mai, what you can do is ride a plane from Manila to Bangkok.
- And from Bangkok you may take a flight to Chiang Mai or via train or bus
FROM BANGKOK :
- Coming from Bangkok, I booked a bus ticket in advance via https://12go.asia/en this is very reliable and it is better to check this site first to plan the rest of your itinerary
- You have the option to ride :
- TRAIN (*which will take around 12 hours travel time
- BUS (*travel time is 10 hours)
- Trust me, that tickets over this site gets fully booked in no time!!!
- I was actually aiming for a train ride, as it sounds pretty interesting going to Chiang Mai but then after checking it out – it was already sold out
- I booked then for a bus ticket instead in a sleeper bus
- It cost THB 570 / Php 894 / USD 16
- Travel time is 10 hours
- The bus ride comes with a CR, an outlet for you to charge your device, they also provide a blanket for everyone and the bus is really comfortable to begin with
- If you are to select a seat over the bus I recommend for seat 9B and 9C where you can sleep really properly the entire time
You wouldn’t really mind the travel time as everybody is sleeping and resting as well. The next thing we knew we were in Chiang Mai ❤
- In Thailand, they speak “Thai” but being a tourist site as well – they do speak and understand the English Language as well.
- Certain signage may not be with English translation but asking locals wouldn’t harm as well
- The currency of Thailand is BAHT with the symbol “THB”
- As of May 2019 : PHP 100 = THB 60.57 or USD 1 = 31.35
TIME DIFFERENCE :
- The Philippines is 1 hour ahead from Thailand
- I was amazed how time machine really work by travelling
TRANSPORTATION MODE :
- Similar with Cambodia, Thailand use Tuktuk as main mode of transportation
- The Red Taxi is also available for tourists when you wanted to explore the city (mostly available for big groups)
WHERE TO STAY:
- If you have been keeping up with my travels; I have always been a fan of hostels. I usually check thru hostelworld.com for reviews and options or via www.booking.com
- I was lucky for seeing this simple and cheap hostel “@25 HOSTEL”
- I booked for the only private room that is good for 2 pax
- It cost THB 383 per night or PHP 633 / USD 12
- Imagine it only cost THB 1,150 / PHP 1,899 / USD 37 for 3 nights already
- Since we are and we split the cost into 2; each of us only paid THB 575 / PHP 949 / USD 18 for 3 nights already!!!! SUPER CHEAP!!!
- There are so many hostels options and choices around Chiang Mai that is also cheap and actually nice at the same time
- This comes with a common CR but well maintained
- The entire hostel was calm and very quiet, you may want to consider the other hostel near the area if you’d opt something more festive
- I chose this hostel as it was near the temples, there were restaurants around and easy to locate (*we only rode a tuktuk from the terminal all the way to the hostel)
HOSTELS; are low-priced, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bunk bed in a dorm room type with shared bathroom, and a common lounge to stay with. The rooms in hostels can be mixed sex or all-female depending on your preference. It always comes with a separate light and socket per each bed.
Overview : It was 6AM in the morning when we arrived in Chiang Mai via our 12Go Asia bus service, so excited on what Chiang Mai has to offer we rode a tuktuk ride all the way to @25 Hostel. The hostel apparently opens at 8AM so we decided to stop by for a quick breakfast just within the area. Our first day is about spontaneity and searching for itinerary on the same day.
Lucky that by 9AM we were allowed to have an early check-in in our hostel. We decided to rest for the entire morning and searched what could be best to do in Chiang Mai on the first day.
We inquired thru the hostel receptionist and we booked for a Red Taxi Service (*this is like a smaller jeep in Manila) they have a standard rate of THB 1,500 for the entire afternoon tour – you decide your itinerary.
Our first stop, The Giant; a coffee house in a giant tree house with perfect scenery view and a great afternoon experience.
It was roughly an hour travel all the way to The Giant, it was far from the city center what is good about it, is that you were able to look around and explore Chiang Mai on our way up there.
It was mountainous and its rough road made it more enticing to visit. The temperature then felt extra cooler as we go up the place. We decided to have our lunch over here as it offers not only coffee and pastries, but rice and pasta meals.
Please do note that the place closes at 5PM or once the sunsets; this is for safety as well when you need to head back home.
Surprisingly, The Giant also offers accommodation rooms within the beautiful giant tree house – if you are after a retreat or extreme relaxation and serenity this is the best place I could recommend. We then head back to the city proper by 5PM and went over the temples of Chiang Mai
Be amazed and appreciate each temples in Chiang Mai – it is free to enter just make sure you dress up properly, your knees and shoulders covered. You remove your footwear as you enter. And be sure to show respect as it is a place of worship for the monks and believers at the same time.
I was so in love with all its intricate details over the temples, the glam and how everything was preserved was really something to look at. Monks walk everywhere as well as tourists come to visit the temples as well.
In Chiang Mai – you can see so many Temples just by walking around, you may enter and see it for yourself. Our Red Taxi Service brought us back to our hostel in time for the dinner.
THE ELEPHANT JUNGLE SANCTUARY
Overview : Spent the entire afternoon with the Elephants at The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We bathed with them, a short lesson about elephants, we put on mud over their bodies and had an amazing experience while we feed them. The reason why I was so eager to visit Chiang Mai is because of this Elephant Sanctuary.
Detailed Experience during our Elephant Jungle Sanctuary : *blog post to follow
Where to book : book via Klook.com for packages or book directly via https://elephantjunglesanctuary.com/
Cost for the activity : the cost of the activity depends if you want half day or whole day trip with the elephants, it comes with a free buffet lunch, a pick-up from hostel and back, the usage of the Karen shirt while on-site (*see photos)
During my booking for the activity – the half day tour cost around PHP 4,000 / THB 240 / USD 8. It was really a fun and interesting experience. The sanctuary believes that Elephants shouldn’t be harmed and they deserve all the love and care.
DOI INTHANON TOUR
Overview : Maximizing our last day stay in the city, let’s go explore this popular tour package.
“DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK” This package was really worth it, it is mixture of everything in a day – we have visited famous temples, entered and hike the highest point of Thailand, dine Thai delicacies, a little bit of shopping thru the market, there’s a visit in a waterfalls, an extraordinary garden filled with beautiful flowers and plants everywhere!!! and went all over the DOI INTHANON PARK.
Our travel guide was also very knowledgeable teaching and telling us all about history, some Thai greetings and everything in between, it actually felt like a field trip for the entire day!!! My detailed itinerary and experience over this trip over my blog soon*
Where to book : book your DOI INTHANON PACKAGE via klook.com
Cost : THB 235 / PHP 2,100 / USD 42 | The package includes a free pick-up from hostel and back, a lunch, all entrance fees, an English speaking tour guide and service the entire time and a bottled water
- Wachiritham Waterfall
- King and Queen’s Chedis
- Thailand’s Highest Peak
- Angkha Nature Walk
- Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Was super shocked and super happy we get to bumped with Jake Ejercito in Chiang Mai hahaha!! I was literally checking on his IG stories the night prior this day!! hahahaha!!
MUST TRY FOOD IN CHIANG MAI :
So in love with this all-day breakfast, café just within our area. It’s interior was really thematic and nice. The decors were well thought of and it was certainly instragrammable.
Looking at the food, it was somehow pretty expensive but the quality was worth it. We ordered for and it cost THB 250
THAI BBQ BUFFET
COST : THB 145 PER PAX
This Thai BBQ buffet resto was really a great discovery – knowing that Thai also have this BBQ buffet experience was one for the books.
It cost THB 145 per pax and you get all your meat and vegetables, the soup and all the side dishes all by yourself, and cook it at the same time.
Imagine being first timers – we were looking at the rest of the tables on how they cook the Thai way, even how they boil and how to eat each of the served ingredients was really interesting!!! Hahahaha!!
KHAO SOI KHUN YAI
COST : THB 50 for a bowl
Never miss this only small food eatery in Chiang Mai where it only offers Khao Soi at a limited time a day.
I was never really a fan of curry and spices but this is definitely an exception – I asked for less spices still *since I’m not sure if I could take it hahahaa!
No other resto around offers and sells Khao Soi stating that the best was from KHAO SOI KHUN YAI already. It is only open bet 10AM – 2PM and closes every Monday for prayer. It was only a fellow resto vendor who suggested for us to try this.
We waited for it to be open by 10AM and you’d see that tourists flocks the place rapidly.
FINAL NOTES :
- I so love Chiang Mai as a whole!!! It’s calmness and nature with everything you need is what I’ll be happy about it.
- The food, the temples, the view and scenery plus the fact that it is not that expensive to spend your day in this city
- The final budget and costing actually depends on your itinerary and activities of choice
- My Elephant Jungle Sanctuary was actually the most expensive one that I booked for the entire trip, but you see — it was all worth the penny.
- the hostels and accommodation were also everywhere, it’s cheap and it was really nice at the same time
- You may also pay a quick visit to Chiang Rai also for 2 hours bus ride and witness the famous White Temple
- After our Doi Inthanon Activity, we headed back to the terminal and make our way back to BANGKOK.
Should you need an excel file of my full itinerary during my trip, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @nathaliecsalcedo send me a DM! I’ll be happy to share it too.
If you are into your Indochina Trip as well check on the rest of my blog post for detailed guide.
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TO MORE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS. – XOXO