One Month in Chiang Mai
We first visited Chiang Mai in November, when a friend came to visit us and we did a whirlwind, 10-day Thailand tour. We spent two of those days in Chiang Mai and that was enough to convince us that a one-month stay would be alright! Chiang Mai, which is about 700 km to the north of Bangkok, is a digital nomad’s paradise. Affordable accommodations, hundreds of cafés, western amenities mixed with traditional Thai charm – it’s the perfect place to settle down and in December, we headed back to settle down for a month for those exact reasons!
After five months on the road, we were looking forward to taking a break from packing and unpacking, and wanted to spend more than one week sleeping in the same bed. We really didn’t do a whole lot during our month in Chiang Mai, so we don’t have a lot to report. We rented an apartment and a scooter, and spent a lot of our time doing normal things. We caught up on our sleep, watched a little too much tv, and enjoyed many of the great restaurants and cafés in the city. We apologize to those of you who enjoy our photos. We didn’t get as many as we would have liked to in Chiang Mai!
Finding an Apartment in Chiang Mai
Since we were staying for a month, we opted to rent an apartment. This proved to be a harder task than we had envisioned, as we arrived in Chiang Mai during peak time (December) and were staying for only one month, with most properties requiring a 3-month contract.
We had narrowed down our search to the Nimman area, to the NW of the Old City – very trendy with tons of cafés, restaurants and boutique shops. It was a little pricier than other neighbourhoods but we liked the vibe. We had emailed some realtors to help with our search but with the Christmas holidays coming up, we couldn’t find anyone in town to help. We spent a full day walking down each soi (soi is a side street) off Nimmanhaemin Road visiting condo buildings but most places were either full, or required the minimum 3-month commitment.
Finally, we stopped at a new condo development office to simply ask if they knew of any places for rent, and it turned out that one of the staff was also acting as property manager for a one-bedroom condo. We hopped in her car and checked out the place and moved in the next day! Final price tag was 14,000 baht ($540 CDN) including water and electricity.
Throughout are pictures of our little home sweet home! The man on the wall, that’s our landlord. He kept a watchful eye on us during our stay.
We joined the gym
In an effort to bring some normalcy to our lives, we joined Power House Fitness (will post rates later in our guide to Chiang Mai) on a one month membership. Finding information about a legitimate gym in Chiang Mai is challenging to say the least, however, Power House was perfect for what we wanted. We managed to go a few times a week (given our busy schedules…not) and even attended a Thai fitness class which left us sore for a week. We would definitely recommend Power House even though we did not receive the ‘no shirt day’ memo. Yes, there were multiple guys working out with no shirts on. They obviously hadn’t read our About Us page.
A Thai Christmas & New Year
Thanks to our new friends Josh & Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels, we were fortunate to meet some fellow long-term travellers who were also away from home for the holidays.
On Christmas Eve we checked out a traditional Thai Buffet, where you cook up your own meat and veggies on the table.
We’ll just say that it was an experience, not the best meal we’ve eaten on our trip but fun nonetheless!
On Christmas Day, we all got together for dinner at Salsa Kitchen, a popular Mexican restaurant, and for drinks later that evening. To be honest, the days leading up to Christmas this year were pretty hard on us, wishing we were somewhere else, even pricing return flights to St. John’s for Christmas. $3,500 return, each just didn’t fit in the budget! As our second Christmas away from home, and our friends and family, we can safely say that we’ll be enjoying Jiggs Dinner and Newfoundland weather next Christmas!
New Year’s Eve was spent with new friends Annie & Ben from Sell Up Go Travel and Evanne and Eric from Poplar Travels. Our night started at the Tha Pae Gate (East gate to the Old City), to take in some street food and, more importantly, mango sticky rice. We then met with another travelling couple and joined them at a nearby hotel for drinks and to watch the fireworks.
We are really glad we did, as the bar owner at the hotel let us go up to the hotel’s rooftop to watch the spectacular fireworks and ring in 2015.
A Thai 31st birthday
Last year, I rang in my big 3-0 in Sydney. This year, we happened to be in Chiang Mai for the big day. Steven had ordered a gluten-free, dairy-free carrot cake from my favourite bakery in CM. They gave him the icing to take home and decorate it himself. He did a great job and the cake was delicious! Later in the day, we went for a two-hour Thai massage (approx. $30 CAD, that would cover your big toe at home). We had planned to go for drinks that night, but as I mentioned above, we got lazy in Chiang Mai. My birthday was no exception. All in all, I had an awesome 31st!
The Famous Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market
This is a must visit for all who are visiting Chiang Mai on a Sunday! Hundreds of vendors line the streets in the old city selling everything from sausage on a stick to tighty whiteys. You name it, you can buy it there. This is not your typical Asian bazaar however, as there are lots of handmade items for sale and not just your imitation Abercrombie T’s and the like. (Like my “Ray Bans” we bought at a market in Bangkok for $3. Sadly we had to bury them this week).
Overnight Meditation with the Monks
We had been intrigued by the monk lifestyle since arriving in Thailand, and we found an overnight retreat happening just outside the city. We’ve got a detailed post coming soon on this, but we’ll just say it was a real learning experience. It was a silent meditation retreat, which meant no speaking for 24-hours. Men and women also stayed in separate accommodations. We spent most of our time there learning the different techniques of meditation used by monks in Thailand, sitting, walking and lying down (my favourite!). We also had a chance to sit with a monk and learn more about his lifestyle. It was a great learning experience, but meditating is HARD WORK!
Thai Cooking Class
When our friend, Dr. Kelland, paid us a visit in November, the three of us attended Tom Yum Thai Cooking School. This was a definite highlight of our time in Chiang Mai.
It was the best Thai food we’ve had and we cooked it ourselves, plus we knew EVERYTHING that went into it. Even after two months in Asia, we still wonder what could be in our dish. Expect a detailed post on this soon!
Zip-lining with Flight of the Gibbon
OK, so maybe we did do a few things in Chiang Mai after all! To add a little adventure to our stay, we took to the treetops in the jungle an hour to the north of the Old City. Flight of the Gibbon, ‘THE’ zip lining company in Chiang Mai did not disappoint. I even conquered my fears and took to the skies on the 800 meter zip line! We had a blast!
We didn’t have our camera with us so we just have the photo provided by FOTG.
Overall, we enjoyed our month in Chiang Mai. We were able to re-charge our batteries, meet some new friends and go back to a bit of a routine for a few weeks.
jess + trickett