Hotels in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Chiang Mai – A Mystifying City in the Mountains
Nestled in lush green foothills and surrounded by dense rainforest and misty mountains, the sleepy streets of Chiang Mai are an alluring alternative after the chaos of the capital. This ancient city is increasingly on the itinerary of travellers keen to experience its timeless temples, mind-blowing markets, mouth-watering street food, great-value hotels and all-round relaxed vibe. The curious can expand their culinary horizons at a cooking school; the contemplative can mediate with a monk; the party animal can dance till they drop, while fans of nature can tour the abundant wonders of the surrounding landscape.
Touring the Temples
Wander any leafy lane in Chiang Mai and before long you’ll stumble across a hauntingly beautiful temple—but there’s something particularly magical about Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that makes it one of Northern Thailand’s must-see shrines. Thousands of tourists and Buddhist pilgrims brave the 304-stair climb annually to gaze upon relics of Buddha himself, as well soak up the serene atmosphere, listen to the hypnotic chanting of monks and take in the captivating views of the lush surrounds. With its golden pagodas, mosaicked courtyards and immaculate grounds, Wat Phra Singh is perhaps the city’s most revered temple, while its oldest, Thirteenth-Century Wat Chiang Man, is guarded by two immense statues of Buddha. Damaged in an earthquake in 1545, the ramshackle ruins of Wat Chedi Luang are still remarkable, while the much-smaller Lak Muang shrine hides beneath the roots of a huge gum tree and is particularly beautiful at night.
Enthralling Experiences at every Turn
In addition to its awe-inspiring architecture, Chiang Mai offers tourists an abundance of unique experiences. Bathe a baby elephant at the ethically-run Elephant Jungle Sanctuary or climb the sticky waterfalls at Bua Thong. Learn to prepare and cook authentic Thai cuisine at one of countless cooking schools or follow the throngs to Kawila Boxing Stadium to take in a Muay Thai boxing match. Visit a nearby hill tribe to enjoy Hmong hospitality or cruise down the river Ping and take in the breath-taking scenery from the water. Enjoy a 60-minute, full-body massage for less than ten pounds or check out the growing community of creatives at Thapae East, a happening hub hosting everything from poetry to live music. Heed the call of the wild and head to the hinterlands to enjoy jungle treks, nature tours and white-water rafting or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, enjoy an adrenaline-packed zip-line ride through the treetops.
Magnificent Markets and Brilliant Bazaars
Chiang Mai’s colourful outdoor markets and bazaars are an intriguing riot of sights, sounds, tastes and smells. By far the most popular with tourists are the Saturday- and Sunday-Night Walking Streets; huge weekend markets laden with diverse artisan items, unique handcrafted artefacts and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Extending the length of Ratchadamnoen Road, expect a dizzying array of stalls offering all sorts of authentic trinkets, as well as artists, musicians and street performers, all adding to the magical atmosphere. While the Walking Streets appease artisans, bargain hunters might prefer the Night Bazaar, one of the city’s main night-time attractions, where knock-off designer labels and antiques change hands for seriously-reduced prices. If you’re happy to haggle, here is where you’ll find the best deals. By day, check out Warorot Market, a local favourite which features cheap fashions and fabulous food courts offering some of the most unique tasting experiences in Thailand.
The Culinary Capital of the Country
If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Chiang Mai is the city that never stops… eating. With an outstanding selection of great-value restaurants and world-class street eats, it has established itself as the country’s culinary capital, tempting gastronomes from around the world to its tables. One of the city’s most notable contributions to Thai cuisine is Khao Soi, a local dish of wheat noodles in a rich curry broth served in an earthenware bowl. Another of the city’s signature dishes is Sai Ua, a spiced sausage infused with lemongrass that will fill you up for just a few pence. For a livelier introduction to Thai cuisine, head to the Chiang Mai Gate where you can try Nam Prik Ong (spicy pork and tomatoes), Som Tam (raw papaya salad) and Kaeng Khanun (jackfruit curry) to start, before enjoying a desert of fresh mango, sticky rice and coconut cream.
Where to Stay in the City
From humble retreats to high-end boutiques, there’s no shortage of amazing places to stay in Chiang Mai. The majority of budget options are located within the Old City and the area around Thapae Gate, where cash-conscious travellers can find a comfortable bed in a dorm for a couple of pounds, or for just a few more, a private room with air conditioning. Littered with temples, coffee shops and quaint eateries, the Old City is a pleasure to explore by day and one of the quietest parts of town to retire come nightfall. The Night Bazaar area contains lots of mid-range options and with its abundant attractions, is amongst the most desirable areas to stay in the city. With many of the city’s top hotels and guesthouses dotted along both banks, head to the Riverside area to find a more tranquil hotel that’s still just a stone’s throw from the action.
Price rangefrom €5to €1,631
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