Chiang Mai Travel Guide

Hello fabulous people of the interwebs. If you’re reading this, you’re an absolute gem. I recently spent some THAI-m in Thailand, a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. It was so surreal to actually achieve something that’s been on my bucket list since I was a little girl and in so many moments, I had to stop and just take it all in. This was my first time to Asia and wow. I can’t recommend it enough as the perfect country to start things off in such a foreign realm. Most everyone we spoke to could easily communicate with us in English and what an amazingly friendly culture! Thailand is called “the land of smiles” and they certainly live up to the name!

WHEN YOU SHOULD GO:

We were primarily there for the Yi Peng Lantern Festival and Loi Krathong Festival. These festivals happen all over Thailand and all over the world now but the one in Chiang Mai is arguably the most magical, and I’ve been patiently awaiting my ticket to becoming a real life Disney Princess so I needed my “Tangled” moment to be done right. The festivals generally happen sometime during the tail end of the year. We experienced the festival in early November but it often changes depending on a multitude of factors. As soon as they release the dates however, I highly recommend booking your trip!

November is an excellent time to go to Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai and not just because of festival season. The weather is fantastic and the price of plane tickets isn’t terribly expensive if you’re coming from America because this is a bit of an off season for us! It only cost us $600 each round trip from New York, and we paid almost double that when we’d gone to Europe in the high season the year before, and that was half the distance.

Old City Chiang Mai was one my favorite places I’ve ever visited. It’s like the trendy sides of New York city speckled with palm trees and motorbikes. There are temples all over the place and we loved spending days wandering in and out of whichever ones we happened upon, each one prettier than the last. We also spent an ENTIRE day getting pampered at Spa called Fah Lanna. For five hours we were treated like royalty with massages, body scrubs, manicure, pedicures, the works! It was very clean and professional too (no issues of sex trafficking.)

Doi Inthanon National Park was another incredible day and a MUST SEE place while in Northern Thailand. The pagodas look like something out of a story book and when we reached the shrine at the highest point of Thailand, the sun burst through the trees in the most ethereal way. That place is pure magic.

WHERE TO STAY:

For the first part of our trip, we stayed in an elephant sanctuary called Chai Lai Orchid and got to have some wild experiences with them throughout our stay. Located right on the riverside in a town called Tambon Ban Kad, this is the perfect place for those who love glamping and falling asleep to the sound of rushing waves.
We also fell in love with Secret Garden Chiang Mai, a home stay slightly outside the city but very easily accessible by tuktuk or songtew. The family who runs it is the sweetest and MAN do they make a mean Pad Thai!

THINGS TO DO:
-definitely see the Lantern Festival (always hosted in November) if you can help it!
-take care of elephants
-visit Fah Lanna Spa if you’re looking to be pampered like royalty
-visit Doi Inthanon National Park (like something out of a fairy tale!)
-go temple hunting, they’re all over the place in Chiang Mai!

PLACES TO EAT:
Ginger & Kafe for the appetizer platter
Graph Cafe for the drinks (be warned, it’s TINY but very instagramable)
Villa Duang Champa for the BEST thai tea and delicious dinner! (part of a gorgeous hotel)
Lemongrass (all the food is outstanding)

*wherever you go though try Khao Soi, it’s frikin DOPE.

Krabi Photo Diary