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Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Brisbane, Australia
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for Chiang Mai
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Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Hi all forum members,

I'm going to attempt a trip report - but have so much info for you - you'll have to bear with me. This is part one, which is the first five days we spent in Chiang Mai before heading up to Chiang Rai. This was our 5th trip to Chiang Mai - our first was 15 years ago, our last in early 2007. My husband and I traveled with our two sons aged 11 and 8.

Firstly we arrived at the CM International Airport from KL on a clear, sunny day - we flew Air Asia - the plane was brand new, not a single complaint from us. The airport is clean and a breeze to negotiate. You are greeted by an army of touts as soon as you get outside. We headed straight to the taxi counter immediately in front of the departure doors. We had to pay 50B airport tax and get a coupon for the driver and then we paid by the meter to our guest house. Total 68B on the meter.

Our cab driver was No 76 Mr Payon - Ph: 081 8824701. During the transfer he offered us 700B for a four hour (half day) service or 1400B for a full day service anywhere around the general Chiang Mai area. We later took him up on this.

Our first four nights of the trip we spent at the Baan Orapin. This was on the advice of forum members and TA reviews (rated no 1 B & B in CM). We were not disappointed. I'll review the hotel fully in the review section - but need to say a huge thank you to everyone who recommended this place. It is just over the river from Warorot Market. There is not a single thing I would change about this place. It is family owned - the most beautiful setting with an old Thai home (owned by their grandmother) in the middle of the property. We had a suite with adjoining room - right near the pool and waterfall. Orchids everywhere - four posters beds and the most fabulous staff. Our two boys are constantly telling us they want to go and live with Pepsi (the owners cousin). He made our stay so special. There's so much more I could say about this place....

The street it is on (Charoen Rat) runs along the river and is a wonderful neighbourhood to explore. Turn out of the left of the hotel and you pass a convenience store and several art gallery type shops you then hit the footbridge which takes you over the river to Warorot Market. It's a really nice and very short walk. Also right near the foot bridge is a wonderful place called 'Reginas'. Regina is a colourful, local character - you have to see her shop/restaurant to believe it. It's jam packed with everything under the sun - and full of her life story. The place is a little run down but the food is awesome (her grand daughter cooks) - it's also right on the river and has a lovely garden out back.

I also have to mention the pink tea house just next door - Vieng Joom On. DONT MISS THIS! I dragged my husband and three boys along - reluctantly. It is so beautiful - right on the river, full of antiques and the food is awesome. They have this plate of 9 tiny cakes - all delicious. Also very fresh food. We went back again later in the trip.

If you turn right out of the Baan Orapin you come to The Gallery, The Riverside and the Good View. All great places to while away a few hours at night for a drink and a meal. They have bands, river views and a real buzz. We had dinner one night at the Gallery and it was a great meal in a beautiful setting. Probably the best riverside restaurant we ate at - and good value as well. A real treat.

A tuk tuk ride from this side of the river to the night market or to the old city is 50B and less than 5 mins. We loved the location. We got to know lots of the local characters - the washing lady just to the left of our hotel is a scream. She answered the door one day with a towel around her and her hair full of shampoo. She delivered our washing on her push bike with basket on front.

We called our airport cab driver for a four hour (half day) trip. He was busy but sent us another driver - Mr Somchai No. 169 Ph: 083 8612644. Mr Somchai arrived half an hour after our call - four hours for the agreed price of 700B (all inclusive). Firstly we went up the mountain to Doi Suthep (20 mins away)- we love this place. The walk up the stairs isn't too bad and the view from the top - awesome. Our boys love ringing the bells at the top. There is a great little cafe for a coffee break and lots of photo ops. Just make sure you wear pants that cover your knees to get into the temple area. We spent about an hour at the top while our driver waited down below. From here we went to Bor Sang Umbrella Village to stock up on some fans and umbrellas and then to our favorite village the SAA paper village (Ban Ton Pao). This paper village is well worth the visit - right next to Bor Sang. I bought about 30 large sheets of beautiful hand made paper - I use it to wrap around art canvas' to hang on the wall at home. No problems bringing Never had a problem bringing this paper or umbrellas, fans etc back into Aus. We always declare them. The only things they take are things with plant leaves or petals or seeds - also elephant dung paper isn't allowed. The four hour trip was great value for 700B.

We also spent a morning exploring the bookshops up near the moat area. Just outside of the Tha Phae Gate there is about four fantastic book shops (new and used) with editions from all over the world.

Another morning was spent wandering around the Warorot Market area. I was prepared for the pig heads but the live eel squiring on the floor at our feet was somewhat freaky. There are lots of great shops on the street around this area - not so much inside the building. Although later in the trip we were visiting our sponsor child - so we were able to buy blankets, towels etc here to take on our visit.

As well as the things above we fitted a lot more into these days - including massages, meals out and about and a visit to 'Miss Chocolate', another great cafe near the Baan Orapin. (the name says it all).

One highlight of these five days was the Sunday Walking Street. This is one of my fav experiences of Chiang Mai - literally hundreds of stalls with amazing hand made things - clothes, toys, photo cards, leather goods, portrait artists etc. It runs from the Tha Phae gate right through the moat area and kicks off around late afternoon. Heaps of places to eat and very ambient. By amazing co-incidence I ran into destination expert 'Lanna Focus' at the market and was able to thank him in person for all of his help with our planning. 'Hi' if you are reading this.

We didn't want to leave the Baan Orapin - but we had three nights in Chiang Rai ahead - then back to Chiang Mai again. See next trip report.

Caroline.

Western Australia
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11. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Thanks so much Caroline - I'm busy looking up your and Stewies other reports. I go to Thailand every year (from Perth) and just now contemplating next year - Baan Orapin as its got such good recommendations from friends. I've not been to Chiang Mai for about 8 or 9 years (spent most of the intervening years in Laos and Cambodia!) I think you've inspired me

Brisbane, Australia
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for Chiang Mai
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12. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Hi L.

That's a really tough question - to stay in CM or go up to CR.

We did some wonderful things in Chiang Rai in only two days - we had three nights but only two full days. I'm going to do a trip report on those three days this afternoon (just committed myself to do it). That may help you decide.

Personally - I think I would just stay in Chiang Mai for the 7/8 days. There is so much to do, see and explore around Chiang Mai - a lot of the experiences you can have further up north you can probably do on some level in CM and not have to pack and move in the middle of the week.

C.

Cambridge, United...
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13. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Hi Caroline,

Great trip report and picked up some great tips for our 2nd visit to CM this December. We too are staying at the Baan Orapin, really looking forward to staying there.

Sarah

xx

Burton, United...
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14. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Thank you for a wonderful trip report..We had three wonderful weeks in C/M...And after reading your report we have missed out on some other wonderful other places we should had gone to..Next time we go we will take up the place you staid at sounds just idelic...All Theo the hotel we was at was also good i think that a family run place sounds a far more not better ideal and a more homely atmosphere about it..Thank you once again...Gettng ready to read your next report....Chris

Colorado
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for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
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15. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Caroline:

Thanks for your great detailed trip report. It definitely makes me want to start planning my next trip back to Chiang Mai.

Windy City: Take a look at my trip reports on Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai forums (Broder's Trip Reports" for some ideas on what to do in each area. It might help you decide which you prefer.

Stewie: Always nice to see your comments on trip advisors too!

Broder

WindyCity
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16. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. The more I read the more places I want to visit!!! Aaagh! Caroline and Broder I have been reading all your fantastic reports..wow..fantastic trips. We're thinking of flying from Bangkok to Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai then spending 8 days or so travelling to whichever one we don't fly into. After that we will fly down south to spend 10 days visiting the beaches (that's another story!!). I'm definitely going to contact Jermask and I would love to visit a school/orphanage to bring some supplies. Going to make a few enquiries tomorrow..I may come back with some more questions!

Thanks again,

L

Adelaide, Australia
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17. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Caroline

Thanks for the great JBR.

Only 30 days and countill i leave to go for my first Thailand Holiday.

Ed

Dublin, Ireland
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18. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Hi Caroline,

Fantastic JRB, really helpful. I've taken a lot of notes, staying at Baan Orapin too so your review was that extra bit helpful.

Roll on Friday ;-)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
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19. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

hi,

i'm a new member of tripadvisor.this is may first opinion.

it is very nice to go to chiang mai during december because the very good whether but should be confirm your hotel booking on during high season in chiang mai there truly are a lot of local and foreign travelors make a trip to relax here.

if you plan to around the north you could take excursion for each city one day to lampang to see the elephant and traditional temple.there are many thing to do at chiang mai you can spent one or two day for outside the city and one day in a chiang mai city,then fly to chiang rai.

Brisbane, Australia
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20. Re: Chiang Mai - Trip Report Part One

Have a great time at the Baan Orapin. It really is a special place.

The thing about Chiang Mai is that it is full of special places. You just keep feeling like there's more to discover. So many hidden gems.

I think you could probably eat in a different place for a year and still not cover all the amazing cafes and restaurants - hawker stalls etc.

C.