Home > Thailand > Chiang Mai – City of hidden gems

Chiang Mai – City of hidden gems

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last time I visited Chiang Mai was 20 years ago, and there were far fewer tourists then, but the city still has a very charming relaxed feel. The mountain air is also a bit cleaner and cooler, making visiting even more Wats slightly more enjoyable.




Our accommodation choices were a bit average this time, first the “Royal Guesthouse” – pretty grubby feeling impersonal kind of place, so after a couple of nights we moved to a posher – but still slightly damp sort of place in the centre of town. Luckily none of this mattered as we spent most of the time out and about.

buddha in the tulips = happy buddha

Highlights in Chiang Mai for us where mainly the surprises. Firstly the silver Wat, 500 years old and the only one of it’s kind. Both inside and out it is all silver, roof, walls, doors, ceilings, windows – everything (when I say silver, some parts are silver but it is mainly aluminium!). We were recommended this place by a teacher in one of the town centre Wat’s (I suspect he was not a teacher at all, but he gave us some really good tips). It was part of a working commune so there were monks everywhere, people were metal bashing more panels for the temple, small stalls sold Buddha’s and we could buy a small metal leaf to scribe our names into, hang on the lucky tree and once a year, they melt the leaves down and make another panel to go on the Wat – it was really good.

the rarely visited silver temple

after some vigorous bell ringing, Theo was invited to join the order - tempting!

Another top tip, this time from the Thai cookery school was a particular restaurant off the beaten track. Again, no English sign, precious few westerners but amazing northern Thai food. Kids as usually stuck to boiled rice with occasional spoonfuls of sticky rice as a treat as most of the food was just way too spicy – we can almost see the onset of scurvy.

The third treat was the Thai cookery course itself, I tried all sort of dishes from Green Curries, to spring rolls, hot and sour soups and great stir fries. If I can find any of the ingredients I may inflict some cooking on people when I return. (although congealed chicken blood and crush pickled crabs are hard to find in Tesco – Waitrose may have it I suppose!).

YUM YUM TOM YAM - my very own creations

And finally, our biggest treat was the trip out of Chiang Mai to see some of the countryside – but more of that in the next blog.

There were many other highlights in Chiang Mai, the park with the granny masseuse, the markets, and Wat’s to name a few making it our favourite city in Thailand. Also whilst travelling around the city in the various songtheaw’s we met a couple with 3 kids, she was Swiss, he was Dutch; his parents lived in Chiang Mai and they both lived on the China Tibet plateau at 4200m. It made us feel pretty lame – some people just lead extraordinarily interesting lives.

Categories: Thailand Tags: , , ,
  1. Paul Rushton
    February 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Good news
    Sandbach Aldi stocks congealed chicken, pig, panda and kangaroo blood – bet you can’t wait till you get back!!
    We have arranged for a truck load of tulip bulbs to be tipped in to your front garden along with a golden Simpson bust to make you feel at home,
    I am really enjoying your blog ( a late comer to the blog and reading your journey in reverse)
    Take care
    See you soon
    Paul, Nicola, Willem and Ruby

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