Chiang Mai - Around Old Town
First stop after Bangkok was Chiang Mai. This charming little city in the north of Thailand ended up being one of my favorite parts about our trip. It is much less humid than Bangkok and the southern parts of Thailand, the people are extremely nice, the food is cheaper and absolutely amazing, and the temples are abundant! There are more than 300 temples in Chiang Mai but I suggest starting with these ones :)
The first spot we visited in Chiang Mai was Wat Phra Singh. It is gorgeous, surrounded by trees, monks were performing some rituals, the pagoda is a shiny gold, this is one of my favorites. Just look at it- so picturesque..
The second temple called Wat Buppharam is outside of Old Town Chiang Mai but well worth the very short trip as it looks, in my opinion, much different from all the other temples I've seen in Thailand. And by short trip I'm talking only 15 minutes walk from Tha Phae Gate.
Another great part about this temple is that if you continue walking down the street, you'll hit Wat Mahawan which is a smaller, white temple. The best part? Inside there is a massage spot. For 150 baht we had hour long foot massages with a view of the temple as the monks walked by and kept the grounds. It was lovely and completely rejuvenated our tired feet.
Ah yes the Thai massage... everyone gets one in Thailand, they are offered on every street corner, but how do you choose? How do you know if its clean? Personally, a majority of the places we saw across Thailand didn't look like the best place to lay your head- hygiene considering.. I may be wrong and maybe all of these places are perfectly hygienic but after seeing many masseuses switching between people without changing towels or even washing hands I wasn't about to get a thai massage just anywhere.. After a quick internet search I found the heavenly Fah Lanna Spa.
What makes a thai massage different from a regular massage? Every massage I have ever had has always been without clothes and with oil. Not here. They give you comfy clothes to put on, you lay on a mat on the floor and the stretching begins. My masseuse used her entire body to pull, push, bend my body. She was standing on me, laying on me, her knees in the back, elbows in my calves, you name it. It might sound strange but it really wasn't and wow was it effective! By the end I was as loose as noodle. Afterwards you put your clothes back on and get some hot tea and a snack to relax even more. For only 600 baht this was supremely relaxing.
Night markets are the place to be in Chiang Mai and on Sunday nights they really liven up. This market was HUGE. There were countless booths full of clothes, soaps, knick knacks, food, anything you could imagine for a Thai souvenir. We started early around 4PM and found it a lot nicer than a couple hours later when it became super packed.
Chiang Mai Old Town really has the best to offer for anyone passing through. I would have stayed here even longer if I could have! I would highly recommend it, even more than seeing Bangkok. Where Bangkok was busy and bustling, Chiang Mai was much more relaxed and peaceful. I much prefer a city that is surrounded by mountains and greenery :)
Have you ever been to Chiang Mai? Let me know what you loved the most about this amazing city down in the comments!