Chiang Mai was my first experience of Northern Thailand, a district with its own language, customs and culture. As too a distinct cooler climate then Bangkok that required my first jumper wearing in South East Asia. The town itself is located around 700km north of Bangkok that takes either a 45 minute flight or 10 hour bus ride around some the tightest roads I have traveled.
Arriving at the city’s central bus stop the first point of call for almost all tourists will be Chiang Mai’s Old City. A near perfect 1600m by 1600m square of gated community built in the 13th century, complete with surrounding moat and bastions. All once built to protect the capital of the Kingdom of Lanna that once controlled all of Northern Thailand, along with neighboring parts of modern day Laos and China. Many of the structures have been rebuilt in the last 20 years along with the a reinforced moat that now makes a great place for a morning run.
During my time in Chiang Mai it must be said I skipped a great deal of the cultural actives that are on offer, with over 1,100 Buddhist temples and many elephant sanctuaries to explore, there is a lot to do for those inclined. I personally focused on my energy on Chiang Mai’s nightlife which is some of the most fun I’d had on my travels.
Coming from Bangkok where there is literally thousands of bars many running all hours of the day and night, Chiang Mai was a shock. The bar scene in this city would be best described as limited. A night out will consist of what the locals call the farang (Thai for foreigner) trail. Because everyone who goes for a night out in Ching Mai follows the same itinerary, hoping from bar to bar as the night wears on.
This too was my personal experience as I ventured on what would be defined as the ‘backpacker’ trail. Spending most of the night seeing the same people in each bar I went. Then amplified as Chiang Mai’s 12am closure time is enforced – of course excluding a few well bribed speak easies that party until the early morning.
This was the last city I visited during my travels in both Cambodia and Thailand, and provided a great place to reflect upon the past few months.