After many years on my wish list, I finally got a chance to visit Chiang Mai. We did not plan much except one day trip to the famous Sticky Waterfalls. It was a very much spontaneous trip but still managed to see and do a lot.
Here’s a quick guide and recommendations around the city!
Sticky Waterfalls – This was one of the coolest experiences of the trip. We hired a driver to take us to Bua Tong, which is 1-1.5 hours away from the city. The waterfall is situated among a beautiful lush forest. The reason why it is called sticky waterfalls, it’s because the rocks have a special texture (?) that allows you to climb directly up into the oncoming cascading water. It is basically a natural, real-life version of an amusement park attraction. Fun and lots of laughter guaranteed. Make sure you bring a swimming suit or a change of clothes because you will want to climb the waterfall without worrying about getting wet – because well, you will get wet!
Warorot Market – if you are a foodie I recommend checking out this large two-building market that houses hundreds of food, clothes and houseware stalls. The highlight here for me was the huge variety of dried fruits and nuts. I brought back with me a fair amount of dried mango that in Hong Kong would have cost me a fortune! By the way, we had the most amazing Mango Sticky Rice here. The dessert shop is near the entrance of one of the two buildings, ask around and you will be able to find it easily (my mouth is watering now just thinking about it)
Grab a bike from your guest house or hotel (most of them rent them out) and go on a temple tour. Beware the traffic can be tricky (somehow there’s few traffic lights) so if you’re not a very confident bike rider it might not be the most comfortable experience.
Cafe hopping – Chiang Mai has caught with the hipster cafe culture and has some many quaint cafes serving exceptionally good coffee. We loved Ristr8to in Nimman and Graph Cafe in Old Town.
Street Food – You probably won’t leave Chiang Mai without trying their signature dish ‘Kao Soi‘. It is basically a coconut base spicy soup with noodles. It is quite addictive! For dessert, try Banana Rotee.
Food in Chiang Mai is quite different from the usual suspects (namely papaya salad, tom yam kung, pad thai, etc). You will surprised to find a variety of dishes that can only be found here (I saw a lot of Chinese cuisine influence). I suggest that when in doubt, just try! My favourite night street food stall was the one near Chiang Mai Gate and Waroros Market.
If you’d like to try a more upgraded version of the local signature dishes in a comfortable air-con environment, I would recommend Khaosoy Nimman. We loved all the food there.
For handicrafts, head over to Wualai Road (aka Saturday Walking Street). It is a never ending street full of stalls. There is a lot of non-handmade stuff but also quite a few hidden gems selling amazing decor and accessory items.
Cha Chaa is a cute boutique selling more sophisticated accessories and jewelry – worth checking it out if you’re in the area.
We booked our whole stay at Rimping Village Hotel. It is a comfortable hotel with large rooms, swimming pool and lovely staff. It is located 15min away from the old town so if you don’t mind walking a bit and rather stay in a quiet area, it might be a good option.
Browse more Chiang Mai hotels via Booking.com
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Have you been to Chiang Mai? What are your favourite spots? Let me know in the comments below!
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