Thailand was a stop-over for us between Nepal and Hong Kong. We couldn’t sort direct flights that would work, so we decided to take a few days of layover and check out one of its major cities, Chiang Mai. We flew Thai airways from Kathmandu to Bangkok, and had what was probably the best airline meal either of us had ever had! Thai is a truly fantastic airline!
A shorter connection on Vietjet got us to Chiang Mai, and we were ready to start exploring our next country. Our taxi driver from the airport was a funny older lady who didnt really speak English, but enjoyed describing the city to us in Thai. It made for a fun kick-off to our time there. We were staying in a nice little guest house around the corner from a small mall and supermarket, and just up the street from the main night market, one of the big attractions in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a city surrounded by jungle in the north of Thailand and has an historic walled old town. No beaches here. It has, however, become popular on the southeast Asia backpacking circuit, and Janan had visited before, so she had a good sense of the place. After a month and half in Nepal, it was nice to have some change, and the amenities of Chiang Mai were very much appreciated!
The city is also known for its food in general, and the night markets were a good and affordable way to explore this. Some of the markets were in pre-organized areas set aside specifically for this purpose, but most were just stalls setup each afternoon along the side of main streets and taken down at the end of each night. These stalls sold any kind of clothing, footwear, gadget, or souvenir one could ever want, and an amazingly diverse selection of delicious and affordable food.
I was excited to try different kinds of Thai food, but found myself hung up on the affordability, freshness, and satisfying nature of pad thai. 60 Thai baht (~$2.50 CAD) would get a chicken pad thai made fresh, right in front of us in just a matter of minutes. Not only that, but I’d be full by the time I was finished it! I did try a number of other dishes as well, but consistently came home to the pad thai, it was just that good!
Thailand is also home to the original red bull energy drink, so I wanted to try one while I was there. Available in little brown bottles and gold cans, uncarbonated and dirt cheap, it tasted pretty similar to what’s available at home, and definitely did its job! After a while I started noticing the little brown bottles scattered everywhere we went. It is popular stuff!
This was also the first true opportunity since the start of the trip to have proper craft beer again. We found a decent bar next to a Muay Thai (Thai boxing) venue with multiple beers on tap from Thai, Vietnamese, Australian, British, and American breweries. I had been craving a sour beer, and they delivered. Apparently the laws regarding brewing are complicated in Thailand, as facilities must produce a minimum of 10 million litres of beer each year (well beyond what most small craft breweries can do), so most beer from Thai craft breweries is actually made in Cambodia, Laos, or even Australia, and shipped in.
Chiang Mai also has countless amazing temples spread all over the city. We spent the better part of a day just wandering around on a self-directed temple tour admiring these outstanding buildings. Many had dragon themes used in the design and were highly intricate, beautiful structures.
Our short visit went by fast, and we were rested and ready to hit up Hong Kong!