Sep 22, 2011

1.5 Days in Chiang Mai

Last week, with only a mom and a grandmother and two carry-on bags in tow, the Teeny Traveler played hooky from Kindergarten for a couple of days to go to Chiang Mai, Thailand. 1.5 days is a bit speedy, even for us, but it was enough to hit some great highlights:
Just an hour out of town are the Queen Sikrit Botanical Gardens, where flower-nut Bella and flower-nut Lola gaped at gorgeous orchids, beautiful lush gardens, and garden house after garden house of strange plant species.

Just 10 minutes back towards town, we stopped by the Maesa Elephant Camp, where they offer "Be a Mahout for a Day" adventures, but where we opted just to meet some elephants, see a show (call ahead for times, as they close early) and take a half-hour elephant ride. For our little traveler (and for her Lola, too), half an hour lurching through the forest was more than enough.

The Four Seasons Chiang Mai was on the way home too, so we stopped in there for a delicious lunch/dinner on their terrace.

Which Wat to visit? In Chiang Mai, the Luxe Guide claimed that it was a no-brainer: we made the 45 minute drive to the completely stunning Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, where the not-so-devout can skip the 300 steps up to the temple and take a funicular (really, more like an elevator) up instead.

Four hours left before our flight back to Singapore, so we asked our driver to take us through the old town for some shopping and a bit of from-the-car sightseeing. We stopped at one more temple complex, very different from Doi Suthep but also incredible, and hit Nimmanhaemin Road for a few pretty things in silk.

Not bad for 1.5 days, but we could've used one or two more, to visit the Night Market (suspect it might be mostly tourist faff, but the Luxe Guide claims that there are a few treasures to be found there), see a few more temples, and do a bit more shopping. I don't think we put one toe outside the beaten path on this trip, but it was a great girls-only break, and culturally interesting enough to warrant two days out of school :)

Random tips: Highly recommend the Chedi Chiang Mai - great rooms, great food, great service. Got a great rainy-season deal on Agoda, but food/drinks were on the expensive side for Thailand. Speaking of rain, it did rain almost every minute we were there, but it just made everything seem much more lush and clean (and importantly, cool). We just shlepped a couple of hotel umbrellas with us wherever we went.

For transport within Chiang Mai, we had the option of using the hotel car and driver for 400 baht (13 USD) an hour, or hire a taxi for 300 baht (9 USD) an hour, and I'm glad I sprung for the extra $4 for the hotel driver. He ended up being a mini-tour guide, and had some great recommendations for attractions and places to visit, AND helped keep an eye on Bella, AND had cold bottles of water and frozen towels waiting for us in the car. Whattadeal!

More photos: