Chiang Mai, Thailand

Getting there
The journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a long one. There are options to fly 1.5hrs (approx £30pp), train 12hrs (approx £15-£25) or bus 10-12 hrs traffic dependant (cheaper).
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We wanted to experience the adventure & novelty of the overnight sleeper train, which was definitely worth it. We bought 2nd class sleeper tickets at £17.50 each.
We left at just gone 8pm & arrived 8am (contrary to most people’s experiences, although we left 20 mins late from Bangkok, we made up time & arrived 5 mins early).

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Making up the beds on the overnight train

Chiang Mai – Old City
King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai (“new city”) in 1296 on the site of an older city of the Lawa people called Wiang Nopburi (source Wikipedia).
The old city is surrounded by a square moat & there are remains of the wall that once protected the city.

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Map courtesy of Lonely Planet

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The moat & remains of the city wall

New City
Now though, the old city is surrounded by a much larger city (referred to as the ‘New City’) which spreads out & along the River Ping.

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River Ping

The old city is full of culture & heritage; temples around every corner. The new city boasts shopping malls, Starbucks, Burger King & of course, the obligatory MC Donalds. There is even an Imax cinema. However, the new city still has plenty of culture of its own, from the many markets (day & night) to its own share of the 300 temples in The City. See: The Temples of Chiang Mai
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Eating Out
There is something for everyone in Chiang Mai. International cuisine from Italian to Mexican, Spanish to French fine dining. However, Thai food is at its best here. Depending on your food preferences (& budget) you could eat at specialist Thai restaurants, in old style Lanna Houses. For us though, street food is where you’ll find the widest & best priced selection (especially in the night markets). Being in North Thailand, Chiang Mai has its own regional dishes; our favourite Khao Soi: a curried noodles dish, with choice of meat.

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Khao Soi

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The bustle of the night markets

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Deep fried insects anyone?

Another great place to eat is Aroon Rai which has been established since 1957. We grabbed two curries, a chicken & brocolli dish and rice for £1.90 each!
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You can take home your own curry spice mix

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We stayed at the TR Residence which offers a tranquil location but within easy walking distance of the main attractions, for those on a budget.

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