Late in 2019, I traveled in Chiang Mai to continue my journey from Bangkok. Actually I have often heard the name of this city from nomad digital friends. It is said that this place is one of the favorite spots for digital nomads, aka people who work online. So this group of people likes to move from one country to another while carrying their work.
In contrast to Bangkok, which is a shopping paradise metropolis or Phuket beach vacation spot, Chiang Mai is located close to the mountains in northern Thailand. When I visited in September 2019, the city seemed calm and comfortable.
Although for me it’s quiet, it turns out that Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. Chiang Mai itself means New City, because Chiang Mai was the capital of the Kingdom of Lannathai after replacing Chiang Rai during the time of King Mengrai.
I departed from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by night train with sleeping compartments. For the Bangkok-Chaing Mai train that I boarded there happened to be two types of classes, both air-conditioned namely 1st class and 2nd class. The difference is that the first class is a private area in its own booth while the 2nd class separator is a curtain.
In the afternoon / evening, it can only be used as a seat and miraculously at night, the staff transforms it into a two-level bed. I personally actually prefer the 2nd class, because the 1st class is claustrophobic for me.
Because I only have 3 days in this city, I try to use as much as possible to visit many tourist attractions. These are the 7 main attractions that I recommend when visiting Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai City
The city of Chiang Mai is very suitable to be a family tourist destination until a solo traveler because it has tourist attractions that are centered at one point. Chiang Mai Old City is the former capital of the Kingdom of Lan Na, located in the middle of the city. Until now, Chiang Mai Old City still keeps 22 temples from the Kingdom of Lan Na that stand majestically in the middle of renovated buildings.
Much like the Old City of Jakarta, but with the peaks of golden pagodas rising in various corners. I myself had tried to visit one of the temples. Enter here must dress modestly. Luckily while in Chiang Mai I always provided a very handy sarong for looking at temples.
Huay Keaw Waterfall
Huay Kaew Waterfall is the closest waterfall to the city of Chiang Mai. Located at the bottom of the mountain where Huay Kaew Road ends, and is next to the Chiang Mai Zoo. This waterfall is free to enter for anyone. To see the waterfall, you have to walk on a path in a green mountain area. You can take a bath or just dip your feet in the cool, cold river water. Although the road is narrow, the waterfall is easily accessible and there is a parking lot outside the entrance.
I visited this waterfall in the middle of the day, so the air had begun to heat. Therefore I do not hesitate to throw myself bathing in this waterfall. It feels so fresh!
Pong Yang Zipline
The first time I tried Zipline, time in Bohol Philippines. Zipline views towards the river and the expanse of tall trees that are very natural, can not be forgotten. Moreover, adrenaline is also driven by the zipline speed. Really an unforgettable experience. Since then became addicted to trying Zipline.
That’s why I know that in Chiang Mai there are zipline activities too, I immediately joined. Zipline in this area is very fun and challenging because the area is quite wide, there are rivers and mini waterfalls and very shady green!
Moncham Onsen Chiang Mai
This is my favorite personal activity in Chiang Mai. Moncham Onsen opened in 2018 ago on a mountaintop in the Mon Cham district of Chiang Mai. This upscale resort has eight guest rooms and eight suites and, of course, traditional Japanese-style hot springs known as “onsen.” This onsen is very similar to the one I have tried in Japan, intended for gender segregation. the room’s interior, service and surrounding plants also resemble the atmosphere in Japan. I feel as if I am in Japan not Thailand.
Moncham actually uses natural spring water from a hundred meters below the surface of the earth – so visitors can swim leisurely with mineral content rich in copper, magnesium, calcium and sulfate ions.
After coming out at the Onsen, I was given a Yutaka and Ocha drink, and was invited to enjoy the natural scenery in a layout similar to Japan in the Zabuton sitting area which is a base made of foam with a layer of cloth and a low table. After finishing enjoying the ocha green tea dish, I toured the area still using the Japanese-style yutaka and wooden slippers provided. At the restaurant, I had my sure message. I feel like I’m fleeing to Japan.
White Temple Chiang Mai
Wat Rong Khun, better known as the “White Temple” is one of the best known temples in Thailand. This temple is located outside the city of Chiang Rai. Because of its remote location, visitors usually come in a package tour visiting the tourist attractions of Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai one day.
This Wat Rong Khun Temple looks new but has actually been in a pugari. Before being renovated, this temple looked very bad. This renovation was initiated by one of Thailand’s biggest artists – Chalermchai Kositpipat who decided to buy and renovate the sacred building with its own funds worth 40 million Baht
The mural on the wall in the Wat Rong Khun temple has as many Buddhas as the number of Holywood figures in it. The large demon head painting in this temple is covered with all kinds of modern idols (Neo from the Matrix, Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Michael Jackson, etc.). They all represent the distractions that humans face in their search for true enlightenment.
I myself really like the combination of white and gold in this temple. The toilet is full of golden knick knacks. At the entrance to this temple, there are protruding hands as if to ask for help from the afterlife. Hiyy …
Long Neck Girl
Two decades ago, an increasingly fierce civil war between separatist Karenni and the Burmese army caused Kayar residents to leave Myanmar. Thailand gives permission for Kayan residents to stay temporarily under the status of “conflict refugees”. At present, there are around 500 Kayan people (also known as Padaung people) who live in villages that are guarded on the northern Thai border.
This tribe has a custom where some women wear rings to create the appearance of a long neck. This exotic tradition inspired the creation of a tourist village in 1985.
When I came to this village, there was a special area where the long neck community tried in an oval area that could be rotated for about 5-10 minutes. To be honest, visiting this area feels very touristy, because it is clear that this area is not a place to live, they are just a showcase of clothes and women use longneck necklaces and handicrafts from this group.
The Golden Triangle is an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet at the Ruak and Mekong rivers. The name Golden Triangle refers to an area of around 950,000 square kilometers (367,000 square miles) which overlaps with mountains in these three countries. Thai is known locally as Sop Ruak, because it is a meeting between the Ruak River and the Mekong River.
Its fertile soil made it famous as a producer of opium in ancient times. The Golden Triangle is now one of the favorite destinations for tourists traveling especially to northern Thailand. I went to the Golden Triangle with a day tour package that includes Chaing Rai.
From this Golden Triangle I briefly visited Laos using a simple wooden boat. Even though I was in Laos only had time to eat lunch and look at souvenirs, it was not bad visiting a new country.
Besides these seven places, actually Chiang Mai has many other natural attractions worth visiting. Unfortunately my time is limited. Plus, cheap and delicious Thai food, makes me feel at home to explore cafes and unique restaurants in this city.