Chiang Mai is one of the main cities in northern Thailand. It’s a big city with a mix of cosmopolitan and traditional people. Crowded too! But some how it’s situated right in the centre of north because of which there is quick access to all these beautiful places situated in the outskirts. Love it!
If I were to describe Chiang Mai in four words, they would be – fun, adventure, unique and picturesque.
No. of Days: 3 Days 3 Nights
We took a luxury coach – Green Bus Express (which I booked from 12go.asia website) from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, costing 240 Baht per person. We left from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 and it almost took us 4 hrs 20 mins to reach Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3. Our journey was non-stop with 1 pit stop in between to get fresh.
This was the fastest coach I found, as I didn’t want to waste a single say in travelling only. We were allowed 20 kgs bag per person so that was a relief. Also, booking in advance seems to be the best option. These busses are there everyday, so not to worry about the frequency. But, do not underestimate the amount of people who travelling on daily basis between these two cities. Our coach was full! Full but comfortable 🙂
Once crosses from one mountain range to the other to reach Chiang Mai. But the view through out the trip was worth it. Green, lush and wonderful.
P.S. The coach had a washroom too. Always good to have one in case of emergency.
After reaching Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, we had to make way to our hostel. The tuk-tuks and cabs were very expensive. It was hardly a ride of 15 mins to the city centre/where our hostel was located. But such high price wasn’t worth it. That’s when Grab came in handy.
Grab is an application which is like Uber/Ola of Thailand. I booked a cab from Grab and it cost me around 143 Baht or so. Way cheaper than what these other guys were quoting. We caught our taxi from outside the bus terminal, a nice AC cab (the driver didn’t get up to pick up and put our luggage in the dikkie/trunk/boot. I had to do it myself :/ ) Anyway, he was a nice lad. Young, part time chef and part time cabbie living with his girlfriend in Chiang Mai.. . cute story. He was really helpful and gave us many tips about going around. Especially to the Night Shopping Market. That was great!
We comfortably reached our hostel as outside the temperature was soaring high than Mumbai even. He later was courteous enough to get our luggage out of the dikkie/trunk/boot and we paid him in cash. That’s about it.
Tip: Use Grab, it was the cheapest mode of transport I had through out my Thailand trip. Very handy and easy to use. You can only pay by cash if you are a tourist.
What a disappointment. Let’s begin with that. We had booked Standard Twin Private room, which was their best private room apparently. Now before I go any further, although this hostel claimed to be in the heart of the city.. . I would say it was very much in the suburbs of Chiang Mai. It’s aloof from the city, situated next to a small road, facing a bare patch of land and filled with mosquitoes 24×7. They claim to have a cafe, but they just serve tea and coffee.
Anyway, moving on .. when we got to the hostel, the staff was so rude and didn’t even want to get up and open the door to let us in. Especially, when two ladies (one an older senior citizen) with their hand full of huge bags are waiting at the door. They were busy chatting on FB, with their legs up on the reception desk and when we pushed the door and got in, is when ms. mia got up!
So not only was the hostel aloof, but the staff too was arrogant and throughly rude. Once we got in, we did all the registration etc. Around 200 Baht were taken as deposit and we were given 1 room key for two people in a twin sharing room. The room was located on third floor, with a sharing bathroom. No lift, not help to carry your luggage, no nothing.
My mother was in a dilemma, wondering what to do when a 60+ year old woman has to climb steep stairs 3 floors up every single time. We had already paid and we wouldn’t get our refund, therefore we had to go on with this entire shindig.
On reaching the room, the room was spacious, enough for two people. No cupboards, instead two small lockers provided. Bed’s were ok. But the room had a lot of mosquitoes. That very same afternoon, we had to go and get ourselves mosquito repellant or else they would have eaten us up!
Tip: Do not buy the mosquito repellant form the hostel, there are way affordable fragrance-free ones you’ll find at 7/11 stores near you.
On the whole, our 3 days stay here was below average. Breakfast included stale bread, tea, coffee and bananas. Really disappointing. Undoubtedly, the worst accommodation through out our trip. We only came there to crash. Oh! I almost forgot, be vary of the washrooms. They clog and stink like no man’s business. Their laundry services were the only thing that was good – 20 baht for one time use of the washing machine. 10 baht for the washing powder, decent enough for a 5kg laundry.
In short, do NOT go for all the praises on the websites. I would not recommend Thai Thai Hostel, Chiang Mai at any cost.
Tip: There are many hostels who claim to be in the city, do not go for that crap. Chiang Mai is huge, staying on the outskirts makes it very expensive for a tourist to travel within the city. Especially one on a budget. Hence, make sure that they actually are or else it just not worth it. Like in our case!
Activity Day 1: Chiang Mai Night Safari Park
We had activities planned for all days in Chiang Mai. A vivid mix of activities to soak in the beautiful thai culture.
Once we reached our hostel, got fresh and quickly left for our pick up point – Maya Shopping Center (Fountain) for our 1st activity in Chiang Mai – the Night Safari Park.
Our tour actually started around 3:45pm I believe. A person was standing with the klook sign and everything was well managed from the start. The Chiang Mai Night Safari Park was located on the outskirts of the city, hence it took us almost 45 mins or so to reach there. The ride to and fro the park was extremely comfortable in our van shared with other families.
As we reached the Night Safari Park, we were allotted a tour guide who spoke in English and Mandarin for our entire tour, which was great! She was prompt and very helpful. We had a lot of activities lined up,
- 30 mins walk around the park while spending time with the animals – So so so beautiful. I felt 30 mins were too short a time, but absolutely stunning. From black panther to endangered bird species to tigers, leopards and what not! Cute otters too! hehe.. Absolute treat. The animals also looked good so far. Not starved or not looked after.
- The Predators Show – This was a really nice show arranged by them. Animals were shows in their habitat, hunting food, swimming, playing with each other, their sound.. music in the background on the entry of every animal and most importantly the interaction with few animals was so lovely. I really enjoyed this. The story narration to the history behind every animal was so intriguing. However, I felt the lion looked almost starved and old to me. Some how just meant for show purposes? The predators (cats) looked skinny to me. As though they haven’t had a hearty meal in a long. That was a disappointment. I believe thailand animal welfare is looking into this or Peta? Shout out to you guys!
- The Tiger Show – This was the third show and back to back in a row. Lol. If you take time to get out of one to the other, it’s your loss! Any how, we made it to the tiger show. It was very difficult to find space to sit for this show, however we squeezed in on the front row. And what a show it was! Stunning, healthy, beautiful beasts all around. WOW! Lions, to tigers, to white tigers! to black tigers, to black panthers, to all the wild cat’s you can imagine. They were all playing and enjoying themselves with their trainers in the wing. Most of them looked healthy and hearty. They were so close to us! We could see them up close and personal almost. This was one of the biggest high lights of our night safari for sure.
- The Safari Tram Ride in Savanna Safari Zone and Predator Prowl Zone – It was almost pitch black and chilly evening by then. We had these comfortable tram rides with a guide on deck who spoke English and Mandarin. Most of the animal were in open, and the others too were in open but in guarded territories. We saw elephants, bulls, deer, rhinos, bears and what not. Honestly, it’s next to impossible for me to list down all the animals. Oh! Oh! Giraffes! We fed carrots to giraffes and antelopes who were almost walking with our tram. Such a beautiful experience. Really, to see animals in their natural habitat in the open at night, below the twinkling sky and no other light just felt surreal. I almost lost myself so many times in the serenity of it all. The chilly winds to the fresh air and just the happiness of being there.. on vacay with my mother just made me feel so grateful. I loved it. No jokes.
- The Safari Dancing Show – This was a beautiful Thai dance which was such a pleasure to watch. I don’t have much to say about it, apart from it being beautiful.
- The Musical Fountain – It was not functioning when we were there.
- Dinner Buffet at Giraffe Restaurant – Cancelled last minute as the restaurant for reserved for a private function.
These were the list of activities during the night safari. There was no food in the package and neither was there time to eat peacefully. Everything was rushed and the food was very expensive inside the park. They had a voucher system, so you had to top it up for everything that you intend to purchase inside the park and claim a refund if you have any remaining till the end of the trip.
Overall the Night Safari Park was a fabulous way to start our stay in Chiang Mai. Absolutely stunning! We really enjoyed it. Just wish we had food included too (which was until last minute cancellation) and some time to grab a bite. It was rushed but nice. Happy, fond memories and totally worth your money.
Tip: All these activities are family friendly. From kids to elders to youngsters to you! For everyone. GO FOR IT!
Tip: All my activites have been booked through Klook. It’s very easy, comfortable and reliable to use. I did not have any problem with any of our 8 tours.
P.S. I have not been sponsored by klook. Just sharing my own tips!
Follow my next blog post to read about Unconventional Thailand – Chiang Mai (Part II)