Chiang Mai
Thailand
By Joshua H. Liberatore

Even if your stay in Thailand is relatively short, WhatsCheaper.com recommends the visually stunning and culturally rich city of Chiang Mai in the far northwest of the country as all but obligatory. Some veterans of tourism in Thailand will divide visitors into beach lovers and culture hounds. If you fall among the latter category, Chiang Mai should be at the top of your itinerary after a few days spent in Bangkok. Walkable streets, friendly locals, distinctive regional cuisine, and one of the most impressive and diverse collections of Buddhist temples in all Southeast Asia combine to make Chiang Mai a one-stop shop for sampling Thailand's colorful heritage.

Whether you come in by train or by plane, your first WhatsCheaper.com adventure in Chiang Mai should be a street-level tour of the old city center. Wander through the many temple courtyards, sample excellent street food, and get the general lay of the north's most photogenic city. The weekend night market that sprawls right across those well-traveled streets near which you are likely to stay in one of Chiang Mai's fine small hotels (https://www.whatscheaper.com/hotel.php) or guesthouses is among the best in all Thailand. If you were daunted by the labyrinthine intensity of the Chattuchak flea market in Bangkok, you will be relieved by the charming serenity and breathability of Chiang Mai's market scene. Also, since most of Bangkok's handicraft and souvenir fare comes from this region anyway, you will find cheaper prices closer to the source. Lovely hand-carved wooden vases, Buddha statuettes and busts, intricate hand-woven fabrics and silk products of every variety, and knickknacks and curios specific to the region will all be on offer. WhatsCheaper.com reminds you to make sure to bargain hard, as there will be many vendors selling similar items. If you see something unique, however, arrive at a fair price and pay it. Goods move fast, so an aggressive shop-around approach might only leave you empty handed.

Chiang Mai is nestled in Thailand's ethnically diverse north, where regional hill tribes speaking local languages live all but a people apart in their own villages practicing subsistence rice agriculture and observing time-honored customs. Local tour operators offer village visits and hill tribe treks for every budget and taste. WhatsCheaper.com suggests trying to find a vendor that doesn't appear exploitative and overly commercial; go with one that promises a local guide who speaks the tribal language. Visiting Thailand's hill tribe country can be a fascinating, learning experience that benefits local commerce and brings villages into contact with the outside world, even if your intrusion seems a little voyeuristic and awkward at times. Nearby Chiang Dao is a common push-off point for the more rustic guided treks, some lasting two to three nights spent in village bungalows, meals all inclusive. Prices vary considerably, but generally, the more responsible and respectable touring outfits – Chiang Dao Nest is highly recommended – will cost a little more.

Northern Thai food can differ substantially from the central Thailand dishes found in Bangkok and the curry-inflected cuisine of the south. First and foremost, it is generally regarded as the spiciest regional cuisine, perhaps the hottest in all Southeast Asia, where the chili pepper is treated much as Westerns apply salt. In Chiang Mai, you will find authentic roasted chicken (gai yaang), spicy green papaya salad (som tam), and a delicious coconut chicken noodle soup (khao soie), as well as Chinese-influenced dishes like stewed pork with rice (khao ka muu) and Isan-inspired standards such as minced chicken salad (lap nai). Whatever you order, be sure to indicate your spice tolerance. As in all of Thailand, WhatsCheaper.com urges you to be adventurous and don't let the language barrier stop you from taking advantage of independent street vendors. Thai food is best eaten often, fast, and in the company of happily slurping locals. Watch for carts with a brisk trade, wait your turn, and point away. Even if you leave with your mouth on fire, you will have had an authentic Chiang Mai eating experience not likely to be forgotten. Visit WhatsCheaper.com to begin your adventure (https://www.whatscheaper.com/flight.php) to Chiang Mai, Thailand, today.

MUST SEE IN Chiang Mai LIST:

  • 1. Wat Chedi Luang
  • 2. Patara Elephant Farm
  • 3. Dokmai Garden
  • 4. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
  • 5. Tiger Kingdom
  • 6. Wat Umong
  • 7. Elephant Nature Park
  • 8. Doi Inthananon
  • 9. Old Chiangmai Cultural Center
  • 10. Tweechol Botanical Garden

Chiang Mai EVENT CALENDAR:

  • 1. Bor Sang Umbrella Festival - January
  • 2. Makkha Puja Day - February
  • 3. Songkran - April
  • 4. Inthakhin Ceremony - May
  • 5. Khao Phansaa - July
  • 6. Queen's Birthday Celebration - August
  • 7. Asalaha Bucha - September
  • 8. Lantern Festival - November
  • 9. King's Birthday Celebration - December
  • 10. Chiang Mai Food Festival - December

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Le Meridien Chiang Mai
108 Chang Klan Road,Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
By Keleigh M. Quinn

Located in the heart of Thailand’s northern capital, Le Méridien Chiang Mai provides a unique blend European style luxury and local Lanna Era style, sure to make your stay wonderful. The convenient location right in downtown Chiang Mai’s commercial district means that you will be surrounded by great restaurants, temples, and historical attractions. You can also visit the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar to do some shopping. Enjoy the natural beauty of the area with a walk to the Mae Ping River, guided hikes to waterfalls, elephant rides, or a trip up Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon.

The 383 guest rooms and suites vary by size and amenities. You can choose from the Deluxe Room, Deluxe Studio, and various suites, including the two-bedroom Royal Suite, located on the top floors of the hotel. All rooms feature exclusive king- or twin-size signature Le Méridien Beds, views of the city or Doi Suthep peak, and glass-walled bathrooms with cool, massaging rain showers. You can also enjoy use of the flat-screen LCD TVs, bathrobe and slippers, and 24-hour room service. High-speed internet access is available for a charge in most rooms, but is included in the Le Royal Club Rooms on Level 20 along with complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon tea, all-day snacks and evening cocktails.

Le Méridien Chiang Mai offers several excellent restaurants and lounges for you to enjoy during your stay. Plunge is open poolside for light meals and cocktails, while Latitude 18 has coffee, drinks and snacks throughout the day. You can sample classic Italian fare at Favola, or head to the Latest Recipe, where guests are invited to place orders directly with the chefs at the interactive buffet.

There are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Le Méridien Chiang Mai, including The Spa, which offers massages, full-body treatments, and bath rituals as well as luxurious facials and skincare services. There is also an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a business center, and a Concierge desk to assist you with planning any activities outside of the hotel, as well as securing tickets, reservations, or any other needs you might have.

The Le Méridien Chiang Mai is a wonderful choice for your visit to Thailand. Click here (https://www.whatscheaper.com/hotel.php) to book with WhatsCheaper.com.

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