Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 734 : Adventures in Chiang Mai

Welcome to Chiang Mai, (meaning new city), situated at the foothills of Northern Thailand's lush mountains. Built in 1292 and once the capital and religious center of the Lanna Kingdom, it is now a bustling cultural metropolis. The center of town or Old City is still a walled quarter peppered with temples, massage parlours, cafes, small artisan shops selling handmade arts and crafts and much more -- an excellent blend of culture and history in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Outside the Old City's walls is New Chiang Mai otherwise known as the area around Nimanhaemin Road -- think South Beach plus Santa Fe with an Asian bent -- arts and crafts function side by side with upscale and trendy restaurants, Art Deco architecture, contemporary art galleries and more. Even further outside of Chiang Mai is an eco-lovers paradise -- hikes to the holy mountain, Doi Suthep rising 5,498 feet above the city; elephant reserves; jungle treks and ziplining; river cruises and much much more.

Back in the Old City, Chiang Mai is known for its night time markets, especially the Sunday Night Walking Street which I had the opportunity to visit last night. The perfect blend of performance, food, local arts and crafts and clothing take over a maze of streets largest on Sunday evenings. It had the mystery, mystique and allure of nights spent exploring the various wares and attractions in Djemma El Fna, the main square in Morocco but with a laid back, friendly Asian feel. Looking for individual pieces of sushi to go? Perhaps a home cooked Pad Thai along the way? Some homemade sweets? Thai silk scarves? Jade bracelets? Spices? Wood handicrafts? Perhaps you needed to stock up on your dried fish supply, you could find it here!

Today was spent touring around the Old City, exploring the temples, a meander along the riverbanks and a trip over to Nimanhaemin Road followed by a Thai massage. Now it's on to exploring some of the art galleries in the Old City and dinner and a visit to the night time market again. Tomorrow, will be a trip out to see the elephants before my return flight to Bangkok.

Overall an excellent day in a friendly and welcoming city full of Western expats, Thai artists, monks, and backpackers galore. Here's to more adventures to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive