Thailand is not all that brazen as one assumes. In the north, there are nonchalant cities such as Chiang Mai which is also the second biggest tourist city in the country. A quiet mix of true Thai elements including temples, night markets, bars and unforgettable meals; this old city is not to be missed in your next trip to your favourite neighbour holiday. Being the cultural capital, this city is dwelled by artists and start-ups for the growing work culture. This historic city comes across as having split personality; one of the distinctive identity from ancient kingdoms and Buddhist temples and one of the uprising urban work community nestled among creativity and good quality life.
The best way to reach Chiang Mai is to take a flight from Bangkok. A short one-hour flight will take you to what Indians have been missing out on while repeatedly going to Phuket and Pattaya. Thailand is definitley beyong massages, spas and Walking Street. Here, wake up early and get a chance to interact with the monks and take this opportunity to indulge in meditation. On other days Nimmanhaemin Road is where the buzz is. Choose your favourite fine dinning experience or plonk yourself at a charming cafe, this road draws you back every evening. From artisan to organic, there are healthy ad natural options in plenty and award-winning latte art. To tone down, head to the banks of the Ping River and here find all the swanky boutique hotels, magnificent galleries and bask in the old era of elegance.
I divided my stay in two properties that left me spoilt for choice. Vanilla Hill Lodge and a Coffee Plantation owned by an Australian Chef called 'Dream Caught'. Vanilla Hill was a vast space glamourised by nature. A dozen of cozy modern villas make for the perfect getaway if you're in the romantic or relaxing mood. Attached with balconies, there were trees growing in the middle of your living space and breezy angle will make your heart dance. Further from the city, you have to be prepared to walk a distance to reach the busy area or depend on a car/taxi pick up and drop. But all good properties come with the same price.
Our next abode was DreamCaught - away from the crowded tourist districts to the Northern mountains of Mae Taeng 90 mins from Chiang Mai. The Treehouse is situated along the river and is surrounded by natural beauty. The treehouse is equipped with a refrigerator, mosquito net. Relax by the river on your private wrap around deck as you enjoy nature at your doorstep in less than Rs 5,000 per night.
From there I headed to Chiang Khong Via Wat Rong Khun and enjoy the view of the mighty Mekong. Explore the cafes, restaurants, nature, waterfalls, fall in love, chill, party at night. Take a mini van and head to Pai from there. The best way to spend your time at Pai is learn Mua Thai every morning and party all evening.
Save an entire day on your way back for Hang Dong Quarry, also known as the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon. 45 minutes away from Chiang Mai City, the canyon is carved out of red clay soil and is quite a sight to behold.
We also dedicated one day to the Chinese Villages where locals came together to offer their prayers together with their loved ones and sit for hours isolated lost in the still of the beauty. Stop by the waterfall for a rain dance and dip in the natural hot springs. The further the hot Spring is, the warmer the water gets.