We took a night bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak/Mochit) and it took us around eight hours to get there. The bus was a double-decker bus with reclining seats, and it even had a stewardess who provided us with snacks and drinks.
Both the bus terminals in Bangkok and Chiang Mai were very clean, and I was even very much impressed by the clean toilet in Bangkok – it looked as if it was not a toilet at a bus terminal (in Southeast Asia, at least).
When we arrived in Chiang Mai it was around 5.30 and it was very cold (for tropical people like us). Chiang Mai is in the northern part of Thailand and the temperature is much cooler than Bangkok, so it was a bit like a rainy morning in northern Bandung.
We only spent two full days in Chiang Mai and we mostly walked or cycled to get around. There was a bike rental near our hostel called WK bikes, so we rented two bikes for two days. The rental fee was 50 baht for 24 hours. On the first day, we cycled to Wat Phra Singh and Buak Hat Public Park, just around the city centre.
However, on the second day, we cycled for 25+ km from the city to Royal Park Rajapruek and back again. Cycling to Rajapruek was not so difficult, we only had to cycle out of the city centre, and took the big road southwest. The big road was like an intercity road with cars and trucks, so we just kept ourselves on the left side of the road. At the end of the day, our skin looked and felt like the grey asphalt, all scorched in the sun and covered by road dust.
Chiang Mai is like Ubud and it was filled with vegan yogis and hipsters, so I could easily find vegetarian meals. On the first day, I had pineapple fried rice for breakfast and in the evening I had a plate of brown rice with omelette, and a vegetable green curry to share. We also had mango sticky rice for dessert, and it was sooo good. The next evening, we went to the market again and had almost the same meal, but at a different vendor.
We also had a brunch at Pizza Company on our way to Royal Park Rajapruek. We found this pizza chain from TharnType the series and apparently the pizzas are very good. We had a package of vegetable pizza, pasta, chicken wings, and garlic bread. It was a lot for even the two of us that we could actually bring the remaining pizza with us for our snacks.
And of course, we had more fresh fruits from the street vendor. I always have water apples because they are very refreshing.
We had a walk around the city centre for breakfast, including along the canal and the former fortress. It was a nice sunny morning and we strolled while listening to songs by Troye Sivan. We went inside the market and had breakfast at a small restaurant nearby. The market was very clean, and you can buy fruits, vegetables, food, as well as other household appliances like pots and pans.
Good morning from Chiang Mai!
Wat Chedi Luang
After finishing our breakfast, we walked to Wat Chedi Luang, a temple with broken remains of chedi (I think the word is from the same root as candi, or temple in Indonesian) from the 15th century.
The ruins were surrounded by temples, some had very nice interior with buddha statues in different poses. What looked rather scary were the wax figures of the monks sitting inside the temples. They looked very much alive, and at first, I thought they were real monks meditating inside the temple…
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh is a complex of temples with golden chedi in the middle that gives this nice shining colour during the golden hour.
The entrance to the golden chedi was filled with paper lanterns of wishes. On the other side of the chedi, there was also a little yard with little bells with people’s names. There were also large silver bells with debossed images of Buddha.
The vihara was again filled with wax statues of monks that looked uncannily real.
Nong Buak Hat Public Park
We had no particular destination for the rest of our afternoon, so we just cycled along the moat and the ancient wall of the city.
We stumbled on a park in the corner of Arak Road, and apparently, it is a popular public park where local residents and tourists spend their afternoon doing exercises or just to have a stroll.
It is a medium-sized park that can well accommodate several sports, with even some gym equipment which we only had a bit of idea of what they were for. We walked to the other side of the park and I got to sit and bengong in front of the fountain by the lake.
Royal Park Rajapruek
Royal Park Rajapruek is a large floral garden in Chiang Mai. It was built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s ascension to the throne, as well as his 80th birthday back in 2007.
We took a shuttle to the Ho Kham Luang Royal Pavilion, the main building with traditional Lanna architecture. When I stepped inside, it felt breezy as there were open doors from three directions and the dark ceramic floor tiles gave extra coolness.
The Rajapruek Park itself was initially opened as an international flora exhibition in 2007, and it consists of smaller country pavilions, with the Netherlands pavilion being one of the closest to the Royal Pavilion. Of course, there were tulips, windmills, and cow statues. We had more walk to other country pavilions, including the popular orchid garden – with beautiful blooming orchids inside a large greenhouse.
In the middle of the driveway, there was a large golden tree statue with heart pendants. Apparently, rajapruek means golden shower tree, the national tree of Thailand. We took more photos of the flowers before finally exiting the park. We climbed up to the hill with a big tree just outside the park to get a nice view of the sunset.