Thailand is a fascinating place, on the one hand you have the bustling tourist centres and beaches, yet the mountain regions in the north of the country are stunningly beautiful and have lots of very interesting inns to see and do.
I went to the Chaing Mai province which is truly picturesque, and although a popular tourist area, nothing like as crowded as Phuket and Bangkok. The prices reflect this as much an anything, for my favorite sweet sticky dish, sticky Mango rice, you pay 100 bhat in Phuket, yet here I was only paying 50, and the portions were bigger as well, great value and made me very happy, even before I started exploring the sights. There are some wonderful night markets in Chaing Mai, all selling great souvenirs at interesting prices – dont forget to bargain :). Perhaps the most impressive is on a Saturday night, where they close down a lot of streets in the old town and turn it into a night market.
I visited the Chaing Mai Tiger Kingdom where you can get’ up close and personal with these magnificent beasts, I had mixed emotions taking this photo, on the one hand it was wonderful to get so close to such a wonderful animal, yet on the other hand I am against keeping animals like this in captivity, and although I got very close because he was sleeping, I wonder if he was drugged (the park says no, but one can never be sure). As I said conflicting thoughts, a once in a lifetime photo, but I am also slightly ashamed of myself to continue the practice by paying to do it.
The temple of Wat Phra That Doi Sethup is a Theravada Buddhist temple in the mountains, it is often called Doi Suthup, which is technically the name of the mountain that it sits on, but whatever its name it is well worth a visit, the golden domes are simply breathtaking. I also visited the Wat Chedi Luang temple which is in the centre of Chaing Mai, originally made up of three temples, Wat CHedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin, but now is referred to as just Wat Chedi Luang. Again the sumptuous golden domes and spires are amazing and the whole place is both peaceful and beautiful.
I also went to the village of the Long Necks, this is a very ancient custom of stretching the neck by adding golden rings. The results are spectacular, but slightly unnerving, I am not sure I would like to have a neck stretched like that, although I do think that it is attractive, what do you think.?
I very much enjoyed my excursion to the mountains, and it is quite reasonable, you can find 5 star resorts like Chiang Mai Plaza at €30 per night, I stayed in the Anantara resort for 380 euros a night and Anantara services suites which is at the higher end of the price scale 450 euros a night(the most expensive is the Four Seasons which can cost up to €700 a night) and on the last night moved to one nearer the airport as I had an early flight.
The Night Market offers a high range of traditional cheap eats meals like fried rice, pad thai,BBQ, rice cakes, mango sticky rice and exotic fruits shakes. I tried also a mid range restaurant called The Whole Earth where they serve thai and indian cuisine..super delicious
As fine dining I was at The Service 1921 in the Anantara Resort and had delicious thai, cantonese and indian food