We had a long weekend at Pua School, so the foreign teachers decided to make the most of it. We planned to meet up with a group of other Xplore Asia teachers, so we knew it'd be an epic weekend. On Friday night we took an overnight bus from Pua to Chiang Mai and planned to return Monday night. It cost about $20 for a round trip ticket and it was an eight hour ride each way.
Best of Chiang Mai
1. Green Tiger House: We arrived in Chiang Mai at 4am and took a truck to The Green Tiger House. I'm a bit particular when it comes to booking hostels, so I was excited to find a reasonably priced hostel (~$14/night for a dorm room) with a great location and fantastic reviews. I never thought I'd be a dorm type of person, but this hostel gave me new perspective. The beds were the most comfortable I've experienced in Asia. The room was clean, air-conditioned, and extremely dark when the doors were closed. The shower was amazing. The in-house vegetarian restaurant was awesome. The owner was a gem. Overall, huge success.
2. The Sunday Market: Easily the largest market I've ever experienced. You can walk half a mile in any direction and it is crowded with vendors. Even side roads off the main roads are packed. There was tons of food to try and lots of crafts and clothes to buy. I'm a terrible shopper. I go to the mall with one item in mind and leave with that one item, nothing more. I wanted to see what the market had to offer before I bought anything. I ended up getting tired before I looped back around and actually bought anything.
3. Night Life: We all went a little harder than I expected. Honestly, I did more drinking than I did anything here. There's so many people in Chiang Mai and so many places with fun things going on. We had a great time at Zoe's, but there are also awesome bars by the Muay Thai fighting arenas.
4. Khao Soi: Chiang Mai's signature dish. We visited the most famous khao soi stand and it was, hands down, the best meal I've had in Thailand. It's an amazing combination of flavors and textures.
Other things to do: Elephant Sanctuary, the Erotic Garden, hike up Doi Suthep to Wat Prah That, Doi Inthanon (highest point in Thailand), and the sticky waterfalls
Worst of Chiang Mai
1. See those "other things to do"? Well, we didn't do any of them. I don't know where time went! It was a great weekend spent with the best of friends, but I didn't see anything I wanted to in Chiang Mai. We explored temples we thought looked cool, but turns out we missed the more famous ones.
2. The Grand Canyon: Our research led us to believe that the Grand Canyon was a must-see in Chiang Mai. One blogger even said it was the reason he started a blog. It was the most disappointing excursion I've ever been on. There were really cool cliffs to jump off, but they were all closed. You weren't even allowed to swim without a life jacket. It was extremely bizarre. We later discovered that the summer before we visited, three foreigners tragically died in cliff jumping-related accidents. They cracked down and sucked all the fun out of the place.