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Chiang Mai, Thailand – Part 1

Written by LouiseElizabeth

17th March 2019

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Arriving in Chiang Mai – Day 5

Our journey to Chiang Mai, Thailand was a hassle free, 3-hour AirAsia flight from Hong Kong. Ross and I had backpacked through South East Asia before we had met. But neither of us had ever been to Chiang Mai or Northern Thailand before, so this was completely new territory and exciting for us both. We chose to go to Chiang Mai as we’d heard some great things. We knew Chiang Mai had lots to offer and is a hotspot for digital nomads. Due to Chaing Mai cost of living, co-working spaces and fast, reliable internet.

Hong Kong to Thailand Flight
Flight Hong Kong to Chiang Mai

Over the last few years, we have been focused on setting up and running our Airbnb business and Ross was excited at the opportunity of meeting potential like-minded people. One of our goals for this trip was to explore potential business ventures to diversify our income.

Looking to save money on your next Airbnb rental? Here is an Airbnb coupon code for 2019 to save $45 just for you! Just click the link below and sign up. Already an existing Airbnb user? You too can take advantage and save potentially $100. Click here to find out more!!

On arrival, we found Chaing Mai Airport to be a little bit crazy! Ross had left the terminal to try and find a taxi, only to find he wasn’t allowed to re-enter. Well not without getting to the back of a very long queue, anyway. So there I was. Left with the buggy, 2 small children, a trolley full of backpacks and luggage, whilst Ross argued and begged security to re-enter and help me out. A battle he eventually won!

The taxi ordering process at Chaing Mai Airport wasn’t a lot easier either. We collected a ticket (250 baht) and it seemed to be just passed from person to person. After it had exchanged hands several times, it was finally handed to our driver. We later found out that this was definitely not the cheapest way to travel to our destination in Nimman (seeing as the return journey using grab was only 114 baht!). We had pretty good first impressions at our Hotel, Stay with Nimman. However, after our reception at the Dorsett WanChai Hotel in Hong Kong, every hotel from now on has pretty big shoes to fill!

Airasia flight

If you haven’t read our first blog post on our trip to Hong Kong, check it out! First Stop – Hong Kong

Sunday Night Market, Chaing Mai

As we had arrived on a Sunday, the Night Market was taking place from 4pm until midnight. The market is located in the centre of the old walled city area of Chiang Mai. This meant that we could walk there from our hotel and save some money for the market.

Chiang Mai, Sunday Night Market
Sunday Evening Jhaban Market, Chiang Mai

The Sunday Night Market is a showcase of the art and craftsmanship of the Northern Thai people and obviously a really popular attraction for tourists. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a highlight for us personally. There were so many people there and it was an absolute nightmare with a buggy. Although the market is roughly 1km long, it felt like the roads would never end. In fact, the best part of the market for me was the fresh strawberry juice that we had bought for Dylan. And I drank most of.

To add to our stress, we got a little lost on the way back. As we always do, we had taken a local map from our hotel to help us to navigate the area. With it being so dark and the map not including smaller street names on it, we had no idea if we were going the right way or not. Eventually, we navigated our way back and in time for a well-deserved meal.

DAILY SPEND (ROUGHLY)

  • 250 baht – Taxis
  • 50 baht – Fresh Juice
  • 600 baht – Dinner

Maya Shopping & Moblie SIMs – Day 6

Our first morning at Stay with Nimman was good. We tried the breakfast buffet, which finally didn’t contain Dim Sum!! There was a choice of eggs and coffee (made to order) and their banana bread was a hit with us all! As we had woken up very early, so decided to try and wear ourselves out in the morning by checking out the Maya shopping mall first thing. Unfortunately, this didn’t plan out too well for us as it didn’t actually open until 11am and we’d got up so early that we’d arrived at 10am! So, the new plan was to go back to the hotel, take a swim in the hotel pool, and may get some rest. It was also wise for us to get out of the 35-degree heat for a little bit, before trying the trip again!

The main purpose of our trip to Maya shopping centre was to buy ourselves a Thai sim card. This was so that we could have access to the internet whilst we were out and about, hence our determination to do it all again that same day. So after a few hours, we went back to Maya shopping centre.

We found the surrounding roads a bit tricky to navigate, with traffic lights and an awful lot of traffic. Especially on our second trip. The shopping centre is very clearly planned out. Unlike UK shopping centres, each floor has its own category, for example, level 3 being “Media and Electronics”. This meant navigating and finding the shops we wanted, very easy. We knew that the main mobile networks in Thailand were True or AIS and found a good SIM-only package from AIS after going back and forth between there and True for a while.

Maya Shopping Roof Top
Roof Top at Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center

We decided to have dinner at the mall and ate at The Pizza Company. Unfortunately, it was a little stressful. Orla decided she was hungry too and began to cry, ALOT. This meant I had to leave to feed her. I didn’t mind too much though, as the food tasted like a cheap Chicago Town frozen pizza and wasn’t very enjoyable.

Travel Tip: when purchasing a mobile SIM card, you will require your passport, so ensure you take one along!

Baby Feeding

Breastfeeding Orla on this trip has been a little tricky, not knowing if it was socially acceptable and not wanting to offend. Orla feeds roughly every 3 hours during the day. So we tend to go out in 3-hour blocks of time, but this wasn’t always possible. I discovered in the Maya shopping centre at the back of the Ladies toilets an armchair and table with a sign stating “Reserved for Breastfeeding Mothers”. I was delighted to finally have found a bit of privacy, that didnt involve sitting in a stuffy toilet cubicle to feed her.

Still a little jetlagged, we were hoping for an early night. Unfortunately, this was not to be! Running our business remotely, we regularly get interrupted during the night, due to time differences. We do try to plan ahead and even with our best efforts, some customers are all set to break our best set plans. So, through no fault of our own, we were awake until 3am. C’est la vie, at least we don’t have anything to get up for in the morning!

DAILY SPEND (ROUGHLY)

  • 50 Baht AIS Thai Sim
  • 900 Baht AIS 30 Day Contract
  • 650 Baht Dinner

Grabs & Dinosaurs – Day 7

It was time to move hotels. After paying roughly £50 a night at Stay with Nimman, it was time to stop living in 5-star hotels and “rough it a little”. So after several hours of contemplation, we found a new hotel for £30 per night, ‘Nimman Mai Design Hotel‘. The reviews looked good and the pictures looked great.

Unfortunately, Nimman Mai Design Hotel didn’t quite live up to our expectations, there wasn’t anything I could really put my finger on, and never made any complaints.

Travel Tip: We have found the majority of our hotels using Agoda, which appears to work out the cheapest for us. You can also earn some rewards (in cash) that you can use on other hotels.

Grab Taxis

We booked a Grab Taxi, through the Grab App to take us to our new hotel. Grab is like the equivalent to Uber we use in the UK, but far more reliable and generally cheaper. However, the car that arrived was the smallest car I’ve ever seen (and I used to drive a Toyota IQ). So there was absolutely no chance of us all fitting into it, along with our buggy, car seat and backpacks. Unfortunately, we had to turn it away.

The hotel doorman explained to us that had we had entered our credit card details into the Grab app, we’d have been charged for at least half the fare. However, with Grab you have the option to pay in cash, which we had done, so we were in luck. We learnt from our mistake and paid a little extra and requested a larger Grab car to take us to the new hotel.

referral code gran taxi
Grab Taxi App

Travel Tip: Download and Sign-up to the Grab App, available on the App Store and Google Play and use the Grab referral code GRABEVERYBITHELP or link below to receive money off on your first taxi ride

Hidden Village

Dylan, like a lot of children his age has a bit of a fascination with dinosaurs and Ross, had found the perfect place for him. Right in Chiang Mai, there was a park called the Hidden Village and it included ‘Dinosaur Village’.

Days out in Chiang Mai for children
Dinosaur Village, Chiang Mai

We ordered another Grab to take us there from the hotel and we were not disappointed. Adult entry was 200 baht for foreign tourists and children under 100cm got in for free. The place was great, with the features of a farm such as pigs roaming around and rabbits and sheep that you could feed. As well as many large sculptures of animals and insects. It also had a wooden playground which is probably more designed for older children. The dinosaur town was brilliant too, albeit a little too ‘realistic’ with 1 dinosaur dripping with blood from being attacked by a T-Rex! haha. But honestly, a great find especially for a boy who loves a Tricertops!

There are quite a few shady spots throughout where you can sit and enjoy refreshments from the kiosks dotted around the park. There is also a steak house which serves a mix of Thai and western food which was very reasonably priced. Kids ate for free (with the purchase of a burger or steak). Unfortunately, this didn’t work for us as the only children’s food options were pasta dishes which Dylan doesn’t like. So, I opted for chicken fried rice which I shared with Dylan for 80baht. They even brought out some plastic knives, forks and spoons for him to use. Ross had a spicy pork dish which they warned was spicy and Ross said he could handle it. When it came out it was VERY spicy and you could see the pain in his eyes with every mouthful! lol.

Days out in Chiang Mai - Dinosaur Village
Hidden Village, Chiang Mai

We stayed at the Hidden Village for about 2 hours. We found there were a lot of locals at the Hidden Village, rather than tourists/westerners. This meant that the local people were looking at the children quite a lot. I’d noticed during the night bizarre how much the Thai people loved babies and this time it was Orla’s turn to get a lot of attention. At the end of the park it got a little weird as a group of people started peering into her buggy and pressing onto the skin on her legs and feet, to watch the colour change. They then did a similar thing to Dylan and rubbed at his skin on his arms. It wasn’t in any way rough, just a strange experience and they were just inquisitive.

After our Grab Taxi home we decided to go for street food at the One Street, Food Market. Ross went for a rice and pork dish, whilst I had a crepe and fresh coconut drink. Dylan stuck to his favourite Strawberry juice.

DAILY SPEND (ROUGHLY):

  • 400 Baht – Hidden Village Entrance
  • 200 Baht – Lunch at Hidden Village
  • 180 Baht – Dinner
  • 320 Baht – Grab Taxis

Getting into a routine – Day 8 – 10

We spend the next few days just getting into a bit of a routine. Every morning (like before) would involve getting the most out of the hotel breakfast. Then Ross would go to use a local gym (Gold Hillside Gym & Fitness, oneoff sessions are only 80 Baht).

We took Dylan to the Fantasia soft play on the 4th floor at Maya shopping centre, which was great. Children could play for up to 2 hours during the week and 1 hour at weekends. I’d highly recommend it, as its reasonably priced and offers a lot of variety.

Maya Water Fountain
Water Fountains Outside Maya Shopping Centre

With the help of Agoda once more, we had moved hotels after 2 nights at the ‘Nimman Mai Design Hotel‘. We found a hotel we were really happy with named The Nimman Hotel. The room was spacious, it had a great atmosphere and a reasonably sized swimming pool with a huge inflatable duck for Dylan to play on.

Travel Tip: If you are travelling with children under 3 it’s worth not putting them into your hotel search. As often hotels don’t charge when using existing bedding or having your own cot. If you do enter the children, they will often try and put you into a family room which costs more money. But keep an eye on the capacity of the rooms to make sure you’re technically allowed to have the children in there… or chance it, as we have 😉

Unfortunately, when we went to take our first dip at the Nimman Hotel we realised “we” (Ross) had left Dylan’s armbands at the first hotel. We thought we’d risk it and let him get in the pool regardless. Turns out this was a big mistake. After about half an hours play on the inflatable duck, we hadnt realised that he had fallen off until he started floating to the surface, coughing and spluttering! Whoops! Time to get him some armbands I think 😉

So we took a trip to the Central Shopping Mall one evening, which had a large department store where we could purchase some armbands. The same evening we found a great Mexican restaurant opposite the Central Shopping Mall called “The Salsa Kitchen”. The food there was brilliant and probably our best meal so far… albeit not Thai! This cost us about 700 baht.

Think Project Chiang Mai
Think Park Night Market, Chiang Mai

During these few days, we had found another great street food market at Think Park Night Market. This was across the road from the Maya shopping mall. The market was on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and offered a host of different foods. Our absolute favourite was the roasted chicken which fed the 2 of us and was only 50 baht. It came with an amazing sauce too.

Most evenings after we’d eaten, we went to a bar called “Stone head”. Its a pop-up up bar which was part of the Think Craft, Think Park project. Located in the cosy outdoor area in front of Eastin hotel and there was live music every time we went there. Some were most definitely better than others!! It was a really nice place to go and chill out on bean bags, listen to some good music and drink a couple of strawberry Fanta’s! Although they did also serve the craft beers too.

Continue read…Chiang Mai, Thailand Part 2

Chiang Mai, Thailand, family travel blog
Family Travel Adventure – Chiang Mai, Thailand – Second Stop (Part 2)

Looking to save money on your next Airbnb rental? Here is an Airbnb coupon code for 2019 to save $45 just for you! Just click the link below and Sign UpAlready an existing Airbnb user? You too can take advantage and save potentially $100. Keep reading to find out more!!

Sign-up to Airbnb & Save $75 with this promo code
Airbnb Coupon Code – Save $45 off your first Airbnb reservation

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