Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chiang Mai trip – Prologue

I have planned to visit Chiang Mai 2 years back but Air Asia terminated the route hence that trip was cancelled. Hubby and I were discussing where to visit in October as I wanted a getaway during my birthday. Initially, we planned for an island getaway but October is monsoon period and after eliminating the options, we decided to visit Chiang Mai.

Currently there is either Tiger Airways or Silkair which fly direct from Singapore to Chiang Mai. Tiger fare is not cheap during the period which we are travelling hence we booked with Silkair. I redeemed my mileage and paid S$261 for each ticket. There is 2 options of redeeming krisflyer mileage, redeem award flight and pay taxes or pay with mixture of krisflyer miles and cash. I tried to redeem award flight but was put on waiting list for the outbound flight so I redeemed the ticket using the other option. 

Chiang Mai is the former capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom and 5th largest city in Thailand. Chiang Mai is also known as the "Rose of the North" for its variety of flowers which all come into bloom in early February. It is located on a plain at an elevation of 316m hence the temperature is lower than Bangkok.
Map of Thailand (from Lonely Planet)

There are many boutique hotels in Chiang Mai and I settle for Seven Senses Guesthouse. The Guesthouse is located outside the city wall and has 8 different theme rooms. I booked Ayutthaya room which has a private garden for the first 2 nights and Manorah room which has a jacuzzi for the next 3 nights. The suite room per night is THB2,200 ~ S$85 inclusive of breakfast. 

There are more than 300 temples in Chiang Mai and its outskirts. Unlike Bangkok, where few temples are more than 200 years old, some temples in Chiang Mai are as old as the city, which is more than 700 years old. Of course I'm not temple craze to visit all the temples. The most famous is Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, which is one of the most important temple in Chiang Mai and it is not to be missed! There is a saying that if you never been to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, it's as if you have never been to Chiang Mai.

I did not include day trip to Chiang Rai and Golden Triangle as forumers commented that the whole day would be spent inside the car. I planned to visit Doi Inthanon National Park which is the highest point in Thailand and is 2hrs car ride from Chiang Mai.

I planned to attend a cooking class during this trip as I wanted a unique experience than the normal sightseeing. After reading the reviews, I booked a morning half day class with Tom Yum Thai Cooking. The lesson cost THB 800 ~ S$31 which includes a trip to the local market, cooking ingredients and hotel transfer. The class ranges from 2 - 8 student which is quite intimate as this allows the instructor to give sufficient attention to all the students. During the class, the student will learn 5 dishes: stir fried, soup, salad, curry paste and curry. The dessert mango sticky rice and banana spring roll will be taught to all students.

Itinerary for this trip:
Day 1: Reach Chiang Mai @ 10.45am (GMT +7), Nimmana Haeminda Road
Day 2: Give alm to monk, Wat Lok Molee, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phan Tao, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Si Suphan, High tea @ 137 Pillar
Day 3: Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, Sunday walking street
Day 4: Doi Inthanon National Park, Khantoke Dinner @ Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center
Day 5: Tom Yum Thai cooking class, Warorot Market
Day 6: Depart Chiang Mai @ 11.30am

Budget for this trip is S$700:
- S$250 for accommodation
- S$50 for transport
- S$50 for admission and tour
- S$50 for cooking class
- S$150 for meals
- S$50 for massage
- S$100 for shopping

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