Chiang Mai, Thailand| Culture, food and shopping

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Chiang Mai centre

Thailand conjures up images of picture postcard beaches for good reason – there’s a huge supply of them in the south, now a well-trodden tourist path. But don’t miss out on mountainous northern Thailand which has lots of beautiful big sky scenery, unique culture, fantastic traditional food and bargain basement shopping. It’s a brilliant addition to a travelling trip.

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We visited Chiang Mai for four nights after a stay in Bangkok, before heading down to the southern beaches. Internal flights in Thailand are so cheap, it’s easy to get around. We booked into a boutique hotel – a little pricier than the hostels, cheaper than the hotels and often family run. Nowhere in Thailand is expensive, but northern Thailand is even more affordable then elsewhere.

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Hotel: Shewe Wana Boutique Hotel and Spa
Location: Chiang Mai
Address: 296,298 Charoen Muang Rd., T. Watket A. Muang Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand
Phone: (+66)53-240-020
Airport: Chiang Mai – short taxi ride into town
Pool? Yes – two, but not heated! Freezing cold….
Wi-Fi? Yes, in room and patchy  in communal areas
Perfect for: Couples and families after a pretty place to stay
FashCatherine credentials: Great home style cooking


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The city of Chiang Mai is ancient. It was founded in 1296 and was the capital of old Thailand until 1558. The old city is still evident, with the centre of town in a square shape surrounded by old city walls and a moat!

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There are hundreds of temples with golden effigies to see. The most visited are the 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang. The only place I’ve seen with more temples, is Bali.

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A stall to buy offerings to take to temples

SIGHTS

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Fern Forest Cafe

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You can stumble across cool cafes like this one – best to lose the map book and have a wander

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NIGHT MARKETS

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The night markets in Chiang Mai are great for people watching while sipping on a Singha. There are bars above the shops which often have live music. You can buy wooden kitchen items and photo frames at low prices, as well as all the usual Thai souvenirs – clothing and silk pyjamas. I loved the small baby fabric shoes with little bells on.

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Our favourite night market, along the main road, plays live music and is surrounded by food stalls

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Having a massage at the night market is a must – and so cheap

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Our haul from the night markets! just make sure you can carry what you buy…

FOOD

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Fresh seafood

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Fresh lemonade and cocktails beside Shewe Wana pool

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Khao Soi – crispy deep fried egg noodles, beef and coconut milk

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Street food – corn on the cob

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Eggs in banana leaves

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Sai Ua – Northern Thai sausage, with spices and red curry paste

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Strawberries with sugar, chilli and black pepper

DAY TRIPS

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Chaing Rai – the white temple

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Hill tribes tour – making coffee and visiting a waterfall

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The golden triangle – stand in Thailand, see to Mynamar and Laos

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Pantawan Cooking Class

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Doi Inthanon National Park, King and Queen’s pagodas, and visiting the highest point in Thailand

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