Chiang Mai, Thailand 3 Day Travel Tips
Chiang Mai has got to be my favorite city in Thailand. Located in Northern Thailand away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you get more of the village vibe. Don't get me wrong, the streets are lively with people and street vendors but it's more laid back. I based this entire trip after watching, my now friends, Kara and Nate's travel vlogs on YouTube. I booked everything to the "T". I had planned to travel in November so I could attend the Lantern Festival (Yee Peng). If you have an opportunity to come and witness this event it's truly magical.
How to get to Chiang Mai:
If staying in Bangkok you can either fly or take the sleeper train. If you have never taken a sleeper train I recommend trying it for the experience. It's affordable and you'll save money on an overnight hotel stay. The beds compared to other sleeper trains I've seen are very clean. About an hour into the train ride the attendants come by and make your bed for you and in the morning about 30 min to an hour before arrival the attendants come back around and pick up the bedding. Don't forget the essentials...SNACKS! There is a food car on the train but options are limited. I had stopped at 7-11 prior to boarding and picked up a cup of noodles, bottled water, chips and a breakfast pastry. The food car does have a hot water dispenser. I believe it was 10 baht for the hot water.
First class sleeper-Cost approx. 60 USD per person and houses two berths
Second class sleeper with air conditioning-Cost approx. 40 USD per person. This is what I had booked. I recommend booking a lower berth since the top berth does not have a window. Also, bring a pullover. It can get a little chilly.
Second class sleeper with fan-Cost approx. 35 USD per person
Where to purchase train tickets:
Hua Lamphong Train Station: If making a last minute decision you can always purchase from the train station. However, seating maybe be limited.
12GO Asia: I purchased my tickets through this site, which I found to be very user friendly. If purchased in advance you can have the tickets mailed to you or you can pick them up from the agency, which is a 5 minute walk from the train station. https://12go.asia/en
Transportation: Chiang Mai train station to hotel-There are several songthaews (red safari taxi trucks) around the station. You can do a little bartering to lower the price. I paid about 200 baht to get the hotel. You can do most of your exploring by foot if staying near Thapae Road and the excursions I had booked all had pickup service.
I recommend staying near Thapae Road or in the Old City. This will put you in the heart of all the action. I had traveled solo on this trip and stayed at hostel D-Well. Rooms were very clean and the best part was the shower facilities. There were several shower stalls and stations to get ready. The facilities were cleaned frequently.
Things to do/see:
First and foremost please please please do NOT ride the elephants. There are better ways to get up close and personal with them. I have seen elephants chained to one location for hours on end until someone comes to ride them. What most people don't understand is the process it takes to break an elephant and it is brutal. I have provided some alternative options below.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary-I recommend the full day excursion. https://elephantjunglesanctuary.com/
Elephant Nature Park- https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
Thai Secret Cooking School- https://www.chiang-mai-cooking-school.com/
Yee Peng/Yi Peng (Lantern Festival)-Occurs in November when there's a full moon
Loi Krathong Festival-Celebrated at the same time as the Yee Peng Festival
Saturday and Sunday night street markets
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai is popular for their noodle dish, khao soi. The best place to have this dish is at this hole in the wall restaurant that does not have a name. It is located right across from the Blue Diamond Breakfast Club. I suggest pairing this dish with a Thai tea because it is a bit spicy.