thailand: the north (chiang mai, chiang rai, pai)

While the north of Thailand has a distinct tourist feel, as well as a well-worn path that most people stick to, I liked the vibe much more than on the islands. There’s less of the family vacation, pre-packaged feel. There’s also a definitive ex-pat community. It gives places Iike Chiang Mai a really cool, relaxed feel. Had I gone off of the easy route, I might have had a more “authentic” Thai feel to my trip, but I didn’t. The path of least resistance is not always the best, just one of the many lessons of traveling I’ve learned in the past 5 months. In any case, I really enjoyed my time in the north. I spent most of my time in Chiang Mai, where I tried out several different yoga studios, night markets, and green curries (my favorites were Yoga Tree for asanas and Yoga Kukaan for meditation; Ploen Ruedee, near Anusarn Market; and the place right next to Coincidence Hostel for the best green curry I had in all of Thailand). I also went “cliff” jumping (I was too scared to jump off the really high ones!) at Grand Canyon, and to the hilltop temple, Wat Phra That Doi Kham, for awesome views of the city.

I took a day trip to Chiang Rai to see the white temples (beautiful, but soooo touristy!), and the golden triangle to see the intersection of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, where Opium was once traded. Also so so touristy, but hey, now I can say I’ve been to Laos 🙂

Pai was gorgeous. I stayed only one night and missed some apparently beautiful waterfalls. But after 3 weeks in Thailand (and like so many other unfortunate backpackers all over Thailand, a very minor motorbike accident) I was so ready to leave. And so excited for my next stop – Myanmar…and spoiler, Myanmar is (so far anyway), everything it’s cracked up to be and more. More on that soon 🙂

chiang mai 

chiang rai & golden triangle