My Trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand
Traveling around the world alone is pretty intimidating. But if I’ve learned anything over the past couple of years it’s to just do it.
This year has blessed me with travels galore, but my trip to Chiang Mai this past months was something like I’ve never experienced before.
I learned so much about a culture that was totally new to me and so much about traveling. This was the longest and farthest I’ve ever traveled by myself, so it was one new experience after another.
I enjoyed this trip so much and I’m so excited to share this with all of you!
Here are some pictures and stories from my fun trip to the other side of the globe.
I stayed in two Airbnbs during my trip. The first was in a residential area and it had the prettiest sunrise view. Even though the sun came up on the other side of the building, the way the mountains were subtly illuminated was phenomenal.
This place was super cute and quiet. I slept most of the time I was at this place. The first few days, I slept at least 18 hours a day. The time difference was 12 hours, so it was pretty rough.
The reason I went to Chiang Mai to begin with was an SEO conference. I slept through most of the conference, but I wasn’t too concerned.
After a two days of the conference and lots of naps, I decided to venture out into the old town.
These red trucks are called songthaews. They are typical taxis in Chiang Mai. I rode in a couple, but I mostly stuck to Grab (which is like SE Asia’s Uber).
I actually used Grab to get food and groceries delivered the first couple of days. I was sleeping all day and awake at night, and I was a bit nervous to explore in the dark. It was so cheap and easy to get food sent right to my building.
I paid $2.22 on Grab to get all of this food brought right to me!
So, back to the Old City exploration. I came a few days after the Lantern Festival, so I saw some of the remaining decor.
Something that I learned on an Airbnb excursion I took was that Thailand is the only country that mixes Buddhism with Hinduism, making Buddhism more of a religion than a way of life.
A tradition that they follow is creating spirit houses when they have any sort of construction. Depending on what they are building and what they want from the spirit that resides in that space, they give offerings.
I’m not sure what the roosters are for, but I thought it was pretty cool.
I did a lap around a park in the Old Town and saw some koi fish.
I don’t typically take tours when I travel, but I saw some cool experiences listed on Airbnb.
One morning I met up with a local guide and a group of her friends at 6:00 AM to hike up the Monk’s Trail to the Wat Pha Lat temple. It was so beautiful and serene.
At first, I was really nervous about visiting temples because I didn’t know what sort of behavior was expected (such as when to bow, how to bow and stuff like that). I was so scared of accidentally offending locals.
The guide’s friends left so it was just her and I. Pui (the guide) grew up in a home of Buddhist practitioners, so she taught me a ton about the different parts of the monastery, the temple, the monks’ lives, how Buddha is portrayed in different cultures and more.
Pui taught my how and when to bow. She answered all of my questions. It was a really cool experience.
Use my invite link to get $40 off your first Airbnb stay and $15 off an experience.
After I purchased my first Airbnb experience, they sent me $25 towards another. I found another one that was pretty cheap and signed up. It included a visit to two local markets, a temple, a boat ride to a farm and a traditional Northern Thai lunch.
This experience was really cool because it was with a small group of people from around the world. We learned a ton about how the locals live. I didn’t know much about Thailand before I went, and I didn’t know that Northern Thailand actually has its own unique language and culture.
Here are some cute little pineapples from the market!
I bought a bird to release in the river as an offering. You could buy fish, eels, toads, turtles and birds. Each represented something different.
Chicken Khao Soi: A dish you’ll only find in Northern Thailand. It has both boiled and deep fried egg noodles.
The farm where we had lunch was so cute and peaceful.
We made offerings to the monks and received blessings.
The views from the rooftop infinity pool were to die for. The luxury apartment I stayed in at this place was absolutely perfect. And I only paid US$36 a night. Talk about a deal!
I had a stove in my second Airbnb so I went out to find groceries. My internet wasn’t working so I had a hard time finding somewhere with groceries. After an hour or so, my internet came back on and I found a grocery store right behind my Airbnb. It was just off the beaten path, so I wouldn’t have found it without my map.
When I got there, it was more of a small market. I asked the woman for eggs and she asked how many I wanted. I asked her what quantities they came in, but her English was a bit limited.
I ended up just saying 6 and was super surprised when she put them right in a grocery bag. The walk home was a scary one because I could crack a half dozen of eggs with one false move.
I cooked two for dinner when I got back. They were the freshest, most nutritious eggs I’ve ever had. And that’s saying something because I have a whole flock of hens in my backyard. The yolks were almost orange, which means the hens that laid the eggs were eating a super healthy diet.
When I was on my market tour, we tried sausage with sticky rice. This hot sausage is another food that Chiang Mai locals love. I headed to the Night Bazaar that evening and got myself some sausage.
One thing that I loved was that most of my meals were served with cucumbers. If you know me, you know that cucumbers are my favorite.
I am not super bold when it comes to food, so that part of traveling makes me nervous. But I was quite pleased with just about everything I ate.
All in all, I really liked Thailand. I understand the appeal to young people. There were sooo many Americans, Europeans and Australians. The culture and affordability are pretty attractive.
I had such mixed expectations. Chiang Mai is really, really old and it shows. There are a lot of aspects that reminded me of being in a developing country (especially the little shops and stands and street food), but I always felt safe.
So many people had warned me to be extra cautious when I was there, but I felt safer in Chiang Mai than I did in NYC during my extended layover on the way home.
I will definitely go back to Thailand, but I’ll spend more time and explore more of the country. I’d love to get out of the city and adventure more into the mountains.
A multiple day layover somewhere in Europe is also a must, because the 12 hour time change was rough and the 22+ hour travel day on the way there (and 32+ hours on the way home due to poor planning) was absolutely killer.
Even though I set alarms, I wasted so much time sleeping. Most days, I tried my hardest to stay awake, but it was tough.
I am still trying to figure out how I feel about the whole solo travel thing. It was sort of bittersweet. If you want to read about what my first solo trip taught me, you can check out the post on my travel blog.
The trip was certainly a positive experience, and I am so grateful for my career that allows me to travel as I please.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and little stories!
Where is your dream destination? Let me know in the comments below!