Thursday, May 7, 2015

temples in chiang mai, thailand

of all the places we visited in southeast asia, chiang mai felt the most spiritual to me. we visited a ton of temples in three weeks, and while the ones in bangkok were amazing and the ruins in angkor wat were impressive, chiang mai's temples had a totally different feel. instead of tourists, although there were plenty of those, they were filled with monks in orange robes. instead of famous buddhas and ornate buildings -- although the buddhas were no less amazing and the buildings were no less ornate -- there was a calmness, a peace. we sat in each temple, soaking up the years of prayers and chants, contemplating the teachings of the buddha, and letting it all in.


a quick guide to chiang mai -- 

eat: there are plenty of small restaurants scattered around town, but our absolute favorite was tucked away at talat pratu chiang mai, a bustling market along the southern edge of the old city. i'm not sure what the place is called, but they serve only two things: fish curry soup and a spicy pork noodle soup (not its real name). order the spicy pork noodle soup (20baht) -- it's life changing. go early, it's a morning market, and explore. other things to try: sticky rice with custard (10baht) and thai iced tea (15baht).

see: chiang mai is overrun with temples, but the highlights within the old city are wat phra singh (20baht), wat phan tao, and wat chedi luang.

- hike to wat phalad and wat phra that doi suthep and ride down in a shared taxi. the hike is a bit rougher than advertised, but the temples along the way and at the top are totally worth it. be sure to bring water. (if you go in the back way, you can skip the 30baht entrance fee.)
- feed and bathe the elephants at elephant nature park! i promise you, it'll be one of the coolest things you ever do.
- get a massage at the vocational training center of chiang mai women's correctional institution centre (180baht/hour). there are plenty of places that advertise massages by lady ex-cons, but there is only one real vocational training center (with two locations). i can't speak to quality of the imitators, but the real thing is amazing.
- visit the night market; there are plenty of kitschy things that you probably don't really need, but it's still fun to look!

sleep: awanahouse

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