a nomad in search of...
Chiang Mai, Thailand

2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018

2 Weeks in Chiang Mai

Location: Chiang Mai (city), Thailand

Chiang Mai on the Radar
When I landed in Bangkok, I thought I would spend my entire 30 days there. As a general rule, I do a 30-day mini-life in any destination before I move on. But Mike offered me 2 weeks in his Nawa Saraan Hotel in Chiang Mai. On top of that, I couldn't find an extension in Bangkok beyond my 15 days at Adventure Hostel. The die was cast for Chiang Mai. This is how my universe communicates to me. What's in store for me in Chiang Mai? Only one way to find out.

13.5 Hours on the #51 Seated Train
A new luxury train was just introduced into the service at B1038 - tempting, but a little too rich for me. I'm lucky they offered a cheap open-air seated train for B270 - #51. It was very comfortable with open windows, but a problem when you want to sleep. The seat is for 2 pax. I was lucky again that no one was beside me so I was able to curl up instead of sleeping while seated fully upright. The train ride was without any hitch and arrived promptly at 12:10pm as scheduled.

Red Taxi
The red taxis were all awaiting at the airport. I knew the trick from my last visit. I whispered to the driver, "I'll give you B50 to the Old City and I won't tell the other passengers". He smiled and we were in business - otherwise, he would charge B100.

Nawa Saraan Hotel Chiang MaiNawa Saraan
It was so good to be back at my old hotel - Nawa Saraan. Mike left instructions with the staff about my arrival. I was given a spacious luxury room - 2 twin beds, flat screen tv, split a/c, personal safety box, compli tea/coffee, water kettle, in-room wifi, spacious ensuite, the works! I still don't know what I've done to Mike to deserve all this. But I'm always grateful.

Mike arrived shortly to welcome me. When asked how my money situation is, I simply replied, "bleak, but I'll make my money in Chiang Mai". Without missing a beat, he pulls out his wallet and hands me some big bills. Whoa! Free money? I was surprised, thankful and felt a little awkward. Even from my Dad, I don't accept free money. But at the same time, my cash was really low...good for a week or two. I accepted the money on condition it be a loan. He shrugged it off and laughed. What a guy! Really, what a guy!

I sent out feelers to yoga studios and 2 of them have responded favorably. On top of that, I met up with Tammy, a yoga teacher I met in Siem Reap (Cambodia), and gave me a heads-up about free yoga in the park. It was great to see Tammy again, after 2 years! I have attended a few of these classes and even conducted one.

Top Thailand Adventure Tour, Chiang MaiBicycle
I just stopped by a bicycle rental shop, Top Thailand Adventure Tour and offered them a barter deal they could not refuse. I walked out with a bicycle I could use during the entire duration of my stay in Chiang Mai. At the usual rate of B50/day, I'm saving lots, not to mention I extend my range. I would ride out and if I see any place interesting, I'd lock my bike and walk around. Whoa! Great way to discover interesting neighborhoods in Chiang Mai.

Chai MateoChai and Friends
A pleasant surprise was Chai and her Filipino friends (Marc, Mar and Josephus) who spent the long weekend in Chiang Mai. We hung-out at Akha Ama Cafe, walked the streets of Chiang Mai as we engaged in long talks about many things. I had been traveling Asia for a good long while and it's rare for me to meet, let alone hang-out, with Filipino travelers. Now I have friends I can bug when I come back to Bangkok!

Navraj GrewalNavraj Grewal
An Indian Sikh who spent nearly all his life in the military service was Navraj. He was in pursuit of spirituality when we met in Dharamshala. As good fortune would have it, he's now in Chiang Mai. It's odd for a soldier to be seeking spirituality but Navraj is a man of dimension and complexity. We shared insight and shared ourselves. He is one person I've connected to on a deeper level. I would liken him to be karmically entangled with me.

Life in Chiang Mai
With not enough cash to sustain me, I didn't have the luxury to do touristy things. For the most part, I worked - sending out business proposals, knocking on cafe doors, or writing my blogs. That's the basic difference between me and the average traveler. They have a budget for traveling to begin with - so they spend it and have a good time with food and tours. Me, I usually don't have enough and I still have to make my money - so I work while they party. I'm not really a tourist. I'm just a guy choosing a different destination to do his work. Still, it's not a bad life - steamed momo in Nepal, buttered naan bread in India, tom yum soup in Bangkok, khao soi in Chiang Mai. Like I said, it's not bad. I find pleasure walking the streets of a neighborhood in search of anything interesting. More often than not, I find good food to eat. I'm happy with that. Small pleasures!

Ending Thoughts
Last time I was in Chiang Mai, it was wet and wild with the Songkran Festival. Now, it's still wet because of the monsoon. But it had a different flavor. I wasn't a tourist but a traveler finding bearing, grounding and ways to make sense of my survival despite the abundance. Just a few days upon arriving, the abundance started happening. After choosing a life of abundance in Bangkok, I've always felt Chiang Mai will be the start of the unraveling. Good things have begun to happen and the energy felt just right. Let me end my Chiang Mai sojourn by thanking Mike - my host, my friend and benefactor. Without him, I would have no idea where I would have ended up.

--- TheLoneRider
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Reader Comments:

Doris Tagle-VillarealDoris Tagle-Villareal
(July 31, 2018) Please eat some kao soi for me...ask with no chili on it

Baba JayBaba Jay
(July 30, 2018) There's an amazing cave temple 25 km outside in the villages. The size is bigger than a football field. It has a huge lying down Buddha and other temples including Hindu

Next stop: Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai

Google Map

Chiang Mai, Thailand

important places in Chiang Mai IMPORTANT PLACES
Chiang Mai Bus Station Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station Train Station
Chiang Mai airport Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily

hotels in Chiang Mai HOTEL
Chiang Mai Arun Dara Villa Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Chiang Mai Nawa Sheeva Hotel Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Chiang Mai Nawa Saraan Hotel Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite, Chiang Mai Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families

birds nest restaurants in Chiang Mai RESTAURANT
La Pizza Chiang Mai La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Chiang Mai birds nest restaurant Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup

Thai massage in Chiang Mai WELLNESS
ITM  International Training Massage School ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Lanna Massage Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment

motorcycle rental in Chiang Mai MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Chiang Mai birds nest motorcycle Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200


Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
  • crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • hot season begins March and lasts until June
  • wet season begins July and lasts until September
  • best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February
  • visit Chiang Mai between October and April - best time, without the monsoon rains
  • you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
  • to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
  • get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
  • shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
  • for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
  • FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
  1. North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
  2. Road House - in front of Porn Ping Hotel
  3. Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Cost Index
  • B60 Chiang beer
  • B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
  • B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
  • B50 noodle soup with meat
  • B50 coffee
  • B40 pad thai
  • B30/kilo wash-only laundry
  • B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
  • B100-150 dorm bed/night
  • B250 fan room/night
  • B30 internet cafe/hour
  • B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
  • B130-150 Movies weekdays
  • B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
  • B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
  • B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
  • B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
  • B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)

  • Transportation
  • B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
  • B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
  • B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
  • B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B50 red taxi fare from point to point
  • B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city

  • Tours
  • B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
  • B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
  • B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. Movie Review: Rocketman (2019) June 25, 2019
  2. Bruce Lipton: Epigentics to Transcend Genes June 24, 2019
  3. Optimizing Life thru Heart Math May 8, 15 and 22, 2019
  4. Movie Review: Aladdin (2019) June 13, 2019
  5. Connective Cacao and Sound Journey June 12, 2019
  6. Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) June 6, 2019
  7. Blues Music Scene in Chiang Mai June 6, 2019
  8. Movie Review: John Wick 3 - Parabellum (2019) June 4, 2019
  9. Hatha Slow Flow with Neil Jefferson June 3, 2019
  10. Meditating with One Million Meditators Movement June 1, 2019
  11. Vinyasa Happy Flow Series by Vaida May 31, 2019
  12. Muay Thai at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium May 30, 2019
  13. Yoga Flow Through the 7 Chakras May 30, 2019
  14. The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
  15. Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai II May 22, 2019
  16. World Meditation Day at Heart Space May 21, 2019
  17. Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019) May 14, 2019
  18. Movie Review: Arctic (2018) May 13, 2019
  19. Abs Yoga May 12, 2019
  20. Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga with Nicola Symons May 10, 2019
  21. Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
  22. Tok Sen Massage from Ying May 8, 2019
  23. Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
  24. Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
  25. Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Apr 15, 2019
  26. Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
  27. Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
  28. Movie Review: Shazam! (2019) Apr 4, 2019
  29. Movie Review: Captive State (2019) Mar 27, 2019
  30. Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
  31. Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019) Mar 19, 2019
  32. Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
  33. Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
  34. Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018) Mar 2, 2019
  35. Movie Review: The Favourite (2018) Feb 25, 2019
  36. Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
  37. Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
  38. International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
  39. Sandesch Album Launch by Christoph Joerg Feb 13, 2019
  40. Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
  41. Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
  42. Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
  43. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
  44. Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
  45. Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
  46. Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
  47. 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
  48. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  49. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  50. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  51. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  52. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  53. Laughter Yoga with Saffiya Arnous July 31, 2018
  54. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  55. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  56. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  57. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  58. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  59. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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