Sagar | My Travel | Thailand | Chiang Mai

My Travel - Thailand - Chiang Mai.

  
   


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On this page
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Chok Dee Guesthouse
SEE TEFL
Places I visited in Chiang Mai
Tiger Kingdom
Art in Paradise, 3D Museum
Chiang Mai Zoo
Dragon Flight Zipline Adventure
Shopping
Chiang Mai Immigration Office
Chiang Mai Travel Guides



I travelled to Chiang Mai on the 26th of September 2014... solo!
Parents were here only during the Tiger Kingdom weekend.
This was the first time I stayed away from home fully independently for so long.




#bangkok-to-chiang-mai

Bangkok to Chiang Mai & return 

I traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train, and returned by flight.

Some basic useful information:
- Distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai (by road) is approx. 700 KMs
- Non-economical flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport cost ~15,000 INR (~250 USD / ~7,500 THB)
- www.airasia.com and www.nokair.com are the low-cost flights. Their fares are very low i.e. INR ~3,000 (~45 USD / ~1500 THB). You may luckily get a promotional fare of 790 THB (~INR 1,500 / ~24 USD) as well, which is amazingly low. These flights are from the Don Muang airport in Bangkok and they have luggage limitations. You need to pay for your luggage exceeding a particular limit (mentioned on their website). An important tip: Pay online for your luggage beforehand. That'll save you a lot of money (the cost nearly doubles when you pay for your check-in luggage at the time of your flight). For example: My total luggage was at least 27 KGs. If I would've checked-in that luggage during my travel, I would've ended up paying 900 THB per 15 KGs. However, at least a week before my flight, I weighed and checked-in my luggage online @ 600 THB per (up to) 30 KGs. I also procured and printed out my boarding pass a week before my flight. That was something interesting.

I accidentally bumped into a YouTube video talking about trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. On Googling a bit around trains, I came across the website www.seat61.com where very good and detailed information on trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was given. On the same page was the reference to the website www.asia-discovery.com

When one is new to things, it's very essential to research well, and I did that. I researched a lot around www.asia-discovery.com but although everyone who had provided comments on interacting with them were not very comprehensive, they were confident and positive. I went ahead and booked my trains to and from Bangkok and Chiang Mai through these agents. I did that at least a month in advance understanding that the seats could get full.

Soon after I made the payment, Kitima Lin (kitima@royalexclusive.com) wrote an email acknowledgement to me. They have stated on their website that they personally go and pick up the tickets as there is no longer the concept of online / e-tickets. Within two days I received an email from Kitima stating that my tickets were confirmed. They also send tickets by courier to your hotel in Bangkok or to your home country. I paid an additional 950 THB to have them couriered to my home country (India) via DHL and the courier arrived within 3 days! Here's how the train ticket looks

The train was scheduled to depart at 6:10 pm. I reached the station at 5:10 pm and the train was ready. The travel was very comfortable. Had a good sleep after an exhausting day travelling all the way from Pune to Bangkok Railway Station.

GETTING THERE:
If you arrive at the Suvarnabhumi Airport at Bangkok, catch the City Line (metro train) up to Makkasan (I paid 35 Baht). Get down at Makkasan station (platform is usually on the right side of the train) and walk towards the MRT (underground metro railway). Buy the ticket up to Hua Lamphong (I paid 29 Baht) and you will reach there within 20 minutes. As soon as you walk out of the MRT, you will automatically step into Bangkok's Railway Station.

It's always good to save money (especially in Thailand, so that I get to buy some lovely shirts and shorts), besides, I am mad and crazy about trains, and you can see that on my videos page. I have three Thomas Trains at home, and I still play with them.





#chok-dee

Chok Dee Guesthouse 

My 2 months' stay...

Yes, you read it right. I stayed in Chiang Mai (Chok Dee Guesthouse) for 2 months (26-Sep to 26-Nov, 2014). So, if you were here around the Oct-Nov 2014 timeframe and you saw an Indian guy around, that was me. Had a very comfortable stay. Didn't feel like going back.


Placed in the old city, Chork Dee or Chok Dee Guesthouse, according to me, is at an excellent location. If I would not have stayed here, I would certainly have missed out on the core essence of the city. Many places to visit around at walkable distance, a huge vegetables market called Somphet (which is what this area is popularly known as).

I booked this guesthouse through www.booking.com. The amount was not debited 3 days before I arrival, so I was a bit concerned about whether my booking was confirmed or not. However, it was after my arrival that I discovered that Leo (the owner) preferred to receive the amount in-person and not online. The nicer thing was that I was asked to pay later, and there was no hurry. It was very comforting. He welcomed me very warmly. I remember he helped me by keeping my huge bag upstairs.

ROOMS: It's a basic place, with single and double rooms (double rooms with either two single beds or one double bed). Rooms are completely wooden, from ceilings to walls to floors. All the rooms come with a fan (except their other branch at a minute's walking distance, where there is A.C. but the rooms there are smaller). That's pretty much it. I took a double room for two reasons. My mum was going to accompany me initially, but our plans changed. I kept the double room for myself, because I need space around me (despite being a 'small man' as Thais call me). Size matters to me, when it comes to magnificence in life. The room was clean, and decently huge. The only con was that whenever someone walked up the corridor (with heavy feet) or slammed their room's door (which people do very often) or talked loudly in their rooms or in the sitting area outside (which excited tourists are bound to do), especially after 1 am in the night, I used to experience slight disturbance, and it was uncomfortable especially when I had teaching practices the next day.

Shared bathrooms and toilet were very very well-maintained, and cleaned. One is not allowed to wash clothes in the bathroom. They have washing machines, or there are quite a few laundry shops nearby, where I got my clothes washed, dried, and ironed (at prices ranging from 40 to 80 baht) once or twice.

WiFi is super-fast, and glitches, if any, are from the Service Provider (True-move), but very rare. There is a sitting area outside, where one can sit, speak with others, or just enjoy squirrels, fishes, and most important, Beer, the adorable dog. There were so many times when he followed me all around the place, and it was such a lovely experience. The fish pond outside is for people like me who can sit besides it for hours doing nothing.

STAFF: The lady at the reception is very sweet, helpful, and funny. We had a great laugh, cracked lots of jokes, and had a great time. So are Leo and Jasmine (the owners). Jasmine is very actively helpful as well.

COST: Very economical stay. I stayed at a monthly rate. Please check with them for their latest prices. You can email chokdeechiangmai@gmail.com or visit www.chokdeegh.net

LOCATION: The area is known as Somphet, which is essentially the Soi (lane) 6 at the Moon Muang road. The market which is at the Moon Muang road (right at the beginning of the Soi) is known as Somphet Market, and that's what you tell the Tuk-tuk or Songthaew or Taxi drivers.

NEARBY: Somphet Market, 3 Kings Monument, many Wats (temples), Sunday Market, Tha Pae Gate, many restaurants, Warorot Market, Ping river, and many other places at walkable distance.

HOW TO REACH: Just mention "Somphet Market" to the Tuk-tuk or Songthaew or Taxi drivers, and they'll leave you on the main road. Chok Dee Guesthouse is around 160 meters inside on the right (just before the first little crossroad)

I will be back, as I've told Leo. In fact, I've kept some of my extra stuff in their store room, for me to use it the next time I'll be here.






#seetefl

SEE TEFL 

This was my primary purpose of visiting Chiang Mai.

I had a page about my detailed review of SEE TEFL, but I have removed it now. Although my overall experience was so good that I consider those are the two best months of my life, due to a communication gap, I ended up having a rough experience after the course.

However, I would like to neglect the negative part, just because the overall positive experience (in Chiang Mai as a whole) was beyond what I can put in words.





#places

Places I visited in Chiang Mai 

#tiger-kingdom.
Tiger Kingdom
Must visit!

TICKET COST: I don't remember exactly, but they have prices per tiger size, and packages too. It's above 1,000 Baht.

GETTING THERE: I went there with my parents on 18-Oct-2014. We took a tuk-tuk that charged us 150 baht as a roundtrip fare.

ABOUT THE TIGER KINGDOM: I think, one way to save tigers is to visit such places. These tigers were very active, playful, and scary too. I do not know whether they were drugged, but I do not think they were, and I cannot comment on that, but they were certainly well-maintained and taken care of. Drugged tigers don't look that healthy (as the people there commented). They were aggressive, and one is not allowed to touch their head or paws - for obvious reasons. I had a superb time here as well.

We did hire a photographer to click my pictures (300 Baht for photos on a CD). He did a great job.

OVERALL: It's a must visit, especially if you love tigers. There are other tigers too kept in their cages that can only be seen (but not entered into). There was a lion, white tiger, and a couple of other birds and animals too.


#3d.
Art in Paradise, 3D Museum
I loved it! Went there on 07-Nov-2014

TICKET COST: 300 Baht

GETTING THERE: It's roughly 2 KMs from Somphet Market (Moon Muang road Soi 6), and I went walking. On the way back, took a Songthaew @ 20 Baht. Hotel Shangri La, Chiang Mai, is the landmark. Just after the huge hotel, there's the museum's huge building that you cannot miss.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM: Very creative, artistic, colorful, and fun-filled. Clicked many pictures. Every painting is good and beautiful. Even if you see the pictures online, it's worth visiting in person and enjoying the art. Better if you go with someone, so that you can click your pictures with the art. I went there alone, so, although I clicked a lot of pictures, I couldn't pose

There are various themes too, like Alladin, Mummy, Waterfalls, etc. that are enjoyable. One tip is to take pictures smartly, and make them look 3D. At some paintings, there are markings for the photographer's position, and that's very helpful.

It took me about an hour to go around. If I weren't alone, I would've definitely spent a lot more time hanging around there.

OVERALL: It's a must one-time visit, especially if you love art.


#zoo.
Chiang Mai Zoo
I was initially very apprehensive from most of the 'ungood' reviews I read on TripAdvisor, but one day I suddenly woke up and felt like going. Went there (solo) on 11-Nov-2014 and had a great time.

TICKET COST: 290 Baht. They had some offer running that day.

GETTING THERE: Songthaew (red trucks) generally take 30-40 Baht from the old city to the zoo.

ABOUT THE ZOO: Magnificent, large, and very well-maintained. Very 'naturesque'. Animals have huge spaces (rightly) and they're placed in groups, far from one another. You can find the Zoo's map here (coming soon).

WITHIN THE ZOO: The Aquarium is ~1 KM from the main entrance, and there are open Shuttle Buses or Mini Vans (100 meters from the entrance) that take you there. My ticket covered one way free drop to the Aquarium by the van, and that's where I went first. Enjoyed it. I then bought a 100 Baht Full Day Shuttle Bus ticket around the zoo. You can hop on and hop off any number of times from anywhere around the zoo. My 100 Baht Shuttle Ticket covered the Monorail as well. The ride was fun. Slower the better. Spotted many other animals like Giraffes, Lions, and Zebras. It was an hour's ride, and that's when I was pretty exhausted, so I wrapped up my visit.

ANIMALS: Saw the Orangutan from very close (he was busy breaking a coconut and eating it). Got some very nice close-ups. Then saw a couple of monkeys and reptiles (chameleons, crocodiles, snakes). Without reading a sign, I went inside a lane, and spotted Peacocks (Indian Peafowls) out in the open. There were three of them, at a distance of 4 feet from me. That was the best part of my day. You don't get selfies with Peacocks in the frame everyday. Then saw many more animals, and went to the monorail.

It took me about 3 hours to go around. If I weren't alone, I would've definitely spent a lot more time hanging around there.

OVERALL: It's a must visit, especially if you love nature and animals. Amazing place to be. Animals look happy. And if we want them to take good care of the animals, IMO we must visit this zoo

 


#dragon-flight.
Dragon Flight Zipline Adventure
Thoroughly enjoyed myself... {Thu, 13-Nov-2014}

COST: 1,600 Baht (their promotional price).

GETTING THERE: It's about an hour's drive from the city. They pick you up from and drop you at your hotel/guesthouse.

ABOUT THE ADVENTURE: Thoroughly thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed myself. I used to watch Fear Factor and Khatron Ke Khiladi on television, and always wanted to perform those kinds of stunts under safe conditions, and part of my desire was fulfilled here.

They have 49 platforms high up in the (49) trees and ziplines to travel from one tree to another. The two instructors were very enthusiastic, entertaining, and amazing. Ice (one of the instructors) clicked a lot of pictures and videos of me, those that I will cherish. It was not exhausting at all. I had a great time. Felt like Edward Cullen

The longest one was 450 meters, while the highest one was 100 meters. There were also a couple of bridges, a chair to slide down, and some fun drops. The activity itself took about 3 hours. At the end, they gave a FREE T-shirt. They also served lunch. They did have a vegetarian dish. Would love to do such an activity again.

One important tip is to charge your camera's battery full and empty your memory card, so that you can take lots of videos and photos of the moments. If you're lucky like me, you will have a wonderful group as well.

They do have lockers at their base camp to keep your bags and stuff safe, while you are allowed to carry only camera with you to the zipline.


#shopping.
Shopping
I'm a diehard shopaholic. If I like something and can afford it, it has to be mine! Some of my best experiences in Chiang Mai were my shopping experiences.

Central Kad Suan Kaew - The first place I actually shopped in. Accessible by a Songthaew @ 20 Baht, it's on the North West of the city. A huge variety of clothes, those of International Brand as well as Thailand, they had a lot of offers running too. Of all that I bought there, the most prominent purchase was Lee Cooper's shorts & shirt.

Warorot Market - At a walking distance (~1.6 kms) from the Old City, this is another Shopper's Paradise. There's more variety for women than there is for men, but there are a lot of unisexual items too. A lot of gift items, souvenirs, cloth, clothes, bags, etc. This is a mini version of the Bangkok's Chatuchak Market. Just outside the Warorot Market, we (my mum and I) bought some tupperware items of very good quality at not a very high price.

Central Airport Plaza - This one is a gigantic and a superb shopping mall near the Chiang Mai Airport. I went there on Monday, 17-Nov-2014 after extending my VISA at the Immigration Office, which is near the Airport as well. This shopping experience gets added to one of my best moments in life. I was very happy, relaxed, and flying. I shopped from Robinson's and another store that I forgot the name of. This was my biggest (money-wise and number of items-wise) shopping in Chiang Mai. After I finished shopping, I was a bit hungry, and I spotted a Pizza Hut on its top floor. Entered into it to discover that they had a Vegetarian Pizza. Ordered a Personal Pizza for 148 Baht (flat) with a replenishable soft drink @ 50 Baht. It was just perfect for that moment and the amount of hunger. That was just a perfect moment. I was towards the end of my Chiang Mai trip, and every moment was just very special for me.

Sunday Market - Another gigantic shopping street that opens up on Sundays. I shopped a lot from there as well.

Online Shopping - I have to shop online at least once in a month or two, otherwise I will die! Shopped on www.zalora.com during my stay in Chiang Mai, and got the goods delivered to my guesthouse's address. This website does not ship to or is available in India, so I couldn't stop myself from shopping.






#chiangmaiimm.
Chiang Mai Immigration Office
I got my Tourist VISA extended by 30 days very conveniently at the Chiang Mai Immigration Office. I reached there around 9:30 am on a Monday morning, when it was too crowded. Had to wait for ~2.5 hours until my token number was displayed, when I submitted the form and my passport at Counter # 1 (Tourist VISA extension counter), and paid the fees of 1,900 Baht. I then waited for another half an hour until my name was announced for collecting the passport with the VISA extended.

Luckily, my token number was 038, and they announced around 10:30 am that the token numbers 050 onwards would be processed after 1 pm that day. So, going early is a good idea.

I had no idea about this, and on Googling a bit, the blog 'How To Extend Your Thai Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai' was the most helpful.





#travel-guides

Chiang Mai Travel Guides 

These are two very good travel guides on Chiang Mai. Very comprehensive and informative.
Chiang Mai travel guide - Wikitravel
20 Tips for First Timers - Chiang Mai Forum - TripAdvisor










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