While I was in Chiang Mai, I met two girls, Olivia & Kate (Aussie Girls)!
Long story short, we met at Samart’s house, became friends overnight and decided to travel to Laos PDR together. #YesThatHappened
Olivia had the route all mapped out: Chiang Mai –> Chiang Rai –> Chiang Khong –> Huay Xai (to take the boat along the Mekong) –> Stopover in Pakbeng –> Arrive in Luang Prabang by boat. #Organized #Spontaneity
So first things first- we got a ride fto the bus station and then we paid just under 400 baht ($13.00) for the bus ride to Chiang Rai.
A couple hours passed by and we were in Chiang Rai.
Once we were at our destination, we tried to find a place to sleep for the night. After scanning our Lonely Planet SE Asia book for the Chiang Mai map + room recommendations, we found a large room with three mattresses and blankets for 30 baht a person… that converts to $1.00 per person- can you say sold?
Once we were able to put our backpacks down, we started sightseeing. Chiang Rai is a tiny square so we were able to cover the entire town in a few hours. Checkout Ollie’s blog for all the details and look below for the highlights.
First thing we saw? Locals selling fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and something special (featured in the bottom lefthand corner)…
Water lilies! I wonder how these are utilized… in stew? juice? I’m guessing they’re edible (or maybe that’s just because my brain believes everything is food related)… even these magical looking mushrooms look edible…
After our market tour, we checked out the temples. Lots of stones, gongs, elephants, jade, and thrones… but this message stood out to me the most.
After the temples, we got more adventurous; we decided to venture outside of the city center to find a little cafe (Ollie heard about it on the Couchsurfing website). 30 minutes later we found it! Unique products, great drinks, a good atmosphere and an American staff!
Following the cafe, a local/expat tipped us off about a fashion forward Thai shop down the street; she said it was “so Beverly Hills”, but I beg to differ.
So instead of purchasing clothes, I went to the pharmacy and bought a months supply of Doxy (malaria pills) since the girls insisted it would be a good preventative measure for Laos PDR; I paid 3 baht per pill which is insanely cheap (compared to UK/Aussie/USA prices, which price out at 15-20 dollars per pill).
Once we were done shopping, we walked back towards the center of town for the Saturday Night Market!
We sampled a ton of food from many stalls- 25 baht here, 10 baht there, 15 baht there, etc. Such a great community atmosphere, but a little overwhelming with all of the merchandise up for sale. It was massive.
Overall, Chiang Rai was a blast. Incredibly afforable, relaxed, quiet, calm, and friendly. Only thing we thought we saw in Chiang Rai… but didn’t see… and wanted to see? The White Temple. The one below was not it.
I guess I’ll have to go back one day, or maybe I can just google it.