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Chiang Mai! What To Do & Where To Stay

You MUST visit the culturally rich, family friendly Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand.  If you’re in Hong Kong, it’s a two-hour flight and even has a low-cost carrier serving it, Hong Kong Express.  

Following on from my stay in May, I returned to Chiang Mai at the end of October to check out even more hotels (aren’t I good to you).  Compared to the furnace blasting heat I experienced in May, October was a pleasant change with perfect sightseeing temperatures by day and a cool breeze at night.

Where should I stay?

Charming & Family Friendly – The Tamarind Village

I have heard so many good things about this place it was nice to finally see the hotel in all its glory. The Tamarind Village is in a great location, right in the heart of the old town.  

Chiang Mai Tamarind Village 2

Book early to secure one of their Tamarind Suites which are perfect for a family.  If you have small kids, you might want to steer clear of booking the upstairs Lanna Room/Lanna Deluxe as the balcony is very low.

In addition to the inviting pool, the Tamarind Village offers daily activities from paper umbrella painting to flower garland weaving.  Pamper yourself in their beautiful spa or expand your waistline in the delicious restaurant (some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten).

Tamarind Village Pool

Escape from life – Veranda Chiang Mai, The High Resort

A half hour drive from downtown Chiang Mai, the Veranda feels like another world.  Nestled in the lush green jungle, this is the place if you want to relax and unwind.  The infinity edged pool is spectacular, surrounded by a shallow pool perfect for kiddies.  

Verandah Pool Chiang Mai

Whilst their basic room ‘Comfy Studio’ is nice, I would go big and treat yourself to a jacuzzi pavillion with an enormous lounge area and bed big enough for 4!

Veranda Jacuzzi Pavilion 2 Veranda Jacuzzi Pavilion

There are several dining options from ‘The High Room’ set high above the resort to modern Thai at Rabiang-Cha.

There is a kids club open from 9-5pm although I think best suited to younger ones.  

Verandah Kids Playroom

Chic City Luxe & Leave The Kids At Home – 137 Pillars House

I fell in love with 137 Pillars House the moment I stepped through its walls.  This colonial gem is filled with charm, the sort of place you would want to spend curled up on the balcony with a book and enjoying afternoon tea in its grounds.  

137 Pillars House Grounds

On that note, this is the hotel to leave the kids at home and have a city escape with your partner.  Whilst they do let you bring your kids, it’s not the sort of place you’d want them running around and ruining the calming atmosphere.  The hotel has 30 suites to choose from, the most expensive being the Louis Leonowens Pool Suites.

East Borneo Suite

There’s a gorgeous pool, gym and spa.  There are various dining options including al fresco in the courtyard surrounded by their tropical gardens.  The hotel is located in the Wat Gate area, along the Ping River.

Boutique Budget – the Dusit D2

Situated in downtown Chiang Mai, the Dusit D2 offers well priced rooms, including a Studio Suite with a separate bedroom and lounge area.  There’s a small pool, gym and spa.

Dusit D2

For those clucking to go shopping, the Night Bazaar is practically in your doorstep!

What should I do?

  • Check out my earlier post for recommendations on things to do with the kids from an umbrella factory to an elephant sanctuary.
  • Totally unrelated to Chiang Mai’s cultural heritage, if you’re looking for an hour of fun, head to Art In Paradise.  This is a museum dedicated to illusion art and is a good wet weather option.  You and the kids will have lots of fun posing in photos like this…
    Art In Paradise 1
  • Older kids (and parents) will love the Flying Squirrels, a zipline tour through the treetops of Chiang Mai.  Kids must be a minimum weight of 20kg.  Flying Squirrels is an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai, located near the mountain village of Pong Krai.
  • If those limbs are tired from the Flying Squirrels, a unique place for a massage is the Women’s Correctional Institute for Massage.  Here, low risk female prisoners have been trained to give professional massage, giving them the skills to rejoin the community once they are released. Don’t worry – the massage does not take place in a prison cell, it is in a nice spa setting and my Thai massage was fabulous.
  • Every Sunday, the ‘Walking Street Markets’ are open from late afternoon till midnight.  This is a shopper’s paradise with everything from cushion covers and Chang beer t-shirts to beautiful handcrafted pieces.  The market stretches from the Old City for about 1km so bring comfortable shoes and your wallet!
    Chiang Mai Sunday Market
  • If like me, you’re bored with the usual Thai tourist tat, Warorot Market is a fabulous feast for the eyes and senses.  This is where the Thai locals do their own shopping and is the place to stock up on all your spices and Thai cooking sauces.

    Fill your boots with star anise and cinnamon sticks

    Fill your boots with star anise and cinnamon sticks

  • Although I’m telling you about the Tiger Kingdom, I’m still on the fence as to whether I recommend it or not.  This is essentially a petting zoo for tigers from teeny tiny tiger cubs (adorable) to big scary ones (but lovely nonetheless).  You can pick various packages depending on who you want your picture with and also stroll around the grounds to look at these beautiful creatures.  The tigers aren’t drugged and are clearly in very good condition.  That said, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea and I found it a bit disturbing to see them kept in such a small space.  Do your own research and decide if this activity is right for you.

 

Jetlag & Mayhem was in Chiang Mai thanks to Hong Kong Express.  I was not paid for this review and this is all my opinion!

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