Finally we were in Chiang Mai, where we would be putting away our backpacks, renting an apartment and enjoying some downtime.
We’re on an 18 month holiday, surely that is enough down time, I hear you say. Well yeah, but packing and unpacking, and finding the enthusiasm to always want to go sightseeing, as well as spending every 4th or 5th day on a bus, does eventually get tiring. We don’t regret a second of our travels so far but we were starting to get tired.
Chiang Mai was both a risk and a safe choice. A risk because neither of us had visited before, so if we hated it we’d be stuck. But safe in that it is so heavily populated with expats (yet still manages to be a proper Thai city) and very few people have anything bad to say about it.
First impressions were good as we spent a few nights at a hotel near Chang Phueak gate, eating street food and getting to know the city.
We had booked an apartment in the trendy Nimmanhaemin neighbourhood, which turned out to be a great choice – it’s like the Chiang Mai version of Shoreditch! It wasn’t a conscious choice when we booked it, we just went for the best looking place within our budget.
We could have probably got a cheaper rate had we looked around when we got here, and had we been here for 3 months we probably would have but for 1 month it wasn’t worth it – we just used AirBnB.
Well luckily it did turn out to be ok – we love our apartment! It’s clean, modern and comfortable. It’s only about a year old and in a great area – right next to a 7/11 for groceries, and a coffee shop for well, coffee. There is also a plethora of dining and drinking options around, which I’ll be covering in a future post.
Check it out!
We’re so glad we booked it rather than a long stay in a guesthouse. It’s been great to have a living room and a kitchen. We’ve only cooked properly a few times because in Thailand it’s actually cheaper to eat out, but we’ve made enough grilled ham & cheese sandwiches to last us a lifetime.
Cost – £311 for 5 weeks, approximately £9 per night.
Staying for so long, and doing our own thing for a lot of the time, we knew we needed a bike each. We probably could have got by with one, but it would have meant I wouldn’t have any transport in the weekdays when Katy was volunteering.
We went with Chiang Mai Scooter Rental (UPDATE – now known as CAT Motors and look like they have grown substantially since!), probably not the cheapest but there are so many scams with scooters we wanted to go with someone we could trust, and as soon as we met the family who ran the business we knew they would be good.
They picked us up from our temporary hotel and we were taken out to the suburbs of Chiang Mai where they had a home office to look over the bikes.
I decided to go for a Honda Click 125i, which is the more powerful version of the standard Click. Obviously I had to have the fastest bike…
Katy went for a Yamaha Fino. This is one of the most popular scooters among female Thai’s, as it looks cool, it’s light and easy to handle. It was a bit less powerful than mine, but perfect for Katy’s needs.
We then had to navigate our way back to the old city which was easier said than done when we barely knew the area. Oh and it was Katy’s first time riding a scooter further than about 500 metres. She practiced on some slow streets first and quickly got the hang of it so I had no worries – she is a really good rider!
Cost – £148 for both scooters for 5 weeks including helmets – £4.20 per day. 4500 baht for the Click and 3500 baht for the Fino.
We spent the first few days buying supplies for the apartment, exploring our area and making some test runs out to the dog shelter where Katy would be volunteering, in the Hang Dong area far outside of the city.
We then had Katy’s friend joining us for a week, which was awesome as it was the first friend from home we’d seen. We got up to lots of activities which we’ll be writing about soon.
It didn’t take long for us to realise we were going to really enjoy Chiang Mai…