During my time in Bangkok, I heard from other travellers about how Chiang Mai has been the highlight of their trip. Happy that I had planned to spend most of my time in Chiang Mai, I arrived in the city on the over night express train from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok. Like the rest of Thailand, Chiang Mai is extremely travel friendly. I easily found a great guest house on arriving (in peak season)- there are a lot of reasonable and very nice options in the old city. Coming from Bangkok and specially Khao San Road, Chiang Mai is a breath of fresh air.
I like to think of it as a city that should be best known for its breathtakingly beautiful temples and absolutely delicious food. Walking around the city from one temple to another can keep you busy for a few days, and is specially recommended if like me, you do not tire of photographing them. The Lonely Planet has a few ‘Temple walking tours’, or it’s a good idea to just get a map from your guest house or hostel, pick a direction and walk along, specially in the Th Ratchadamnoen area where there are many temples.
My favourite is the Wat Doi Suthep located on the guardian mountain of the city of Chiang Mai. The trek upto the temple is great exercise and the spectacular grounds of the temple are truly rewarding. The other Wats in the city (from the small ones like Wat Pan Ping to the famous ones like Wat Phra Singh) are interesting places to spend the days in, with massage/yoga and relaxation classes held in some of them. The Wat Phra Singh is one of the Wats in the city where there are daily monk chat sessions where you can talk to monks about Buddhist culture and religion.
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