Every sunday, Chiang Mai will shut off several streets from traffic and transform the area into a huge colourful market. There’s cheap streetfood, incredible art and beautiful clothes all for sale, and prices range from 10 to 400 baht but little over. The food areas are seperate and easy to spot and access down the market, usually in temple courtyards and sell everything from sushi and thai spicy soups to the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten for 15 baht and customisable smoothies at 30 baht.
The shops and café’s on the streets it runs down are still open, so if you feel the need to get a quick coffee somewhere quieter, there’s always the option to duck into one of those. There are also toilets for 15 baht a go at the fourway junction of the market near the centre, in the corner of a small courtyard of cafés.
My family loved it so much we went twice, both times finding real gems for ourselves and as gifts, including two rubber-band wooden pistols at 90 baht each for both the boys! It’s recommend to go from 4pm to 6pm, as that gives plenty of time to explore and leaves time to walk back to your hotel before it gets too dark, as the taxis will overcharge particularly highly if you come out the walking market.
After a little while searching, Matthew, my dad and I found a small, tucked-away house that had been converted into an insect museum. My overflowing excitement at the trip could barely be contained and I was not disappointed.
The museum contains the life’s work of an elderly couple who still own and possibly live in their converted home and specialised in mosquitos. The collection is phenomenal, filled with beautiful insects, rocks, fossils, petrified wood in beautiful forms and shells. The walk around, which consisted of two levels, was full of new delights and curiosity whith each step, especially for myself. Some species displayed are now extinct, and the glass cases even include fossilised dinosaur eggs and shells bigger than a person’s head.
Srimankalajarn Road Soi 13 Muang Chiangmai, Thailand
For the two Sundays we’ve been here, my family and I went to the Sunday Walking market, where a part of the city is sectioned off from vehicles for a large market selling food, clothes, craft items and accessories of every kind, many handmade.
We went from around 4 to 6 both times and enjoyed ourselves throughly, though it’s a good idea to keep an eyes on all members of your party as the market is busy and generally quite full, which makes for a pleasant buzzing atmosphere that is easy to get lost in.
Prices are not always labelled and as always, haggling is often put into practice as the market is geared primarily towards tourists, and while most of the food sold is Thai, there is always a Western alternative to be found. The waffles and fried chicken are particularly good.
Taxis in Chiang Mai are mostly tuk-tuks or red vans that look a little like small, old-fashioned fire engines. They too are expecting tourists and charge heavily, so make sure you have time to walk home before dark if you’d rather not pay 7 dollars, compared to the 3 dollars charged in Bangkok. However, for the individual, taxis can be considered cheap as they charge 50 baht per person.
We had breakfast in our rooms, since we didn’t have to leave until noon, and in all honesty I didn’t want to leave the Mile High Club hotel – it was clean, homely, very well eqipped and comfortable. Plus, the flashy shopping centers and giant expensive hotels were awesome to look at.
We spent the day wandering the streets, but not on purpose. A word of advise to anyone visiting Bangkok – always take a taxi. Never use the tuk-tuks, as unlike Cambodia, they are just for tourists, so they’re smaller and far more expensive than taxis. And when using a taxi, make sure they use their meter, or they can overcharge to ridiculous extents.
We also added a boat trip to the transport mix, seeing the Royal Palace and various other important places.
We booked a sleeper train quite cheaply, about $27 for each adult, and the train itself was happily quite hygenic, cool and had wide beds.
Delicious breakfast in hotel, sausage & bacon etc.
Next we took a walk in Lumpini Park, which had actual grass you could walk on. And a busking masseur…
We then visited the Bangkok Snake Farm, where we each handled a huge python.
In the afternoon we visited the enormous Siam Paragon, one of the largest shopping centres in Asia. And we lost Matt! Fortunately, not being a toddler any more, he just asked an assistant to announce his location over the store’s loudspeaker system.
We celebrated with a slap-up tea (dinner) in the Food Court.
The coach was mostly our own on the way to Bangkok from the Thai border, and while the ride was predictably long, it was aircondictioned and smooth. The driver was sensible and to our later delight, dropped us off on the same street as our hotel, the Mile High Club, which had a distinct theme of aeroplanes and pilots, was narrow but cozy and welcoming with open, friendly staff who were willing to help whenever asked. The decor was lovely, the dining area polished wood and cream, and both bedrooms and bathrooms clean and organised, with the triple room containing television, full fridge and small freezer, sink and cupboards, kettle, tea with sugar and dried milk. The bathrooms had a hot shower, soaps and fluffy towels in pink and white. The beds were reasonably soft, and we slept soundly.
Today, Sunday 21st, we set out on our journey to Thailand. The bus journey was meant to be six hours long, but due to typical reckless Cambodian driving, it was only five hours with a pleasant ten minute stop at a restaurant and shop with clean bathrooms.
On arrival in Battambang, our tuktuk driver snatched us up quickly from the crowd of other drivers offering very cheap fares, compared to ones in Phenom Penh. It was only two dollars from the center of town to our hotel, RomChang, which is about a quater of a mile away.
RomChang has a very lovely, rustic feel to it, the rooms are spacious, the menu extensive, delicious and cheap. There is a pool table, free bikes and a tuk tuk service, adding to the homely atmosphere fruendly. They serve Khmer, Vietnamese and Western food, an all day breakfast and offer a huge variety of icecream shakes, smoothies ansd fruit salads. The staff are all friendly and helpful with decent skills in English, and the beautiful swimming pool located to the left of the dining area is salty, not chlorinated, making it much better for skin and eyes, and large with varying depths.
For our second day, we had a leisurely cycle around Battambang, visited the market and had drinks in a stylish little coffee house, as breakfast had filled us up enough to last us to dinner.
Battambang is much quieter and cleaner than Phnom Penh.
We cycled around the market and back streets, and sampled the fried bananas (not as good as the ones from our market).
In the evening we visited the circus – an amazing acrobatic show put on by highly trained local teenagers!
On our first day, we went to the Bamboo Train, which was interesting, fun and terrifying. Like a rollercoaster with less safety. It costs $5 dollars each to go 3 km, with a stop off to buy souvenirs and drinks.
The trains themselves are platforms made of bamboo, with a hole for a motor and wheels are placed on the rails under the platforms, not attached to them.
The scenery was breath-taking, made up of a carpet of green grass and hundreds of lush trees and bushes, butterflies often fluttering out of them as we rushed past.
An unmissable experience for anyone visiting Battambang.
On Sunday morning, 7am, we shall embark on a long and treacherous journey to Thailand, kingdom of elephants and tasty street food. Cambodia, but better and richer.
We’ll be gone for three weeks, and I’ll be updating you on our travels, giving reviews, tips and information to help any other adventurer set on taking up this very same challenge to prove their holiday spirit is the strongest!
We’ll be going by coach to Battambang, spending three days getting our strength back in a hotel before continuing our journey, taking the coach to the border between our nation, and the next. Thailand. After passing over the border, we shall take a bus to Bangkok, and enjoy all that it can offer in three short days, spending two nights in a hotel. From there, we will take an overnight train to Chiang Mai, and spend the remaining two weeks by the sweet waters of the pool at Juniper Hotel, refreshing ourselves before flying home!