Things to do in Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai

Lanterns during Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai

I didn’t like Thailand when I visited the first time. We were in Bangkok and Pattaya, and everywhere we went was just overblown with grumpy tourists and depressed sex workers. But everyone else loved Thailand! So six months later, I decided to redo my trip on my own to see why it was so hyped up.

This trip was much better. Here are things I want to remember:

Loy Krathong. We went in November around the full moon, meaning Loy Krathong and Yi Peng (here are explanations) were happening. Maejo University in Chiang Mai allegedly has one of biggest launches so we biked all the way up… But you had to have tickets beforehand to get in!! There were still people like us who trekked all the way there and didn’t know, so we all let lanterns go around the perimeter. It was pretty family centered and everyone was so friendly here. We ended up back in the old city for the launch (definitely more of a party/tourist scene). Also I had this spicy pork blood soup (was it kuai tiao ruea?) that was freaking amazing.


White Temple. This actually beat Loy Krathong as the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s the most beautiful/unique temple ever. And it uses dark sci fi images to explain Buddhist teachings! Literally everything I’d want to see in a thing. We bussed from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai to get here and got tickets for Green Bus (VIP, baby) from the bus station on the same day, then biked from our hostel. Also the Fun D Hostel is probably the fanciest hostel I’ve ever stayed in.


“The Grand Canyon”. I love being on scooters/motorbikes in southeast Asia. We rented one for the day and followed GPS coordinates to get to this place. So random, and so fun.


Thai Kao Soi. This is my favorite Thai food, and I love that I was able to enjoy it in its homeland of the north. I forget where the one below is from, but from Lamduon Fahrm Kaosoi was delicious and easy to lookup how to get to (plus Kenji from Serious Eats recommends it, so you know it’s legit).


This waffle thing with coconut inside. We got this from a random food stand. I ordered northern Thai sausage (sai oua), and he randomly gave us these for free. It was literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten.


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