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Chiang Mai isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about renting a villa. Instead, holiday hotspots like Koh Samui, Phuket and Bali offer more villa options. That said, Thailand’s Rose of the North still boasts a select handful of extra-special properties, made even more exclusive and unique due to their rarity. If you’re looking for an indulgent villa from which to base your Chiang Mai journey, look no further than Chandra Residence, a private pool villa in Chiang Mai (and a client of mine – how’d I get so lucky?).

Chandra Residence – Private Pool Villa in Chiang Mai 

What started as a family home (a fact that blows my mind) has organically grown into a holiday escape that showcases an eclectic mix of art, architecture and culture. While the pool villa offers total privacy, complete with its own entrance and driveway, staying at Chandra Residence is more like being welcomed into a much-loved vacation house rather than a hotel with the generous hosts, who still live in another section of the property, going out of their way to prepare special details to make every stay comfortable, memorable and personable. From airport pickup to receiving a Thai mobile phone for your stay, gorgeously-appointed kitchen to fresh flowers…staying at the property is a special experience.

Of course, Chandra Residence’s main appeal is its impressive size and pool. The 4-bedroom pool villa covers 800 square meters of living space built around a sparkling pool and can house up to eight guests. My favorite parts are the upstairs loft room with outdoor bathroom and the pool terrace. Dreamy.

Another one of my favorite nooks within the villa

Unsurprisingly, staying at Chandra Residence is a splurge – you’re getting the entire property! That said, renting it with a group of friends, family or for a private special event is still doable…especially when compared to what a property experience in another holiday location would cost.

A separate four rooms are planned to open up by the end of the year which will be able to be rented out individually allowing guests to experience another side of the property at a more couple-friendly rate.

Door details at Chandra Residence Pool Villa

Around Chandra Residence 

Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai

While it’s hard to pull yourself away from the pool (a stay at Chandra Residence could be completely satisfying simply by relaxing in the villa and lounging by the pool all day), there are several other places nearby worth exploring.

Though Chandra Residence is still conveniently close to the city, about 30 minutes from the center of the Old City, it’s a more convenient jumping off point to visit some unique tourist and off the beaten path attractions. Royal Park Rajapruek (picture above), for example, is just a couple minutes walk from the property. The flower-filled gardens and grounds are not only picturesque but also home to several agro-tourism and research initiatives.

Wat Doi Kham’s large Buddha image…people for scale

Wat Doi Kham is then just up the road from the gardens. The hilltop temple is popular with Thai locals and tourists but you won’t find many foreigners. Along with two towering Buddha images, the temple is also home to a golden chedi and panorama views looking out over Chiang Mai…without the crowds or entrance fees of Wat Doi Suthep!

Another nearby temple, about 10 minutes away by car, is the wooden Wat Ton Kwen (below). Chances are you’ll be the only visitors at this traditional Lanna-style spot.

Wat Ton Kwen

Breakfasts are included in all stays at the villa and you can also opt for additional private meals where the Chandra Residence team will bring in a private chef to cook to your preference. For a range of other nearby dining options, check out Danissa Bakery & Cafe, Daddy’s Antique Cafe & Restaurant, Garden de Cuisine, and the food stalls at Mae Hia Market.

For even more information on the surrounding area and other suggestions for what to do and see, check out some of Chandra Residence’s recent blog posts (written by yours truly) at https://chandraresidence.com/explore-chiangmai/.

Chandra Residence – Private Pool Villa in Chiang Mai – Rates and Contact

Chandra’s Residence’s 4-room pool villa is rented out as a whole with rates starting at 26,500 baht in the low season (which is typically around March – October). It’s best to book the property directly through the website www.chandraresidence.com so you can start planning your stay in direct contact with the owner. The villa is just southwest of Chiang Mai proper, about a 20-minute drive from Chiang Mai International Airport and 30 minutes from the Old City (pick-up included).

Note: I work for Chandra Residence helping with their social media but the property is so dreamy I wanted to share it here. (You’ve probably already seen shots of the place on my Instagram account!)

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The post Staying at: Chandra Residence in Chiang Mai appeared first on Paper Planes.

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Paper Planes by Alana Morgan - 5M ago

After years of travelling through Southeast Asia I still believe that Thailand’s accommodation options offer the best value for money. Wherever you go in the country you can find a range of options that fit different budgets and preferences. If you’re trying to stretch every baht, you can opt for cheap guesthouses and hostels (you can still find beds in Chiang Mai for as low as 150 baht, or about $5, per night!). If you choose mid-range accommodation, you’ll still usually be staying in atmospheric places for surprisingly cheap. And, of course, if you’re able to spend little more, starting around $90-120 per night, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous places to stay, even villas in Thailand, that would cost at least twice as much back at home.

Since accommodation is so affordable compared to many Western countries and most cities, it’s possible to stay in places that you would never splurge for, say, in the UK or Singapore.

This goes for villas or homes in Thailand too.

Where to find villas in Thailand

While you can find private villas for rent all over the country, certain destinations have a higher concentration of options. These include Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Koh Phangan. Phuket and Koh Samui, as the two largest islands in Thailand, have the most villa options with prices going up to $1,000+ a night. Chiang Mai, somewhat surprisingly, doesn’t have many standalone private villas but there are still a few options along with a range of other unique accommodations. Bangkok, not surprisingly considering the premium on space,

Why rent a villa in Thailand

Even now after having had the opportunity to stay in some gorgeous places throughout Thailand, renting a villa still often sounds like an overindulgent splurge to me. This is partially because I have a good idea of what average rental rates are for people living here and renting a villa for one night costs more than what I pay in monthly rent for my house.

That said, I also realize when and why renting a villa would be worth it…even if you’re not made of money! It’s completely doable for a group of friends to go in together to rent a place for a special occasion. If you have a large family and want extra space, plus the convenience of a kitchen during your holiday to the Thai islands, having a villa is great. Also, if you’re planning a destination wedding in Thailand, renting a villa could provide a more unique and intimate atmosphere than going the resort route.

I typically see private villas in Thailand accommodating at least eight people – when you consider the cost and logistics of renting four hotels rooms to fit eight people, a villa is the way to go.

How to rent a villa in Thailand

There are a number of ways to start your villa search…

Agoda

If you’ve travelled at all in Asia, or read my recent Chiang Mai hotel posts, you’re probably familiar with Agoda, a hotel booking engine that focuses on Asia properties. From the Agoda homepage you can search for properties selecting either hotels or homes, which will show you more private home options, and the destination you’re interested in. After clicking ‘search’ you can then filter the results further by neighborhood and what types of facilities you’re interested in.

Luxury Retreats

Even ‘luxury’ villas in Thailand are often relatively affordable. Booking website Luxury Retreats lists beautiful, 4-room properties on Koh Samui starting at just $310 a night. That’s what I would spend on a standard hotel in downtown Seattle…treat yo’ self.

Air BnB

Of course, a go-to site to search for private villas and homes is Air BnB. (If you don’t already have an Air BnB account you can sign up here and receive a 1,100 baht credit – about $35 USD.) When you do your search, make sure to mark ‘Entire Home/Apt’ for the initial search then click on the ‘More filters’ button. From there you can go down to ‘Property Type’ and select what styles of property, i.e. a villa, bungalow, house, etc., you’re interested in, and then adjust your budget limits to find the perfect place.

Good ‘ol Google 

Starting your villa search by typing in “Villas in ____” to Google can be the faster way to narrow your search. For example, there aren’t a ton of properties Chiang Mai that are considered private pools villas. Simply doing a Google search for private pool villas can bring up more relevant options more quickly than searching through the booking sites. It also may bring up unique properties that aren’t listed on standard booking sites, that get buried by hotel listings or that offer special discounts and packages booking directly through their own website. For example, I work with one of the few private pool villas in Chiang Mai – Chandra Residence – and while the family who owns it has listed the property on booking sites, it’s best to contact them directly to plan your personalized stay versus booking through Air BnB or booking.com.

Secret Villas

Secret Retreats, a collection of independently owned hotels, cruises and restaurants across Asia, also has a collection of villas throughout the region, aptly named Secret Villas. Villa Ayundra listed in their Thailand collection on Koh Samui looks especially dreamy!

High-End Hotels

If you’re not comfortable booking an independently-owned villa but still want the space and privacy that a villa offers, many 5-star hotels (outside of Bangkok) and high-end boutique properties have villa options with some properties even being made up entirely of separate villas rather than guest rooms. For instance, places like Four Seasons and The Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai each have a selection of pool villas and private residence the properties. By booking a villa at a hotel, you benefit from the comfort and convenience of an established hotel brand, although prices may be higher.

The villa at Reverie Siam

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The post How to Find Villas in Thailand appeared first on Paper Planes.

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Where you find great coffee, artisanal goods and kitschy boutiques, you’re sure to find hipsters, and Chiang Mai is chock full of all the above. While Chiang Mai’s prime hipster hangouts are centered around the trendy Nimmanhaemin neighborhood, you’ll find exposed brick, old-school filament bulbs, and eclectic decor all over the city. If Portland meets Brooklyn meets tropical is your aesthetic of choice, then look no further than these seven hipster hotels next time you’re planning your stay in Chiang Mai.

Click on the bold hotel names to see current rates on Agoda – they normally have the cheapest around!

The Barisotel

[photo from Agoda]

Bright and airy, there are just a handful of rooms available at the Barisotel. If your go-to Instagram filter is Mayfair, and you’re all about light woods and soft marbles with a pretty flower or plant for accent, then you might never want to leave this hipster hotel. I, for one, would happily live in that beautiful, big white bathtub. The first floor of the Barisotel is a cafe equally gorgeous as the rooms upstairs, serving perfect cappuccinos and scrumptious pastries. Beware, you may have some competition if you decide to stage a photo shoot. The Barisotel is – surprise! – also in Nimman.

  • Prices begin at ฿2,839 per night
  • Address: 7/2 Soi 9 Nimmanhaemin Road, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Hotel Yayee

[photo from Agoda]

A favorite of Instagram darlings and couples looking for a touch of romance, Hotel Yayee is tucked down a quiet street just up the road from hip Gallery Seescape and the notoriously kitsch iBerry Garden. A muted color-scheme helps tie the eclectic decor together, but the distinctly Thai touches such as the big black & white image of his late majesty Rama the 9th or the giant hand-drawn map of Chiang Mai catch the eyes most. Being owned by a Thai actor gives this hipster hotel some cool cache, but it’s the rooftop bar and restaurant that really makes Hotel Yayee special. After wandering Nimmanhaemin all day in search of the best fashion boutique or hippest cafe, come back for a sundowner and enjoy one of the best views of Doi Suthep in the city.

  • Prices begin at ฿1,865 per night
  • Address: 17/4-6 Soi Sai Nam Phueng, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Samantan/Chalnatt Hotel

[photo from Agoda]

If you prefer a darker, edgier hipster aesthetic, then the Samantan/Chalnatt Hotel is a good choice. Also located in Nimmahemin (often shortened to “Nimman”), downstairs is Samanthan, a trendy hand-made shop, and above is the intimate and beautifully designed Chalnatt Hotel. Spacious and minimally decorated, these rooms are a perfect place to reset and relax after a day wandering the bright and bustling streets of Chiang Mai. Within a 5 minute radius, you will find some of Chiang Mai’s best drinking and dining, whether you’re in the mood for cheap noodles or fancy imported craft beers.
  • Prices begin at ฿1,266 per night
  • Address: 28/4 Nimmanhaemin Soi 11-13, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Hotel Noir

[photo from Agoda]

The last Nimman hotel on this list – promise! – is Hotel Noir. With a cheery brick facade, onsite artisanal cafe, and a refreshing garden patio, this chic hotel certainly ticks a lot of hipster boxes. The vintage bikes you can rent to explore the city are an especially nice touch. The minimally decorated rooms are cool and comfortable, and as with any hotel in Nimman, you can’t fault the location. Steps away are beautiful boutiques where you’re sure to find a treasure trove of fashion and trinkets.

  • Prices begin at ฿1,156 per night
  • Address: 5/8 Lane 5, Nimmanhaemin Road, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Mo Rooms

[photo from Agoda]

Clear on the other side of Chiang Mai near the Tha Pae Gate area is Mo Rooms. While discerning travelers may turn their noses up at this neighborhood in favor of staying in “less touristy” areas, Mo Rooms is a hidden gem. Each room here is inspired by a different animal of the Chinese zodiac and has its own unique style and decor. The raw concrete features found throughout this eclectic property are more reminiscent of a trendy Berlin hangout, but the open-air spaces and tropical plants remind you that despite the nearly overwhelming levels of hipness, you’re definitely in Southeast Asia.
  • Prices begin at ฿1,355 per night
  • Address: 263/1-2 Tha Pae Rd., T. Changklan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
The Laboratory

[photo from Agoda]

It’s hard to know what to think when you first walk into The Laboratory. Depending on which entrance you come in through, you may find yourself in a surprisingly chic biology lab, or an almost Church-like space where the tropical plants attempt to reach the tops of the vaulted ceilings. The word kitschy may come to mind, but despite its eccentricity, the decor here just works. This cafe and hostel can be found on Sirimankalajarn Road, between Chiang Mai’s Old City and Nimmanhaemin. A great place to stay if you’re on a longer “working vacation” and need space to work from, but equally great if you’re looking for a convenient, budget place from which to roam.
  • Prices begin at ฿991 per night (for a private room)
  • Address: 64 Sirimankalajarn Rd., T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
The Core

[photo from Agoda]

For bright, cheerful accommodations in a less pretentious neighborhood, try The Core. Chiang Mai’s Suthep neighborhood has plenty of hipster cred, but is further west than many travelers typically lodge. Located on Huay Kaew Road, it’s a straight shot to the east to get to the Old City, or a short trek west to go sightseeing on Doi Suthep mountain. The Core’s proximity to the local university means nearly endless shopping and dining options for far cheaper prices than you’d find in Nimman (which is less than 10 minutes drive away). The tasteful minimalist decor and modern amenities, however, mean you’re living many notches above the student life.
  • Prices begin at ฿1,169 per night
  • Address: 99/64 99/105-107 Moo1 T. Chang Puak, Huay Kaew Road, A. Muang, Chiang Mai

As a noted creative city, it’s small wonder Chiang Mai has such hipster cache. A love for beautiful decor and surprising details means that the city is full of interesting spaces, and when it comes to gorgeous hotels, Chiang Mai absolutely delivers. If you don’t mind the occasional bit of pretentiousness and enjoy the quirky side of life, pick one of these hipster hotels for your next trip to Chiang Mai.

Note: This post contains Agoda affiliate links. You get the best rate and I get a small commission at no extra charge to you – win win! 

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The post 7 Hipster Hotels in Chiang Mai appeared first on Paper Planes.

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Paper Planes by Alana Morgan - 5M ago

This has been under wraps for a while but last year I went through the process of opening up a Thai business and making my freelance writing official!

Introducing Morgan Media: www.morganmedia.buzz

I work with a small team of people copywriting in English for both Thai and international clients, mainly in the travel, hospitality and lifestyle industries.

We help brands find their individual voice and write their messages for different audiences and mediums.

You know when you’re asked to write something about yourself or your work and your mind goes blank? It’s often hard to articulate what you want to get across in a way that’s both easy to understand and interesting…that’s why we do it for you. No more staring at a blank screen, rambling on to the point where your real message gets lost or wasting time trying to find the right words when you should be focusing on other tasks.

Personally, I have more than eight years of experience in all types of writing. In university, I majored in communications with an emphasis in PR as well as history…which basically means I graduated thanks to my writing skills. From practicing journalistic writing to preparing reports about colonialism in the Congo, I got by on my writing. After college, I worked as an account manager at a boutique PR firm in Seattle before running away to Thailand. During this time I learned more about how to create and target different messages to different audiences.

In Thailand, I started Paper Planes and freelance writing. I’ve since written for ALL types of companies and products ranging from 5-star hotels to church pulpits, and covered topics from how security agents should pat someone down in Australian airports to reviewing online artificial intelligence tools…you can’t make this stuff up!

After spending more time in Thailand and realizing there was a particular need for Thai companies to get writing help by a native English speaker, I looked into the process of setting up my own Thai company.

Here’s what we do…

Copywriting

About half the time I tell someone that I do copywriting they respond with a confused expression. Many people are unclear on what copywriting is but every business needs it.

Copywriting is writing copy (words) intended for communication and marketing purposes. This can include writing for website homepages, blog posts, internal communications, email newsletters, advertisements, social media posts, company profiles, product descriptions, text on marketing collateral…anything with words.

I’ve written press releases for international brands and edited the text for technical manuals, drafted funny posts for Facebook and written crisis updates to be sent out to a client’s partners.

On the Morgan Media site it says, “Just because you can type a text message doesn’t necessarily mean you can write the right messages for your business” – and it’s true! Obviously, most people can compose a decent email, but not everybody can simplify complex information and present it in a way for others to easily consume and comprehend.

This is where a copywriter comes in.

My writers and I are all native English speakers and intimately familiar with Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia, especially regarding tourism and hospitality. We can also help with Thai-English translations and editing.

Just because we’re based in Thailand doesn’t mean we only work with Thai clients! We currently work with brands in the US and Australia as well and, thanks to the nature of the work, can easily connect with companies anywhere in the world that need copywriting in English.

Brand Messaging

This is related to copywriting but slightly different. To produce effective brand copy, a business first needs to know what their brand voice is and how they want to come across to their different customers or audiences. This includes the type of language used – for example, is the tone conversational or more professional? – as well as establishing consistent formatting and practices, such as spelling and which perspective is used. Brand messaging can also involve creating mission statements and corporate values. For brand messaging, we work with businesses to pinpoint their unique voice then create clear guidelines for their team to follow. This can range from basic messaging frameworks to full-on style guides.

Blog Management

Between running Paper Planes since 2012, writing hundreds of blog posts for clients, and managing various company blogs over the years, I know the ins and outs of blogging both personally and professionally.

At its height, Paper Planes received close to 100,000 unique visitors every month. While it has not been my priority the past couple years and I post less frequently than in the early days, I’ve created a foundation that still attracts tens of thousands of readers every month. How? Looooots of time and effort spent writing, promoting and dealing with SEO.

Blogging takes a ton of time. Even the simplest, shortest posts will take a couple hours to perfect. More in-depth posts or posts in technical subjects easily take 4-5 hours.

While blogs are still an important marketing tool for many companies, they’re difficult to keep up with and, to be done well, require someone dedicated to maintaining them. Many companies don’t have the manpower in-house…so that’s where Morgan Media comes in.

From drafting blog posts to managing the entire process – including creating a content calendar to formatting the finished content in a company’s CMS – my team and I have years of experience managing blogs in a variety of fields while maintaining creativity, consistency and best practices.

Social Media Consulting

While we meet in person whenever possible, we work remotely for all clients. Even with clients based in Chiang Mai and who I’ve worked with personally for years, most communication is done via email with no problem. When it comes to social media, however, I find it’s best to have someone close to the business maintaining social media accounts as they have consistent inside access to what’s going on with the company.

That said, we still help small businesses and individual passion projects focus their social media efforts or figure out why their current strategy isn’t working.

Normally, this means auditing their social media accounts, looking at the business’ goals, audience and what’s missing, to prepare a report with actionable tips tailored to the business.

Now you know the main reason why I haven’t been blogging recently – setting up a foreign business took up all my time!  If you’re interested in learning more and need help with copywriting, check out the site at www.morganmedia.buzz. You can find details and starting rates for services here or contact me here.

The post Introducing Morgan Media appeared first on Paper Planes.

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For being so small, Chiang Mai has a lot of different areas and about a million hotel options.  If you’re visiting Chiang Mai for the first time, I usually suggest staying in the Old City (find hotel recommendations here), but the riverside is great for people who have spent some time in Chiang Mai before and want a different atmosphere or who have something special to celebrate – all of these riverside hotels in Chiang Mai are so charming and romantic!

Several of the hotels listed below, including sala lanna and Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette, are in the the Wat Ket neighborhood which is located on the east side of the river right across from Tha Pae Road and Wororot Market (due east from Chiang Mai’s Old City). One of the oldest established neighborhoods in Chiang Mai, the district used to be a bustling, multi-cultural where merchants would bring their wares via boat. Today, the part right on the river area along Charoenrat Road still has a unique feel with a lot of older, Chinese-influenced buildings and plenty of boutiques, cafes (see some of my favorites in the area here), riverside restaurants and galleries, and is less than a ten-minute drive to the Old City.

A couple of the hotels, like the Anantara, are located on the west side of the river across from the Wat Ket neighborhood and closer to the center of town, and a couple are further north up the river a little further from town.

Click on the bold hotel names to be taken to where you can look up current rates and book rooms on Agoda, a hotel booking engine that is especially good for finding hotel deals in Asia. All prices below are based on what Agoda is currently listing as the starting rates in the low season in Thai baht but they always change so please just use them as a rough starting point. (In fact, the day of posting this Agoda had a deal for a room at sala lanna for 87% off the usual listing price!)

Anantara Chiang Mai Resort

[photo from Agoda]

Anantara Chiang Mai Resort blends Thai, colonial and contemporary design and somehow manages to make it work. The first time I walked into the hotel for afternoon tea I completely fell in love with it and years later it’s still one of my favorite riverside hotels in Chiang Mai. It’s incredibly understated and tasteful without being too minimal and you can tell attention has been paid to the little details. While the rooms are very modern, the property is centered around a historic colonial building that was originally the first British consulate in Chiang Mai and now houses the hotel’s restaurants and bar – if you don’t stay here, definitely consider coming for afternoon tea, a special meal in the candlelight or handcrafted cocktail! The spa is also one of the best in town and a real treat.
  • Prices begin around ฿8,700 per night
  • Address: 123 Charoenprathet Rd T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai Riverside, Chiang Mai
sala lanna

I stayed in sala lanna years ago and loved it. On the east side of the Mae Ping River, you could easily pass this simple, minimal-looking hotel but once you find it and pass through the entrance you’ll notice a ton of subtle Lanna (northern Thai) and Thai touches.

The onsite riverside restaurant, On the Ping, and rooftop pool bar are good riverside options to visit for a special evening or simply a change of scenery whether or not you’re a guest at the hotel.

  • Prices begin around ฿2,600 per night
  • Address: 49 Charoenrat Road T.Wat Ket,  A.Muang, Chiang Mai Riverside, Chiang Mai
Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette

I love, love, love the look and feel of this hotel (see my full post here). Almost right next to sala lanna on the east side of the river, Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette is simply charming. Tastefully decorated with a mix of Thai, Chinese and Sino Portuguese details, the boutique hotel is beautiful, in a good location and also serves a great breakfast.

  • Prices begin around ฿3,000 per night
  • Address: 181 Charoenraj Rd., T.Wat Ket, A.Muang, Chiang Mai Riverside, Chiang Mai
X2 Chiang Mai Riverside

The X2 Chiang Mai Riverside recently opened up at the end of 2017 and has four different spacious suite types. I’ve been in them all and each offers a ton of space and facilities – great for a working holiday or staycation! The two aspects of the hotel I like the most are the rooftop pool and bar facing west toward Doi Suthep and the sunset (open only to hotel guests), and gorgeous restaurant, Oxygen Dining Room. Housed in a glass house right on the edge of the river, the restaurant is helmed by two Michelin-starred chefs who create unique twists on both European and Thai dishes. (Their version of khao soi, Chiang Mai’s famous curry noodle dish, looks nothing like regular khao soi but still tastes just right and is really fun to eat!)

  • Prices begin around ฿4,800 per night
  • Address: 181 Charoenraj Rd., T.Wat Ket, A.Muang, Chiang Mai Riverside, Chiang Mai
RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort 

[photo from Agoda]

There are several ways to experience RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort – you can stop by for a massage or spa package, stay in the contemporary hotel or do both by booking a wellness retreat. The resort is in the Wat Ket neighborhood on the east side of the river near several popular riverside bars and restaurants but once you’re on the property feels worlds away from the busyness.
  • Prices begin around ฿6,500 per night
  • Address: 14 Charoenrat Road, T. Wat Ket, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Zen Sala

[Photo from Agoda]

Zen Sala is a bit out of town but is great if you want a quick getaway during a longer stay in Chiang Mai, a staycation or weekend up from Bangkok. You can swim in the riverfront pool, get a massage and simply enjoy the view from your room at this contemporary hotel.
  • Prices begin around ฿1,150 per night
  • Address: 168 Patan Road, T. Patan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort

[photo from Agoda]

I LOVE the architectural style of Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort. Elegant and simple, the different residences of the resort are designed in a Lanna-Colonial style that reflects building trends in the area during the reign of King Rama V at the end of the 19th century. If you’re coming to Chiang Mai on your honeymoon, this would be beautiful!
  • Prices begin around ฿4,400 per night
  • Address: 1/1 Soi 9, Chalernprated Road., T. Chang Khlan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Ping Nakara

[photo from Agoda]

Though not a heritage building, Ping Nakara gracefully recreates the era of the early 1900s when Chiang Mai was the centre of a booming teak industry and saw an influx of foreigners come to the city working for companies like the Borneo Trading Company. On the west side of the river close to the Anantara, the property isn’t in the most convenient place for walking around to explore the rest of Chiang Mai, but still is close to the center of town.

  • Prices begin around ฿4,600 per night
  • Address: 135/9 Charoenprathet Road, A. Muang, Chang Khlan, Chiang Mai
Maraya Resort

Maraya Resort is a good choice for those who have spent a lot of time in Chiang Mai or are coming for a quick getaway from Bangkok. The small, family-owned hotel isn’t within walking distance to much but you can easily get transportation and the view across the river to a beautiful temple frame by palm trees is dreamy! (See more photos and read the full post here.)

  • Prices begin around ฿2,000 per night
  • Address: 12/2 Moo 3, T. Pa Daet, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Looking for riverside hotels in Chiang Mai? Save this post for later!

Note: This post contains Agoda affiliate links. You get the best rate and I get a small commission at no extra charge to you – win win! 

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The post Best Riverside Hotels in Chiang Mai appeared first on Paper Planes.

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Chiang Mai is home to some of Thailand’s best luxury hotels and an astonishing variety of boutique accommodation, but even those traveling on a budget will be spoiled for choice. When I first moved here there weren’t many hostels and cheap accommodation was found mainly in the form of basic guesthouses without much personality. In the past few years, a number of actual hostels in Chiang Mai (with dorms and single rooms) have popped up and, in true Chiang Mai fashion, are usually pretty Instagram-worthy.

If you’d rather save some money while also connecting with interesting people from all over the world, then this list of 7 cool hostels in Chiang Mai is for you. While I haven’t actually stayed at any of these – why would I when I live here? – these are the hostels I would recommend to friends passing through based on value, style and location.

While some baseline rates are given below, clicking on the links provided will take you to Agoda, a popular Southeast Asia booking site, where you will probably score a deal that’s usually significantly lower than the posted price.

Hostel by Bed

Elegantly minimalist, Hostel by Bed is located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City, just a short walk away from the popular Sunday Walking Street. Bright, clean, open spaces define this budget-friendly hostel, which offers dorms rooms with both twin or queen size beds, as well as a handful of private rooms with an ensuite bath. With free Wi-Fi in all rooms, kitchen facilities, and an on-site laundromat, you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay in Chiang Mai.

  • Prices begin at ฿370 per night
  • Address: 54/2 – 54/4 Singharat Road, Old City, Chiang Mai
Hug Hostel

Hug Hostel is perfect for travelers who are looking to socialize. Located on the north side of the Old City’s moat, they’re only a few steps away from one of the city’s best music venues, the Northgate Jazz Coop. All the rest of the city’s excitement is only a short walk or tuk-tuk ride away, or if you’d like to get out of the city to go trekking or get a dose of adventure sports, their tour desk is ready and willing to help you out. Hug Hostel offers both private and dorm-style air-conditioned rooms.

  • Prices begin at ฿150 per night
  • Address: 115/3 Sri Poom Rd., T.Sripoom,A. Muang, Old City, Chiang Mai
Thunder Bird

A gorgeous space with a funky vibe, Thunder Bird Hostel is also located in the Old City, near the bustling local market. The onsite bar and coffee shop bring in a little extra foot-traffic, making this a great place to meet new people to join you on your adventures and excursions. The special care paid to the art and design of the interior spaces elevate Thunder Bird from being a mere hostel, but the prices charged for their shared dorms and family rooms are still very pocketbook friendly. (If you’re in the area it’s a cute place to pop in for a quick coffee or beer!)

  • Prices begin at ฿550 per night
  • Address: 181 Moonmuang Rd., Soi 6 (Somphet Market), Sripoom, Muang, Old City, Chiang Mai
HAUS Hostel

Tucked away south of the moat but still steps away from the buzz of the Old City is HAUS Hostel. If you’re lucky, you might snag a dorm room with a mountain view. While the dorm rooms themselves aren’t much on frills, the shared spaces are decorated in a gorgeously eclectic style. This is a cozy haven from the city, but you don’t need to go far for sightseeing and fun, the popular Saturday Market is located nearby on Wua Lai Road.

  • Prices begin at ฿350 per night
  • Address: 2/3 Ratchiangsaen Rd, Ratchiangsaen 1 Kho Alley, T. Haiya, A. Maung, Chiang Mai
So Hostel

Adding more location variety to this list is So Hostel, which can be found between the Old City and the bustling Night Bazaar. This vibrant, modern hostel has lots of shared space to hang out and the open concept layout means you can’t help but chat with new people as you’re making dinner in the kitchen, doing laundry, or chilling on the couch taking advantage of the free wifi. They offer both dorm and private rooms, all designed in a chic industrial style and accented in eye-catching red. Oh, and did I mention the awesome rooftop space? Because it’s awesome.

  • Prices begin at ฿220 per night
  • Address: 64/2 Loi Kroh Rd. T. Changklan A.Muang, Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai agoda
In the City Co-Living and Co-Working Space

In the City Co-Living and Co-Working Space houses travelers in their minimalist dorm rooms and offers ample shared space to socialize. A popular sundowner spot (they have a fabulous rooftop with an expansive city view), they also host a variety of meetups, workshops, and parties. The downstairs co-working space is open to the community and provides blazing fast internet along and opportunities to connect and collaborate with Chiang Mai’s digital nomad population. Conveniently located on the north side of the moat, this hostel is within walking distance of the city’s best cafes and sightseeing spots.

  • Prices begin at ฿255 per night
  • Address: 61 Sripoom Rd., Old City, Chiang Mai
2 Gals and the Pig

Worth being on this list for the name alone, 2 Gals and the Pig Hostel epitomizes the quirky, hyper-trendy vibe of the Nimmanhaemin area. Infusing hostel minimalism with a strong dose of style and sass, you’ll get boutique level attention to detail at a fraction of the price. If cute coffee shops, stylish boutiques or craft beer are your thing, then this hip, arsty neighborhood is the place to be. Whether you are traveling solo and want to mingle with others in the dorm, or prefer a private room for more privacy, this hostel will provide a comfortable and fashiomable haven.

  • Prices begin at ฿580 per night
  • Address: 25/9 Nimmana Haeminda Road Lane 15, Nimmanhemin, Chiang Mai

While there are a dizzying number of budget options for accommodation, this list of hostels Chiang Mai should give you a good start. Chiang Mai has long been a crossroads for a more interesting and cultured sort of traveler, and staying at a hostel making new friends is a sure way to make your trip more memorable.

Planning a trip to Thailand and looking for hostels in Chiang Mai? Save this post for later!

Note: This post contains Agoda affiliate links. You get the best rate and I get a small commission at no extra charge to you – win win! 

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The post 7 Cool Hostels in Chiang Mai appeared first on Paper Planes.

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Bangkok is hands down one of the best places I’ve been for staying in beautiful boutique hotels and getting a ton of value for your money. The design, service and decor of a lot of boutique hotels in Bangkok rival those of any other major world city – but are often cheaper. Really – it’s painful for me to have to get a hotel room in the U.S. now where your standard Holiday Inn costs more than some of the most beautiful places I’ve stayed in Bangkok.

Choosing where to stay in Bangkok can quickly get overwhelming with thousands of options and when you search for unique or boutique hotels you often come up with lists by big hotel sites naming the same several properties. With that in mind, here are my top picks. (Right this moment that is, I’m always discovering more!)

Click on the bold hotel names to be taken to where you can look up rates and book rooms on Agoda and Air BnB. Agoda is a hotel booking engine that is especially good for finding hotel deals in Asia. It consistently has the lowest rates and everyone I know living in Thailand and throughout Asia swears by it when it comes to booking hotels. All prices below are listed in Thai baht. If you visit the Agoda page then you can easily choose the currency you’d like to see rates in. For current exchange rates, I use xe.com.

So Sofitel 

Looking out over Lumpini Park – one of the most unique views of the city!

My current Bangkok hotel crush, So Sofitel Bangkok is…incredible. I’m not going to gush about it more (I’ve already done that in this post), but if you’re asking for my top pick, this is it. While Sofitel is a large international chain, the So brand of hotels is their boutique, designer arm, and each property is created in conjunction with international and local designers with no detail overlooked. All the interiors are stunning, and the rooms are downright sumptuous, but it’s the view from the terraces over Lumphini Park that’s truly incomparable.

  • Prices begin at ฿5,400 per night
  • Address: 2 North Sathorn Road, Bangrak, 10500 Bangkok
  • Nearest public transit:  Lumphini MRT Station
Pullman Bangkok Hotel G

So fresh and so clean…basically an Instagrammer’s dream

If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you’ll recognize this all-white room from my stay last October. Hotel G is a boutique brand ofGCP Hospitality Group known for locations like The Macau Roosevelt and The Strand Yangon. The Pullman Bangkok Hotel G property is conveniently located about a 5-minute walk away from the Si Lon MRT Station and the Sala Daeng BTS Station. While you’ll love staying in the bright, airy rooms, you’ll also enjoy their restaurant and wine bar. Read my full review of staying at Pullman Bangkok Hotel G here.

  • Prices begin at ฿3,800 per night
  • Address: 188 Silom Road, Bangrak , Silom, Bangkok 10500
  • Nearest public transit: Si Lom MRT Station & Chong Nonsi or Sala Daeng BTS Stations
The Cabochon Hotel

Another Instagrammer’s dream spot, The Cabochon Hotel is hidden down a small soi off of Sukhumvit Road in between Phrom Phong and Thonglor. The intimate hotel gives off an air of old world elegance designed with colonial-inspired charm. I love simple it is yet how attention has been paid to every detail. Plus they have an excellent restaurant, Thai Lao Yeh Restaurant, focusing on eastern Thai and Laotian dishes.

  • Prices begin around ฿4,400 per night
  • Address: 14 Sukhumvit Soi 45, Klongton Nua, Wattana, Sukhumvit, Bangkok 10110
  • Nearest public transit: Phrom Phon BTS Station & Thong Lo BTS Stations
sala Rattanakosin

Killer view across the river to Wat Arun (which is no longer under scaffolding!)

Set right on the Chao Praya River across the street from Wat Pho is sala Rattanakosin (sister hotel to another amazing property closer to home, the sala Lanna which sits along on the Ping River in Chiang Mai). Nothing can beat the river and temple views from this gorgeous boutique property, and the floor to ceiling windows featured throughout the hotel display these to their best advantage. Tastefully decorated in a minimalist industrial-chic style, you’ll enjoy the modern setting whilst being steps away from the heart of historic Bangkok. If you don’t stay here, you can still enjoy its minimalist vibe by booking a table for lunch or dinner at the inside restaurant – coming here for refreshments is the perfect antidote to the hot, busy, colorful streets around the Grand Palace.

  • Prices begin at ฿5,200 per night
  • Address: 39 Maharat Road, Grand Palace, Phranakorn, Bangkok Riverside, Bangkok
The Mustang Nero Hotel

Rooms at The Mustang Nero Hotel were previously only available to book online through Air BnB but can now also be found on Agoda. This eight-room boutique hotel is truly one-of-a-kind and somehow manages to make taxidermied animals chic, not creepy. Stylishly industrial but accented throughout by interesting details and lush tropical foliage, each guest room has its own personality and flavor. Read my full account of staying at the Mustang Nero Hotel here.

  • Prices begin at ฿1,900 per night
  • Address: 1112/91-93 Soi Daimaru Department Store Prakanong, Klong Toey, Sukhumvit, Bangkok 10110
  • Nearest public transit: Phra Khanong BTS Station

Haven’t used Air BnB before? You should get on that. Sign up for an account through this link and get $35 (~฿1,100) off your first stay! 

Loy La Long

Loy La Long is the epitome of a boutique art hotel. A hidden gem located in an old Thai wooden house at the very edge of the Chayo Praya River and accessed through temple grounds, they only have seven rooms, including a small dorm. Packing a ton of personality for such a small space, Loy La Long delightfully blends traditional, vintage and eclectic style. Loy La Long is not convenient to get to – or easy to find your first time – so it’s better to stay at if you’ve been to the city before and are looking for something different. Read my full review of staying at Loy La Long here.

  • Prices begin at ฿3900 per night for a double room
  • Address: 1620/2 (inside Patumkongka Rachaworawiharn Temple), Songwat Road, Samphantawong District, Bangkok Riverside, Bangkok 10100
  • Nearest public transit: Hua Lamphong MRT
Shanghai Mansion

Photo credit: Shanghai Mansion

The Shanghai Mansion is located in the center of Yaowarat Market, Bangkok’s vibrant Chinatown. Beautifully fusing together romantic details with Chinese style art deco, the interior gives a strong sense of nostalgia. You will be amazed at the little luxuries you get for such an affordable price. Read my full account of staying at Shanghai Mansion in Bangkok here.

  • Prices begin at ฿2,500 per night
  • Address: 479-481 Yaowaraj Road, Samphantawong, China Town, Bangkok 10110
  • Nearest public transit: Hua Lamphong Railway Station & Hua Lamphong MRT Station

When in Thailand, it’s well worth it to spring a little extra for a boutique hotel in Bangkok. Not only do you get insane value for money, but you’ll get to know the city more intimately. Each one of the Bangkok boutique hotels featured above really delivers on their boutique credentials, artfully blending cultures and styles and carefully crafting an experience, yet each location is completely different than the others, which will make you want to come back and further explore the ‘Big Mango’ — every time I visit the city, I love it more!

Planning a trip to Bangkok? Save this Boutique Hotels in Bangkok post for later!

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Pai is known for dirty backpackers, relaxing rice fields and a nauseating 3-hour minivan ride winding around a thousand curves through the hills.

About three hours away from Chiang Mai, the small mountain town has long been a hub for budget travelers to hang out, check out, spend days in cheap hostels, rent motorbikes to explore the nearby hot springs, and waterfalls, and canyons, linger over plates of vegetarian fare and fresh coconuts, read in hammocks overlooking the rice fields, drink bottle after bottle of Thai beer, and enjoy simply doing nothing.

The first time I went to Pai almost nine years ago was during my first-ever visit to the country and I ‘splurged’ for a bamboo bungalow complete with a mosquito net for about $15. I had never stayed in a bamboo bungalow or slept under a mosquito net and it all felt very exotic in this little mountain bubble where all there was to do was leisurely explore, eat, relax and enjoy yourself. I noticed geckos on the ceiling of where we were eating, got our motorbike stuck in mud down a rural road and caught a ride back into town with a jeep full of Israelis, ate fried rice and bar-hopped every night.

It was a popular place to go from Chiang Mai but still very basic. There wasn’t then what I would consider a true boutique hotel in Pai. The bars weren’t cool; they were pieced together and all seemed to be painted with rasta colors. The food wasn’t incredible, but standard standby Thai dishes (which are still pretty good) along with a smattering of health food options. There were more people with dreadlocks than I had ever seen in one small town.

I loved it.

Since then, I’ve since gone back to Pai five more times and always thoroughly enjoyed myself.

A boutique hotel in Pai

Several years ago I learned of a boutique hotel, Reverie Siam, being built along the river with rooms going for more than what my measly rent was for a month. I didn’t see how it fit with the low-expectations backpacker crowd – as long as there was beer and perhaps something to smoke they were happy. I’ve since come across the hotel through a number of people and now finally stayed.

The villa at Reverie Siam

I loved it.

Staying in a basic room while exploring Pai’s outdoors is completely fine. But staying at the more stylish Reverie Siam within the hippie Pai vibes highlighted one of the things I appreciate most in Southeast Asia – you can enjoy 5-star surroundings right after digging into a $2 plate of food. You rent a motorbike for transportation for $8 a day then spend $80 for a special meal. The range of what you can experience – and what it costs – is so much broader than most other places.

Staying at Reverie Siam

Situated just a few minutes from the center of ‘town’ along the river, Reverie Siam feels worlds away from Pai’s nightly walking street and dingy bars. The name draws on the owners’, a Thai-British couple, goal to create a dreamy property that blends Thai touches with more Mediterranean-style villas, manicured gardens, their love of jazz, a lost old world elegance, and excellent food and drink. And it works.

Hello wine…

Silhouette Bar at Reverie Siam

You’ll find a lot of hotels in Southeast Asia that call themselves ’boutique’ even when they offer nothing special. Reverie Siam is the real deal, down to the old-fashion medicine jars filled with fresh flowers in the room, the gramophone in the corner and the crystal decanters in the candlelit bar. They all also manage to be very nice and fancy (for Pai) without being serious or stuffy.

The 18 individually-styled rooms are situated into between two pools and mature gardens giving everything a sense of intimacy and exclusivity even if you aren’t staying in one of the standalone villas.

Inside the villa

Riverside sala right by the river…the perfect place to read in peace!

Pathway to the guest rooms

The resort has two saltwater pools

If you go to Pai and stay somewhere else (there are now a lot of cute options in the area) still treat yourself to a drink or dinner at Reverie Siam’s restaurant, Silhouette Bar. You will not regret it – particularly if you have been in Asia for a while and miss cheese and wine as much as I do!

Not only is the open-air space charming, especially in the evening, but the food is bomb. Go for the chef’s board of cheese, charcuterie, olives and nuts along with some tapas to share, and a bottle of wine or prosecco. You can get your fill of phad thai and smoothie bowls somewhere else – here you’ll indulge in European dishes that you can’t find elsewhere around Pai and Mae Hong Son. (Which I think makes it taste even better…like eating foreign fare in the middle of nowhere in Chiang Dao.)

Reverie Siam Rates and Contact

Rooms at the Reverie Siam boutique hotel in Pai start at 2,950-5,900 baht in the low season (which is typically around March – October) and go up by 1,000-3,000 in the high season (around November – February). Rooms can be booked through the hotel’s website and include breakfast. You’ll probably be arriving in Pai on your own or via minivan. The hotel is less than 1.5 kilometers away from the minivan dropoff point on the walking street. Contact the hotel about being picked up or when their free shuttle will be around to get to the property.

If you’re looking to pair your stay in Pai with more boutique stays in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, you can contact and book through Secret Retreats, a collection of independently owned boutique hotels across Asia of which Reverie Siam is a member.

As usual, you might be able to find slightly cheaper or last minute deals on Agoda. That said, online travel agents like Agoda or booking.com are kind of necessary evils for boutique properties, so you’ll get more karma points booking directly with the hotel!

Note: I was a guest of Reverie Siam for another project but liked it so much that I wanted to share about it here!

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I managed to write 12 blog posts in 2017 and that was pushing it. There were months that I didn’t write a single post or share anything on social media.

A quick update: I’m still alive. I’m still living in Chiang Mai. I’m still writing. But just not here.

Here’s why.

The past year and a half has been rough

I turned 30 and things got real. It was like, “Welcome to your life – here is a bunch of shit to deal with – good luck!” Every month there has been a new disaster to deal with. Family deaths. Visa issues. Sudden expenses. Sicknesses. Taking care of others in the hospital. Doing the long distance relationship thing. Getting attacked by dogs and watching them rip into Manee. Nursing her back to health and visiting the vet every single day for weeks. More hospital and vet and immigration and lawyer visits…

Social media kind of sucks

I don’t like being on social media. I understand it has the potential to be used for good, how people are sucked in and why it’s an important tool for businesses. I like planning and creating content for clients and helping grow their communities. But for me personally, I find being on social media a drag. Particularly as an American, for the last year and a half scrolling through Facebook can be depressing AF. Plus, I really don’t care what people I have not been in touch with for years are up to. I have had enough to deal with in my own immediate world to have noise from social media taking up space in my head.

When it comes to traveling, I’ve never been one to naturally share what I’m doing as I’m doing it, preferring to experience things in real life without constantly updating my feeds. That feeling also started to bleed into blogging.

(Where do you stand on this? Are you still on the social media bandwagon or preferring to disconnect? What types of things do you like to see or follow?)

Meta. A photo of a photo of a photo.

I have a job

Spoiler alert: I don’t make money from having a blog. Some fun perks? Sometimes. A few small affiliate sales or commissions here and there? On a good day. Random new work and writing opportunities? When I’m lucky.

Money? No.

I don’t make much money from blogging and am not willing to put in the time, resources and effort to try and make more. I don’t feel comfortable building something that can be immediately and negatively affected by new algorithm change by Google or Facebook.

I also have a fulltime job.

The beginning of 2017 marked my official foray into the world of Thai business. And it’s been rocky. My work and clients are great – I offer copywriting, editing and content creation services for Thai and international businesses that are mainly in the travel/hospitality industry. But trying to figure out rules, regulations or expected business practices in a country and language that is not my own, and is not up to speed with people working non-traditional jobs, has been a constant source stress, frustration and doubt.

Between keeping up with client work, playing by the Thai rules and traveling every once in awhile, I haven’t had the time to write for this site. Or if I have had the time, I mentally couldn’t write. another. word. When you’re on the computer typing all day for work, the last thing you want to do in your free time is sit in front of the screen some more and try to be clever.

My travel has changed

The shift started in 2016. Looking back I wrote several posts, like this quick mention of my five-year anniversary of being in Asia, this moan about being sick of traveling solo and this look at traveling less but trying to have richer, more crafted experiences. I am well past the backpacker/long-term travel stage. I will happily stay on friends’ couches and in hostels (though only in private rooms – even while I’m traveling I’m always working and a dorm does not cut it), but also have thoroughly appreciated spending more for more comfortable or more unique accommodation.

Part of this shift came from being tired of traveling alone and traveling without any real purpose. Part of it came from having more consistent work and more money. While you can easily do Bangkok on a backpacker budget, it’s undeniably more fun when you have some extra cash to spend…and why go to the trouble of planning an adventure if you’re not going to be able to make the most of it? (For example, this hotel added a level of fun and memorability to a stay in Bangkok, instead of staying in a basic concrete room for less.)

This change in traveling has meant I’m exploring less than I used to and have different priorities. I won’t go out of my way to go on a press trip or do a hosted hotel stay, and when I do travel it’s more personal. Altogether, it means I’m researching or sharing as much travel info here.

Wandering through Penang while waiting for visas to be processed.

I fell out of love with Chiang Mai

After I first moved to Thailand, I distinctively remember my eyes filling with tears at just the thought of one day leaving Chiang Mai. This past year, instead of loving it and feeling at home half way around the world from Seattle, I have felt continually frustrated and disheartened in Chiang Mai after doing everything possible to build a life here. The trade-offs became too tough or irritating, whether it was dealing with legal stuff or doing daily errands. For instance, I own a motorbike, have the proper paperwork and licenses, and have never had any issues driving. But almost every day I’m flagged as a foreigner and stopped by the police. After being somewhere so long, it’s tedious having to continually prove yourself. Also, since the dog incident, I’ve been scared to take Manee out and still feel a flash of fear walking, or even driving, past dogs on the street.

My last priority was writing about what to do in Chiang Mai when I didn’t even want to be here.

That little face!

Of course, there were still good things. Seeing the sun almost every day is still better than surviving the Pacific Northwest’s dark winters. Khao soi is still delicious and you can’t beat the cost of living in Chiang Mai. I also have met some of the best people in the world in Chiang Mai and have numerous friends who I can call upon at any moment for help, even if that means taking my broken dog to the vet when I’m out of town. My landlord will pick me up at the airport when I arrive back from a trip without me even asking. All of my clients are nice, interesting, flexible, and I like them and their businesses – something that I did not experience while working in Seattle. My partner handles bad news and tough times more patiently and gracefully than I do, and made things better for me even when it was all falling apart or when he was really the one who needed support. There were, and are, still many, many good things.

And I think I’ve made it out onto the other side. Hopefully.

So what will I be doing in this space?

I’m still not quite sure. I know it’s not going away and will be trying to post more consistently, but it is also not a priority. I will be sharing more insight into traveling and living in Chiang Mai starting with a couple different series focusing on the common questions I always get asked (What are the highlights for two days in town? Is it safe to travel in Thailand as a solo female?).

I also have started exploring the city more after what feels like a year of hibernation – there are so many more cafes!

If you have questions about Chiang Mai, as well as Thailand in general, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for continuing to follow along.

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Paper Planes by Alana Morgan - 9M ago

There are a ton of Thai festivals.

Between actual holidays, annual festivals and various fairs or celebrations, it seems like something is going on every week, especially November through February.

Thailand is filled with interesting festivals and up in Chiang Mai we get to partake in some of the best – plus a few events not seen anywhere else.

Most of the holidays and celebrations don’t fall on the same dates year after year as many of the Buddhist holidays are based around the lunar calendar and local festivals (the exceptions are the King and Queen’s birthdays – also known as Thailand’s Father’s and Mother’s Days – and Songkran). Sometimes this can make nailing down specific dates ahead of time confusing as often many Thais won’t know the exact dates as well. However, if you know when a holiday is coming up you can start searching for definite dates and information ahead of time. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Bangkok Post and Chiang Mai City Life are good sites to look at for dates. 

Thai Festivals in January

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival – 3rd weekend – Every year the village of Bo Sang (on the outskirts of Chiang Mai toward San Kamphaeng) holds its Umbrella Festival celebrating the village’s traditional practices and products. There are parades, markets and shows held at the centre of town throughout the weekend. In 2018 the festival is expected to be held from January 19-21 2018.

Thai Festivals in February

The annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival – 1st weekend –  In February, Chiang Mai’s flowers are in full bloom and celebrated with a weekend long display of parades, intricate floats decorated solely with flower buds, and plenty of plants for sale. The inner moat road at the southwest corner (near Suan Buak Hat park) is closed to traffic as visitors wander the stalls and marvel at the floats. In 2018 the Chiang Mai Flower Festival will be held from February 2nd-4th.

Chinese New Year – 15th day of the first lunar month – Since many Thais come from Chinese descendants, Chinese New Year sees its own special celebrations throughout the country. Thai-Chinese families will come together to cook special foods in special amounts to honour their ancestors and set off fireworks. (There are also more Chinese tourists in the country as they enjoy a public holiday for the new year!) Chinese New Year 2018 is on February 16th.

Thai Festivals in March

Poi San Long – March 30th – April 9th –  Originating from the Shan people of Burma, the three-day Poy San Long ceremony is a mass ordination of boys (often between the ages of 7 – 14) into monastic life. The tradition starts with the boys dressing up as the young Buddha when he was still a prince and ends on the third day with the ordinations earning the boys and their families merit.

Thai Festivals in April

Sand pagoda at Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai

Songkran – 13-15th – The Thai New Year is a wet and wild affair filled with city-wide water fights, concerts, parades and partying – and Chiang Mai is the best place to be for it. For three days the city shuts down – especially between 10:00 a.m. until sunset – as both sides of the road along the entire moat are turned into water fighting territory. The areas around Tha Pae Gate, the South Gate and Huay Kaew tend to see even higher concentrations of people and often have concert stages and party areas. If you need to get anything done, it’s best to avoid the moat and Old City completely and take backstreets instead. That said, there’s practically no safe place from getting buckets of water thrown at you.

Thai Festivals in May

Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai’s Old City

Vesak Bucha (Visakha Bucha) – Full moon on 6th lunar month – Celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, which supposedly happened on the same month and date, Vesaka Bucha is honored at temples throughout town, but particularly at Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh where people light candles, give offerings and make three rounds around the chedi or temple complex. While it’s a serious occasion, there’s a festive mood in the air with street stands selling flowers, food and drinks. Visakha Bucha day 2018 will fall on May 29th.

Pilgrimage walk up to Doi Suthep – during Vesak BuchaStarting at the front gates of CMU (where there’s parking) and ending with three walks around the golden chedi of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, thousands of people make the trip up the mountain to respect the Lord Buddha. The entire experience has a carnival atmosphere to it as volunteers hand out free water and snacks along the way and the street is lit with colorful lights.

Inthakin – 13th day of the waning moon during the 8th lunar month – Unique to Chiang Mai, the Inthakin festival donors the city pillar, which is kept at Wat Chedi Luang. Along with paying respect to the city pillar in a ceremony supposedly started by King Mengrai, there are also associated ceremonies at the four corners of the moat, as well as at the gates and Three Kings Monument to help ensure peace, prosperity and good fortune for the city. (This is one of those festivals that you never really know when it’s happening until it’s over.)

Thai Festivals in June

 Lien Pu Sae-Ya Sae – 14th day of waxing moon – Dating back to animist beliefs, the Lien Pu Sae-Ya Sae ceremony involves ritual sacrificing of a water buffalo which is then  eaten raw by a local shaman or medium to appease the two guardian spirits, Pu Sae and Ya Sae, that live on Doi Suthep.

Thai Festivals in July

Asalaha Bucha and Wan Khao Pansa – Full moon and 1st day of waning moon of 8th lunar moon – One of Theravada Buddhism’s most important festivals, Asalaha Bucha marks the first sermon given by the Buddha and is The following day, Wan Khao Pansa, is the first day of the annual rains retreat (also called the Buddhist Lent) in Thailand where monks are required to stay at the same temple until the rainy season has passed.

Thai Festivals in August

Mother’s Day – 12th – Considered the mother of all Thai people, Queen Sirikit’s birthday is also observed as the country’s Mother’s Day and is a Thai national holiday (schools and government buildings are closed).

Thai Festivals in October

Wan Ok Pansa – 1st day of waning moon of 11th lunar month – Marking the end of the Buddhist rains retreat, Wan Ok Pansa is more colourfully celebrated in the eastern part of the country but many people in Chiang Mai will make trips to the temple to mark the day.

Thai Festivals in November

A krathong (flower float)

Loi Krathong/Yi Peng – The full moon of the 12th lunar month – For three days surrounding the full moon, Thailand celebrates the end of the rainy season by thanking  the spirits of the river during Loi Krathong. The celebration, filled with magical glowing lanterns, intricate flower floats and lots of fireworks, is especially popular and picturesque in the north, where it’s called Yi Peng in the local dialect. The full moon of Loy Krathong 2018 will be on November 24, but official dates have not yet been released by the Thailand Tourism Authority.

Thai Festivals in December

The King’s Birthday/Father’s Day – 5th – As with the Queen’s birthday, the King’s birthday on December 5th is also the country’s Father’s Day and a national holiday.

Christmas – 25th – While Christmas is usually recognised in areas that see more foreigners with simple decorations and menu specials, it never really feels quite like Christmas here.

New Year’s Eve – 31st – Though Thais have their own traditional New Year in April, December 31st still sees a call for celebration, good wishes of “Sawadee Bpee Mai” (Happy New Year) and, of course, fireworks. Thais also get an extra day off around the New Year which means many people are eating and partying with their families. As with Songkran, motorbike and road accidents, jump during this time due to drinking and driving. Be careful!

There are also a number of other national holidays throughout the year where many workers get the day off and schools and government offices are closed. You can find a list of Thai public holidays in 2018 here. Sometimes the government makes last minute adjustments to the public holiday schedule.   

Want to remember these Thai festivals in Chiang Mai?

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