Chiang Mai, Thailand is an easy place to spend time. Our
second visit in two years, we were familiar with the city's offerings, but
that did not create complacency or boredom. There is always a festival
going on, something to see, or do.
Public transportation is a breeze and is cheap. For about a quarter,
you can travel across town in about ten minutes by taking one of the open
air "red trucks" amply available, called a songtheaw. Or you
could hire a tuk tuk, a small three wheeled propane powered vehicle with a
seat for two or three in the back. Tuk tuks are a little more expensive
(75 cents to $1 US), but they will take you directly to most places you
ask,. Also, the drivers are readily available for tour services, a must in
One such tour is a factory row, thirteen kilometers out of Chiang Mai
in a town called Samkampaeng. These factories feature Thai silk, celadon
pottery, paper umbrellas, silversmithing, Thai lacquerware, teak furniture
and dozens of others. It is well worth the 200 baht ($4.76 US) and the
four hours it takes to properly see the factories and view the artists at
work. Learning how these items are made only enhances their value and
Thai food is also full of variety and fresh ingredients. We
took a Thai cooking class at Chiang Mai Cookery School for less than $22
US for the day. It lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and was packed with fun
and camaraderie. We toured the morning market, then returned to the school
to proceed in cooking six different Thai dishes. There were twenty
students in the class, with three instructors and four assistants. The
price included transportation to the market, all the ingredients for the
food, the instruction itself, plus a copy of the school's cookbook. A
value no matter how you look at it.
Thai massage is also a feature here in Chiang Mai. For less than $5 US,
you can receive a two hour Thai massage which is a combination of
stretching, pressing points and yoga. You don't have to worry, no
experience is required. They even supply you with your own freshly
laundered Asian lounging attire to wear during the massage. You
just need to relax and enjoy the experience.
While traveling here, I needed emergency dental work done,
and my husband needed new eye glasses. Two gold crowns and a molar filling
were replaced at a fraction of the cost it would be in the States. All
this done by a dentist who spoke perfect English, was quite professional,
and used sterilized instruments.
My husband had an eye exam, a new bifocal prescription ground, and
bought attractive titanium frames, all for an amazingly low price that
included professional care and guarantees.
As I mentioned before, Chiang Mai, Thailand is an easy place to spend
some time. The weather is pleasant, the food quite tasty, and the people
are fun-loving and kind. Shopping bargains are everywhere, in local
stores, at street vendors, the famous Night Bazaar, or in shopping malls.
If you are looking for someplace different with a bit of exotica,
Chiang Mai, Thailand is the place.