The Delights of Traveling: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is a gem in Northern Thailand where digital nomads and backpackers flock to get away from the craziness and crazy expenses of South Thailand.
We arrived in Chiang Mai at around 8 AM and the company that we booked our bus from had arranged transportation for us from the drop-off point to our hostel. We got recommended Purple Monkey Backpackers by one of my friends, so we thought we would check it out. It seemed like a pretty great hostel from the reviews and the beds were pretty comfortable and there was a rooftop bar with a pretty good view. However, because we arrived during low season, there weren't that many people at the hostel. So, we decided to make our own party because we had bought quite a few things from Cambodia to start a party.
The next day, we decided to go to a cat cafe and we were pleasantly surprised because there were about 25 cats that just chilled while we sat there and had some tea. We spent quite a bit of time there and then decided to walk back to the Old City. We didn't realize how far we were from the Old City and my friend was the only one with data on his phone, but halfway through we split up because we had a disagreement and I instantly regretted it because I had no idea where I was going and everything looked so similar. I finally found someone that was able to tell me how to head to my hostel and after 2 hours of wandering the streets of Chiang Mai, I found my way back.
We ended up staying together in Chiang Mai for 5 days, but he left because he had to get a flight back to London from Bangkok and instead of going with him, I decided to stay in Chiang Mai. I ended up staying at Purple Monkey Backpackers for almost 3 weeks, writing and working in the process because it is the hub for digital nomads and there are groups that are set up to help each other out.
While I was staying at Purple Monkey, I decided to do the major things to see in Chiang Mai which included the elephant sanctuary and the famous temple Doi Su Thep on the mountain. There are a few ways to go about doing these activities; for the elephant sanctuaries, you can talk to the reception at any respective hostel/hotel and they can lead you in the right direction. Normally, for a half day tour, it is about 800-1000 baht and for a full day it is around 1800-2000 baht. For Doi Su Thep, you can either rent a motorbike for the day and explore the city including the temple or you can get a grab, which really isn't that much or you can get one of the red buses that a lot of locals use to get around for about 50 baht. When you want to make your way back, there will be those red buses everywhere. There are also quite a few night markets/bazaars throughout the week. On the weekends, they are located in different places and much larger than the bazaars during the week.
After 3 weeks at Purple Monkey, I started thinking about volunteering at hostels around Thailand and so happened that Bodega Party Hostel was looking for staff, so I decided to send a message to one of the managers and he told me to come stay as a guest to see if I liked the vibe. I have to say that I am pretty used to working/ staying at party hostels and if you like to party, this is the place for you. Every day of the week has a different theme and there are pub crawls 3 days a week and it is about 450 baht for the whole thing and it includes a bucket at the hostel, a tank-top, shots throughout the night, and transportation. You go to 3 different places but because Chiang Mai is an early city, all the bars will close around midnight but there are some places off the beaten path that are open until about 4-5 AM.
All in all, Chiang Mai is a good mix between culture and modernism and very different from the craziness of Bangkok so you can see the true essence of Thailand, with a splash of expat living.