Particularly Chiang Mai?
Well, I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never been to that part of the country before. 😁
Hopefully I will soon. Or you will. Fingers crossed.
If Northern Thailand is on the cards, here are five things you can look forward to when you get there. I searched for a person to ask and satisfy my curiosity about the area, and Edward E. Snoeks, the general manager of Melia Chiang Mai, happens to be game to share his favourites.
It’s part of my ongoing quest to “travel” while stuck in one place, and to sneak a peek into a local or resident’s take on a destination. 🏖
Ready to be transported? (Don’t forget to update yourself on current COVID restrictions and measures first.)
#1 The people
“The people of Northern Thailand are exceptionally friendly and helpful,” he says.
“Previously, I was caught up in the hectic pace of Bangkok, so my first impressions of the people here in Northern Thailand were that they’re very sincere and they make time for you.
“When I first arrived here, a police officer went out of his way to say hello and make me feel very welcome, and that has left a lasting impression on me.”
#2 The hiking trails
“As Chiang Mai is situated in Thailand’s mountainous north, there are plenty of fantastic hiking trails. I love to rise early, about 5:30am each day, and undertake two hikes a week. In fact, I just did a 12km hike this morning; it makes such a huge difference to your day.
“We are spoilt for choice, but I particularly like the Wat Pha Lat Trail, as well as a trail near Chiang Mai University.”
#3 The cuisine
“Although khao soi, an egg noodle curry, is very well known, there’s so much more breadth and depth to the cuisine than khao soi. It’s amazing how many delectable restaurants there are in Chiang Mai – the city is home to a huge concentration of small mom-and-pop stores. For the first six months I lived here, I ate out at least four times a week and never went to the same place twice.”
#4 The climate
“Here in Chiang Mai the climate is perfect. Due to its geographical position, Chiang Mai is much cooler than Bangkok. I am drenched after a five-minute walk as a result of the heat and humidity in Bangkok, but that doesn’t really happen to me here in Chiang Mai.
“In Northern Thailand, we experience a decent winter, a welcome counterpoint to the warmer months. The cool season is a very nice time to visit Chiang Mai.”
#5 The architecture
“Chiang Mai’s historic architecture is enchanting. To see so many temples right in the middle of residential streets is awe-inspiring. The moat still surrounds the Old City and its walls, which are still mostly intact so you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The architecture here is a window into Chiang Mai’s rich history and culture.”
The travel and tourism industry took (and is still taking) a hit because of the pandemic, but Melia Chiang Mai will actually be “the first five-star hotel to open in Chiang Mai since the pandemic began”, says Edward. It’s set to open in the fourth quarter of this year.
It’s a positive thing, and visitors can help the local community and economy in the process.
There are other good reasons to go to Northern Thailand and maybe check out the new hotel, even if just for just a tiny bit. 🍷 It might allow you to tick things off your travel to-do list.
You can also do these wherever you are, if you need a breather. 👍
#1 Have a drink
The hotel’s 360-degree rooftop bar, called Mai The Sky Bar, happens to be Edward’s personal favourite.
It’s on the 22nd floor, and it has two bars you can access thanks to a glass bridge. Enjoy views of the River Ping to the east and the Doi Suthep Temple to the west while you nibble on Spanish tapas.
#2 Have a massage (of course)
Be it a luxurious Thai massage, a scrub, a wrap, a facial or a pedi, their underwater-themed YHI Spa has got you covered – and feeling totally relaxed. They also feature a Thai herbal sauna and wellness products from Thai brand HARNN.
Depending on where you are in the hotel (or in Chiang Mai, for that matter), you’ll be treated to views of the pool, the city, the river and mountains… and even a secret garden.
Lord knows we all need a reprieve these days, and a place to ourselves. 😊
Now I’m off to find my next guide and destination. Got any ideas? 🏔