Laid back. Two words to describe the northern sibling of Bangkok. Also known as the second city of Thailand, Chiang Mai’s population is far less dense than the Thai capital.
Sheng Wei and I were on a week-long trip to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai 2 weeks ago. Like any seasoned independent traveller, we set out to wander the streets after dropping our backpacks at the guesthouse. One can’t help but notice that in Chiang Mai, there are far less cars, tuk tuks and none of the infamous jam that plagues the capital. Instead of commercial shopping malls, the streets are filled with small shops operated by young local business owners. Be it coffee shops (And there are plenty around, I must say!), cute souvenir shops or independent apparel shops, there are plenty to check out. Without realizing it, you could end up strolling about the streets for hours.
The laid-back nature of the city even extends to the pets. The sight of pet dogs and cats roaming about the street is a common sight. Not only they seem oblivious of human presence, they are in fact very comfortable with strangers. Most of the dogs you’ll come across are in fact belong to the temples nearby. So who knows if it’s the religious influence that calm these pets?
Thus, don’t be shy to take photos. I’m sure that you will come across a few that unknowingly land themselves in photogenic pose, such as these:
As the night draws near, we stopped by a local dining restaurant for dinner. Due to the presence of western tourists in Chiang Mai, finding a good meal shouldn’t be too hard. Even in local eateries or street vendors, it shouldn’t be a problem to order in English. If you do not fancy Thai food, there are plenty of Western restaurants and bars around.