We tried. Maybe we should have tried earlier!
We were still in Bangkok and our next and final destination was Chiang Mai. We had hoped to catch a night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Jason had searched for tickets a week ago and there were not many options available. We were usually quite lucky up until now in finding accommodation and travel tickets last minute. Unfortunately there was nothing available, so whilst we were chilling on the island of Ko Phanang I booked our flights with Bangkok airways to Chiang Mai.
We were somewhat eager to leave the big cities and Chiang Mai was a place where we hoped to experience the tranquil village-like living through homestay. What we found was better than what we had hoped. It was a tree house! The place isn’t just called Tree House, but the place quite literally is built like a big tree house, all out of timber and very rustic.
Tree House Hideway has four bedrooms inside the tree house. We were fortunate to have had someone cancel and so we got to have the big room, usually used by families, which can fit up to 8 people. The place is simple. With basic bedding, shared bathrooms and toilets, communal dining and hang-out area. The owners and workers are exceptionally friendly and the guides are well-spoken and helpful. There was always an abundance of traditional Thai food and our experience was truly memorable.
If you need somewhere to stay in North Thailand for an off-the typical tourist route, I strongly recommend checking out Tree House Hideaway or searching them up on Airbnb. We spoke to some people who had booked through Airbnb. It’s not your typically cheap hostel accommodation, but with all meals included, pick-up and drop-off from the airport, and tours included (the price we paid), it is certainly worth the price.
It was quite special with the local children coming to do a singing/dance show every evening before dinner. Mr 5 got right in there dancing with one of the older girls lol!
During our time here, we did the typical tours for this area:
- Approx 8km Hike to a waterfall
- Temple, Cave and Hot springs
We usually carry with us an empty bottle of water wherever we go so that when the boys need the toilet, we do not have to fuss over finding a toilet in less than a minute (as their bladders cannot hold it for long).
On this particular occasion we forgot the empty water bottle and we only realised when inside the cave. Yes – you guessed it! Both boys decided they really needed to go inside the cave! With no where to go, and we couldn’t exactly leave the group to go out, the tour guide put both boys in a corner and let them pee.
As expected, local Thai by-passers were not impressed and I could see them approach our guide, speaking about what I imagined was their disgust with what had just occurred. We were embarrassed. I didn’t want this to happen this way, but as the guide explained to everyone, what else were we to do? There was no where else to go, it was a long way back out and both boys would most likely have an accident.
I was thankful for the guide looking after the boys that way, but we also felt terrible of the fact that in a cave in Chiang Dao, our boys have marked their territory.
If you’re going to go anywhere obscure with children, ALWAYS carry an empty water bottle!
- Elephant Sanctuary
It was the 24th December, 2017 and we spent the morning visiting Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, and kind of forgot it was so close to Christmas!
They explained all about elephants and how they look after these beautiful animals at the sanctuary. The visit included feeding sugar cane to the elephants, patting them and then bathing them should you wish. We got given morning tea and a Kanta T-shirt.
I would recommend going to Kanta as the staff are all very friendly and the elephants look like they are well taken care of.
Chiang Mai city
We arrived into Chiang Mai city after our peaceful retreat at Tree house Hideaway. Up until this morning we still were unsure where we were going to stay in Chiang Mai. We had 2 nights 24-26th. Jason spent the drive to the Sanctuary searching on his phone for accommodation. We looked on Airbnb and bookings.com He finally found a place through bookings.com called Thank you Chiang Mai. We paid $25 per night. It was just what we needed. The place was clean, the room had a double bed and a single bed. The staff were friendly and the place is located in the old part of town not far from the Phae Gate. If you are looking for budget accommodation, then Thank you Chiang Mai is perfect for this.
We arrived a Sunday afternoon and thankfully we made it just in time for the Saturday/Sunday markets. It’s quite popular for tourists and locals alike. I really enjoyed these markets as there were slightly different knick-knacks than what I had seen in other parts of Thailand.
The massages on the street were also a sight to see AND experience. They have chairs and table beds lined up on the street for very cheap one hour massages. We all had a go at having a massage 🙂
**Tip: If you are planning to visit these markets with children, I would suggest arriving a little earlier – roughly 4ish as by the time 7:30pm hits it is completely packed and difficult to walk freely without having to push and shove!
We had our Christmas Eve dinner in a restaurant around the market place area. The boys had Pad Thai and then we all shared Mango Sticky rice and some ice-cream.
Another activity besides visiting the markets or strolling the streets is taking a cooking class – and that is what I did!
I chose to go to Thai Vegetarian Cooking. I strongly recommend Thai Vegetarian cooking as a place to experience cooking classes. Doing the whole tourist group class can be a bit of waste of time with having to go pick everyone up in a vehicle, then visiting the market as part of ‘the class’, which I thought was not that great and a slight waste of time. I can say that the actual lessons were very worthwhile and the teacher was spot-on! Being a teacher myself, I could see she had a tonne of experience teaching novice cooks and a heap of patience too! There was not a detail that she didn’t anticipate and explain. The only disappointment was that we were told we could save our dishes and they would be packed away for take-away. Unfortunately these all got mixed up with the others in the group and some didn’t even get to take-away.
We were welcomed with a purple drink and ” Khao Kriab Pak Moh” (Steamed Rice Skin Dumplings).
image taken from: https://sites.google.com/site/thaivegetariancooking/home
Some more exploring we did was just visiting the different Wot’s and trying the local food. If you are in Chiang Mai then you need to try Khao Soi a noodle-soup dish. It reminded me a little of the Vietnamese dish Cao lao (though this is drier). But it did have some crispy noodles on top that were oh so tasty!
Christmas came and went and we missed the Hustle and bustle that usually comes with christmas time back home. Our Khao Soi was our “Christmas lunch”. We then got ready to go back home on the 26th December and get ready to spend NYE with friends back home 🙂