5 reasons to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Weather

Thailand, like the rest of the south-eastern Asian countries, it doesn’t have the same seasons as most of Australia or New Zealand. Instead there is the dry season and the wet season. Most year round it is hot and humid but during the wet season, there are many downpours and storms (mainly in the afternoons) which the locals refer to in English as ‘big raining’.  Later in the year from about October the weather becomes mild for a couple of months. It is the only time of the year when you will see the locals wearing jackets. Then the hot season starts again in February, making it the perfect time for Songkran, the Thai new year (see below).

Money

Thailand in general is inexpensive and the further you travel from the popular locations, the cheaper it becomes. Sure, Bangkok and Phuket may seem wondrously cheap when you first step off the plane, but the less touristy the place, the cheaper the prices.  You can pay up to two and a half times more for a beer in some places compared to a northern city like Chiang Mai.  But either way, our friends in South East Asia are close and if you live in Australia or New Zealand it is well worth taking advantage of. An example of this is the boutique resorts which can be found all around Chiang Mai; at $60 a night, it is a right money saver compared to say even Melbourne’s cheaper boutique hotels (average cheap price hovering around $180 a night)

People

Beautiful. The people are beautiful. Lovely, respectful and friendly. Smiles for you at all turns and they really love it when you try and use their phrases like ‘sawasdee’ (hello) or kup khun (thank you) when you are out and about. Always be friendly yourself and respectful to their customs and you will have a great time with them.

Food

Whether you like your pork or chicken, your curries or your stir-fries, your fruits or your desserts, Thailand has it all for the food connoisseur. The local stalls offer some great noodle and pork or chicken soups that satisfy and at 30 baht (around $1AUD), well worth it. If you’re interested in seeing how it’s done, your can take a class at one of the local cooking schools and learn how to make curry paste and how to get your chicken with cashews right for next time. The locals are friendly and open; you could happen upon a street side bar where they are cooking and they may be well happy for you to help them! Thailand has something for everyone, even those who prefer the western style cuisine. There are plenty of places around that offer pasta, burgers, steaks and pizzas. Although cheaper than what you pay at home, just expect to pay a bit more for them than the local dishes. But get out there, try something different to your usual palette; you just might be surprised what you like.

Festivals

A street water fight is one thing, but a country wide water fight is a whole new level! The Thai people celebrate their new year with a 4 day long water festival called Songkran and it is all about water! The festival evolved from splashing water onto the Buddha to help cleanse it (which is still done) to the merry splashing and soaking of everyone. Once Songkran is in full swing, keep your valuables at your hotel and keep your waterproof bag tight. The streets are lined with bins filled with water and ice with locals and tourists alike dipping in with buckets or water guns and soaking anyone and everyone. The main streets of Chiang Mai are packed with people roaming around with watergun in hand as well as utes and trucks with people on the back engaging in water skirmishes with both people on foot and in surrounding trucks. All in all, this is a fantastic festival for children and adults alike and a great way to see the Thai people at their happiest.

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