Songkran in Chiang Mai
A few years ago, during a recent Medical Tourism FAM trip to Thailand, courtesy of Thai Tourism, I re-visited one of my favorites cities, Chiang Mai.
Chang Mai is hands down, one of the best places to enjoy Songkran, a three to a five-day celebration of the Buddhist New Year. What started as a sprinkle of scented water blessings is now dousing people with water guns and hoses on the back of a truck. No one is safe! It happens in mid-April, a month when my Thai friends tell me is the worst time to travel to Thailand. Spring brings the hottest weather to Thailand all year. It’s also the beginning of the monsoon season that lasts until about October.
October has by far the best weather, especially in Northern Thailand, namely Chiangrai and Chiang Mai, when it’s cooler, and just as charming before the high season when the global “Snow Birds” arrive.
There was a promise to build a hi-speed train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. I noticed there were a number of beautiful, Western-style retirement communities being built when I was there last. I’m sure the train will make it easier for serious shoppers and wholesale buyers, to transport goods, but for the average person, it’s still a trek to and from Bangkok.
The Fondcome Experience
Our group of journalists spent a few nights sending out with balloons, at the unique, Fondcome Village Resort, a traditional Thai resort in the hills overlooking the city:www.fondcome.com/
The luxury hotel brands that were missing in Chiang Mai on that visit, have arrived. We dined on the river at the Sofitel, during their pre-opening week. The experience fell under the category of, “divine”.
Mandarin Oriental, Chiang Mai
Took a side day trip to what was once known as the magnificent Mandarin Oriental, in Chiang Mai. Our group participated in a Thai cooking class, that with a bit of work transformed into our own delicious lunch. Today, the property, just as magnificent, is known as the Dhara Dhevi.
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll of the grounds, the gardens, and unfortunately, only toured their dreamy Spa, because we had just enough time to join the hotel’s private Songkran parade. Absolutely charming. Charm and privacy, for those discerning individuals who can afford the very best. They also have a full day of programs to enjoy during your visit, like basket making, bamboo weaving, rice pounding, paper cutting, and flower arranging www.dharadhevi.com
Not only is it cool, but it’s also cooler weatherwise…when it’s not burn season…
Chiang Mai, once the capital of the Kingdom of Lanna, is today, the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It sits at a much higher elevation, which makes it a bit cooler than other parts of the country – most of the time.
Thailand Tourism/LA, http://www.tourismthailand.org arranged for us to stay at the Thai owned, Dusit Thani Hotels, which was a lovely treat because they’re all so different www.dusit.com/DusitThaniHotel
Of the two Dusit Thani hotels here in Chiang Mai, we stayed a few days at the traditional Thai style, Princess. Nothing terribly special to squeal about, but it was peaceful, and located in an established part of town for those without walking shoes. In addition to a central location, everything worked perfectly, it was immaculate and had a simple but decent in-house restaurant. (looking for the photos…)
The window in my room actually opened, which gave me a chance to sip on a beer while listening to the sounds of Chaing Mai unfolding at night. It also happened to overlook the twinkling lights illuminating the street vendors as they packed up at midnight. (pix update)
In the morning, I looked over rooftops and enjoyed a cup of coffee as I watched the city wake. Directly across the street was a giant-sized Ronald McDonald’s dummy giving me the “Wi” sign.
We toured, then had dinner at the minimal, ultra modern, Dusit2 Hotel which is just a few blocks away. Cool enough for any millennial.
Next time, this Boomer Broad plans to stay here for a few days: www.dusit.com/DusitD2-ChiangMai
We moved on to the Dusitani, in Hua Hin. See my Trip Adviser report here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g297922-d1225437-r181632936-Dusit_Thani_Hua_Hin_Hotel-Hua_Hin_Prachuap_Khiri_Khan_Province.html#UR181632936
Afterward, I settled into roughly 10 days on my own in Bangkok, catching up with friends, which usually included a meal. I love the way Thai’s always incorporate food whenever we meet.
When I discovered that eye exams are free in Thailand, I had enough time to order some new lenses for my glasses.
I was in Bangkok for some dental work with the only dentist I totally trust with my teeth, Dr. Kamala at Yanhee. I also have periodic physicals at Yanhee Hospital and try different anti-aging beauty options because they have the latest equipment, it’s often much cheaper and all specialties are under one roof.
Construction of the Sky Train is creeping closer to Yanhee’s front door. Public transportation will make the trip from the tourist area to Yanhee more efficient and reliable. Bangkok traffic is disgusting and construction is everywhere. Don’t be offended when some taxies won’t make the trip across town. You may find your self in a cab longer than expected.
Taxi fares have gone up, but it seems the drivers are more professional – at least, the ones I encountered this time, as opposed to last. They have a local app. for taxis that works really well.
I intend to be blogging about MedicalTourism Lite in Thailand for the next few months at least, so I hope you’ll come back for photos as well as story updates, and I find some photos that are hiding … somewhere.
That’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by! oxoxoxox, L