Dates visited: January 3, 2015 – January 6, 2015
Chiang Mai (428 miles north of Bangkok) is the second largest city in Thailand but still manages to retain a small city’s charm and vibe. It’s not as terribly busy or densely populated as Bangkok so it’s a lot more fun to walk around at a leisurely pace, and absorb the city’s excitement or mingle with the locals as you visit the numerous wats (temples). There are several daily flights that fly between the two cities so it’s very easy to get to Chiang Mai. Our interest in seeing Chiang Mai was only because we were visiting Mae Tang for the Elephant Nature Park.
This was our last Thai city and to be honest, Prachi and Rohan seemed saturated with the dose of gilded Buddha statues and lavish temples. Still, there we were! And to use a thoroughly worn out cliché, we did in Rome, as the Romans would do. We started off with a specific list of Buddha temples to visit, but as we kept encountering several more temples along the way, we started ducking inside them just to check them out. It was terribly hot so the temples also offered the much needed break and shade.
While Wat Phan Tao and Wat Phra Singh ( both are 14th century-built temples) were attractive temples to visit, I was amazed by the vastness and grandness of Wat Chedi Luang. The stupa of this 14th century temple rose to 84m (280 ft), but was toppled in the 1545 earthquake. Still, what remains is an impressive 54m (177 ft) stupa jutting out towards the sky, resting on a 44m (144 ft.) wide four-sided base. It is just huge! The stone nagas (mythical snakes) guard the staircases that lead to the top, accompanied by stone elephants that hold their own lookout party midway up the platform. I just loved Wat Chedi Luang and strolling along the temple grounds.
We ended our three-week SE Asia vacation in Chiang Mai, but no visit to any SE Asian city is ever complete unless you have visited its night market! We visited Kalare Nightbazaar and the street market around it for that one last souvenir, and another one and another one! And of course, not to mention that one last relaxing massage, and another one and another one and … …