October Update: Thailand

Travel

Bangkok was a shock after orderly, efficient Japan and we couldn’t warm to the huge, crowded city with its constant traffic. We’d seen the sites on a previous trip so this time we focused on eating – from western comforts in the many shopping centres to taking advantage of the wealth of meat-free street eats during the Vegetarian Festival. Bangkok also has the best cinemas in the world – ultra comfortable and cheap. Just remember to stand for the national anthem.

After a week we were definitely ready to leave the chaos behind and the quiet island of Koh Mak was just what we needed. No traffic, no noise (except the cicadas) and empty beaches were perfect for a relaxing break.

For the past two weeks we’ve been in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It’s much more chilled out than Bangkok but still has everything you need, plus views of the hills, many shimmering gold wats (temples) and lots to do in the surrounding areas. There are also loads of vegetarian restaurants and we’ve been eating very well for very little. The city has become a travel bloggers hub so we know quite a few people who are here for the winter.

We’ve decided to settle down here for three months, and spent the first week struggling to find a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen. Everyone just eats out here so finding a kitchen is harder than you’d think, and we had to raise our budget quite a few times to find a place we liked. We are glad we did though as we’ve loved exploring Chiang Mai’s wonderful markets and picking up fresh fruit, vegetables and rice noodles at great prices. We took a Thai cooking course and look forward to experimenting more in our kitchen.

We’ve also rented a moped, an easy, cheap and fun way to get around. In the next month we plan to put Simon’s driving skills to the test with trips out of town into the hills and up to the Burmese border which we need to cross to renew our Thai visas.

Over the next month expect more posts on our trip to Japan (still so much to write about) and our explorations of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai pool

The pool at our apartment in Chiang Mai

Never Ending Voyage Around The Web

Here’s where we were featured in the last month.

Steph from Twenty Something Travel included our post about learning to cook in Kyoto in her Best of the Blogosphere round up.

Enjoy Bed and Breakfast featured our post about the undiscovered temple Otagi Nenbutsuji in their Best City Blog Posts and our paper lantern sculpture photo essay in their Best Outdoors Blog Posts.

Our Hong Kong Stopover Guide was included amongst some great resources for travel in South East Asia with Kids (but useful for everyone) on My Little Nomads.

The Working Traveller’s A to Z of Gap Year Travel used our guide to travelling with only carry on luggage to encourage travellers to travel light.

Aussie On The Road selected our Koh Mak post as one of his recommended reads.

A series of events called Meet Plan Go have been taking place all over the US to encourage those who would like to travel to take a career break. In Kristin’s round up of the San Francisco event she links to our feature on 10 Inspiring Family Travellers who show that it is possible, even with children.

Work

line-in-western-poster

Simon’s latest illustration: inspired by Disney

We are in Chiang Mai to work, to focus on developing some projects that will hopefully bring in alternative income streams so that we are not entirely dependent on Line In‘s client work. Simon is just finishing up some client projects at the moment so that he can dive into the new projects.

He is also continuing with his Illustration 156 project, and created the Wild West themed poster above after being inspired by our trip to Disney Tokyo. He took a lot of photos of fonts while we were there!

Leave a comment if you have any tips for us on things to do in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas.

Are you planning a trip? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

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21 thoughts on October Update: Thailand

  1. i am going to retire in Thailand……should be there in June….I hear Chang Mi is the cheapest….in the Mountains i hope i enjoy it….been in Chicago 99% of my Adult Life…..just tired of all the crap going on…

  2. I’ve never been to Thailand, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit Japan four times. It’s a great place, even if I’ve never really understood the people.

    Their love of cycling on the sidewalk is annoying though!

  3. no problem! just avoid June to September as it’s typhoon season! I would recommend January Feb, March! Hope you’ll make it down here! I live in Boracay! It’s a party island so i don’t think you’ll like it! The beach sand though is talcum powder white and very fine. almost 5 kilometer long

  4. Well, I’m inviting you to the Philippines! I know a bit of your preferences from reading this blog so I think I’ll recommend these places

    Coron, Palawan
    El Nido, Palawan
    Sagada
    Siargao Island
    Bohol
    Islands north of Cebu City
    Vigan( Cartagena feel)

  5. We can’t wait to get here during out upcoming rtw. Although, our 1 week in Chiang Mai now seems too short. We’ll be there just in time for Songkran next year. Will you two still be there? I’m dying to take a cooking class. 🙂

  6. Hi Erin!

    Ive been to Chiang Mai once, on my way to Laos, and indeed its an amazing place to stay a bit longer for you guys to work and still enjoy the place.

    Just a question, I wonder if you have plans to visit my Philippines?

  7. We were just planning a trip to Chiang Mai in the first week of November or so. We had heard about the flooding that happened in the end of September. How is the situation now? Is it safe to go now? How is the weather?

    • There is no flooding at all in Chiang Mai now and the weather is hot and sunny. The trains and most buses (I think) aren’t running from Bangkok because of flooding further south but you can fly up here no problem. Air Asia has the cheapest flights.

  8. I’m thinking of spending some time in Chiang Mai too, I feel more and more the need to stop somewhere for maybe a few months. If you could tell us more about how you went about finding your appartment, the overall costs of living you expect there and how you will handle the visa situation (from what I can guess you plan to do visa runs every 15 days?)

    I may arrive there in December, if I chicken out of going to Madagascar, if not will most likely arrive in Chiang Mai in January.

    • It’s a great place to stop and have a break. I will be writing a post in the next few weeks about how we found an apartment and about our costs (once we have seen what they are). If you are happy with a room at a guesthouse you can find places for around $200 a month. Just wander around town and find one you like and negotiate a monthly rate. Meals only costs a few dollars at the most if you eat Thai food, more if you go for western. A month’s moped rental is $60-100 and we are spending less than $3 a week on petrol.

      We wanted a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen and this is MUCH harder to find for a low price. We ended up paying $650 a month plus bills. It’s a really nice place though with swimming pool and gym. Studios will be cheaper, maybe $300-400 with a kitchen. It all depends on how fussy you are (we were quite fussy as we need a comfortable place to work). We found our apartment through an agent, searching online and driving around and asking at apartment buildings.

      A few bloggers have written about their cost of living being about $500 a month, but that will be for a place without kitchen. See this post on A Little Adrift.

      We applied for a dual entry two month visa when we were in the UK (you can get one in neighbouring countries like Laos and Malaysia too). This means we have to leave after two months but get another two months when we return (hence our border run). If you fly into the country without a visa you get 30 days on arrival, if you come overland it’s 15 days.

  9. When y’all posted that you were heading to Bangkok from Japan, I specifically thought, “Wow, they’re in for a shock.” I’m glad that y’all are enjoying Chiang Mai! It’s one of our fave spots in Thailand.

    If you get some time, definitely head down to Lampang one weekend for their Saturday/Sunday weekend market. It’s a really short 1 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai and a totally different scene (no tourists at all, very little English spoken, and incredibly cute though slow-moving town). The one in Lampang is pretty much just locals and though not as big as the Chiang Mai one, I think it’s even more fascinating because all the shops are geared toward locals rather than tourists.

  10. Definitely go to Rimping supermarket – turn right out of your block, right at the lights, left at the end of the road, right downa little alley and over the bridge then right then left then you’re there. The best thing is, once you’ve bought it all they deliver it for free, so you just have to walk back. We thought about asking of they could deliver us home as well, but it seemed cheeky. More than once we got back to find our shopping waiting for us. It’s wicked. Treat yourselves!

    Enjoy Chiang Mai. See you laters x

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