Finally got myself into the mood of editing pictures and writing this post… Exactly a week since I got back to Singapore!
Anyways, this trip had more hiccups than I had initially envisioned, so I got a little pissed during my trip. That aside, it was my first time in Chiangmai, had to do tonnes of research, print maps, get directions, find places to visit, blah blah blah. The prep work itself probably took a month or so dragged out, but that was because I was still doing some part-time work at that point in time.
So here’s Day 1:
Not the first time travelling on a budget carrier, but I must say it was the WORST OF THE WORST I have ever been. The flight originally set to leave at 10.05 am Singapore time got delayed for an hour. And there was no notice whatsover. So all the passengers were just waiting and waiting in the boarding lounge, no idea where the plane (which was supposed to dock at the gate by then) was. Boarding gates were surprisingly still closed at the same time, so there was no way we could wander out and get some form of entertainment while waiting for the already late plane. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
At last, the plane did arrive, fashionably late. No apologies or anything… fine, whatever. Got up, and the plane wasn’t cleaned up at all. There was some trash in the seat pockets of my seat which I had to dispose off myself, dirt on the carpet. Seriously Thai Airasia.
So because there was no direct flight into Chiangmai International Airport, we had to make a transit in Bangkok, at Don Mueang International Airport. And that itself was a ridiculous chaotic mess. Airasia, together with Nok Air, only own three freaking check in counters??? And there was like a whole lot (at least 50% of the passengers from the previous plane) trying to get some transit procedures and immigration clearance done before we could move off to the next flight’s boarding gates.
The waiting time for the immigration clearance took close to 20mins, and considering that we were already late by an hour, I was just super worried that we would miss our transit flight. We had initially scheduled to board the transit flight an hour after landing in Bangkok, so we were clearly behind time and running the risk of missing our flight altogether. Thai Airasia made ZERO attempt to make arrangements for the passengers who were by-right late for their next flight. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻ ┻━┻ ┻━┻
Thankfully for us, the final call for the transit flight was made right after we cleared the immigration. Had a crazy sprint down DMK airport, one end to the other, and were some of the last few passengers that made it on board. Day ruined by the terrible service of Thai Airasia already. Transit flight still reached Chiangmai according to the initial schedule, so that was a mini-relief.
—END OF RANT ————
Chiangmai International Airport (henceforth CNX) is not connected to any form of bus or rail system. There is, in fact, no rail system in Chiangmai as of now. Taxis and tuktuks are pretty much the only form of transport you will ever take there. CNX has its taxi stand located on the outside of the airport – meaning you will have to walk out of the building, via Exit 1, and join the queue at the outdoors taxi stand. Prices are predetermined by the staff at the stand (based on your hotel locality) and you will just pay that prequoted amount to the taxi driver once you have reached your destination. Chiangmai in itself isn’t say super duper big. It’s walkable by foot (mostly, unless you are talking about the mountains, hilly areas etc), so your taxi ride shouldn’t take too long as well.
IBIS STYLES HOTEL
The first hotel that we booked was Ibis Styles Hotel Chiangmai. It is quite a prominent hotel in that area, so it’s pretty hard to miss the building. Here’s our room:
A decent and clean room, bed frame was kinda faulty and broken by the time we moved in, but otherwise everything else was good!
SUNDAY NIGHT MARKET
Ibis Styles Hotel also had this free shuttle Songtheaw (red truck-looking taxi) that drops you off at one of the many entrances into the famous Sunday Market. The market itself is super big, it extends across a huge area within the Old City of Chiangmai. You will have to navigate yourself through the many road intersections, memorise the way you turned in and out so that you can cover the whole area!
You will be able to find lots of food and handicraft stalls within the market! The Northern style sausages are very tasty and worth a try at some point in time in Chiangmai. If you are into paintings, you will be able to find a whole lot of them in front of the famous Herb Basics Old City outlet.
One piece of advice I can offer is to NOT take tuktuk back to your hotel. This market is a tourist hotspot and these tuktuks are just going to fleece as much money off you as possible. Not saying that the red truck taxis don’t, but the price is at least 25% cheaper if you take a red taxi.
Another thing would to be to find one of the more crowded and populated exits to get your transport back. There are many gates in the Old City, some of them are more popular and crowded than the others. It was very dark and crowded back then so I could not recognise the exact name of the gate, but there is a 7-11 store nearby. If you spot one near the exit, then you are probably at the right place.
We got up a red truck taxi back to the hotel for only 100baht (significantly lower than the 200baht for the red truck taxi and 300baht for the tuktuk at the quieter exit).
This market is really worth visiting because you will get to see a whole lot of unique and interesting stalls which you probably will not be able to find at any other night markets in Chiangmai. Or even if you did, it’s probably cheaper at the Sunday Market.
Aaaand that was my Day 1 in Chiangmai 🙂