My first trip after the second wave had subsided was by sleeper train to Chiang Mai. Yes, I could have flown there but for me it’s the journey just as much as the destination. I love trains and as there are not many tourists at the moment, I took advantage of being able to book sleeper train tickets at short notice. I was originally planning on doing my own thing in Chiang Mai like last time, but then Trunk Travel kindly offered to show me around. They said that they would take me to places that I’ve never been to before. The following are my live posts on social media during the trip.
DATE OF TRAVEL: 4-7 March 2021
The train I’m on is the No.13 Special Express from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Leaving at 7:35pm and arriving at 8:40am. We actually left exactly on time, which is the good news, but then we broke down five minutes outside of the station.
Not everyone is going to Chiang Mai in the sleeper carriages. They also have 3rd Class with only seats. My lower bunk berth in 2nd Class is 841 Baht. 1st Class compartments are double that.
There’s no restaurant carriage on this train but there are food vendors going up and down selling food and drinks. This is my dinner tonight.
Good morning from somewhere in Northern Thailand. I had a good night’s sleep on the train. Reading the Bangkok Post now while I watch the sunrise out of the window. Hopefully a food vendor will get on at the next station with breakfast. I’m hungry.
Some food vendors came on the train at Khun Tan station. So I got a freshly cooked breakfast. I went for pad grapao again, stir fried minced pork with basil and chili. 40 Baht.
I’ve arrived safely in Chiang Mai. The train was only an hour late. I had to scan a QR Code while on the train & fill in some details about who I am and my reason for traveling. After I submitted the form I was given a new QR Code just for me. I then had to show this on arrival.
Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai
My first destination in Chiang Mai is Mae Wang district to the southwest of the city. The air quality isn’t great but better than I thought it would be. This area is normally popular with Thais who picnic by the creek or go bamboo rafting. Today we will do a short hike here.
This morning, we did a jungle trek in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai. Our guide was a local Karen villager. Every now and then he would stop to show us how they use plants as natural medicine. One was for aches and pains. Another for wounds. I learned a lot in a short time.
Lunch today, by a creek and waterfall, was Tom Yum Gai, a spicy chicken soup cooked in bamboo tube over an open fire. It tasted really delicious and gave us enough energy to continue our trek through the jungle.
Wat Luang Khun Win in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai
This afternoon we visited Wat Luang Khun Win in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai. This is a really amazing teakwood temple that is rarely visited by tourists. It was only a few years ago that the road was paved and so it was never easy to reach.
The highlight of Wat Luang Khun Win are the two teak Buddha images. This Reclining Buddha image is about 7 meters long. This one and the Standing Buddha were both carved from the same tree. The original temple dates back more than 700 years. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/1nB6PajAEq31134B8
Chai Lai Orchid in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai
Tonight I’m staying at Chai Lai Orchid in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai. This is the bungalow where I’m staying. The mosquito net is needed as the room is open to the elements. I hear some elephants might visit me in the morning. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/KUvU88JqbsRtozFu6
Dinner tonight at Chai Lai Orchid in Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai.
Good morning from Mae Wang in Chiang Mai. The pre-Dawn sunrise taken from my room at Chai Lai Orchid. There are no windows and everything is open to nature. Luckily I had no problems with bugs. Maybe too cold. It’s actually cool in the evenings year round so no need for air-con.
The magical moment when an elephant passes by your bungalow and asks to share your breakfast. I cannot think of a more perfect way to start the day here in Mae Wang in Chiang Mai. Lovely weather too. Around 18°C.
The elephants that visit Chai Lai Orchid resort are well looked after. It’s free to take photos of the elephants as they wander around the resort but if you want them to visit your room you have to pay for various packages that include things like food for the elephant and props.
Happy Elephant Home in Mae Taeng district of Chiang Mai
This is John, a guide from Trunk Travel. He is smiling because he has been out of work for a year now & this week he got his first job. A group of tourists came over from America and he’s now been guaranteed work for a month. Hopefully there will be more tourists coming for him.
Our first stop today was at Happy Elephant Home in Mae Taeng district of Chiang Mai. They have some rescued elephants here that are well looked after. No chains or hooks. You can come here on a day trip or stay longer in their homestay. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/YYHLwvYKfUE4Npyq6
One of the activities you can do at Happy Elephant Home is to go for a walk with the elephants to the river. But it’s all about the elephants. None of them are forced to go and if you start with 4 and only 2 reach the river then so be it. But the they do seem to enjoy the water.
Ban Mae Sa Mai in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai
This afternoon, we drove to Ban Mae Sa Mai in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai. Here we visited the Hmong Folk Wisdom Learning Center where we were greeted by the village headman and shaman. Who then performed a ceremony to bless us.
King Bhumibol visited the village and sponsored a crop substitution initiative replacing opium fields with vegetable and fruit produce. These days they also get their income from their Homestays and tourist activities such as batik painting, embroidery and silverware
If you want to visit a Homestay in Ban Mae Sa Mai or join one of their activities, you can call Khun Seksit on 084-485-2571 or Khun Win on 081-387- 7471. Or you can go there with a tour group such as Trunk Travel.
Saturday Walking Street in Chiang Mai
It’s good to see plenty of people at the Saturday Walking Street in Chiang Mai. I made a point of buying some gifts to take home and buying food from various vendors. This is the time for us to help as many different people as possible. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/cJz4u7DxsRn2QDsc9
Good morning from Chiang Mai. This morning we are doing a cycle ride around the city. We will be visiting a few temples and a morning market. Lovely cool weather at the moment.
Wat Lok Moli in Chiang Mai
Wat Lok Moli in Chiang Mai was built in 1527 by King Muang Ketlao. His ashes were enshrined in the stupa. Also of interest is the large wooden assembly hall in the Lanna-style. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/azCwL2bYr1vUfody5
JingJai Farmer’s Market in Chiang Mai
Our second stop was at JingJai Farmer’s Market, a short distance to the north of Chiang Mai city. It’s open at the weekends from 6am to 1pm. A very well organized market with a great selection of things for sale. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/6PKWqZciSjc4N7xSA
JingJai Market is not all about fresh produce. There are in fact three distinct zones. Highly recommended if you’re in Chiang Mai at the weekend and want to do some shopping.
You cannot visit Chiang Mai without trying northern-style sausages. Really delicious. I’m glad I skipped breakfast as there are so many temptations for things to eat at JingJai Farmer’s Market.
Lots of good street art to be seen around Chiang Mai. These ones are near JingJai market.
Warorot Market (Kad Luang) in Chiang Mai
Damrong shop in Warorot Market (Kad Luang) in Chiang Mai is famous for various meat. In particular northern style sausage. Bangkok people buy large amounts here to take home.
Go Neung on Wichayanon road in Chiang Mai
A dinosaur Pa Tong Go, a Chinese donut, at Go Neung on Wichayanon road in Chiang Mai. 20 Baht.
Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai
Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai is a popular place for tourists to do selfies. Many people also want photos taken with pigeons. They pay someone to feed the birds and then make a loud noise as the photo is taken. We didn’t do that for our photo as it’s not eco-friendly.
Happy Buffalo and Agri Farm in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai
Our activity this afternoon was at Happy Buffalo and Agri Farm in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai. Here people can go to learn about traditional farming life with hands on experience. Starting with ploughing with buffaloes and then rice planting. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/j7TNm4CruorUYC416
We also learned how to cook sticky rice, by steaming and not boiling, and then we went to collect our own eggs and fresh produce to bring back to cook and finally eat. It was a very informative afternoon.
It is possible to visit Happy Buffalo and Agri Farm on your own to learn about farming, but it would be far easier and more Informative if you went with a tour guide such as Trunk Travel as they don’t speak much English there.
Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai
We finished the day in Chiang Mai at the Sunday Walking Street. This is open from 4pm until late every week. As the evening progressed, more people came to visit but obviously not as many as pre-COVID. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. It was too crowded before.
That’s a wrap on my three-day trip to Chiang Mai with Trunk Travel. I hope you enjoyed my photos and I’ve inspired you to visit. Click here for a map list of all the places that we visited: https://goo.gl/maps/5EmfJ4G59bAr2vvw6
I wish to thank Lucy, the project manager from Trunk Travel who looked after me on this trip to Chiang Mai. I was originally planning on doing my own thing but they offered to show me around and provide local guides. I’m glad they did as I saw and experienced many new things.