Budget Traveling in Chiang Mai, Thailand
During our last trip, Rain and I had the opportunity to spend time visiting the beautiful country of Thailand. We stayed in three different locations during our stay: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. Each different from one another, making the experience for us quite spectacular!
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Our trip started off in the city of Bangkok, and we had two whole days to explore and get our bearings for this new country. Neither of us had ever been, so this was a great experience for us to explore together. When the weekend came, we packed up our backpacks and headed to the airport to catch our flight to Chiang Mai. The flight from Bangkok was an hour long, and boarding took about 20 minutes. For those worried about the types of planes that they use, you have nothing to fear. Rain and I had been mislead during our research into believing that the planes we smaller and possibly more dangerous to fly in. This is definitely not the case, they are Boeing 747’s and all pass the same standards as anywhere else in the world.
Our plane left early in the morning and thankfully it was only an hour flight, because after the 24 hour flight to get to Thailand, I don’t think I could sit any longer. We touched down in Chiang Mai around 10:00am we all had breakfast at the airport before we left Bangkok giving us plenty of time to get out to the city as quickly as possible.
Tip #1 Finding Cheaper Taxis
So, this tip works for most airports in Thailand, but shouldn’t be used all the time. For Chiang Mai, it works very well! Okay, so when you touch down at the airport, you are guided towards the exit, where you could find the transportation services. Here’s where the tip comes in. Once you exit the airport, there will be a little office outside for taxi services. Walk towards that building and keep on walking. You don’t need that. Even though it’s there for convenient purposes, it only has one purpose — to make money. You will find that sometimes there will be fixed prices for taxi rides rather than the use of a meter, and/or they will carry a surcharge for using this little office. The best option, or the cheapest option, is to walk towards the road and just head in the general direction you want to travel in. Hailing a taxi as if you were somewhere else in the city will insure that you are only using the meter only for your fare.
This trick is small but saves you the hassle of spending unnecessary money, not too mention waiting in the line for the taxi service.
Tip #2 Food From Markets
Like anywhere in Thailand, you can find food as close as around the corner no matter where you look. So, when you’re hungry follow your nose.
Chiang Mai offers a plethora of food options. Ranging from cafés and bars to restaurants and fast food chains. The best option is find one of the many, many, markets within the city. The cool thing about the markets, is that some aren’t seasonal, or annual or anything. When the night falls the markets open.
If you’re traveling to a country like Thailand, there are things you have to experience, and food is a huge part of the culture.
Tip #3 Free Temples
Chiang Mai is a fairly old city, previously known as Lan Na. The city has a long history for Thailand that dates back to the 13th century. Resulting from the age of the city, there was plenty of time to develop and change. The city today is the largest northern city in the province, and is spectacular to visit. In the city, there are two sections really, one that is called the “old city” and the rest of the city is somewhat separate. Within the borders of the “old city” you will find lots and lots of temples, some small, and others large. If you’re looking for some adventure, make a list of some temples that you want to see and start checking them off as you go.
A good percentage of the time the temples will be free of charge. Now I can’t attest for this for all of them, we merely walked around just exploring without a destination and found a few beautiful temples that were free of charge. If you do happen to find a temple that requires a fee, it’s usually just an entrance fee and you won’t be missing too much. If you seen one, you’ve seen most of them. The traditional style of architecture is used throughout Thailand, and same with the decoration.
If you’re looking for places to go and things to do during the day, grab your camera or phone and just walk around the old city. It’s large enough to find many things to explore and see, and you won’t need any money to experience these places.
Tip #4 Muay Tai Fights
Lastly, Muay Thai also known as Thai boxing. This is a traditional martial arts fighting style that is similar to US boxing, however they use their legs as well. Another name for this fighting style is the art of 8 limbs, which describes the combination of attacks. The attacker will have a combination of using the hands, elbows, knees and feet. From an anatomical perspective, the upper arm and forearm and upper leg and lower leg are all individual segments that can be used.
So these fights happen in multiple places. Some might happen in bars that set up boxing rings, others will have more official stadium environments. Rain and I searched for some online at our AirB&B the day of the fights and you simply show up at the time and enter. Depending on the stadium/place you go to, limited seating could occur so make sure you arrive early enough to get your seats. We went to a location that had a boxing ring in the center of the facility with bars and food stands all around. You can buy drinks throughout the fights, as well as snacks and some quick cooked food to satisfy your experience!
The location we went to was called the Thaphea Boxing Stadium. Now disclaimer, this isn’t going to be big name fighters, or all out professional fighting whatsoever. Our experience there consisted of 6 fights total, there were youth fighters in the beginning for fights 1-3, an older (but still young) bracket for fight 4 and fight 5 was the more advanced adult fight. This was a fairly interesting fight! Lastly, we got the luxury to watch an added fight which was an International fight, this was hosted by Thailand and the opponent was from Russia!
Okay, but how much does it cost! You’d probably expect around $30-$40 for a ticket to these events, however you can get in for closer to $10-$15! Be warned though as you may get excited to purchase cheap tickets, you will find yourself paying more for drinks and snacks. Pace yourself and have a good time!