What is it about Chiang Mai?

Jul 23rd, 2005, 01:47 PM
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What is it about Chiang Mai?

I saw in T&L that Chiang Mai was voted the #5 city in world. What is it about Chiang Mai that makes it so special. I was going to do Cambodia (Siem Reap/Ankor Wat) and then Phuket but now wondering if I am missing something about Chiang Mai. Is it just a few temples or what is so special that its gets rated this high? Thanks!
sinnedgh is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 01:52 PM
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Do not skip Siem Reap for Chiang Mai!!! There is no comparison between the two. If you go to CM instead of Angkor, you will be missing one of the great sights of the world. If you want, cut Phuket, unless you really want a beach area. I've been to both Phuket and Chaing Mai and quite honestly, I wasn't crazy about either one but others on this forum do like those places. It depends on whether you want beach or a city. CM does have one incrdible temple (though nothing like Angkor) and crafts, a night market which isn't bad, and you can do trips to hill tribes, elephant camps and countryside as well. But I doubt you will find anyone who would tell you to go to CM rather than Angkor.
laurieco is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:16 PM
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Chiang Mai is worth a visit for a couple of days if your are doing a tour of Thailand for the first time but #5 city in the world??? No way! Visit Chiang Mai to see its unique northern Thai architecture (Wat Doi Su Thep, in particular) and the handicrafts villages (we liked the lacquer ware and the umbrellas/kites).
Craig is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:32 PM
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I always enjoy Chiang Mai, but am really taken by surprise that it would rank a #5!!! No way!!! It's a neat "town".. not the rush rush of BKK. I, too, enjoy all the craft markets and Doi Su Thep.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:41 PM
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I can't imagine why Chaing Mai was so highly rated. While there are others on this board who enjoy Chaing Mai more than I do, I find it frankly, rather boring. The Wat is lovely, the night market ok, but the air was more polluted in CM than in Bangkok when I was there. CM is sold to people as the "real" Thailand, "charming" "authentic" etc. I'm afraid I find none of that in the second largest city in Thailand. I'm a collector of crafts and didn't find much in CM that I couldn't get in Bangkok.

The Temples at Angkor are truly unforgettable.
Kathie is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:50 PM
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To get the most authentic flavor of the traditio of Thailand in Chiang Mai what 4 or 5 star hotel other than the Four Seasons should someone spend 3 nights at?
StanKase is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 05:43 PM
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didn't you see the retraction in the next issue...it was ranked #5,555,555 in thailand alone...

please don't change your plans...CM, imho, is ok but nothing special...the temple is nice but not nearly as nice as some others in asia...the shopping is good but not fantastic---bkk is far better, imo....the air is nicer than bkk and once outside of the town there is lots of green...

i far preferred the golden triangle further north...

angkor, bkk and phuket makes a very nice mix for a vacation
rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 06:30 PM
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Stan, there are only two 4 or 5 star places in CM - the Four Seasons and the new Mandarin Oriental (has another name as well that I can't remember). If you really want CM, those are your two choices. There are now a couple of very small boutique places in CM but not 4 or 5 star. The other bigger hotels are basically soul-less boxes.

For my money, I'd head to he Golden Triangle and stay at the Anantara.

Bob, you and I agree on the ranking of CM...
Kathie is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 07:37 PM
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There are several good hotels of 4 star quality such as Central Duangtawan Hotel, Chiang Mai Plaza, Chiangmai Phucome Hotel, D2 Hotel,Rachamanka Hotel plus a few others. They do not compair to the two 5 stars but then you are not paying the big bucks.
Scotters is online now  
Jul 24th, 2005, 04:07 AM
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I love Chiang Mai. I think it depends on what you're looking for. I don't go there for the "sights" but I go there for the crafts, for the atmosphere (sort of 60s/70s), and most of all the people. But then people are more important to me than temples when I travel and provide the most lasting memories. I love the ethnic diversity and have found learning about the various hilltribes and their culture and traditions a continuing source of fascination. Chiang Mai is where I go when I want to spend time with crafts people (rather than just shop). It's where I visit schools, do volunteer work at orphanages or with burmese refugees, spend time with people working with NGOs, walk around, spend days in villages where tour buses don't go, actually spend time with monks rather than just watch them etc.

I loved Siem Reap and the temples are among the wonders of the world. When you go there you are going to see a "sight". When you go to Chiang Mai it is for a very different experience.

That said I certainly don't see why CM is the #5 city in the world but then I don't see why the Peninsula is considered the best hotel. These surveys are meaningless in my mind and are more about pr or when people are going this year rather than anything else. Also don't see anything so fabulous about Sydney.

As for Phuket -- now there's a place I don't get. Yes it's a gorgeous beach but that's all it is. One international resort/hotel. A great place to see other westerners and learn nothing about thailand. You could as easily be at a beach in america or the caribbean.

So if I would you I would skip Phuket and go to CM and Siem Reap.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 04:25 AM
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Stankase-- the large hotels in CM are international and bland. They are often well located but certainly don't have a "thai" feel. I would suggest the Rachamankha for you which is 4 star and quite lovely. Prices are around $125 so much less than the major deluxe resorts. There is also a new hotel opening called the D2 which is very well located and sounds like it will be more like the metropolitan in Bangkok. Sort of trendy/hip thai. For "traditional" thai however the Rachamankha would probably be the best choice.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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glorialf; Thanks. For you or anyone else I have heard good things about Chedi-but pricey but not outrageous like Four Seasons. Has anyone visited it even if they did not stay there?
I think it is new-2004.
StanKase is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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Stan- I've seen the Chedi website and it looks wonderful. I didn't realise it was open yet -- thought it was opening next month.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Gloria - Re: Volunteer work at Orphanages or with Burmese refuges
How do you arrange to be a volunteer for this type of work? Can a person be a volunteer for a day or two? What type of "work" is it? Thank you.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 08:00 PM
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I've mostly done longer term volunteer things but there is an orphanage in CM that does do take volunteers for a day or so. I'll pull up the information and send it in the next day or so.

I've usually helped the people running the charity with fundraising and marketing rather than working with the children or the refugees themselves. But I have done some things with orphanages and with schools that were involved with the children.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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The orphanage is called viengping. Here's a website on it:http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/v...rens_home.html

I also think the Nancy Chandler map of CM (a must for anyone going) lists other places tourists can volunteer for as little as half a day.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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So far I haven't seen much that pulls me in the direction of Chiang Mai. I think we will do Siem Reap and Phuket with stops in BKK. Any other place that I should not miss that is close?
sinnedgh is offline  
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