Trip Report: South Korea and Thailand – Day 4: Chiang Mai

Today was a travel day from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to start our adventures in northern Thailand. We had chosen to fly Bangkok Airways from BKK-CNX given the convenient flight times and price (~$36 per person). We took a taxi to the airport in Bangkok, which was uneventful and enjoyed use of the lounge Bangkok Airways provides for all passengers. I wouldn’t go out of my way to use the lounge but it was nice to have complimentary soft drinks, popcorn, and tea/coffee; especially considering the price paid for our tickets.


Bangkok Airways “Lounge”


Bangkok Airways (BKK-CNX)


Thai Smile next door (BKK)

Flight was uneventful and soon enough we were landing in Chiang Mai. Took a taxi from the airport to the Le Meridien which we had booked using Starwood points (3,000 points per night). At the time I was a Starwood Platinum so my wife and I received an upgrade to a corner suite, pretty awesome!


Le Meridien – Chiang Mai


Le Meridien – Chiang Mai


Chiang Mai, Thailand (view from the room)

After getting settled into the hotel we set out to explore Chiang Mai. The hotel is a convenient ~10 minute walk from the city center and has a number of good restaurants / bars close by (also a night market on the side street bordering the hotel).


Walk into town from Le Meridien (notice the crazy power lines everywhere)


Small night market near Le Meridien

First impressions of Chiang Mai are fantastic. The town is clean, compact and generally a pleasant place to wander. Lots of great food and drink so no complaints from anyone. After spending the day wandering around it was back to the hotel to refresh prior to our Thai cooking class that evening.

We had a booked an evening session (~3 hours) through Asia Scenic Cooking School in Chiang Mai. They picked us up from the hotel in a van and brought us to the cooking school in the city center. Experience was a lot of fun and engaging; resulted in some delicious food as well! The only drawback was the length of the class; the last hour seemed to drag a little bit. I would still highly recommend this outfit in Chiang Mai.


Asia Scenic Cooking School

After our cooking class ended we had made plans to head over to the Sunday night market, which is a well-known Chiang Mai attraction. The cooking school is centrally located and probably only 1 block away from the center of the Sunday Night Market so it is ideal to do the cooking class on a Sunday evening and transition directly to the market. Had a great time wandering around for an hour or so and then decided to call it an early night as we were all exhausted from a busy day of traveling and walking.


Famous Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market

Stay tuned for the next post detailing our 5th day in country and our visit to Tiger Kingdom north of Chiang Mai. Never in my life did I expect to get in a cage with adult tigers; still look back at those pictures and question my judgement!


Trip Report: South Korea and Thailand – Day 2: Bangkok

Upon arrival into Bangkok, your senses go into overdrive. The smells, sights, and sounds are so different from what you experience in your day-to-day life that there is nothing that can prepare you the first time you step out.

We didn’t arrive at our hotel (Millennium Hilton – Bangkok) until late afternoon due to some flight delays (air traffic control at BKK lost power for about an hour and our flight from Seoul had to divert to Da Nong, Vietnam for about one hour) and given the long-flight we were ready to go exploring.

Our first stop was the famous night flower market in Bangkok. For a first experience in Bangkok this was pretty overwhelming. This is a must-visit for travelers to Bangkok.


Night Flower Market


Bangkok Flower Market

Within the flower market on a street corner is the street food cart below which had quite possibly the best noodle soup I have ever had, the spice and flavor were beyond belief. (If you see the guy in the dark t-shirt below working the cart, stop in, you won’t regret it!)


Flower Market Street Food

The next morning we woke up to a hazy view from our room at the Hilton Millennium hotel overlooking the west bank of the Chao Phraya.


Bangkok view from Hilton Millennium


Chao Phraya view from Hilton Millennium

Given my Gold status with HHonors at the time we had access to the executive lounge on the top floor, must say the breakfast spread with quite good and the views were tough to beat:

Breakfast for Two

View from Millennium Hilton Lounge

For our first full day in Bangkok we had arranged for a half-day guided tour with a private car to view Wat Pho, the Grand Palace and take a canal tour. We booked through TourwithTong and I cannot recommend them enough. Very professional and informative tour guide. The images below are highlights from our half-day tour:


Reclining Buddha – Bangkok


Wat Pho – Bangkok


Wat Pho – Bangkok


Wat Pho – Bangkok


Wat Pho – Bangkok


Grand Palace – Bangkok


Canal tour – Bangkok

After being dropped back off at our hotel we were ready to explore Bangkok on our own. Using the free hotel shuttle boat, we crossed over the Chao Phraya river to the Saphan Taksin BTS station. Very convenient access to public transportation. If you are trying to cross directly over to the Sheraton, there is a public ferry that runs frequently and costs approx. $.05 USD (public ferry dock is in the distance in the below picture).


Millennium Hilton Ferry Dock


Street Food – Bangkok


Street scene – Bangkok


BTS Skytrain – Bangkok


Bangkok, Thailand

Nothing too exciting the rest of the day, just wandered around the city and ate some pretty delicious street food. After an exhausting day, we were ready to get some rest to make the trek the next day to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam.