After a week with my brother, his wife, their 26-month old twins, and a live-in nanny, the walls started closing in on their “smallish” (for 7 anyway) Shanghai apartment. A 5-day weekend in Chiang Mai was the perfect interlude!

Located 450 miles north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is #24 on TripAdvisor’s list of “Top 25 Best Destinations in the World.” It was completely different from the other two Thai cities I’ve visited, namely Bangkok (big noisy congested city and #13 on TripAdvisor’s list) and Phuket (beautiful beach surrounded by “massage” parlors). To get a sense of the rest of the country, visit Chiang Mai Thailand. In contrast to Bangkok and Phuket, Chiang Mai is a sprawling city with over one million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Getting around Bangkok Chiang Mai is pretty easy, especially by train, the tickets are cheap too but that depends on what class you choose to travel. When deciding what sites to see make sure you have a look at the Chiang Mai Travel Hub it’s very informative and has some details of some great places that you won’t want to miss. The city center is surrounded by a moat (I want a moat someday!) and part of the defensive wall is still intact.

The wall was built around 1296 when Chiang Mai became the capital of the Lanna Kingdom.

The wall was built around 1296 when Chiang Mai became the capital of Thailand (by contrast, the Great Wall in China was started in the 7th century BC).

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The bastion was rebuilt around 1800.

No trip to this area would be complete without visiting a few Buddhist temples as there are over 300 in the area. We stopped at two within the city walls:

1) Wat Phra Singh, built in 1345, houses an important Buddha statue: the Phra Buddha Sihing which gives the temple its name.

Love the dragon faces running along the wat!

Love the dragon faces running along the wat!

WAY more interesting than the Buddha - they had a replica of the principle monk (who had served there for 77 years). It looked COMPLETELY life like! Crazily so!

WAY more interesting than the Buddha – they had a replica of the principle monk (who had served there for 77 years). It looked COMPLETELY life like! Crazily so!

2) Wat Chedi Luang – built in 1401

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The Buddha in all his splendour! It was quite beautiful, particularly with the flags everywhere.

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Thai people believe placing a flag before Buddha will help them reach enlightenment upon death.

Chedi Luang

Chedi Luang

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The girls were clearly FASCINATED by the temple! (Niki on the left, Dani on the right)

The girls were clearly FASCINATED by the temple! (Niki on the left, Dani on the right)

We then headed to Chiang Mai’s most famous temple – Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep – located on top of a hill northwest of the city. It was spectacular!

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Made me want to grab a ruby or two and RUN!

Made me want to grab a ruby or two and RUN!

Crystal Buddha!

Crystal Buddha!

No idea who this rascal was but he was ssuurree cute!

No idea who this rascal was but he was ssuurree cute! Perhaps Baby Buddha? The girls sure wanted to take him home!

Mom loved the gardens surrounding this temple – the flowers were amazing!

There were orchids everywhere.

There were orchids everywhere.

The area surrounding the temple was spectacular.

Bougainvillea was also abundant.

LOTS more temples to see but alas, three was enough for the Grubb clan. We headed back to the hotel and took a tuk tuk (Chiang Mai equivalent to the NYC taxi) to River Market restaurant along the Ping River. The food was fantastic although due to elections, they were not allowed to serve alcohol (bummer).

Mom and I LOVED our tuk tuk driver! We kept egging him on to go faster and he was delighted to oblige! Probably a little foolish but boy did we have fun! 🙂

Our tuk tuk driver thought we were a little crazy!

Our tuk tuk driver thought we were a little crazy!

Great 1st day in Chiang Mai! Tune-in tomorrow for elephants and tigers (oh my!)!