Leaving Chiang Mai and Our Next Travel Plans
It’s been a fantastic four months living in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern landlocked city in the mountains. We visited Chiang Mai for the first time in 2012 as we travelled from the southern islands to the northern border with Laos. Back then, we stayed in Chiang Mai for just five days but it was enough to feel it’s magnetic atmosphere. It seemed like the perfect place to drop your backpack and not pick it up again for a few weeks, months or even years!
Many people do just that. There are a few thousand other westerners living here, calling Chiang Mai their second home or for some, their permanent home. There’s something about the city that makes you want to stay for longer than planned. Our original plan was to base ourselves here for three months, but when the end came we just weren’t ready to leave. We love it here.
What’s So Special About Chiang Mai
For us, it has the perfect balance of east meets west. It feels very Asian, with hundreds of Buddhist temples scattered across the city, markets in every neighbourhood, street food on every corner, locals getting about on scooters, gorgeous weather (most of the year) and in places a chaotic character that can only be found in Asia.
It has a peaceful central old town that’s unique to Chiang Mai. It’s easy to get away from the city’s sometimes busy traffic by heading inside the old city moat and wandering the car-free lanes. Inside is calm cafe terraces, palm tree shaded parks and monks decorating ornate temples.
Amongst Chiang Mai’s Thai exterior, is a western world that continues to grow as Thai’s adopt our culture and welcome expats to stay in their country. While we’ve been living in Chiang Mai, family and friends aside, we haven’t missed our English home comforts at all. Chiang Mai offers them all but at a much lower cost.
We’ve been renting a modern and comfortable apartment with gym and huge swimming pool for just £300 a month. We installed 5G wifi to be able to work efficiently on the blog and watch our favourite films and UK TV in the evenings.
The city offers an abundance of excellent food options from Thai street food at less than £1 a meal to pricier western restaurants that still rarely cost more than £5 a dish. The coffee shop culture has exploded just like in our hometown of London. The coffee is not only 50%-75% cheaper than London, it’s also just as good and plentiful! Thais really know how to make a good cup of Joe!
There are large shopping malls, boutique shops, state of the art cinemas, craft beer bars and amazing markets to keep us entertained on the weekends. We could go on about why we love it here but we don’t want this post to be all about why Chiang Mai is so awesome.
We’re Sad and Excited About Leaving Chiang Mai
On Tuesday morning (10th January) we’ll be leaving Chiang Mai. We’ve become very fond of the area we live in so we know we’ll be a little sad when closing our apartment door for the final time. We’ve enjoyed seeing the familiar faces each day, saying sabaidee krup/ka as we pass, the friendly Thai smiles and eating/drinking in our favourite local places.
The community feel here is something we haven’t experienced before and we don’t even speak their language. Santitiham is a very local area so English is not widely spoken, if at all. If we had time to learn the Thai language we imagine we could have immersed ourselves into the community even more.
We’ve made some friends here so are sad to say goodbye to them. Some are Thai locals and some are fellow expats. The locals we may see again if we return some day. The expats we could possibly bump into in the future. Maybe somewhere on the road as we all continue to live our nomadic lives, or even back here once we start to crave the Chiang Mai lifestyle again.
We’re of course also excited to leave. After four months in one place, we can’t wait to get our backpacks back on and see more of this amazing planet. We’ve been lucky enough to explore parts of northern Thailand (Chiang Dao and Pai) while in Chiang Mai and do a five-day visa run to Hong Kong which was outstanding, but that’s not enough travelling for us. We can’t wait to share more of our adventures with you while being back on the road.
Our Next Travel Plans
So where are we off to next?! We’ve planned as far as February 14th. On the 10th January, we fly from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. We’ll be staying in Kuala Lumpur for 6 days to check out how the city has changed since we last visited in 2012. We’ve booked a guesthouse in the centre of China Town which is our favourite part of the city. Like Chiang Mai, KL’s Chinatown mixes the old with the new and is popular backpacker destination.
Then on the 17th of January, we fly to the Philippines! We’re really excited because we’ve wanted to visit the country for many years. On all our previous south-east Asia visits we decided not to go to the Philippines because it’s so isolated from the rest of the region. Visiting the country involves flights in and out and also internal flights to get around. We’ve had to book four Philippine flights so it makes the visit more expensive but this time we’re going anyway while we’re back in south-east Asia.
We’re looking forward to some of these highlights:
- Island hopping in Coron (Palawan)
- Remote island beach camping and snorkelling in El Nido (Palawan)
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Palawan)
- Bohol Island’s Chocolate Hills (Cebu)
- The pristine beaches on Bantayan Island (Cebu)
On the 14th February, we fly back to Kuala Lumpur where we’ll have access to Air Asia’s massive network of cheap flight routes. At the moment we have no concrete plans after the 14th. We’ve got ideas of heading to Indonesia to explore Java and Bali. Like Thailand, Bali is another popular option for renting cheap accommodation for a few weeks or months. After three months of continuous travelling, Bali could be somewhere to stop for a while, to continue our mission to find work online and keep improving the blog.
Whatever happens, we’ll still be travelling the world with not much of a plan. We’ll be blogging about our adventures and sharing the ups and downs of trying to earn money online as we travel. Thanks for joining us. We really appreciate everyone’s support and time reading our blog. Please do sign up to our mailing list so you don’t miss anything and give us like us on Facebook 🙂