THAILAND: Venturing off in Thailand's North

Venturing off in Thailand's North.

The north of Thailand has a very different character and feel compared to Bangkok and the south. This area was called "Lanna", one million fields, in the historical years. The people speak a special dialect and the cuisine is different than other regions of the country, with influences from neighbouring Burma and Lao. My favourite foods being Khao Soi, a Burmese inspired crispy noodle soup flavoured with a coconut curry. Nam Prik Ong is a sauce or dip made from pork and ground chilies and tomato!  Sai ua, is a local spicy pork sausage with local herbs. It has an exotic flavour and I like to eat it as a snack! Gang Hung Lay is a spicy pork curry which also has a Burmese influence to it as it has ginger, garlic and tamarind. I am starting to feel hungry remembering all the food as I am writing about them now!

The major cities in Thailand's north are Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Chiang Mai was once a sleepy provincial town which later grew to become Thailand's second largest city. I must say, at times the small town feel still exists there when you really get to know the area. Chiang Rai, a half day drive through mountain forests and past green paddy fields from Chiang Mai, it is still a sleepy town.

This is the place to go if you want to have a reprieve from the humidity and heat, and less pollution. It is easier to step into nature here as there are small villages, jungles, mountains and countryside which start immediately outside both cities. It is perfect to go for a hike and start exploring!

Chiang Mai is has a famous market called Night Bazaar. I've never purchased anything from this market but enjoyed wandering through it. Chiang Mai is blessed with many small hotels, guest houses and even luxury hotels and resorts. Each time I stayed in Chiang Mai I stayed with friends. 

If you've had enough shopping in Bangkok and Pattaya then you'll want to see the temples and feel the local history. A famous temple named Doi Suthep is a good place to start. Climbing to this mountain temple will give you good exercise, as well as opportunities to meet and talk with new friends who are also climbing the steps along side you! 

Chiang Mai  and Chiang Rai have a playful gay scene with several dance clubs, massage parlours for men, gay bars and outdoor cafes, but on a much smaller scale than in Bangkok or Pattaya. Since there is more or less a lack of a homophobic feel in this area,  Chiang Mai has a large gay expat community. Many settle down with a local partner!

If mountain villages and nature are of your interests, Chiang Rai surrounds are a great place to explore!  Outside of Chiang Rai in the mountains, past tea plantations and other small historic places, there are various hill tribe people. There are different ethnic peoples and many are not Thai citizens. Some hill tribe people are Akha, Hmong and Lisu among many others. Most live in traditional ways and still wear traditional costumes. A visit to these villages are a rewarding experience.

If going north of Chiang Rai, the famous landmark called the Golden Triangle will be found. Here is the geographic location where Thailand meets the borders of Laos and Myanmar (Burma) and also not far from China. 

Possibilities are endless when exploring this unique part of Thailand!


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