Chiang Mai to Laos

We had just one day in Chiang Mai after our trek and found it rather disappointing. We’d heard about a beautiful city. After a late breakfast we walked into the city and wandered around the south east corner. We covered about a quarter of the city and found a couple of temples and lots of knackered looking concrete buildings. Combined with the little we’d seen of the city outside the moat on the night before our trek the effect was to wonder if we’d come to the same Chiang Mai that other people had raved about.

Easily the best thing about the city for me was a visit to Green Bamboo massage for a full body oil massage. The surroundings were lovely and the staff very attentive. The massage was a bargain too by UK standards – a full hour for just £5.

Based on what we saw in the city and on our trek I think probably the surrounding areas are worth spending a lot more time in, and Chiang Mai itself deserves just a fleeting visit.

Next morning we were picked up in a minibus for the journey to Chiang Khong on the Thai side of the Mekong river border with Laos. On the way we stopped at Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple. Unique amongst the temples in Thailand it is covered in white or silver bling and is a striking sight. The decoration is also unique, reflecting the views of the artist who conceived the temple and directs its construction and maintenance. Photos at Flickr.

Chiang Khong is very sleepy and has nothing to recommend it beyond being a border crossing point. We met some new friends at the guesthouse in Chiang Kong. The guesthouse was OK but the manager was a miserable dragon. When we arrived she was arguing with a guest who was refusing to stay there. Thais have a reputation for being non-confrontational and not liking shouting. The manager apparently didn’t know that. She was still Miss Grumpy Shouty when we saw her again a couple of hours later at dinner time and again the next morning when she shooed us away after breakfast to the border crossing point.

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