Sunday Night market

The 6 Best Markets in Chiang Mai (from Popular to Obscure)

For many centuries, Chiang Mai had an important role in Thai commercial relations with China and the Burmese Kingdom. And these days, considering the number of open-air markets scattered all over town, we could say that trading heritage is still alive. Consequently and to honor that tradition, we’re showing you 6 of the best markets in Chiang Mai.

We aimed for diversity here: there are 3 popular markets, and 3 alternative shopping experiences (the type of market where you won’t find temple pants).

 

1. Chiang Mai night bazaar

Open: every day, from 6 PM to 10:30 PM.
Location:
the i
ntersection of Tha Pae and Chang Klang Roads.

The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is one of the oldest evening markets in Thailand. These days is known as the best spot to buy fake designer goods: from shoes and clothing to fake Rolex and sunglasses.

Have in mind that around here, tourist are the main targets of the vendors so prices will be marked up at least 20%. Get ready to bargain!

 

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar


But Nuno and I share the opinion that the real cultural experience is in the food and drinks area — especially if you like to eat al fresco. There are an array of stalls selling every street food you can imagine, sweet Thai snacks (like banana roti, mango and sticky rice, fruit smoothies), western style restaurants, and bars. All next to a gardened area perfect to socialize and watch the street artist perform.

 

Chiang Mai Street Food

Night market in Chiang Mai (Thailand 2014)

 

2. Sunday Night Market (or Walking Street Market)

Open: every Sunday, all year round, from 4 P.M to 00.00 A.M.
Location: mainly on Ratchadamnoen Road in the center of the walled city, but keeps spreading down many side streets as it gets bigger every year.

Every Sunday afternoon, Ratchadamnoen Road closes to traffic allowing you to walk around without the constant fear of cars. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll experience a relaxed atmosphere.

The Sunday Night Market is the most popular shopping spot in Chiang Mai (both for locals and for tourists) and it can get a bit overwhelming.

Yet, unlike other popular Asian markets, the products on display stand out for its quality and craftsmanship once you filter out the generic bric-a-brac. That’s why it can be the perfect place to purchase souvenirs: you’ll find work from local artisans at great prices.

 

Sunday Night Market Chiang Mai

 

But if you’re more interested in the food and entertainment, there’s plenty of that as well. Multiple areas are dedicated to food, so ensure your stomach is empty before arrival. The shows, street entertainers, and musicians start performing after dark on the stages featured either side of the main road.





3. Warorot Market (Kaad Luang) Central Market

Open daily from 06 A.M to 7 P.M.
Located: at the Chang Moi Road, north of Nawarat Bridge near the west side of the River Ping.

Warorot Market (or Kad Luang as locals call it), is less touristy and confined to and around a three storey building, and the goods are organized by floors:

Ground floor: produce and food, particularly Northern Thai dishes such as grilled sausages, sweet curries, crispy pork skin.

 

Warorot Market (41 of 71)

 

Second and third floors: clothing and personal care products.
Alleys around Warorot Market: textiles, hill tribe handicraft, and the beautiful flower market Ton Lamyai.

Here’s where Thais do their shopping: from fresh produce to fireworks, and that’s why a visit to Warorot can be an immersive experience into the local way of life.

 

Warorot Market in Chiang Mai

 

Plus, and as you might expect from a non-touristy place, prices are much cheaper so there’s no need to bargain for a discount.

 

4. Flower Market (Ton Lamyai)

Open 24 hours a day, Mondays to Sundays.
Best time to visit: early mornings.
Location: Thanon Praisani, next to Warorot Market, along the River Ping.

If you’re an early bird looking for a pleasurable market experience in Chiang Mai, head up to Ton Lamyai. This vibrant bazaar specialized in flowers is a beautiful way to start your day.

 

Flower Market


Piles, bouquets, and garlands of fresh blossoms arrive from farms around Chiang Mai in the early hours of the morning, adorning Ton Lamyai with exotic colors and the fragrance of a thousand flowers (so make sure to take an antihistamine before).

 

 5. The Amulet Market (Kad Kham Tieng)

Open: Thursdays from 7 A.M to 2 P.M
Location: north of the Old City off the Superhighway behind Tesco Superstore.

Kad Kham Tieng is one of the most intriguing bazaars in Chiang Mai and the in-spot for all superstitious people. As most Thais believe that good luck, protection, and fortune can be influenced by wearing ‘charged’ amulets, the inventory around here is quite strange:

• Eyebrow hairs from special monks
• Incense ashes
• Monk blood
• Scarves with magic spells
• Pollen
• Old opium pipes

And thousands of other options — all spiritually charged by ceremonial chanting.

 

Buddhist Amulets

The amulet prices can go all the way up to 10 million bahts when considering its rarity, the monk that performed the ceremony, and the temple that ceremony was held.

Kad Kham Tieng may not a very large market, but it is a unique spot to spend your Thursday mornings in.

 

6. Jing Jai Organic market

Open: Wednesdays, Saturdays from 6 AM to 9 AM and Sundays from 6 AM 12 PM.
Location: 45 Assadathon Road, Chiang Mai

For the health conscious people wanting to move away from the touristy markets, Jing Jai is the best option. On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings the market complex becomes a source for everything organic and locally grown: food, vegetables, fruits, and fresh pressed juices.

 

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 10 AM to 18 PM, you’ll still find a similarly relaxed atmosphere in the area, but there’s no Organic market. There are coffee shops and restaurants to sit back, and a few vendors selling second-hand furniture and antiques. In the evenings, the surrounding area comes to life with a myriad of outdoor Thai-style bars.

If we missed your favorite local market, feel free to shoot us a note in the comments!

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Songthaews and buses in Chiang Mai

All transportation from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

There are several transportation options to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Below, you’ll find a set of alternatives to do so along with costs, timetables, and trip durations so you can decide which works best for you.

 

Buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bus trips take 10 to 12 hours.
You can book your trip at one of the many travel agencies in town (but preferably near your accommodation), at the desk of your hotel, or at Mo Chit Bus Terminal.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgmckelvey/6907009264/

Tourist Buses

Tourist bus tickets fees to Chiang Mai start at 530 THB.

Most buses depart from Khao San Road every hour. If you opt for the overnight bus and need to put a backpack on the luggage hold underneath, make sure to carry your valuables with you on the bus.

Deluxe Buses

Deluxe bus tickets fees can go up to 850 THB.

All deluxe buses heading to Chiang Mai depart from Mo Chit Bus Terminal (easily accessible via Skytrain).
You can buy your ticket for that day once you arrive at the station. There are complimentary snacks and water for the road.





Bagkok Skytrain
Bangkok Skytrain BTS

 

From Chiang Mai Bus Station to the city center

Chiang Mai has two bus stations: Arcade Bus Station and Chang Puak Bus Station.
The Arcade Bus Station is located at Kaeo Narawat Road. Terminals 2 and 3 is where all the long-distance buses coming from outside the Chiang Mai province arrive and depart (Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, Ubon, Korat, Nan, Luang Prabang, Mae Sot).

From the Arcade Bus Station, you can quickly arrange a songthaew to take you to the city (Tha Phae Gate). The songthaews fare is 100 THB, but if you’re willing to wait for the songthaew to fill up, you can lower the price to THB 20 per person (expect to pay more if you want them to take you to the hotel). The trip takes around 15 minutes.

 

Songthaew

 

By Airplane

Chiang Mai International Airport receives domestic and international flights. There are daily flights coming in from Bangkok at almost every hour.

 

Air Asia X A330

 

The low-cost airlines operating at this airport are:
• Air Asia
• Nokair
• Thai Smile

Plane tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can cost around 500 up to 1500 THB, and flights take an average of 1h20m.

 

From the Airport to Chiang Mai:

There are taxis waiting at the northern end of the airport, and trips to the city center should cost around 160 THB.

In the southern end, you’ll find the Airport shuttle buses (not very frequent) charging 60 THB, and songthaews charging 40 THB. Both only tend to only leave when they’re full.

Tip: If you’re willing to walk a few hundred meters on the main road outside the airport, you’ll be able to get a songthaew for 20-25 THB.

 

By Train

You can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train during the day or at night. Check the timetables here: www.railway.co.th

Trips can take 14 to 16 hours, therefore, to optimize your time, you can travel at night on a sleeping train. As this is a very sought after option, buy your tickets in advance. And to avoid commissions stay away from travel agencies and buy the ticket at the Station counter yourself.

 

Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Bangkok

 

Costs will vary according to the class you want to travel in: starting at 791 THB up to 1650 THB.

Have in mind that Chiang Mai train station is located 3 km from the city center, but there will be songthaews at hand on the train station.

 

If you have any question or some extra info to add, let us know in the comments.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Yee Peng and Loi Krathong

The lineup for Chiang Mai Festivals (Year round Program)

Brahmanic, Buddhist, and Lanna heritages endowed Chiang Mai with a plentiful array of cultural expressions. Over time (and thanks to a community with artistic aptitude), traditions evolved into festivals and celebrations that won the hearts of Thais and the interest of the world.

Planning a visit to Chiang Mai? Festivals spread out year round, so there might be one coinciding with your visit. Check the program below:

 

January. Bo Sang Umbrella & Handicrafts Festival

When:

Every year on the third weekend of January, for 3 days.

Where:

Bo Sang, a village 9 km southeast of Chiang Mai.

How to get Bo Sang:

By songthaew or by bus (White Bus). You can catch either near the river by Warorot Market. The trip takes 25 minutes and should cost roughly 20 THB.

Bo Sang is home to skilled craftspeople in the making of rice paper fans, lanterns, and umbrellas. During the festival, the village streets and alleys are illuminated by lanterns, while hundreds of paper parasols decorate the outside of houses and shops.

 

Umbrella Festival, Chiang Mai

 

It all gets particularly magical after the sun sets, so take the time to go for a night stroll and visit the umbrella making shops.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-24

What to expect:

• Old school carnival games,
• Umbrella making workshops,
• Umbrella painting competition (locals compete to win the year’s most beautiful umbrella),
• Concerts,
• Lanna style dancing performances,
• Parades (2:00 PM)
• Northern Thai food festival,
• A local beauty pageant.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-26

 

February. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival

When:

On the first weekend of February (1, 2, and 3 of February 2019)

Where:

The key spot is Nong Buak Haad public park.
The Flower Parade goes through Nawarat bridge to Thapae road, Kotchasarn Road, Changlor Road and Arak Road.

Running for over 40 years, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a 3-day celebration that showcases Chiang Mai’s unique flowers and plants (all in full bloom at the beginning of February).

 

IMG_1040

 

What to expect:

• Rare flowers exhibitions,
• Dancers and entertainers,
• Musical performances,
• Plenty of Thai food and drinks,
• Miss Flower contest,
• The Flower Parade.

 

Chiang Mai flower parade
Photo by Devon Sampson

 

On Saturday morning (starting at 8 A.M), the long-awaited Flower Parade goes out to the streets. Floats are decorated with millions of natural flowers and accompanied by dancers in traditional costumes.

 

Flower Festival Parade 2015-13

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

The floats are considered the highlight of the event. For many months in advance, thousands of locals participate in the building of the floats, making them items of great pride to the community.

As many Thais travel to Chiang Mai for the festivities, streets are not the only place that gets packed with people — so do accommodations. Make your reservations in advance!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/_motormouse_/26373726011/

 

February. Jai Thep Art and Music Festival

Where:

Lanna Rock Garden in Hang Dong, south of Chiang Mai.

When:

February 2, 3, and 4.

Ticket price:

850THB (1-day ticket)
1.500THB (2-day ticket)
1.900THB (3-day ticket)
You can camp there for free if you take your own tent.

Jai Thep is a family-friendly festival created by a collective of artists, and defined as a “3-day celebration of art, music, and magic”.

 

Along the enclosure of the event are 4 stages occupied by bands and DJs from Thailand and the international scene.

Music genres:

• House
• Drum’n’bass
• Psytrance.
• Electro-chill

You’ll find hundreds of art installations and a great number of creative workshops that’ll suit adults and children.

For more information on Jai Thep go to www.jaithepfestival.com

 

April. Songkran the Water Festival

When:

April 13th, 14th and 15th 2018.

Where:

All over the city center, but the key celebration spots are near the Tha Pae Gate.

Marking the new solar year, the high energy ceremonies last for 3 days, and they’re the perfect time to let the child in you come out and play. The most popular custom of Songkran is the water fights all over town.

 

Songkran_2014-35

Songkran_added-3

Have in mind that what to us Westerners seems like a good laugh, represents to Thai people the purification of the body and soul. Songkran is a beloved symbolic tradition, therefore some etiquette is required:

• Don’t take your shirt off, no matter how soaked or how hot it is that day
• No bikinis and no short-shorts.  
• Don’t through water to monks, babies, and the elderly.

Tip:

Being the most anticipated public holiday for Thais, expats, and backpackers, book your accommodation early.





November. Yee Peng and Loi Krathong Festivals

When:

during the full moon of November, so the date is subject to change. If you write “Loy Krathong” on to Google, you’ll get the correct date for that year.

For 2018 the dates are November 21, 22 and 23.

Where:

Tha Pae gate, particularly between the Nawarat and Iron Bridges.

Loi Krathong or Festival of lights is celebrated for 3 days, once a year. Most ceremonies take place in the evening on various venues throughout Chiang Mai.

What to expect:

• Lantern procession,
• A beauty pageant,
• Parades,
• Boat races on the Mae Ping river,
• Krathong making competitions,
• Lantern release
• Krathong launch

The day before Loi Krathong takes place the Yee Peng ceremony. People decorate their houses, temples, and streets with paper lanterns of many shapes and colors.

 

Yi Peng Lanterns

At night the paper lanterns are lit and tossed into the air, carrying a wish for good fortune in the new year.

 

Untitled

 

Simultaneously, on the Mae Ping river are released hundreds of krathong (baskets made of banana leaves, adorned with incense and candles), to honor the Water Spirit.

 

Loi_Krathong


The krathong symbolizes letting go of all sins and misfortunes of the previous year.

 

Extra

For on and off festivals and upcoming events, check the website City Now!- Chiang Mai. 

Cover photo by Rodney Ee

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Laos to Thailand by Bus (from Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai overland)

Traveling by bus may not be the fastest way to go from Laos to Thailand, but it sure is one of the cheapest. So if your goal is to save money by going overland, you came to the right place: we’ve compiled the information you’ll need to do so.

 

Where to buy Bus tickets to Chiang Rai

In Luang Prabang vouchers for the Bus tickets can be bought in advance at the travel agencies located on Sisavagnon street. Prices will vary slightly from agency to agency, so is up to you to look for the best offer.

Bus ticket price: around €30,60
Timetable: 6:00 PM on Tuesdays and Fridays
Departure: Luang Prabang Bus Station
Trip duration: 17 hours

 

Laung Prabang (Second South) Bus Station

Bus from Laos to Thailand

 

Even though we bought tickets for a sleeping bus, we ended up traveling on a bus with reclining seats — probably due to the small number of people traveling that day. Nonetheless, everyone got a blanket, and the spacious seats were comfortable enough to sleep in. It was a surprisingly tolerable 17-hour trip.

On the day of departure, you must be at the Luang Prabang Bus Station counter by 5:30 PM to check-in, and exchange your voucher for the final bus ticket.
Tuk-tuks to the bus station cost around 15,000 Kip (€1.50) per person.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/qubodup/14594018781/in/album-72157645510025706/





The Bus trip

At the start of the trip, all passengers got a complimentary water bottle, a small soy milk box, and snacks.

We had 2 bathroom breaks during the night, and 1 more early in the morning. On the latest, we stopped at a service station with food stalls and a large clean washroom.

This first leg of the trip took around 14 hours (from Luang Prabang to the Huay Xai border post).

 

Road in Laos

 

Crossing Huay Xai (Laos) – Chiang Khon (Thailand) border

Being Saturday morning, we had to pay a weekend fee of 10.000 Kips (€1.00) to get our passport exit stamp. The bus waited on the other side of the border.

From there, it takes 3 more hours to get to Chiang Rai.

Remember to check beforehand your entry requirements for Thailand: Visas and border crossings.

 

Arriving at Chiang Rai

We arrived at Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 at 11:00 A.M.
Here’s where all long-distance buses stop, unfortunately, it’s also the furthest bus station from the city center.

From here you can hop on a songthaew and head to town. Share the fare with other people from your bus as many will be going to Chiang Rai too.

We paid €0.50 each for a ride to the city center.

 

Going to the train station on a songthaew.

 

To keep saving money on transportation while visiting Chiang Rai, check the posts:

Taking the public bus to the White temple
Public bus to the bizarre Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai

Cover photo by Jim Holmes / AusAID

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Quick Guide to Chiang Rai Night Markets

The night markets in Chiang Rai may not be as big as the ones in Chiang Mai, but is size that important? Around here, what they lack in size they make up for in organization and the laid back character you’d expect from a small-town bazaar.

So if you’re looking for inexpensive night-time entertainment and food, keep reading.

 What to expect from a Thai Night Market

– Northern Thai food and drinks;
– Handcrafted products;
– Thai massage;
– Clothing;
– Thai dancing shows;

– Folk concerts;
– A good time.

Thai people love night markets, and they do so for a reason: it’s so hot during the day, that it is much more pleasant to do your shopping at night. For us foreigners, these night hubs are more than a place to shop for souvenirs. They’re communal places for entertainment, music, and good food — it’s Thailand after all!

 

Saturday Night Market

Open every Saturday from 04.30 P.M to 00.30 A.M.
Located on Thana Lai Road, right in the city center.

Every Saturday by mid-afternoon, Thana Lai Road closes to traffic and opens up for people to wander through the stalls. After a bit of browsing, you’ll find the quality work of local artisans standing out from the generic bric-a-brac.

Still, if you’re not planning on buying anything due to a full backpack, there’s an abundance of Thai snacks and desserts to fill your empty stomach.

 

Khanom Bueang

 

If you’re there to eat, we recommend an early dinner — by 8:00 P.M the place will be jammed packed with people and the queues for buying food get long.

 

Stalls at Saturday Night Market Chiang Rai

 

Having said that, this is also when the market starts to get it going: when the Chinese lanterns are lit, and entertainers start to perform.

Have in mind that if you’re a tourist and look like a tourist you’ll have to bargain. Chances are that vendors doubled the price just for you.

 Sunday Happy Street (Snag Khon Noil)

Open Sundays from 5:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M
Located on Sankhongnoi Road near the Chiang Rai Hospital. Just a 10-minute walk from the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

The main feature of the Sunday Happy Street is its family-friendly atmosphere. The eating spots on this one are a great way to relax, mingle with locals, and enjoy typical northern Thai cuisine.

 

Thai grilled Squid

 

Even though this street market is smaller than the one on Saturdays, the shops along Sankhongnoi Road open their doors to help even it out.

 

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Open daily from 6:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M regardless of the weather.
Located near the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, off Phaholyothin Road.

We found the Night Bazaar to be more touristy than the weekend markets. Not by the amount of tourist walking around, but for the type products being sold — the same overpriced knick-knacks repeated on every stall. Although touristy, vendors were never pushy though.

 

Fresh fruit at Night Market

Fresh orange juice

 

Most locals hang out near the food and beer area. Next to it is a temple yard with benches and tables where they eat, socialize and watch artists perform. When the crowd is familiar with the music, they’ll get up and dance (and everyone is invited to join).





The Municipal Market Food Court

Open from 7:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M.
Located near the Night Bazaar is a tin-roofed Municipal Market.

The food court inside has stalls all around the perimeter specialized in fried treats, and hot pots.

 

Hot Pot stall Chiang Rai

Photo by Marvin Wan


In the center are hundreds of chairs and tables to eat on, and a stage where local entertainers perform while you munch a crispy deep-fried whatever.

 

Dining area Municipal food Court.

Image by Marvin Wan

 

Kaad Luang (The Big Wet Market)

Open daily from 17:00 P.M to 00:00 A.M
Located on Uttarakit Road, three blocks north of the Clock Tower.

Chiang Rai Kaad Luang starts the day as a regular bazaar but transforms into a street food paradise when the sun sets.

 

Fresh produce Night Markets

 

Vendors hit the streets and set up their stalls around the main building. In almost no time, the entire street block is occupied by a myriad of fresh fruit and pick up meal options: from fresh seafood to desserts.

If you don’t know where to begin, let the scent of the stir-fried garlic guide you.


Cover photo by Maxim B.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Public bus to the bizarre Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai

If you want to save some money and don’t mind walking for a bit, the public bus is the cheapest option to get to The Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai.
Still, if you’re looking for an untroubled ride all the up to the gates of Baan Dam, there are some alternatives at the bottom of the post.

Catching the Green Bus

Go to the Chiang Rai old Bus Station (in the city center, near the night bazaar) and find the green bus going to Mae Sai usually parked on Platform 5.

Timetable: green buses departure every 15 to 30 minutes, or when the bus gets full.
Bus ticket price: 20 Baht one-way trip.
Duration: around 20 minutes.

 

Green Bus Chiang Rai

 

As you buy the ticket inside the bus, let the conductor and ticket holder know that you’re going to the Black House so they can signal you at the drop-off point.  When you leave the bus there are two route options:

 

Route to the back entrance (the shortest)

Right next to the drop-off spot is the correct lane to walk on. After walking 50 meters, The Black House buildings will become visible to your left.

Turn left at the wooden-gazeebo-looking-sign indicating Soi 13 and walk a further 10 minutes. This path will take you through some houses and up to a small clearing where you’ll see the back entrance of The Black House.

Heads up: as visitors are now charged a fee to enter the park, we can’t guarantee that there will be a ticket office at the rear entrance. 

Route to the front entrance

Alternatively, instead of turning left on Soi 13, keep walking straight on the paved road for approximately 400 meters and then turn left into a small Soi that takes you to the front entrance of Baan Dam. Check the map below.

Map to Baan Dam the Black House

 

Baan Dam – The Black House

Opening hours: opens daily (weekends included), from 09:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Closes for lunch from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM.
Entrance fee: 80 Baht.

In a 100 acres parkland in the Ban Du district, north of Chiang Rai, Thai artist Thawan Duchanee spent 25 years creating Baan Dam (the Black House).

 

Black building at Baan Dam

Black House exterior

Main building interior

Baan Dam whale room


There are 40 buildings spread around the park along with art pieces and installations. Most buildings are made of black wood and decorated with macabre elements like bones, animal skins, pelts, and dead animal parts.

 

Animal skins in Baan Dam

Baan Dum (Black House) - By Thawan Duchanee - Chiang Rai - Thailand - 09

Baan Dum (Black House) - By Thawan Duchanee - Chiang Rai - Thailand - 13


Duchanee’s art mixes traditional northern Thai design with Balinese, Burmese and African influences
and it’s all open to interpretation. 





Balinese influence

Ganesha sculpture

 

Some people see it as a commentary on Buddhist philosophies, while others state that his intention was to remind us of the darkness inside ourselves, and the imminent death of all things.

 

Buffalo skulls

 

There’s a palpable, creepy vibe as you stroll around the park (some buildings are off-limits to the public), but also a subversive sense of humor. 

 

Mario and Nuno at the Black House

 

It’s like the artist was trying to tell us: “Don’t take life too seriously, we’re all going to die”.

 

Portrait of Thawan Duchanee (1939-2014)

 

Back to Chiang Rai Bus Terminal

Head back towards the highway where you got off the bus and hail to any bus you see going in Chiang Rai direction either the green ones you came in or the grey mini-buses. Have in mind that there’s no bus stop there.

The trip back to Chiang Rai is a further 20 THB.

 

Transportation alternatives

Hire a songthaew in Chiang Rai for about 300 Baht for the round trip. They’ll try to charge you more, so be ready to negotiate.

Any travel agency in Chiang Rai sells organized tours to Baam Dam that often include a visit to Wat Rong Khun.  Prices will vary from agency to agency, so look around for the best deal.
Have in mind that departure and arrival times will be scheduled to fit everything on a tour. So you will be rushed.

 

Can we ask for a favor?

If you try the rear entrance route, let us know if it is still a viable option—it can help other travelers out. Thanks in advance! 😀

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Taking the public bus to the White temple

As the White Temple is located 13km from Chiang Rai center, you’ll need some sort of transportation to get there. The long distance and busy roads don’t make the bicycle a viable option, and the 300 TBH charged by taxis and songthaews sure don’t make them the cheapest.

Whenever this happens we make sure to find the next cheapest alternative, that in this case was the public bus.

We walked to Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 (in the city center, near the night bazaar) to find a bus that could take us to our destination. As we arrived at the bus station, we came across a rickety old blue bus with a tarpaulin saying “White Temple” on it. That was easy!

 

Public blue bus to Wat Rong Khun

Public bus to White Temple

Banner on the blue bus

 

The banner and the unsolicited ticket revisor that kept expansively confirming that was the “only bus to the White Temple” made us a little suspicious. But after several locals bought the ticket at the station kiosk and got on the bus, we took a change and did the same.

 

Bus timetable (2018)

Early mornings: 06:15 – 07:10 – 08:10 – 09:10.
From 
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM there’s a bus every 30 minutes.
Afternoons: 14:35 – 15:10 – 15:45 – 16:20 – 17:00

Cost: 20 Baht, one-way trip.
Duration: 20 minutes.

 

The bus was old, worn out, chock filled with character and worth the trip itself: from the weird proportions, the rickety noises, and the dashboard decorations made of Buddhist memorabilia, and every happy meal toy under the sun.

 

Old Thai bus interior

 

The revisor lady from before proved to be quite helpful by waving at us at the nearest bus stop to the White Temple: a generic spot just off Highway 1 (Phahonyothin Road), that we wouldn’t be able to identify on our own.

On the opposite side of the road, a few meters ahead were the grounds of the Wat Rong Khun.

 

Robot Sculpture Wat Rong Khun

 

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Opening hours: from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, closes at mid-day for an hour.
Ticket fee: As from October 2016, non-Thai people will be charged 50 Baht.

What to wear: shoulders and knees must be covered, and as always, shoes must be taken off before entering the main temple.

If you’re tired of visiting temples by now, suck it up and don’t miss this one — it’s one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions for a reason!

 

White temple bridge details

 

The lavishly decorated temple is unlike anything we saw around Thailand. Every element was consciously designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and is full of symbolism.

 


On the bridge leading to the temple, you’ll find depictions of the anger, suffering and worldly temptations that you’ll have to leave behind to find happiness.

 


The temple is white to represent the purity of the Buddha, and the glistening intricate mirror work embedded on the plaster is there to reflect his wisdom to the world.

 

Wat Rong Khun

 

The interior of the main temple is all gold (and much smaller than it appears to be). On the back walls are paintings of pop culture reference like Hello Kitty, Spider-Man, the Terminator, and George W. Bush. These represent life without faith, they’re the false heroes incapable of saving the world from war and destruction.

On the walls in the front, where the altar is, you’ll see paintings of humans flying freely through the clouds. These represent the people who followed Buddha’s teachings and achieved peace. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but taking photos is not allowed in the main building.





The site grounds

On the outside of the temple is a canopy of prayer plates and by walking under it you’ll reach the meditation hall, the famous golden restroom, the art gallery and the museum. 

 

Canopy of prayer plates

Prayer plates at Wat Rong Khun

Predator sculpture

 

The museum is dedicated to the works of Chalermchai Kositpipat: many of his works are a satirical commentary on international politics and the destruction of the planet. You’ll need an hour for the visit.

The temple site is still under construction and expanding. Only by 2070, the artist complete vision will be finished.

 

White buddha

Esculpture at the Golden bathroom

 

In front of Wat Rong Khun is a small area with cafes, restaurants, and shops.

 

About Chalermchai Kositpipat

 

Back To Chiang Rai

Head back towards the highway where you got off the bus and find a wooden pergola/ bus stop on the opposite side. Hail to the first bus you see (every half hour-ish). The trip back is a further 20 THB.

 

Bus Stop Wat Rong Khun

 

If you have any questions or new info to share about buses to the White Temple, leave it in the comments below.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Top Vang Vieng attractions

10 Vang Vieng attractions and activities

Unlike other Laotian cities with a non-existent nightlife, Vang Vieng stood out as one of Southeast Asia’s rowdiest party hotspots, attracting backpackers with cheap alcohol, drugs, and wild river bank parties. But by 2011, with the accidental deaths of 27 tourists that year alone, the Laos government was forced to intervene and put the brakes on the unregulated disorder.

Consequently, many bars were closed, tubing was banned, security tightened, and Vang Vieng almost disappeared from travel itineraries.

Nowadays and despite its reputation, Vang Vieng tries to slowly reorient itself from a party haven to an adventure destination. And on that note, we put together the 10 best activities to do while you’re in town:

 

1. Bicycle and motorbike rides

Cycling is the best and cheapest way to get to the spots we’re mentioning in this post. The terrain in Vang Vieng is almost flat, and the landscape makes the effort worthwhile.

Bicycle rental cost: €1.60

 

crossing a bridge in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng landscape

 

If you don’t like pedaling, the second best option is to rent a motorcycle.
Motorbike rental: €7,93 (70,000 kip) for a full day or €4,53 (40,000 kip) for half day.

Tip: start early to avoid the crowds in the street.

 

2. Nam Song River banks

One of the big attractions in town is the Nam Song River still being explored for tourist activities—but in a more contained way.

These days, you can relax on the small wooden pergolas by the riverbank while listening to music, dipping your feet in the river and drinking a beer.

Nam Song Riverbank

Swimming Nam Song river

 

3. Blue Lagoon

It’s an obligatory must-do in Vang Vieng and just like the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, its lush surroundings and the turquoise water makes it a super-popular swimming spot. There are swings, a slide, ropes and tree branches serving as diving boards. If you manage to pull off an acrobatic dive you might get a standing ovation from the people below.

 

Blue Lagoon

 

To reach the blue lagoon by yourself is best to use Maps.me as there’s a lot of misinformation on the way there.

Entrance fee: €2,13 (20.000 kip)
Parking fee: €0,23 (2.000 kip) for your bicycle.

 

4. Cave visits

Tham Phu Kham Cave

Right next to the blue lagoon is the entrance to Tham Phu Kham cave. Walking the trail to the entrance is not that easy as the path is quite narrow and steep.

 

Tham Phu Kham Cave

 

The cave itself is huge with a lot to explore but go slow because it’s dark inside and the stones are slippery.

 

Inside Tham Pouk Ham cave

Tham Pouk Ham cave buddha

 

Tham Jang (or Tham Chang) Cave

Because Vang Vieng is surrounded by caves and because not all caves are the same, we’re going to mention Tham Jang. This cave was used as a hideout from Chinese bandits during the 19th century and unlike others, the chambers inside Tham Jang are paved and well-lit.

Also, there’s a small blue lagoon by the entrance where you can swim in.

 





5. A day tour in Vang Vieng

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to book an adventure tour as every hostel in town has a myriad of options to pick from:

• Tubing
• Kayaking
• Water cave visits
• Rock climbing
• Nature tours
• Hot air balloon rides

We bought a full day tour from our hostel for €11.30 (100,000 kip) that included: pick-up and drop-off at the hostel, a visit to Tham Sang Cave, water cave tubing, lunch (BBQ skewer, rice, bananas, and water), and kayaking along the Nam Song river. Cheap as chips!

 

Canoeing tour Vang Vieng

 

6. Floating through a water cave

Stuff all your things in a waterproof bag, grab a headlamp and jump on a tube! Now, drag yourself by a rope while floating into Tham Nam cave and explore!

Tham Nam was dark and narrow, but the experience felt more exciting than claustrophobic.

 

7. Tubing and Kayaking along the Nam Song River

After a 5 minute instruction in broken English, we were going down the river on a kayak passing by other people tubing and frustrated with the slow current.

 

Nam Song river kayaking

 

Halfway in, we stopped by one of the few river bank bars still open. We rested, chatted, and drank a beer. The bar had a basketball and volleyball courts where the whole group got to play.

Along the river were many abandoned wooden structures from past bars proving we’re not in Vang Vieng golden era anymore.

 

8. Hot air balloon ride

Vang Vieng has the perfect arguments that justify a hot air balloon ride: epic limestone cliffs, rivers, scenic farming villages and great prices. You can go up at sunrise or sunset, but remember to book your ride at least one day in advance.

The ride should cost between 65€ (650.000 kip) and 70€ (700.500 kip) from one of the tour agencies around Vang Vieng. Don’t book it online as prices may go up to €130 (1.300.930 kip) for the exact same ride!

 

Hot air ballon rive

 

9. Dinner with Friends

Who doesn’t like to have dinner with friends? Grab something to eat at one of the many backpacker bars along Vang Vieng main street and watch reruns of the TV Show Friends—it’s always on!

 

Friends-watching Zombies

 

10. Sakura Bar

Sakura bar is a staple in Vang Vieng nightlife and famous for its cringy slogan:”drink triple, see double, act single”. Here you’ll find loud music, plenty of cheap booze and free whiskey shots from 8:00 to 9:00 PM.

These days, things start to calm down around midnight.

 

Vang Vieng daily expenses (average for 1 person)

Accommodation: €3,41
Water bottle (1,5L): €0,27
Lunch: €2,57
Dinners: €3,51
Breakfast: €1,87
Bicycle rental: €1,62
Blue Lagoon: €1,08
Day tour: €11,33

 

If you have any questions or some info to share on Vang Vieng, leave it in the comments below.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Transport to Vang Vieng

Transportation to Vang Vieng: options, costs, and timetables

Whether you’re in Vang Vieng or in Luang Prabang, any guesthouse, travel agency, or tour company will sell you bus tickets for a small commission. But prices vary from door to door, so you’ll have to look out for the best deal.

The most common transportation options to Vang Vieng are:
• Minivan
• Express Bus
• VIP Bus: a bus with 3 double-decker rows of beds, AC, and some snacks for the trip. Having said that, you can be downgraded to a minivan without previous notice if there are not enough people to fill a bus.

 

Vip bus in Luang Prabang Bus StationImage by Calflier001


• Sleeping Bus: a bus with AC and wider reclining seats, or bus with 3 double-decker rows of beds.

In this post, we’re going to be sharing all the info on minivans and express buses.

 

From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

On a Minivan

As we mentioned before, tickets are fairly easy to find everywhere around Luang Prabang. We bought our tickets from one of the travel agencies located in Sisavangvong street.

Cost: €11.90 (110.000 kips) can go up to €15.00 (150.000 kips) based on the commission charged by the travel agent.
Duration: 5 hours (one more if it rains).
Depart hours from Luang Prabang: 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM
Pros: Minivans are the fastest way to get to Vang Vieng. Hotel pick-ups are included in the tickets.
Cons: Tight and crowded.

 

Full minivan to Vang ViengImage by Nick Hubbard

One thing that made the 5-hour minivan trip tolerable was the beautiful mountainous landscape of Laos.

 

Vang Vieng Landscape
Minivan to Vang Vieng, Laos


We stopped once for a bathroom break, and twice by the military for what appeared to be a quick routine inspection. 
All drop-offs are on Vang Vieng main street or Peisan Road—where the backpacker hostels are.





On an Express Bus

Cost: €11.90 (110.000 kip) up to €16.00 (160.000 kip).
Duration: 6 to 7 hours, depending on the weather conditions.
Departure time from Luang Prabang Southern Bus Station: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM. Sleeping buses depart at 10:00 PM.
Pros: A bit more leg space.
Cons: As express buses leave from Luang Prabang Southern Bus station, you’ll be forced to pay for a tuk-tuk ride to the bus station (an extra 10,000 kip / 20,000 kip).

Drop offs are on Vang Vieng main street (Peisan Road).

 

From Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang (or anywhere else)

To leave Vang Vieng buy the bus tickets at your hostel. In addition to having great deals there, your ticket will include transportation to the bus station.

We returned to Luang Prabang also on a minivan but this time around the tickets were a bit cheaper: €8.67 (80.000 kips).

Now that you know how much you should be paying for a bus trip, find the best deal and use the money saved to buy a Beerlao. 

 

Beerlao

*Cheers*

Have a good trip and be safe!
Cover image by Basil Strahm.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT

Kuang Si Falls Laos

Getting to the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang

If you look through a Laos travel guide you’ll find the Kuang Si waterfalls coming up as “the top-rated”, “must-see”, “unmissable attraction in Luang Prabang”. Also, if you browse over some reviews on TripAdvisor, not one person seems disappointed by them.

 

Wooden bridge Kuang Si Falls

Kuang Si falls natural pools Luang Prabang

 

Simply put, these falls aren’t “just another waterfall”. Over the years a single large 60m cascade tumbling continuously from the jungle, carved several multi-tier pools of bright turquoise water, making the site look pretty much like the garden of Eden. The sunlight piercing through the green tropical vegetation, the wooden bridges, and even the little fishies nibbling at your feet once you get in the water feels like paradise—it’s like a Spa at the Olympus!  

 

Kuang-si-falls-luang-prabang-swimming

 

Best time to visit the waterfalls

They can be visited all year round. There’s only a downside of doing it during the rainy season: the water will be cloudy and muddy instead of blue.

 

Kuang Si main waterfall

Swimming at Kuang Si Waterfalls

 

Transportation options to the Kuang Si Waterfalls

Tuk-tuk: you’ll find many tuk-tuks around town ready to get you there. By gathering a group of 3 to 4 people you can split the bill. Rides are about €22.50 for a round trip and for half a day.

 

Tuk tuk in Luang Prabang

 

Mini Bus: any travel agent on Sisavangvong Road have mini buses or minivans going to the Kuang Si Falls every day. The price are €3 per person with pick up at your hotel. Have in mind that the departure and return times are set from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM (which is a big downside).

Motorbike: can be rented for €11, use maps.me for guidance (Google Maps doesn’t work that well in Luang Prabang).

Bicycle: rentals start at €1 a day and most hotels in Luang Prabang provide this service.

 

You get what you pay for

As backpackers, our mind is always set to save as much money as we can, so we chose the bicycle—it’s only 30 km anyways, it’ll be fun, we thought. We can make a cycling excursion out of it!

So there we went: two tall guys pedaling on bikes not made for adult men and with no gears (but were the only ones available in our hotel that day).

On motorized vehicles, rides take 45 minutes.
We took 4 hours.

 

Kuang Si Park

Entrance fee: €2.13 (20000 kips)
Opening hours: every day from 8:00 AM to 17:30 PM.

Next to the main entrance are restaurants, fruit stalls, bathrooms and small wooden huts to change clothes. As you might expect, the park is very popular among locals and tourists.





The Bear Sanctuary

At the beginning of the park is an animal sanctuary housing 25 Asiatic Black Bears rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers. Lamentably to this day, bears keep being illegally sold to Vietnam and China for their bile—a valuable component in traditional medicine.

 

Kuang Si Park Free the Bears Park

 

The sanctuary is run by an Australian non-profit in collaboration with the Lao authorities. Find out more about Free the Bears Fund here:  www.facebook.com/freethebearsfund
The bears are adorable.

 

Kuang Si Falls - Laos

 

Climbing to the top of the fall

On the right side of the larger waterfall is a muddy and unkempt trail running through the middle of the forest all the way to the top of the fall. Up there everything is quieter and the dense vegetation covers the light, but the view is spectacular!

 

Top of main Kuang Si fall

Top kuang si Waterfall

 

Kuang Si secret pool

Somewhere in the middle of the climb is a path to a secluded natural pool. To learn how to reach it, you can watch this video on Youtube: www.youtube.com/secret-pools-kuang-si-waterfalls

 

Kuang Si Falls Laos

Water and rocks Kuang Si

 

Returning to Luang Prabang

The end of the day came without us noticing. When we got on the bicycles and saw that the sun was almost gone, it hit us: HOLY. F*CK. We still have a 4-hour bike ride to Luang Prabang!

In less than an hour we were pedaling on pitch black—no streetlights whatsoever and completely alone. At one point to actually see the road, we turned the phone’s flashlights on, but the light attracted an assortment of flying bugs (beetles, grasshoppers, moths, and mosquitoes) that kept flying into our face, eyes, and mouth.

Nuno’s bike chain kept coming off forcing us to stop every 10 minutes to fix it, and every time we stopped we heard rustling coming from the bushes at the side of the road. As far as I’m concerned it could be a rat, but it could also be a fled bear from the park or a chupacabra thirsty for blood, and we were freaking out!

 

Scared

 

After god knows how many hours we arrived in Luang Prabang starving, exhausted and with a newfound love for tuk-tuks.

 

Are you planning on visiting the Kuang Si Falls? Will you do it by bicycle?
Have you been there already? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover photo by Shankar S.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Follow
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
ADVERTISEMENT