After a week in Pai we decided that we had spent enough time there and took a minibus back the three/ four hours to Chiang Mai (tickets bought from the bus station for 150B each). We spent a couple of days here as we did not want to have too many days in Chiang Rai after hearing that there was not too much to do there.
We decided we wanted to stay in a slightly different area of Chiang Mai so that we could see different places and we wanted a hostel that was clean, warm and had comfy beds after staying in Tony’s guesthouse in Pai. We ended up staying at Dee Marc hostel in the Northgate area of Chiang Mai. On the street where our hostel was, just down from the Northgate, there were numerous other hostels all that looked equally nice and cheap. We were very happy that Dee Marc lived up to its reviews. It was very clean, had comfy beds and had a few showers for each floor that were just as clean and warm also. There were also facilities for drinking water and hot water/ coffee which saved us money on these. We arrived in the afternoon from the minibus station and just spent a few hours relaxing in the hostel and sorting things out. We also booked our bus tickets to Chiang Rai via the Thailand Green Bus company website and then we paid for these at 7/11. We chose to go A class, technically third class which is a bus with air con but no toilet and journey time of 3 hours 3o mins. Tickets were about 125 B per person with a 25B payment fee at 7/11.
In the evening we discovered that there was a great night market on the Northgate street so we ate there for dinner as we discovered the infamous Cowboy Lady pork stall. This is a stall that does amazing stewed pork, rice, egg and mustard greens for 55B and the woman distinguishes herself from other sellers by wearing a cowboy hat. We also ended up having this for dinner for the next two nights too as it was so good, just taking different people to it each day. We also had a couple of pork buns (10B). I also had a fruit shake to be slightly healthy and Dave had a crepe from the stall ‘Miss Crepe’. She was a lovely girl who sells crepes after going to university to study business each day. She chatted to us and also took great care in making the crepes. Plus she had a great selection (i.e. peanut butter, nuttella, marshmallows, cereals, jellies etc). That evening we also walked to the southgate to meet up with Alice and Dan and discovered the Southgate also has a great night market for food. Afterwards we went to the THC rooftop bar near to McDonalds opposite Thapae gate. This was a cool bar at the top of a building with neon murals everywhere, cushions on the floor and chilled vibes.
The next day we had a very lazy morning before walking towards the Westgate where we ended up stopping along the way at a few places that were displaying galleries from the photography festival that was on. We then walked down Doi Suthep road out of the old town and cut through to iBerry an amazing ice cream shop that was recommended to us by Dave’s sister. They have a massive pink statue outside as well as some interesting artwork throughout the whole shop. There is a huge selection of ice cream there as well as drinks and other very tasty looking deserts. I went for caramel almond and Italian coffee ice creams and Dave went for caramel almond and brownie ice creams; all equally delicious. We also explored around this area and Nimmanhaemin road which was full of modern fusion restaurants, burger places and coffee shops. This is ‘the area’ if you are living around here and have a bit of money, but not backpacker budget friendly. After walking the long slog back to the old town in the heat we found a nice cooling but spicy papaya salad after a bit of searching before returning to the hostel for a few hours. In the evening we ventured to the market for food but did nothing else as we were very tired.
In the morning we went again to the coffee shop and had coffee and croissants. Our plan was after breakfast to have a massage at the Women’s Correctional Restaurant, Shope and Massage Centre. However we did not make it there in time due to getting chatting to a few people in the coffee shop. We ended up spending about 2 hours there just talking to them before exchanging details to follow their trips. By the time we got to the massage place at 12pm they were fully booked for the day. If you want to get a massage there you need to go for when they first open to get a space that day. Instead we walked up past the Northgate in search of Tops supermarket so that we could find Dave some coffee for his Aeropress and managed to find a bag for about 100B (price of two coffees in Thailand). In the evening we had pork (3rd night in a row as it was so good) before going to 48 garage bar with Jamie, Alice, Dave and Dan for a few final farewell drinks before we went our separate ways the next day.
The following morning we hoped in an Uber to the Arcade Bus Station for about 65B (Terminal 3) and caught the bus to Chiang Rai (again super straight forward). There were numbers for the bays of the bus you have to catch, the number of the bus and the seat numbers are printed on your tickets. There were also lots of shops to buy snacks, toilets and signs were in English as well as Thai.