Nestled against the foothills in Northern Thailand, many travelers consider Chiang Mai a sanctuary. The vibe is laid back and the weather is a few degrees cooler than Bangkok and Southern Thailand.
We stayed in the historical center which is walled in and surrounded by a moat built by the Lanna kings centuries ago. Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 and succeeded Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna kingdom. The ancient kings filled the city with a multitude of Buddhist temples (wats). These houses of worship are adorned with brightly colored mosaics, naga staircases, and golden Buddhas. Today, there are over 300 wats in Chiang Mai.
Western cuisine abounds in Chiang Mai. After months of eating fried rice, fried noodles and curry, we took full advantage of the international food scene in town. We ate bagels and cream cheese, Mexican food, and burgers with fries. Our bellies were in heaven! Sorry, we did not take an pictures of our gluttonous behavior 🙂
On our way to Bangkok, we stopped at Sukhothai, the capital of the first kingdom of Siam established some 800 years ago. Ruins from the ancient kingdom are spread over 70 square kilometers. We rented bicycles and set out to explore as much as we could.
Our favorite temple at Sukhothai was Wat Si Chum. Peaking through a narrow entrance, your eyes are drawn upward to a giant seated Buddha measuring 15 meters high and 11 meters wide. Built in the 14th century, the partially gilded Buddha is striking.
After a peaceful journey through Northern Thailand, we headed back to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. From Bangkok, we flew to Myanmar, our last country in SE Asia!