tips

TOP TEN CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

My second time in Thailand and I really wanted to adventure to the North instead of the South. I had heard from friends that I had met on travels that Chiang Mai was an absolute must do and it didn’t disappoint.

I boarded a flight with Nok air from Bangkok for about $75 CAD. It definitely beat the 10 hour bus or train ride. The flights leave from Don Muang airport. There are plenty of shuttle services around bangkok/Khao san road area that will take you right to the door for the bargain of 100-150BAHT. If time and patience is on your side you can take the public bus from Mo Chit for around 10BAHT.

When you arrive in Chiang Mai, you can take a pre paid taxi into the city or go out to the main road and hail a famous red mini bus called a Songthaew (the red trucks with bench seats) for less than half the cost.

  1. Chiang Mai is the land of temples, you can spend days going from temple to temple by feet, the city is easily walkable.  I highly recommend going to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, you can easily take a mini bus from University to get up there. Keep in mind the bus doesn’t get moving until it has at least 10 passengers, so it can be a long wait in the sun.
  2. Monk Chat at Wat Chedi Luang. This was an unbelievable experience. We got to talk to a monk for nearly 3 hours and he answered every question we had to ask. I highly recommend it if you would like to learn more about buddhism.
  3. Get a massage at on the street or one of the temples. Apparently the cheapest in all of Thailand, think 150baht (6 CAD) for 1 hour.
  4. Visit the 3d art museum and get some amazing pictures. I didn’t get to do this but I saw some pictures from friends and really regretted not making it there.
  5. I highly recommend Deejai’s hostel for a fun party atmosphere filled with activities, they also serve amazin food although you pay more for the convenience.  Make sure not to pronounce it DJ like I did, the locals don’t understand what that means.
  6. Go to the night bazaar, shop and eat till you drop in the very busy Mueang Chiang Mai District.
  7. Go to a lady boy show, it’s inside the night bazaar and it’s an unforgettable experience. It costs 200baht and you get a free drink included with your cover. I have to say this is the best drag show I have ever seen, they are so talented.
  8. Eat Khao Soi it’s noodles topped with fried noodles in coconut milk curry.
  9. Do activities in the surrounding areas such as visiting an elephant sanctuary, Tiger kingdom (Some people are opposed to this but do your research), Doi Inthaon, the Golden triangle (Border of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos)  and white temple in Chiang Rai.
  10. Take a cooking class at some of the many locations in Chiang Mai so you can impress your friends when you get home with your new skills!

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GETTING THE BEST FLIGHT PRICES

Most of us are looking for the best price we can get when trying to book flights. This topic came to my mind because I am currently planning a trip to Europe. Having studied tourism and travel and currently working in the industry I’ve definitely managed to gather some tips along the way. Although ultimately getting the best price mostly rests on location and time of the year. Here are some things I’ve learned throughout the years:

  1. Best time to book and still have great weather is during shoulder season. In Europe that would be towards the end of spring and the beginning of fall, think April-May / Sept-Oct. This can differ in places such as Australia (South of the Equator) where the prices tend to drop around the winter months June-August. 
  2. Check multiple websites, my go to is usually Skyscanner.net as it allows you to get a months view and set up price alerts.
  3. Once you’ve done your preliminary research, call or go to the travel agent. See what they can come up with, and compare. They might have access to special deals that are not available online.
  4. After you’ve checked online and gone to the travel agent, call the airline yourself for another comparison.
  5. Check for low cost airlines in the area in which you are travelling to. In Europe Easyjet and Ryanair rule and are generally cheaper than train travel. It’s important to keep in mind that they tend to leave you at airports that are outside of the city and have strict baggage restriction rules. For example if I wanted to go to Europe, I would book the cheapest ticket I could get there and then take a low cost airline to my destination. In Asia there are great low cost airlines like Nok Air, Air Asia etc…
  6. Collect your points and use your airmiles. If you are getting a credit card, try to get one which allows you to collect points that you can put towards your future travels. 
  7. Follow all the baggage and check in rules with low cost carriers, unfortunately that’s how they seem to get those extra coins out of you. I once was charged 40€ on Ryanair for not printing my boarding pass.
  8. The earlier you book the better, the later you wait the higher the chances of the cheaper seats being sold out. 
  9. Try to see if you can get a free or inexpensive stopover. On my way back from Australia I once got a free stopover in Fiji. I ended up staying for 5 amazing days. I realize a lot of people like to fly direct, but I always jump at the opportunity to experience something new, when it comes at very little cost. 
  10. When you are using a third party website or travel agent to book your flights be aware of the booking and processing fees. Booking directly with the airline is usually the cheaper option. 

And a bonus tip, I’m a fan of Airtreks.com for bookig around the world tickets, I once travelled the globe all the way to Ausralia for 2600 CAD. 

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