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Our trip to Chiang Mai began on Christmas Eve and ended on the evening of Christmas Day. It was a grueling ride, first by bus to Bangkok, then by train, third-class, to Chiang Mai. It started raining as we were roaming the streets looking for accommodation that first night, and we were forced to go with a tout’s recommendation. The sun came out the next day, though, and with it things started to brighten considerably. We found a very nice guest house nearby and began to enjoy the city.
We stayed here for a total of five days, and there was plenty to do. One day was spent on a one-day “trekking” tour, while another was spent taking a cooking class. There was also a traditional, Northern Thai Khan Toke dinner that included traditional dances as entertainment during the meal and folk dances afterward.
The city itself is very nice. It is small, and it is possible to walk just about anywhere within the walls of the old city (and even to places outside the walls, like the Night Bazaar). It is further north and higher in altitude than Bangkok, so the evenings were cool and refreshing. I read that a lot of foreigners live in Chiang Mai, and I can certainly see why—it’s really a beautiful city.