Planning a quick getaway over your next spare weekend? We’ve got the perfect destination for you – Chiang Mai in sunny Thailand.
Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.
Pack away your glow stick and banish all thoughts of bucket-binge drinking. This is Thailand with tradition. An hour’s flight north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai takes you far away from the Full Moon frolics this paradise is famous for. This inland city rocks a slow pace, the people are unpretentious and it’s a tad hippie but with a whole lotta hip. During the day, wander rickety streets littered with antique shops, craft outlets and restaurants. For a spiritual session, explore the glittering golden temples (Doi Suthep mountain – a short drive away, requires scaling steps, but the breathtaking view is worth it). Come evening, the night market will bag your baht thanks to stalls filled with bargain buys, food and foot rubs, as well as a buzzy backdrop of local music. While history remains, there’s a new nowness creeping into the area with coffee, art, book and boutique clothing stores. Nimman – an enclave close to the centre – is full of scenesters. Don’t miss Ristr8to, famous for its excellent coffee, and Koland Cafe’ & Art Décor – a true treasure trove.
When the first thing a hotel asks upon arrival is for you to slide your weary feet into a pair of wicker slippers, you know you’re onto a good thing. The moment I stepped into Sireeampan Boutique Hotel & Spa I felt like I was in my own bespoke sanctuary. Sireeampan prides itself on the personal touch. With cute, cosy, dark-wooded rooms, secluded sections and an intimate pool, it’s the ideal destination if you want to spend some sexy-time with your man, or just a solo trip to re-charge your batteries. The spa soothes away any aches and pains and the wonderful staff will take you into town for free (around 15 minutes away), and help arrange any excursions. Note: the food here is exquisite. Chef Scott delivers picnic baskets (yes, actual baskets!) of breakfast to your room, and dining at the Sayomporn Dining Room is all candlelight, romance and endless servings of the likes of marinated ribs and king prawns. I tried to eat so much that I couldn’t get back on my flight, to no avail. Maybe next time.
Those cool trainers – This beautiful city is amazing for exploring, but the streets can be rickety and full of steps to climb.
Laid-back favourites – leave your show-off wardrobe in Singapore. Put your feet up and get comfy in no-pressure-leisure wear.
An extra bag and details of a courier, for this is one place you can shop. And depending on your tastes, the homeware is very cool. Line up how to get it home in advance for less stress.
Return flights with Air Asia to Chiang Mai start from SGD$300. Contact AirAsia.com.
Rooms at Sireeampan Boutique Resort & Spa start at SGD$500. www.sireeampan.com
By Jo Upcraft, Cosmopolitan, March 2015