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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thailand Trip Itinerary 2014 - Part 3

Day 4 of our Thailand trip at Chiangmai was the first day of Loy Krathong procession which last for 3 consecutive days from 5 - 7 November 2014.  The procession will start from around 6.00pm from Thapae Gate and Thapae Road will be closed to traffic.  The procession will pass through the whole of Thapae Road until the Ping River where the people will send off their krathongs at the Ping River.  This year the Loy Krathong festival is called Asean Yee Peng Festival where you will see the participation of all Asean countries in the event. 
Since the procession and activities are held in the evening, we made a trip to Doi Suthep:
1. Bhubing Palace [click here to see more] located at Doi Buak Ha, Muang District, Chiangmai and
2. Wat Phrathat, Doi Suthep [click here to see more], Rajvoravihara, Chiangmai which is along the highland passage to Bhubing Palace. 

Before making the trip up Doi Suthep, we had our breakfast at WSK Noodle Soup shop situated at Charoen Rat Road.  This road is parallel to the Ping River, left turning after Nawarat Bridge/Road.  The shop sells very delicious duck meat noodles [wantan mee or flat rice noodles], duck meat soup and rice.  They also have dim sum, roasted duck etc.  The price is reasonable at 50 THB per bowl with free helpings of fresh vegetables and beansprouts.  Drinking water is also free for their customers.  We visited this place for breakfast several times during our stay in Chiangmai.  This is a good place for noodles and if you are a duck meat lover like me.
We made the trip there on our rented motorbike.  You can however follow a day tour or go with the red song thaew.  They could charge about 300-400 THB from Chiangmai Old city.  To the foothills of Doi Suthep, it is about 6 km from Chiangmai Old City area and up the hill road which is a not too winding the distance to Wat Phrathat is about 11 km and to Bhubing Palace is about another 2 km.  Notes - bring along an umbrella or rain coat cos' the upland areas are prone to rain.  
For both places, you may spend about the whole morning until after lunch.  We visited the Bhubing Palace first because the palace will be open from 8.30 am to 11.30 am and 1.00 pm - 3.30 pm.  The entrance fee is 50 THB.  Notes - Visitors are required to be appropriately dress.  At the entrance, you can get a free map to guide your tour of the place.  The palace is closed during the royal visit between January to March every year].
Bhubing Palace - It is the royal winter residence in Chiangmai where the Royal family stays during seasonal visits to the people in northern part of the country.  The palace is also the royal guesthouse for prominent State visitors from abroad.
In the past, Their Majesties welcomed or granted royal audience to State visitors only in the capital of Bangkok.  Bhubing Palace was built in 1961.  The construction started initially with only the royal resident building and the guesthouse. The other buildings were additionally built on the later dates. 
This palace is worth visiting as there are many awesome things to see especially the Bhubing Palace, water reservoir, plant exhibition greenhouse, Suan Suwaree [rose garden] and many others.  The cool weather is especially refreshing.  You may need 2-3 hours to complete seeing every part of the palace grounds.
After visiting Bhubing Palace, nearby is the car park and there are numerous food outlets, cafes and shops for you to enjoy some local ala carte food and hot beverages.
Since it was about lunch time, we have lunch at one of the food outlet.  Surprisingly, the food and service is good.  The prices of food is reasonably taking into consideration is in a highland area.
We had Khao Pad [Thai Fried Rice], Rad Na [Thai Stir Fried Flat Rice Noodles in gravy], a cup of coffee and cocoa.  The portion was quite big and the food comes steaming hot.  This meal only costs 155 THB.  The price of noodles and rice ranges from 40 - 60 Bahts and for hot drinks it's about 15 - 20 THB.  Very reasonable price.  Notes - Advisable to have lunch here before you go downhill to visit Wat Phrathat cos' is a place you need to walk around and hike up a little if you are not taking the two-way cable tram.
Wat Phrathat, Doi Suthep - is the most famous temple in the area, standing near the top of Mount Suthep to the north-west of the city.  This temple was built around 1383.  King Keuna of Chiangmai selected a white elephant to carry a holy relic of the Lord Buddha to what would be its resting place.  The elephant wandered up Mount Suthep until it came to a place where it finally laid down.  A temple was built on the spot to house the holy relic and both remain there to this day. Housed there as well is a stunning larger than life replica of the famous Emerald Buddha, the original of which is  now kept in Bangkok.
The entrance fee is 30 THB but if you are taking the two-way cable tram, you need to pay an extra 20 THB.  You can see the place within an hour or so but why need to hurry when you are already there after the long journey.  Take your time to see the area well. 
Visiting this 2 places extensively will take up the whole morning and early afternoon.  Once back to the city, you can have a light tea time before getting back to the hotel to freshen up and rest until about 5-6.00 pm, have dinner or have later after watching the Loy Krathong procession.  As the roads where the procession passes by will be closed to traffic, it is advisable to eat around places within walking distance to Thapae Road where the procession is held.
We had our dinner at McDonalds, in front of Thapae Gate after the procession passed through the place.  You will be in happy mood and won't feel hungry until the fun is over.  This is the first day of the procession.
Back from Doi Suthep, no more sightseeing as it was raining for the rest of the afternoon until evening when the rain stopped before the Loy Krathong procession started.

After the procession, we wandered our way to Kalare Night Bazaar [1/3 way down from top of Night Bazaar] on the eastern side of Old city all the way along Chang Klan Road.  The whole stretch of road and adjoining roads are closed to traffic.  Plenty of stalls lined both sides of the roads selling huge variety of branded designer goods [real and fake] and local Thai goods at low prices. You can shop till you drop but we didn't buy anything cos' we a will be travelling to Chiang Rai and coming back to Chiangmai again.
Loy Krathong/Yi Peng Festival, Chiangmai 2014 [click here to see more]
Bhubing Palace [click here to see more]
Wat Phrathat, Doi Suthep [click here to see more]

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