Woke up early for 10 am flight and realized it was domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City so I actually didn’t need to go to the airport that early. Arrived at domestic airport at 8am and while waiting for drop-in baggage saw an email from Vietnam Airline saying the flight has been reschedule to 12pm! Okay… So, I waited for my friend and we decided to check-in the baggage first and go somewhere else. My friend wanted to go to shopping mall, but at that time none opened yet.
Since I was hungry, I suggested to go have breakfast. But they’ve eaten already at home so it was just me. At first I wanted to try com tam ba gien. I’ve been wanting to try it but changed it to banh cuon (which I regretted later). The place is very close from airport. We went there by taxi. It only cost us 27k vnd but the airport surcharge is 10k. So total 37k. Only me ordered banh cuon. The place is very local. Their banh cuon was disappointing. I didn’t like it. No minced pork! Only the rice paper with fried onion on top of it. And they charge me 40k for that. I think it was a tourist price…
We went back to airport, which is very near, only 5 mins. The taxi cost 26k vnd but he asked for 10k surcharge as well! Next time if you are stranded in the airport, just stay inside unless you go back to your house/hotel which worth the cost.
We decided to wait inside and just proceed to security check. The queue was very long! Embrace yourself.. enjoy every moment… Once we got through the security, we went to food court to get snack for my friend’s son. I ordered cajun fries in the end. Too tempting. But it was around 10am already. So it was well calculated 😀 I knew we will get lunch on the plane.
By 11.20am we went to the gate and not long after we heard an announcement that our flight will have another delay to 12.30pm due to technical problem. Oh well, already waited for hours, another 30 mins was not a big deal.
Boarding the plane. They served lunch in the air so it was good. Arrived in Hanoi at 2.30pm. My friend have arranged a pick up service by Binh Minh Limousine so we just needed to wait for them. She already told them that we were gonna be late to arrive there and they knew it. She tried to get in touch and it was really hard to get in touch with them. The phone number listed in their website and facebook were not responding. I tried to look for their phone number through other website and called them. It was the same number that my friend tried earlier.
They finally picked up my call on the 3rd tries. It was already late for 1 hr since our arrival time and they asked us to wait another 10 mins. We were told before that an executive van will pick us up directly from airport and take us to our homestay. But when we arrived in Hanoi, they told us they were sending a small car to pick us up from airport and bring us to their center then we will use the limousine van. We didn’t understand why they couldn’t pick us up with the van because we saw many vans on the airport as well. They said vans are not allowed to go into the airport. After so many communication back and forth and still no car, we decided to take taxi to our homestay instead. It was more expensive but we were just too tired of waiting.
They called my friend when we were on the way in taxi. Asked my friend to hand in the phone to driver but she didn’t do it. And they hang up on her! So rude. After that, they called her many times but she didn’t pick it up. Dude, manage your business better if you don’t want to lose customer…
It took us 2 hrs to go to our homestay in Ninh Binh, Sierra Homestay. And the taxi cost was 1.6 mil vnd. We paid more than if we used the limo taxi. It would be 300k vnd per person if we used the limo from binh minh company. But anyway we finally arrived in Ninh Binh! Yay.
The people from our homestay are very friendly. We got our rooms and immediately headed out for the chance of taking photo before dusk. I got a few good shots. The man with the water buffalo was very nice. He couldn’t communicate with us but he still tried to get us a scene with his buffalo. He tried to tell us that the buffalo were heading to a certain direction so he asked us to wait there.
We didn’t know where to eat since it was just our first day here and no chance to look around yet. I ordered fried noodle with pork. It was good. But it couldn’t fill me up for long enough. I got hungry again…
After an ‘easy’ day (you can read here), the next morning we went to mountain area around 10 am with my friend. Before that, I went to a nearby market to find breakfast and bought a grilled pork skewer, then continue checking out the market area. It was a small market and a clean one too.
I went back to the hostel first to eat the pork skewer. It was very delicious! Too bad I only bought 1 piece. And after I finished, my friend told me that they usually come with rice as well. Ugh.. missed a nice meal!
Around 10am, we left the hostel heading to mountain area. It took us around 1 hour to reach there. The best way to reach the mountain area is by motorbike or red car taxi. We went there with his car and it was hard to find a parking spot for the car. Very crowded with all the car parking around the area.
Doi Suthep Temple
Our first destination in the mountain was Doi Suthep Temple. There are many temples in Chiang Mai but this one is the most famous one. The entrance fee is 30 baht for a foreigner, and free for local. Before you enter the temple, make sure you wear proper clothes. No tank top, No shorts, No mini skirts, etc. You don’t need to wear a long sleeve but you need to have a sleeve. For the bottom, need to be at least under your knee. Safer if you wear long pants or long skirts, but if you don’t have those clothes you can put on a scarf or borrow a cover from a counter there.
I don’t know much about this temple since my friend can’t explain anything to us, but it is a very beautiful and magnificent temple. It has a great view of the city as well (if not foggy). There is an area where you need to take off your shoes and walk barefoot, and this area is the main hall of the temple. Many Thai people do a prayer or ceremony there. It can be very crowded in there so be careful of your belonging.
On the way out, I saw one of the shops selling pork skin. Bought one bag pork skin with fish sauce for 60 baht.
Royal Palace (Bhubing Palace)
Our next destination was Royal Palace of Chiang Mai called Bhubing Palace. It is located at the higher end of the mountain. We went up by car about 20-30 minutes and looked for a parking spot again. This time it wasn’t that bad. They have a parking area.
The weather there was cold for me! Luckily I brought my jacket. To enter the palace, we need to buy a ticket at the counter, 50 baht per person. For this palace, please wear proper clothes as well.
Once we entered the gate, the security guy asked us where are we come from. Then he ushered us to a lady who gave us a map and explanation of how to explore the palace based on the map.
This royal palace’s area is very huge. Make sure you’ve eaten before you visit it. I was hungry when I arrived there but thinking to just visit first for a short time. It wasn’t a short time in the end! We were inside for more than 1 hour and still have some areas which were not explored!
There are a lot of beautiful flowers. I love their giant rose. It was so big, as big as my face! (Nah, I’m exaggerating a bit… but it was really a big rose though). The buildings have a classic style. It is a very nice place to enjoy the nature and fresh air. You can easily spend 2 hours in that area.
Giant Bamboo tree !!
I almost fainted when I exited the palace area. Too hungry! We immediately looked for food at nearby restaurants. No idea which one is good, we just went into the restaurant with most customers. The menu was on the table including the price. Luckily I was with my Thai friend so he read the menu for us. No English menu. We ordered Khao Soi, Laab Pork, and Pork Sausage. Khao Soi is one of the specialities in Chiang Mai, so you have to try it if you go there. I love it. It is a noodle dish with curry and chicken.
When our order arrived, I just realized that I should haven’t ordered Laab Pork! I was so tempted to order because I only remembered how delicious is the minced pork meat dish. I forgot about one important detail… it is VERY spicy 😦 The Khao Soi was not bad for me, but for my Thai friend it was bad and expensive than the one in the city. Well, kind of expected for a restaurant at a tourist spot. The pork sausage was very spicy as well! It has chilli inside it. I couldn’t eat more than one. In total, our bill was 415 baht.
After lunch, we headed back to the hostel. At least that was my plan because my camera was out of battery and I needed to charge it first. My friend suggested us to go to Night Safari right away but I told him that I would go there by Uber later. Apparently, he wanted to not let us waste any time so he silently drove us there!
I love seeing animals and especially in Safari, and I’ve never been on a Night Safari before so this is very interesting for me. From the outside, it looks huge and beautiful. Very promising! To enter the safari, we had to buy a ticket at the counter. There are differences in the prices between local visitor and foreigner. For example, the price for set B Night Safari for a local is 300 baht, while for a foreigner is 800 baht. It is pricey! We bought set B. It includes night safari (savannah safari and predator prowl), jaguar trail (walking route), night predator show, and tiger show.
There is a timetable for each show so you better check it first and arrange how will you do the activities as efficiently as you can. The night safari has 2 routes at different places. The difference is at the type of animals shown there. Also, each route of night safari has 2 lines of queue, one has a Thai guide and the other one has English guide. Both start at 6.30pm. You can buy a basket of food to give to the animals as well before you enter the queue for the tram.
From my experience, you need to prepare some things before you do this night safari. First of all, you need a jacket because it’s gonna be very cold! Especially if you come from tropical country or city. The second thing, if you are like me who like taking photos, is a good camera for low light situation or just use it in video mode. I tried taking photo with my camera (after charging it with power bank) and it turned out bad. Couldn’t get a nice photo since the tram only stopped for a while and it kept moving so all the photos were blurry. I couldn’t use faster shutter speed due to my lens limitation, so I tried taking photos with my phone instead.
The Jaguar Trail or the walking route is really nice. I like it. The things that annoyed me was the group of tourists who didn’t respect the rule. It is said to keep silent and not to speak loudly, but they just keep talking as if they were inside their house. Also, another rule is not to use flash when taking a photo, and they did… I was so annoyed that one time I told them not to use flash. They didn’t care about the animals at all, it is just a show for them.
Speaking about a show, I watched Tiger Show because it is included in Set B as well. I don’t like it at all. The tigers and lions were skinny and they looked scared. While other visitors were enjoying the show, I just sat there quietly.
After finished watching and doing the night safari, we looked for dinner. There are food stalls in the middle area. We bought some snacks to share, pork mushroom (20 baht), roasted squid egg small (60 baht), roasted squid small (70 bath) and orange juice (35 baht). They were quite nice. We finished on time just before the water fountain started.
Water fountain on the schedule was at 8pm, but it didn’t start yet. There was a dancing show which was started at the same time, and it was at the main stage. Everyone went to the main stage area to watch the dancing show and I was too lazy and tired to see so I just waited for water fountain show.
It lasted quite a while and we didn’t wait until it finished. I ordered Uber and waited at the designated location. If you want to use Uber, the best meeting point will be near the entrance to parking lot, away from red car area. You need to walk a bit but it is better than waiting near Giraffe Restaurant. Total cost from night safari to our hostel was 177 baht.
Yup, we were hungry again once we arrived at the hostel. Therefore we walked to the food market nearby and bought some buns and mango sticky rice again (yeah! they were so good and cheap that I could eat it every day).
That was it! I hope it can help you organize your trip in Chiang Mai and itinerary on how to spend the day there. The next day we didn’t go anywhere because it was raining the whole day. But we did go to a delicious burger place for lunch and tried a famouse pork rice for dinner! I love staying in Chiang Mai 😀