Have you ever thought about spending Christmas abroad? If so, Chiang Mai in Thailand is a great choice if you look into a different kind of experience.
Being a huge Christmas fan myself, the most difficult part on our trip around the world was to picture me somewhere in Asia to celebrate Christmas. Chiang Mai though is better than a lot of parts we have been so far. It's colder because it's situated in the north of Thailand and also there was more Christmas decoration since there were lots of tourists in town. In some malls, they even played Christmas music. I decided it was all about making the best out of it. More importantly, I was traveling around for 9 months already and I love it. So I figured out I could handle those days around Christmas somehow. In Austria, we celebrate especially the 24th with family and we meet lots of relatives on the 25th and 26th throughout the whole day. We had really no idea how to spend the 24th. That's when I went online and did a little research and came across The Trading Travelers who went to a hill tribe village called Mon Cham.
Our plan was to have breakfast first, then drive up to the village, walk around, have some lunch, see the waterfall close-by and have Christmas dinner in town. Well, that was the plan.
So, we went to our rental company where we have rented a scooter earlier. Quite chaotic as we are, we didn't do any bookings the day before. When we arrived, there were only two motorbikes left. So off we went with our yellow scooter.
Michael found a cute café called Angel's Secrets where we wanted to have a special Christmas breakfast (not that this is something common in Austria). We just wanted to spoil ourselves for the entire day. Plus, I am a committed breakfast lover.
27 MoonMuang Road Soi 5
Open: 7 AM – 4 PM
After leaving the city, we were on the highway and we heard a strange noise. It sounded like our tire was about to go flat. Michael managed to break and get to the side of the street. I jumped off the scooter and checked the tire but it was fine. As he tried to start the scooter again, it didn't move a bit. Here we were in the middle of nowhere. So we walked along the street, tried to talk to some local workers, explaining with hands and feet that our scooter wasn't working anymore. We changed the side of the road and asked every service station we saw. After we walked past three, until we found a mechanic who was specialized in scooters. He was kind enough to drop all of his other work and started right away fixing it. It took him almost an hour to get a new drive belt.
By the time we were on the road again, two hours have passed. We decided to still go and see the village. On the way up we had to stop once as our scooter barely could make it up there (make sure you rent one with more CC). The oil was boiling and we decided to wait a bit and let it cool down before we drove further up.
Finally, we made it up to the top. The cool thing is, it's still quite undiscovered by westerners, there were mainly Asian tourists or locals up there. The bad thing is, it will be quite tough to take pictures and not have any people or selfie-sticks in it. From up there we had a nice view over the valley. We enjoyed the green surroundings and I realized how much I miss gardens and flowers on our trip. I haven't seen so many flowers in one spot for a long, long time. So we just sat there, took some pictures and enjoyed the smell of the flowers and tried to find peace although it was quite busy.
We had a late lunch in the restaurant which I can't recommend. The portion was too small and the price too high. If you plan to go there, I recommend to only have a coffee and a cake (it looked delicious).
Since we already lost a lot of time due to the repairing, we decided it was time to head back to the city. We expected lots of traffic.
Back in town, we got ready for our Christmas dinner at Dash. Being there previously for a drink and listening to live music, we decided this would be a nice spot for our Christmas dinner. Dash is a fun, outgoing guy who takes care of all his customers. He speaks so many different kinds of languages, you'll be impressed. He's able to be talkative, charming, welcoming and still give you the feeling of privacy during dinner. We ordered red wine, and I had Spaghetti with mushrooms and gravy (which tasted like in Italy), Michael had a Tandoori Chicken which was also delicious. We had a salad along with it and a dessert (try hot brownie with coconut ice cream). After dinner, we spontaneously decided to have a massage.
It's definitely an experience spending Christmas abroad. I mean, back home, I would never ever get a massage at Christmas day and it felt so good to just spoil ourselves. We had an oil treatment and the nice thing was that we could have a shower before and after the treatment. I can highly recommend you to ask for Lala. She's lovely, discrete, and I enjoyed her massage a lot.
C& R Thai Massage and Herb Shop Chiang Mai
145/8 Rajchadamnurn Rd., T. Prasing A. Muang Chiang Mai
Open daily 10 AM – 00:00 PM
Later, as we got home, we called our families to wish them Merry Christmas. It's been quite an experience to spend Christmas abroad. I still prefer Christmas back home. But, spending Christmas abroad lets you experience lots of different things and you don't have that much work. There's no cooking, no hassles, nothing to worry about. So there are definitely some advantages.
Where to stay
How to get to Chiang Mai
We took the day train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and were surprised by the great service in the train. We were served breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. Everything was really good and it was nice to see the landscape. If you don't have as much time as we had, I would either recommend taking the night train or catch a plane from Bangkok directly to Chiang Mai airport.
Now, over to you. Have you ever celebrated Christmas abroad, and if yes, where was it? How was your experience? Would you do it again?