First Few Hours in Chiang Mai: A Bad First Impression

If I had to rate Chiang Mai based on my first impression, it would have been a cold 0/10! A series of unfortunate events led me to give it a zilch on my “Travel-o-meter“. But as I’m writing this post, please understand that even with this experience, Chiang Mai has already become a perfect 10! If you’ve already read my post about How I Got Lucky in Mo Chit then you’d know that I took the 3pm bus to Chiang Mai. Add 9 or so hours to that and here I am a few steps away from the Tha Phae Gate.

Anyway, here are the events that transpired on that “far-from-perfect” night. Totally the opposite of what I once imagined.

The following happened between 12midnight and 5am of April 13, 2013(year 2556 in the Thai Calendar):

12:00mn – Bus Arrives in Arcade Bus Station

My bus to Chiang Mai from Sombat Tours.

My bus to Chiang Mai from Sombat Tours.

12:30am – Went to ask around for directions on how to get to the old city. No maps were available in 7-Eleven and in the Hotel near the station so I decided that I would walk all the way to the old city of Chiang Mai(About 4kms.) away. How? I thought I’d just follow where ever the Tuk-tuks were going. After a few steps, I got chased by a stray dog so I retreated back to the Arcade Station.

1:00am – Met Skye, a guy from England who has stayed in Bangkok for quite sometime now. We agreed to share the Tuk-tuk to save a few Bahts. After haggling with the driver, we ended up paying 60 Baht each.

Skye the tuk-tuk mate and  roommate for the night. Ran into him on the 2nd day of the Songkran Festival

Skye the tuk-tuk mate and roommate for the night. Ran into him on the 2nd night of the Songkran Festival

1:15am – The Tuk-tuk driver dropped us off at Moon Muang road Soi 2 in the Old City of Chiang Mai. He told us that’s where most guest houses are. We started walking into different guest houses in the area but every single one is fully booked.

2:00am – We finally came across a guest house in one of the dark alleys right beside J.J’s guest house. It was a big relief knowing that there’s at least one guest house still had a vacant room. It didn’t look cozy but for 175 Baht each, it was enough. We then decided to look for some other guest houses down the road with better rooms and a better rate. And if there’s none, then we can always go back to the first one.

2:00am – 3:30am – After walking for more than an hour, we met 3 other travellers who were kind enough to walk with us and join us in what seemed to be a never-ending search for a guest house. All 5 of us walked all the way to Ratvithi road but still all guest houses, hostels and hotels were full so Skye and I decided to go back to the that place with one vacancy only to find out that while we were searching for another guest house, a couple of tourists booked the room. Geez! Just our luck.!
Silent Thoughts: Lesson learned Ayn, “Once you find something good, don’t go looking for something better. It might not be there once you realize it was the one you wanted all along”.

3:30am – We continued to search for more guest houses in a different side of town and guess what? Yes, they’re all full! From the smallest hostels in the darkest alleys to the big hotels, it just seemed impossible!
Silent Thoughts: “%&*#@$%^@*!”

4:00am – We decided to take a break to rehydrate and eat a little at 7-Eleven on Southern side of the old city near Suanprung Gate. After a short rest we started the search again. We’ve had our first glimmer of hope at the Smile Guest House. The receptionist told us they had a vacant single bed fan room based on the chart shown at the front desk. But that glimmer quickly faded when he told us that the room was taken and that he forgot to write it on the chart.
Silent Thoughts: “@##%$^!^&@^%&*&%*#&#^!$#%@!”

4:15am – The search continues. So did the silent thoughts…”@#^!@%&$@$^&*!$#%&&#$%^&#$^&!@^$&*$*!#@”

4:30am – We decided to take our search further outside the old city and at last we found a vacant room. We wanted separate rooms at first then we decided that we can share a room with 2 beds but at this time, we didn’t care anymore. Any room will do. Our feet were tired, our shoulders sore from the weight of our backpacks and our bodies were beginning to give up.

5:00am – We stumbled across a guest house just outside the Tha Phae Gate(the Eastern Gate of the old city) called Home Place and Wallah! a single vacant room! We didn’t even bother to see how the room looks or if it even had a toilet, we just wanted to crash!

Home place, home for the night

Home place, home for the night

5:30 am – At last a place to spend the night all for 150 Baht a piece.We had to share a single bed. Not even a king-sized bed but we really didn’t care at this point. We just wanted to rest and get some sleep.

The Single Bed Fan Room

The Single Bed Fan Room

Would you share a single bed with a complete stranger? I don’t think anyone would want to. But this I can say, if you’ve experienced what I’ve been through on my first night(or dawn) in Chiang Mai, the answer would be a no-brainer – “You just have to”. You might lose some of your pride over it but for sure you’ll gain friends. Lots of them…

Final Silent Thought: See that’s the thing about travelling and about Life, you’ll never know what challenges it throws at you. It will exhaust you and cause you pain. But you can never stop. You just have to persevere and most of the time, in the end it gives you comfort and there’s nothing more worthwhile than seeing yourself make it through.

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  1. Reminds me of my Chiang Mai trip. It was an impulsive move and I can say it is my first solo trip abroad (meaning not knowing anyone in the area hehe) and it taught me a lot. I first stayed outside the Old City (40 minutes walk T_T) but i’m glad my first time is in Chiang Mai 😀

    I’ll read the rest of your adventures. I envy you because you’re in Pai now!

    • Nurse-issistic Traveller says:

      Wow 40 minutes huh? that must be across the river…looks like your first experience worked well for you. I wish I could’ve stayed longer in Pai though. Sawasdee Pee Mai to you Mica!:)

  2. Anonymous says:

    You knew that you were visiting on a peak period, so why didn’t you secure your accommodations ahead of time?

  3. Just a Thai passerby says:

    Well, most hotels/guesthouses were fully booked since Feb. for Songkran, which was the day you came to CM (trust me, my friends open guesthouses/small hotels all over CM), so no wonder it’s hard for you to find any guesthouse. In fact, I wonder that you could find one! Lucky for you. :)

    Be our guest anytime you’d like. :)

    • Nurse-issistic Traveller says:

      Yes i was. And the luck just kept coming. I found a cheaper, better place to stay the next day at the height of the Songkran Festival. One of the best experiences i’ve had… Thank you!

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