It is necessary to settle fairly quickly, enjoy the first steps of your adventure, and acquaint yourself with your new area. But how do you do all of this?
Walking calms the nerves. As you stroll through the city, you can absorb its culture and discover where the important things are.
Let’s face it, you have been promising yourself a healthier lifestyle for some time, and even if you haven’t, you’ll just love improving your health here. After all, moving overseas is the perfect ‘begin again’.
Chiang Mai, a city in Northern Thailand, is perfect for a pleasant stroll. This is because it is completely flat. No hills; none at all! So if you are coming to Chiang Mai, don’t forget to pack your runners!
Walk Recommendation #1 in Chiang Mai – Old City Charm
If you find the Three Kings Monument in the Old City, head south on Praprokalao Road. By the way, the Lanna Folklife Museum at the Three Kings Monument is worth a look.
You will pass one of the biggest tourist sites, Wat (temple) Chedi Leung. This is a large temple complex with lots of Viharns (buildings for worship) and Buddha images. At the front, you will notice a large tree which is very important to the locals. If this tree gets a disease or dies, the locals believe it will be the end of Chiang Mai.
Keep walking south and you will find Wat Chang Taem which holds a Buddha image that is over 1000 years old. Its architecture is a typical Lanna style, a perfect representation of Northern Thai culture.
Next, you will find Wat Muentoom. A simple temple with Burmese influences like the lions that guard the temple.
Further along, a popular temple, called Wat Jet Lin, sits on a larger piece of land. There is often music playing, gongs being bonged, and a pond where you can feed the fish.
Wat Fon Soi is the last temple on this stroll. It is leafy and a little eccentric. The garden has a collection of statues with touches of gold that glisten in the morning sunlight.
By this stage, if you are feeling hungry you can enjoy a delicious meal at The Grill of India, which is just across the road from Wat Fon Soi. You can get a large serve of madras or korma and rice for about $7. But I love the light crunchy batter on the vegetable pakora, which is under $4.
Stroll further, and you will nearly be at the end of the street, but look carefully as on the right-hand side; a few shops before the end of the street, there is a little antique shop where you can find relics from across Asia at very reasonable prices.
Walk Recommendation #2 Chiang Mai – Along the River
If you head out of the city and cross the Nawarat Bridge, make a left and treat yourself to a relaxing walk along Charoenrat Road. Within fifty meters, you will see the Riverside Restaurant, an old wooden structure with views of the Ping River. It has character!
I love that this road gives you a sense of genuine history. Still standing are the wonky, wooden structures that the locals would have lived in. No foreigners were allowed to live in the old city, so we allocated the river region to people from other countries and cultures.
As you walk, you can just imagine the business of the area with Chinese silk traders, British Teak Wallahs, and American missionaries.
Stop off at The Gallery, a restaurant set in an old Chinese building made of teak. You can truly feel echoes of the past. Also, Wat Ket is a temple that has a fascinating museum that holds a collection of artifacts from the different cultures that lived in the area. Old phonographs, significant elephant skulls, and antiquated guns are just a few of the items.
If you enjoy textiles, I strongly suggest you take a look at Sop Moei Arts. This is a famous shop that sells stylish modern pieces using traditional methods of the Karen people. Earthy tribal baskets, subtly hued woven wall hangings; it is visual bliss.
Walk Recommendation #3 Chiang Mai – An Oasis in the City
Located in the southwestern corner of the Old City, Suan Buak Haad Park is a lovely little surprise. It has a walking/cycling track and many nooks and crannies with sumptuous gardens that are perfect for a respite.
Your walk follows the edge of a large pond that is filled with shimmering golden fish that glisten in the tropical sun.
There is free exercise equipment along the path which uses your own weight for strength training.
This is a place for young and old, both for expats and the natives. This park is also great for people with mobility issues, and there are plenty of seats at regular intervals along the track.
When you finish exercising, you can sit and feed the fish, get a cheap massage, or indulge in a heavenly, hot chocolate at the cafe.
Regardless of where you land, walking does three great things: it calibrates your internal GPS, relaxes you, and makes you more confident living in your new host county. Sign up for free at TCI and gain access to our Alliance team members who are happy to answer your questions. Now, that’s relaxing thought for your expat planning, too, no?
by: Rachel Devlin