(December 6, 2010) Chiang Mai and flight to Phuket
This day is for exploring Chiang Mai. We’ll visit the most
relevant temples in the city and complete our visits with Doi Suthep
and Tiger Kingdom whether by taxi or tuk tuk. The idea is lunching at
Tiger Kingdom where they offer a cheap buffet. At evening we will go to
the airport to take our flight to Phuket at 9:30 PM for crossing the
country, North to South. We will arrive late, at 11:30 PM, where we
only will reach our hotel and sleep.
This morning is for resting, so we are in bed
until the breakfast time allows. When we finish I ask to hotel desk for
the best way to go to Doi Suthep and he answers me it is by taxi and
the price is 1000 Bahts. I’m shocked as that was my calculation for the
expense for the all the transportation today. When he answers me this
rate is for a return journey I explain I don’t want to come back
directly, but visiting Tiger Kingdom and lunching there and he, after a
short call, answers me it is going to be 1500 Bahts. I say no, but he
tells me cannot cancel the taxi as it is already coming. I’m thinking
about he is looking after a commission here and we tell we want to go,
but he convince us to wait for the taxi driver. When he arrives I tell
him directly we want to cancel the service because we think it is
expensive but he, after a short talk with the receptionist, offers 1000
Bahts and we accept it.
upset as we’re accepted more because of the
pressure than our true will as I’ve read a tuk tuk to Doi Suthep is
about 300 or 400 Bahts and it never would be as far as 1000 Bahts going
from there to Tiger Kingdom but, at least, we’re comfortable in a car
with air conditioning.
When we reach the top of the mountain where the
temple is sited our taxi driver points us where he is going to wait for
us. We know one of the highlights here is the beautiful staircase, but
it has got more than 300 steps, so we go to the funicular: admission
fee to the temple is 30 Bahts and funicular 20 more, so 100 Bahts later
(about 2€) we’re in the temple.
On the top there are amazing views of the city and
around but the fog is preventing us of part of it. The area is crowded
and there are some festivals, with attractions and dances. There is a
row of people just for ringing the bells, with low tone, and you must
take your shoes off for getting into the temple, where there is a
beautiful golden chedi and other Buddhist icons with a lot of people in
We choose going down using the crowded staircase, with two
long and colorful snakes at both sides. Then we keep walking down to
the spot where the taxi is waiting for us. In our way, my wife wants to
ask for the price of a bamboo parasol, the same we already purchased in
Khao San Road, in the street market. My advice is not doing it as I
already know it is going to be quite lower and want to save her of
being upset about it. But curiosity is stronger and the seller asks 150
Bahts for it. And without any bargaining! So we can easily say those
500 Bahts we paid for it is like 5 times its real price.
We finally meet our taxi driver and go to Tiger
Kingdom. In the way he explains King’s birthday is three bank holydays
in a row, which explains the amount of local people in Doi Suthep on
despite of being Monday.
After 20 minutes driving we’re delivered at Tiger
Kingdom’s door and we’re told he is going to wait for us there. I
recall to him we’re going to take several time as we’re going to lunch
here too, but he answers it is ok and he’ll wait for us just there. Eva
thinks he is going to take us to the hotel by the same price but I
cannot believe on that as it is out of the deal, although I’m sure
he’ll wait for us as we still must pay.
There are a bunch of packages for visiting tigers
here and we finally take the one including smalls, big and babies by
1200 Baht each, so we’re going to only miss the medium ones. The
package let us save 150 Bahts.
We’re taken into the reserved area for the ones
who are going to be with the tigers and wait in the middle of the
different areas with a Spanish family. It seems we’re going to start
with the big cats, but we finally are taken to the small ones first. My
first words here are: “These are the small ones?!!” They are the ones
in the picture above and below at left.
As they’re nocturnal animals, they’re mostly
sleeping at this time of midday. That’s why I’ve read the best time to
visit them is early in the morning or at late afternoon, as they’re
more active, but the buffet lunch here convinced us to come at this
time. On despite of that, the caretakers do their best on keeping
active the awaken ones and you can end hugging whether the slept or the
The visit for cubs works different: they’re in a room with
roof. Eva was lucky enough as per petting one of the babies (which are
already bigger than any big cat) it wakes up and groans, which seems to
be the sign for the caretakers it’s time to be feed and let my wife to
use the feeding bottle.
When leaving the area we could see the youngest cubs, with
just a few days of live, through the opened window, inside a building.
We take the photo below with full zoom. One of them growls to us
and it seems the fiercest of all the tigers today.
This place is expensive for Thailand standards but it is so
unique and wonderful experience that this visit must be a must-do.
Once back in the common area we go upstairs to
lunch in the buffet, with views to the tigers, by 200 Baht per person.
When we finish our taxi driver is there waiting for us. I was expecting
some king of offer or proposal, but he only asks us where we want to
go. I show the two temples, in Chiang Mai city, we want to visit and he
takes us to both: Wat Phra Sing and Wat Chedi Luang; and then back to
It’s only then when I realize we had hired a taxi
for the whole day by 1000 Baht, which is really good.
Wat Phra Sing is a complex with various temples
and beautiful buildings.
Wat Chedi Luang is also a complex, but the buildings are
around a big chedi made with stone and looking old. Its shape recalls a
Mayan pyramid to me. There are a lot of monks around, wearing the
typical orange clothes, and the buildings are looking different, in
shape and color, each other. The snakes in the doors are not nagas, so
they must be another mythological animal.
Curiously we’ve got a taxi for the whole
day a day with a lot of spare time, it is a pity. Anyway, we spend the
time in hotel’s lobby, using internet and taking some drinks. We also
go for a one hour’s massage later nearby.
The visited spots today, marked on the map, are:
0- Banthai Village
1- Doi Suthep
2- Tiger Kingdom
3- Wat Phra Sing
4- Wat Chedi Luang
We finally leave at dark in a taxi to the airport,
which is 180 Bahts. Our Air Asia flight to Phuket is just perfect.
When we’re waiting for our baggage I go to the
exit just for seeing our transfer options. It’s too late for regular
buses so I’m expecting some kind of abuse from the taxis, but I find a
stand for a transfer service in 10 person vans leaving everybody at
their hotel by 100 Baht per person. It leaves when the van is full and
I take my tickets with no second thoughts before coming back with the
people waiting in the baggage claim of our flight. I did it right this
time, what it was unexpected is the strong rain outside.
We reach our hotel, in Phuket town, so late and go
directly to bed. We previously decided not taking the 8:30 AM ferry,
but the one after it in order to get the needed rest.