With precious little time in the day left after the flight, spend it only at the best. Marndadee Brasserie (9 Moo 1, Khuamung, Sarapee) is a beautiful riverside restaurant with views of Ping river. Located in the award-winning Marndadee Heritage River Village boutique hotel, it houses an eclectic collection of antiques and art and is flanked by traditional rice barns and colonial-style buildings. The fish dishes are a must-try — the restaurant often cooks with fresh catches from the river.
Start the day with a spiritual trip to Doi Suthep mountain, where Wat Phra That (Mueang Chiang Mai District) sits. Located just 15km from Chiang Mai via a scenic winding mountain road, it offers breathtaking views of the city. Then, head to Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand with an elevation of 2,565m, in Doi Inthanon National Park. After some time spent with nature, the city beckons. Gallery hopping at Nimmanhaemin Road can easily take up the whole afternoon. My favourite is Gallery Seescape (22/1 Nimmanhemindra Soi 17, T. Suthep), a community space shared by local artists. For a break, the city's vibrant cafe culture offers countless options. Espresso lovers can head to Akha Ama (9/1 Mata Apartment, Hussadhisewee road, Soi 3) for their shot of caffeine. For dinner, head to The Service 1921 Restaurant and Bar (123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Changklan, Muang) at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort. Occupying a colonial house in the hotel's compound, the restaurant revives the building's heydays as the party location of choice for Chiang Mai's social elite.
Round up your trip with visits to the more important temples in Chiang Mai. The ancient Wat Chedi Luang (103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Muang District) was built around 1400 and used to house the famous Emerald Buddha (which is really of jade or jasper) that is now in Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. A replica, in black jade, now sits in its place. To the west of Chiang Mai's old city is Wat Phra Singh (Mueang Chiang Mai District), which dates back to 1345. Besides being a classic example of northern Thai architecture, it is also the home of Phra Singh Buddha. It is widely considered one of the best examples of religious art from Thailand's Lanna era. Make time for one last treat at the Thai Royal Orchid Spa (Concourse D, level 3) at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. All holders of a Royal Silk or Royal First class ticket are entitled to a complimentary massage. Then, fuel up for the journey home with refined versions of popular street food and Thai favourites at the Royal Silk Lounge.
Thai Airways provides easy connections to Chiang Mai, which is known for its many temples, world-class resorts and rich handicraft legacy. For more information, click here.
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