Temple on the Hill, Tribe in the forest, and more in Chiang Mai || 10-Day Vacation in Thailand (Day 2)

Here are the previous posts in this series:  How we arrived on our itinerary  Visa on Arrival Mayhem  Mystery of the Missing Hotel Booking  Weekend Market and Various Wats   After a good night's sleep, we woke up fresh and eager to explore some more. On Day 1, we had booked a half-day tour to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe for Day 2 morning. The minivan was to pick us up between 8-8:30 from our hotel. We were ready by 7:30 and had breakfast at our Hotel, which was sausages, eggs, and toast for 80 Baht/person. We had our fill because we knew that the next opportunity to eat would be at around 2pm, once we were back from Doi Suthep.

Here are the previous posts in this series:
How we arrived on our itinerary


After a good night's sleep, we woke up fresh and eager to explore some more. On Day 1, we had booked a half-day tour to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe for Day 2 morning. The minivan was to pick us up between 8-8:30 from our hotel. We were ready by 7:30 and had breakfast at our Hotel, which was sausages, eggs, and toast for 80 Baht/person. We had our fill because we knew that the next opportunity to eat would be at around 2pm, once we were back from Doi Suthep. 

The minivan arrived at 8:30 and we were the second to be picked up. After that it went around Chiang Mai picking up other people for another hour or so. We did not really mind this because this gave us a chance to see more of Chiang Mai. By 9:30 we were on our way. We would first be going to Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe and then on our way back, we would stop at Doi Suthep. On this trip there were two options. Along with Doi Suthep, we could have either opted for Bhubing Palace, which is the Winter Residence of the Thai Royal Family, or Hmong Tribe. In our minivan, there were several people who had opted for Bhubing Palace. Our Minivan first dropped them at the palace and then proceeded to the village.



The minivan arrived at 8:30 and we were the second to be picked up. After that it went around Chiang Mai picking up other people for another hour or so. We did not really mind this because this gave us a chance to see more of Chiang Mai. By 9:30 we were on our way. We would first be going to Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe and then on our way back, we would stop at Doi Suthep. On this trip there were two options. Along with Doi Suthep, we could have either opted for Bhubing Palace, which is the Winter Residence of the Thai Royal Family, or Hmong Tribe. In our minivan, there were several people who had opted for Bhubing Palace. Our Minivan first dropped them at the palace and then proceeded to the village. 



En route, our guide gave us some context about the tribe. Apparently this was a settlement of people from China who had settled here in the mountains after the second world war. The tribe started growing opium in the 1950s. Because of the high altitude, opium was one crop that could be grown easily and could fetch good money. In 1959, cultivation of opium became illegal in Thailand, but it still continued here in the hills. In 1969, King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated a project to encourage the tribe to grow other cash crop and phase out the cultivation of opium. This, allegedly, gave the tribals a new lease of life.

En route, our guide gave us some context about the tribe. Apparently this was a settlement of people from China who had settled here in the mountains after the second world war. The tribe started growing opium in the 1950s. Because of the high altitude, opium was one crop that could be grown easily and could fetch good money. In 1959, cultivation of opium became illegal in Thailand, but it still continued here in the hills. In 1969, King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated a project to encourage the tribe to grow other cash crop and phase out the cultivation of opium. This, allegedly, gave the tribals a new lease of life. 



Very soon, we arrived at the tribal village and were told that we have half-an-hour to explore it, which, in retrospect, we feel is not enough. The part of the tribal village that you can explore in half-ha-hour is essentially just the market. I would have liked an opportunity to experience the Hmong culture and find out about their history, language, clothes etc. The market sells some "hand-made" goods at sky-high prices. We couldn't bring ourselves to buy anything from here. It was like throwing away money. Also, you will probably find many things in Chiang Mai markets too. Because of shortage of time, we were not able to visit the waterfall, the flower garden, the church. Nor were we really able to observe anything too unique about these people. Some were definitely in Hmong dresses, but they seemed more like costumes now than a way of life.

Very soon, we arrived at the tribal village and were told that we have half-an-hour to explore it, which, in retrospect, we feel is not enough. The part of the tribal village that you can explore in half-ha-hour is essentially just the market. I would have liked an opportunity to experience the Hmong culture and find out about their history, language, clothes etc. The market sells some "hand-made" goods at sky-high prices. We couldn't bring ourselves to buy anything from here. It was like throwing away money. Also, you will probably find many things in Chiang Mai markets too. Because of shortage of time, we were not able to visit the waterfall, the flower garden, the church. Nor were we really able to observe anything too unique about these people. Some were definitely in Hmong dresses, but they seemed more like costumes now than a way of life. 



In short, the visit to the Hmong Tribe is really nothing much to write home about. It seems like a way to lure tourists. Expectations are built by tour operators, but the visit itself is usually unsatisfactory. The only consolation was that the other option - the Bhubing Palace - too was boring apparently. People who had gone to see the Palace shared that they wished that they had instead opted for the tribe. Unless someone experiences both, there's no way to really compare. Though my gut feel says that both can be skipped.

In short, the visit to the Hmong Tribe is really nothing much to write home about. It seems like a way to lure tourists. Expectations are built by tour operators, but the visit itself is usually unsatisfactory. The only consolation was that the other option - the Bhubing Palace - too was boring apparently. People who had gone to see the Palace shared that they wished that they had instead opted for the tribe. Unless someone experiences both, there's no way to really compare. Though my gut feel says that both can be skipped.

In short, the visit to the Hmong Tribe is really nothing much to write home about. It seems like a way to lure tourists. Expectations are built by tour operators, but the visit itself is usually unsatisfactory. The only consolation was that the other option - the Bhubing Palace - too was boring apparently. People who had gone to see the Palace shared that they wished that they had instead opted for the tribe. Unless someone experiences both, there's no way to really compare. Though my gut feel says that both can be skipped.  



All of us then headed to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This is a Buddhist temple on the hills, and is pretty much like all other Wats. But to reach it, you need to climb up >200 stairs and the terrace offers an excellent view of the Chiang Mai city. You can also see the entire airstrip and watch planes take off and land. It is a good place to spend a couple of hours. But we had only 40 minutes. So we did our best.

All of us then headed to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This is a Buddhist temple on the hills, and is pretty much like all other Wats. But to reach it, you need to climb up >200 stairs and the terrace offers an excellent view of the Chiang Mai city. You can also see the entire airstrip and watch planes take off and land. It is a good place to spend a couple of hours. But we had only 40 minutes. So we did our best.

All of us then headed to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This is a Buddhist temple on the hills, and is pretty much like all other Wats. But to reach it, you need to climb up >200 stairs and the terrace offers an excellent view of the Chiang Mai city. You can also see the entire airstrip and watch planes take off and land. It is a good place to spend a couple of hours. But we had only 40 minutes. So we did our best. 



When we were there, Doi Suthep was crowded. Apparently this is also the season when a lot of local Thai Tourists visit the temple. So it was difficult to click pictures and we had to wait a lot to get a frame without another human being photo-bombing it. It was miracle we made it to the meeting place in time and the minivan could immediately leave for Chiang Mai.

When we were there, Doi Suthep was crowded. Apparently this is also the season when a lot of local Thai Tourists visit the temple. So it was difficult to click pictures and we had to wait a lot to get a frame without another human being photo-bombing it. It was miracle we made it to the meeting place in time and the minivan could immediately leave for Chiang Mai. 



After the Minivan dropped us at our hotel, we decided to freshen up a bit and head out for lunch, for we were starving again. The heavy breakfast had kept us going so far, but now we needed more fuel. We had also planned out the rest of our day and decided to head in the direction of the Warorot Market. We would be walking past the Three Kings Monument and a few Wats too.

After the Minivan dropped us at our hotel, we decided to freshen up a bit and head out for lunch, for we were starving again. The heavy breakfast had kept us going so far, but now we needed more fuel. We had also planned out the rest of our day and decided to head in the direction of the Warorot Market. We would be walking past the Three Kings Monument and a few Wats too. 



More on Day 2 in another post. Sometimes the most beautiful places in a city aren't the ones that are talked about the most. And sometimes you discover that a small street-side restaurant can provide you the satisfaction that not even a michellin-star one can. All this and much more in the next post.

More on Day 2 in another post. Sometimes the most beautiful places in a city aren't the ones that are talked about the most. And sometimes you discover that a small street-side restaurant can provide you the satisfaction that not even a michellin-star one can. All this and much more in the next post. 

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -   1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins. 2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.  3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.  4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.  5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite


If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 
4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite


If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -   1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins. 2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.  3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.  4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.  5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

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