Doiin View Resort, Chiang Mai: Review

Doiin View is just 7 kilometres from Doi Inthanon National Park, and was the perfect base for a Doi Inthanon adventure.

It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Chiang Mai to Doin View. There's a map at the bottom of this post!

The cosy little huts at Doiin View are comfortable, well appointed and super clean. The dreamy white curtains blowing in the cool breeze and the wood floor and walls make the room feel cozy and magical. Our hut had aircon, a kettle, tea and coffee. The big bed had a crisp white duvet and nice pillows. In the private outdoor bathroom area there was a safe and a fridge. The only thing lacking was WiFi!

I love showering outside in the morning. There's something about being bathed in the dappled morning sunlight as I wash that really revitalises me. I adore the secret-garden feel of the outdoor bathroom, and the hot rain-shower is delightful. There are so many tropical plants surrounding you as you shower! I wish I could shower like this every morning. I can't think of many morning showers that beat this one!

Each hut is named after a plant, tree or flower found in the area. Our hut was called 'Fagraea Fragrans' and there was a little notice on the wall inside telling us all about it! I would have liked to stay in the hut named 'Herald Strumpet', though ;)

Because we went in low season, they weren't serving food at dinner time. I completely recommend driving left out of the entrance to the Doi In Shore restaurant, about 10 minutes away. Andy and I had pad si ew, buffalo wings, chicken cashew nut and beer. It was so good and the waitress/owner is really smart and lovely.

The staff at Doiin View are kind and friendly. We arrived a lot later than planned on Friday night, but they were accommodating and helpful.

The huts sit around a big green lawn in the middle of the resort, which is lined with bright flowers and dotted with pretty little trees. The atmosphere is peaceful and we loved drinking tea on our porch each morning before breakfast.

Sadly, we weren't impressed with Doiin View's breakfast. The first morning was cold eggy-bread made with 7-11 bread, cold scrambled eggs, mayo-heavy salad and 3-in-1 coffee. We told the management that we didn't love it, and requested fried rice for tomorrow's breakfast. Sadly, this too was served cold, and we had the same 3-in-1 coffee. Possibly this was because of it being low season. I think breakfast would be better received if they served muesli, fruit and yoghurt or something that is supposed to be served cold, and that way they wouldn't have to open the kitchen especially for breakfast. We think it's a better idea for travellers staying at Doiin View to buy breakfast from a nearby street-food vendor, or at a cafe after you go inside Doi Inthanon National Park.

Except for the breakfast and lack of WiFi, Doiin View was a delightful place to sleep while we were adventuring up Doi Inthanon mountain. Because we were so close, we beat the crowds of daytrippers and enjoyed taking it slow and having some of the attractions all to ourselves.

I always find that Agoda is the cheapest option for booking rooms in Thailand.

This map I made shows how to get to Doiin View Resort from Chiang Mai, and all the Doi Inthanon attractions we visited!

Keep exploring people :)
Posted by Amy Lou

Exploring Doi Inthanon, a Mountain near Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Inthanon looms higher than all other Thai mountains. It's such a super amazing adventure to drive to the peak!

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand

Thai people love to drive to the freezing(ish) peak of Doi Inthanon to experience phenomenons such as shivering, wearing ear muffs and warming their hands on cups of hot coffee. A journey up the slopes of Doi Inthanon reveals a mosaic of changing forest types, each one preferring a specific combination of elevation, soil, temperature and humidity. The plants, flowers, mosses and trees that make up the 'cloud forest' of Doi Inthanon are the same species as grow on the slopes of the Himalayas.

I'm in love with the way the mist swirls around me, making me feel like I'm in a dream. It takes about an hour and a half to get to Doi Inthanon on a motorbike from Chiang Mai. There's a map at the bottom of this post.

Doi Inthanon dream world:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
Dreamy mist adventure
We stayed at the lovely Doiin View, a stone's throw from the entrance to Doi Inthanon National Park. I definitely recommend staying here the night before your Doi Inthanon adventure, so you can get an early start and beat the crowds.

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand

On Saturday morning, we eagerly stepped out of our Doiin View hut.... into a downpour. Oh no! I'd forgotten my waterproofs and Andy's jacket wasn't going to keep both of us dry! The local 7-11 had sold out of ponchos, so Andy took a trip to Chomthong town centre to forage for waterproofs. He came back with this:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
I'm bringing sexy back.
After, we drove to the Park entrance. We have work permits, so the total cost for us both was 120 baht. If you don't have a work permit it will cost about 200 baht per person. We kept our eyes peeled for roadside attractions as we drove up the mountain. On the way up, we stopped off at loads of things.

Here I am, visiting one of the two royal pagodas:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
The only word to describe how it felt is... apocalyptic.
It was freaking freezing. I couldn't tell if it was drizzling, or just soooo misty, and our eyelashes and eyebrows were covered with dew drops. The mist certainly made driving feel adventurous.

Here's Andy at another stop, sharing a special moment with a creepy fireman statue:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
He said he felt live a movie character teaching a helpless female lead how to golf.
We stopped at a dramatic waterfall:

We followed signs to a handicraft shop and found an old lady weaving in a wooden house overlooking rice paddies:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand

We gratefully drank steaming 60 baht cappuccinos from the little coffee shack at the peak:

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
Probably the only place in Thailand where you absolutely won't want an iced cappuccino.
We found SO MUCH sphagnum moss:

My favourite experience of the day was the mini-walk at the top of the mountain, where I discovered that I *love* sphagnum moss! It holds more than 8 times its own weight in water, and can stay wet long after any surrounding soil has dried out. At Doi Inthanon, it blankets tree trunks, areas of soil and the railings of the trail. It's so soft and spongy, and the bright green colour in the dark misty cloud-forest is just spectacular. The Sphagnum Moss trail begins just over the road from the coffee shack at the peak of Doi Inthanon.

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
I have no idea whatsoever how to pronnounce 'sphagnum'. I think like 'magnum', but SPAGnum.
Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand

I felt like I was in Jurassic Park as I explored the forest in my highly camouflaging neon-orange and pink poncho combo:

There's another little trail on the same side of the coffee shack. It leads to a shrine where the bones of King Phra Chao Inthawichayanon are buried. He wanted to be buried here because he loved the mountain so much.

Doi Inthanon Chiang Mai Thailand
Definitely safe from T-Rexs in this. Definitely. They can only see you if you move so they definitely won't notice my glowing orange and pink face.

Here's a map.

It shows how to get to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai, where I stayed at Doiinn View and the stops I made on my journey up the mountain. If you want to see some real-life hill tribe villages, just drive up a few of the roads to nowhere and you'll find them!

Keep exploring people :)
Posted by Amy Lou

Sleeping with Putin in Pyur Otel, Chiang Mai: Review

Last night I slept with Vladimir Putin.

Pyur Otel is amazing.

This weekend 20 friends came together to celebrate Andy's birthday. We stayed at Pyur Otel, then met everyone to eat delicious food at Corner Bistro, followed by a fun evening of Glow In The Dark Bowling. We wanted to stay in the Kurt Cobain room (Andy's a massive Kurt fan), but only Putin and Bruce Lee were available. The correct choice was obvious.

Click on the photos for larger versions!

Pyur Otel is so cool.

Everything about it from the food to the decor is just SO cool. Downstairs is a cafe, bar and coffee shop called Ombra Caffe. The staff are super cool, but also really friendly and helpful. It's filled to bursting with wonderful, retro and crazy knick-knacks, like this statue of the former Chairman of the Communist Party of China:

The bar is full of liqueurs and they seem to especially love wine and Jack Daniels.

There are lots of places to sit and chill out with a coffee or get some work done... or, you know, look at cat videos....

Pyur Otel's breakfast is perfect.

The incredible breakfast is included in the price of a room, served in the Ombra Caffe and it's the best free breakfast I've ever had, anywhere. It's better than 90% of breakfasts I've paid extra for. Perfect coffee, freshly pressed carrot juice, croissant, mixed fruit with yoghurt and muesli, half a passionfruit, a tiny brownie and a tiny truffle. It was everything a breakfast should be and the *perfect* start to our Sunday.

A gorgeous morning view

Our Vladimir Putin room was a superior room on the top floor, and had a masssssive balcony shaded by lofty green bamboo and huge leafy trees. This was my view when I opened my eyes on Sunday morning:

Our lazy Sunday morning was drinking coffee, chatting, reading, taking photographs and blissing out in our room.

Stay there!

Seriously I can't recommend this place enough. It's beautiful, the staff are super friendly and speak great English, the food and drinks are perfect, it's in a great location between the Old City and Nimmanhemin. You can get the best rates on Agoda, here.

And finally, here's a map to Pyur Otel and Ombra Kafe. Enjoy!

Posted by Amy Lou

Recycle Creative review & a gorgeous mountain picnic in Chiang Mai

Oh my gosh I am a lucky girl!

This weekend me, Andy and our friends Eric and Ice drove to the top of Doi Pui mountain to test out three products from Recycle Creative.

Recycle Creative review

Beyond the famous Doi Suthep temple there's a beautiful campground high up the Doi Pui mountain. There's an incredible view of the city, it's way cooler than down in Chiang Mai city and you can even camp up there if you fancy it. In fact, I think it's one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai!

Recycle Creative has roots in Australia and here in Chiang Mai. I was kinda dubious about their products, because they're made out of old truck tyre inner tubes and old loom fabric. I thought they could possibly be a bit rubbish, despite looking so good on the website. But actually, they're really high quality products and it's obvious that a lot of care has gone into Recycle Creative's designs. I'm impressed.

Recycle Creative review

Recycle Creative's craftsmen-and-women are Chiang Mai locals who are paid a fair price for their work. They take materials that were destined for landfill and upcycle them to create beautiful new products. Gorgeous and environmentally-friendly... perfect.

They have a shop here at Ban Tawai in Chiang Mai (map below) and they deliver to several countries worldwide.

1. Recycled Loom Fabric Picnic Mat, ฿900

The recycled loom picnic mat is huge, thick and I adore the rainbow colours and pink edge. It rolls up like a giant sausage roll (mmm...) and is carried by the pink fabric handle. The fabric is woven quite tightly, so ants and spiders didn't crawl through the mat.

Recycle Creative review
My handsome models were kinda reluctant, haha!
It's really easy to unroll, and roll back up again.

Recycle Creative review

Verdict: My favourite Recycle Creative product. I adore this!

2. Bowling Ball Handbag, ฿1790

This rock-a-billy-esque handbag is like a tardis. We fit so much in that bag! All our food & drink, a book, a board-game and my scarf. It's definitely what you'd call roomy. It's made of truck tyre inner tube, the zip closes and opens smoothly and it feels durable, which is incredibly important to a girl like me.

Recycle Creative review

My only problem with this bag is that it's a really grown up lady's bag, so there's no long over-the-shoulder strap. I like to have my bag slung over my shoulder, so I don't have to worry about putting it down and forgetting it. I've never had a true handbag like this before, so it's taking some getting used to!

Verdict: Beautiful, but I wish it had a long handle!

3. Classic Pencil Case, ฿275

I adore this pencil case. It looks like the kind of pencil case a super-cool graphic designer would have. The price is great and it's got a beautiful clean, simple design, but it's the bright orange zip that really makes it awesome. Also, this isn't a girly product at all. Andy really wants to steal this from me, but he has no chance.

Recycle Creative review

I'm a teacher and I get through a LOT of pencil cases. They end up shabby and worn way too quickly. I have really high hopes for this though, because it's well crafted and made of truck tyre inner tube, which surely means it's really durable, right? I've been using it a lot and so far so good. At the picnic I used it to keep bits like mosquito repellent, sun cream and hand sanitiser in.

Verdict: Awesome and super-cool design

Recycle Creative review

Find Recycle Creative in Chiang Mai at the Ban Tawai craft village, here:

Posted by Amy Lou

Where to drink beer in Chiang Mai tonight

It's Friday!

Maybe you're a traveler in Chiang Mai and have spent the last few days tramping around the city's sights. Maybe you're a teacher and you need some after-work beers. Maybe you've been hunched over your laptop for way too long working on your e-commerce store.

Whatever, Fridays = beer.

Here's 6 of the best places to drink beer in Chiang Mai tonight - with a map!

Beer photo by Flickr creative commons user √Čole Wind

1. (House Of Beers) HOBs About Beer Lab

Good for the craft beer and fancy beer drinker.
This popular, delightful bar in trendy the Nimmanhaemin area stocks all of the beers. Draught beers include Leffe, Hoegaarden and Brew Dog and there seem to be hundreds of international bottled beers on the menu. HOBs epitomises the general atmosphere of Nimman - industrial / heavy wooden decor, arty hanging lightbulbs and perfectly designed menus. Need a snack with your beer? The Belgian fries are delicious. HOBs is pricey, but has a lovely atmosphere and premium drinks.

HOBs About Beer Lab's Facebook

2. UN Irish Bar

Good for the pub, beer garden and sports lover.
Guiness on tap (of course) and authentic pub food. I especially love the chicken and leek pie, and the brownie cheesecake is just.... insane, and plenty for 2 to share. If you like sport with your beer this is the place to go - 3 different screens showing different sport stuff like football, rugby, boxing and grand prix. Sitting in the beer garden in the late afternoon sunshine is perfect, especially if you're not all that into sport (like me!).

UN Irish Pub's Facebook

3. Archers

Good for beer and pub food lovers.
Smaller and cosy-er than U.N: Archers is a well-deserved popular spot to relax with a beer and eat authentic British pub food. The owner, his wife and their massive dog are really friendly. Friday nights is fish n chips and roll-the-dice beer offers.Every so often there's a party and there are regular promos.

Breakfasts here are raved about. You could also eat there tomorrow morning for a perfect Hangover Breakfast!
Archers Facebook

4. Beer Republic

Good for the beer connoisseur
A place for cool kids of all ages to drink their way through a massive menu of imported bottled beers and 15+ draught beers. If you're feeling hungry they offer a menu perfectly paired with selected draught beers. There's even a Beer Club to join, with perks like a free litre of beer on your birthday and Kill the Keg nights.
Beer Republic's Facebook

5. Roof Bar @ Maya and Think Park

Good for those wanting something a bit different.
Gaze down on the city from up high at the top of the Maya shopping mall. Sometimes live music plays and there are themed events every so often. They serve beer, mixers and cocktails and weird syringe drinks (I still don't know what they are though!). Opposite the Maya shopping mall is Think Park, which also has really delightful places to drink beer and listen to chill live music; just take a walk around. Think Park is popular with locals and non-thais alike.

6. JJ Market

Good for those who want to immerse themselves in Thai night-life culture
There are a lot less travelers over at the JJ Market area, but it's super popular with Thai people looking to drink beer and relax. An eclectic mix of bars line either side of the street and most have beer promotions. Some bars end up PACKED whilst others remain more relaxed. Just walk down the road till you find something you fancy.

Posted by Amy Lou

When you should look for teaching jobs in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I get lots of emails from people wanting to teach in Thailand asking me...

"When is the best time to look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai?"

This short post is dedicated to explaining the best times to look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai.

When to look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai
Black and white portrait by Flickr Creative Commons user Thiago Marques

It can really help your job search if you come at a time when lots of schools are looking for new teachers.

Schools in Chiang Mai look for new teachers to hire in...

1. February - March

At the end of term 2, schools are looking to hire foreign teachers, ready for term one. Term one usually starts in May after the long April holiday. There are the most jobs available at this time because a new school year is approaching. This is the best time to come and look for a job.

2. May - June

Every year a few newly hired teachers decide that teaching isn't for them and leave to do other things. This is great news for you, because now there are new teaching positions to fill.

3. August - November

A few teachers take the end of term one as an opportunity to move on, leaving you with more teaching positions to apply for.

December, January and the first half of April are the worst times to look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai, and indeed in all of Thailand. There are the least jobs available.

December and January are the first months of term 2, when the least number of teachers suddenly leave. The first half of April is Thai New Year (Songkran) and schools across Thailand are on holiday. If you've already booked your ticket, don't worry - there still might be job positions available... just not as many!

Good luck :)

 New Teachers: don't be freaked out by all the teaching jargon at your new job! 
Posted by Amy Lou

5 Wrong Expectations of Travelers Visiting Chiang Mai for the First Time

Sometimes travelers have misconceptions about Chiang Mai. I definitely did! These unfortunate cases of expectation versus reality can be avoided if you know what to expect - and where to find what you seek.

I was inspired to write this by Ranil Guarino's post about wrong expectations of visiting Palawan!

1. Chiang Mai is a quaint little town

There's nothing quaint about Chiang Mai! It's a great big exciting city, with so much to explore. Massive malls cast shadows over ancient Buddhist temples, and rickshaw drivers pedal past cocktail bars serving international standard mojitos and martinis. Super talented jazz bands play opposite the historical North Gate of Chiang Mai, people mosh in grotty rock bars, go to fancy pool parties and dine on rooftops.

Don't be discouraged! There are havens of quiet in the city. Rustic & Blue has a gorgeous garden to sit in, for example. Royal Flora Ratchaphruek just outside the city is huge and full of luscious flowers and trees. I love to hop on a motorbike to explore the countryside. The Samoeng Loop is a particularly lovely ride through green fields and rainforest. Chiang Dao, a few hours north, is just divine.

2. Thai street food is super healthy

Some Thai food is healthy, but a lot of Thai food is definitely not. My mum was so surprised when the street food we ate usually came with very few vegetables. The truth is, most street food that you'll come across really doesn't have much vegetable content, and most of it is fried in quite a lot of cheap oil... and it's overly salty and sugary.

Don't be discouraged! Eat street food for sure, it's delicious. But to get the super healthy food, juices and shakes in Chiang Mai that you're thinking of, spend a bit more at Pun Pun, Immaim, Anchan, Bird's Nest, Nice Kitchen and similar restaurants. Don't listen to anyone trying to berate you for not eating REAL LOCAL THAI FOOD. Eat wherever you want! The idea of 'local' Thai food in Chiang Mai is definitely changing, anyway. You'll see plenty of local Thais eating in restaurants with strictly 'foreign' menus, and in fusion restaurants that serve traditional Thai food with a modern twist such as Nasi Jumpru and Mixology.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user xiquinhosilva.

3. Thai people are gentle, friendly and welcoming.

It ain't called the Land of Smiles for nothing, right? Well... many Thai people are welcoming and friendly, but some simply aren't. Sometimes the smiles aren't genuine. For example, no matter how polite, calm and covered up you are, you'll definitely come across grumpy and sometimes rude staff in restaurants, accommodation and at tourist destinations. It's not just Thai staff - sometimes fellow foreigners can be rude. Forming real long-lasting friendships with locals in Thailand can be tricky. Of course, there's the language barrier - but there's also a pretty big cultural and societal barrier too.

Don't be discouraged! Make an effort every time. If you're rude, why would anyone be nice to you in return? Remember that Grumpy Thai staff almost certainly had to deal with ignorant and rude travelers before you came along and they're probably not paid enough to deal with their shit. If your best efforts to be respectful, speak Thai and be friendly fail, shrug it off and go somewhere else next time. There are lots of wonderful Thai and non-Thai people to meet and form friendships with. Don't waste your time with the rude ones.

Something I struggle with a lot is the fact that there is a high rate of domestic abuse against women in Thailand. It's hidden, but it exists. There's also a negative general opinion of hill tribe and minority groups and ignorance about non-Thai races.

Um... yeah, this is discouraging. But, my way of hopefully reducing the ignorance I encounter is... I choose to gently explain to my students in class why I don't like it when people laugh, make jokes, or are rude about others. It's a really tricky situation - I worry that my students might think I'm just a "privileged white girl trying to force her unwelcome views on others".... but I personally can't stand by and let my wonderful, smart, kind, lovely students think less of someone because they're not Thai, or white, or rich, most likely because they're parroting what they've heard and seen.

4. Chiang Mai is super safe

Crime happens in Chiang Mai. Don't be afraid, but don't be stupid. The most common kinds of crime encountered by travelers include petty theft, scamming and driving incidents. Drunk driving and aggressive driving is a problem on the roads of Chiang Mai. If you're involved in any incidents or accidents, as a foreigner you can end up in big trouble.

Don't be discouraged! Stay safe. Keep your wits about you. I heartily recommend taking risks and scaring yourself sometimes... except when it comes to driving. Please, wear a helmet, don't drive drunk and buy insurance that covers you to drive a motorbike or be a passenger on one. If you've never driven a motorbike before, go somewhere quieter to learn. Renting a bike in the city centre then driving straight onto the moat road as a newbie puts your life and others lives in danger. It will probably be fine, but what if it's not? Helmet-less parents drive helmet-less kids all over Chiang Mai... imagine if you killed a child? Imagine if you killed your passenger? Imagine if you killed anyone at all?

5. Chiang Mai is totally exotic, magical and beautiful

Occasionally, I'm reminded that whilst there are lots of exotic, magical and beautiful places and experiences in Chiang Mai, there are places that have zero magic. Seriously, zilch.

Paying my water and electricity bill is mundane and totally un-exotic. There's little beauty to be found at what-could-be stunning lakes covered in trash. When I've been trying to find a space to park my motorbike in the jam packed Maya carpark for the last twenty minutes... that feels pretty un-magical. Sometimes there just isn't magic in the air.

Don't be discouraged! It's easy to find the magic of Chiang Mai. If you find yourself wondering where the beauty is, hop on your motorbike and drive out into the countryside, play in waterfalls, peek around corners in traditional Thai temples and join in the local festivals. A clear night sky dotted with stars and fireflies in Chiang Dao is breathtaking, camping on top of Doi Suthep mountain is beautiful and jumping in the cool river at Ob Khan national park can't be beat.

Are any of these familiar to you?
Posted by Amy Lou

Meet Amy

I'm Amy! I've been blogging, writing & teaching in beautiful Chiang Mai for 3 years and I freaking love it.

If you like my blog, or even just find it kind of OK, please >LIKE< the My Chiang Mai Facebook page so I can sit magnificently on my MAGNIFICENT Queen Blogger throne.

Posts with much love ❤

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