Guesthouses Near Shambhala In Your Heart Festival, Chiang Dao, Thailand

Are you looking for somewhere to sleep near Shambhala In Your Heart Festvial?

I've been getting emails asking for my recommendations of guesthouses near Shambhala in Your Heart Festival, Chiang Dao. You can always take a tent and camp, but if guaranteed sleep is important to you, stay in a guesthouse nearby (please don't drive a motorbike back to your guesthouse if you're drunk).

They're booking out fast so get a move on.

1. Chiang Dao Nest 1 and 2

Rates: 745 - 2995 THB, depending on the accommodation size.

Cabin at Nest 1
One of the gorgeous huts at Chiang Dao Nest. Photo from their website.

Chiang Dao Nest is my favourite place to stay in Chiang Dao. The two locations are five minutes away from each other. Nest 2 has aircon and the restaurant serves delicious Thai food. Nest 1 has no aircon, a swimming pool, ping pong tables and the restaurant serves incredible fine-dining international food. You can use the Nest 1 facilities even if you stay at Nest 2. The comfortable beds have a heap of blankets and pillows to keep you warm, and the duvet covers are this gorgeous cotton trimmed with lanna embroidery. The showers are hot and they provide hand-made soap, kaffir-lime shampoo and great big fluffy white towels.

The views from both locations are stunning. At breakfast time the mist rolling over the mountain towering above you is, simply, breathtaking. There's a friendly fat pug dog that shuffles around the place called Mr Bones, he's the cutest thing I've ever seen. SO SNUFFLY. The waitresses are really, really friendly and happy to help you out with speaking Thai. The general atmosphere of Nest 1 and 2 is incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating, and I can't recommend this place enough. Go!

2. Chiang Dao Hut

Rates: 326 - 2974 THB gets you a range of accommodation from a simple hut up to a family house.

Cute little houses at Chiang Dao Hut. Photo from Chiang Dao Hut's Facebook page.

Chiang Dao Hut is my second-favourite place to stay in Chiang Dao. The simple, cheap huts have a private balcony with a lanna-style sofa and a hammock. We spend our evenings here lying in hammocks and drinking wine by candlelight when there isn't a festival to go to. The cheapest huts have shared bathrooms, but get a superior one and you get your own private hot shower (which is so lovely to warm up in the cold Chiang Dao mornings!).

The restaurant area is full of teak wood furniture and hill-tribe fabric cushions, with huge tables to eat food or read at. There's a special Thai instrument hanging up in the restaurant, a kind of Thai violin. I had a go... let's just say I need practice.

3. Chiang Dao Privacy Resort

Rates: 1600 - 3400 THB, depending on the accommodation.

The Tarzan House. Wowwww! Photo from the resort's website.

Chiang Dao Privacy Resort is kinda new and each house has an imaginative, evocative name. The Tarzan House could definitely spark a couple's imagination (you know exactly what I mean), and it's way away from the other houses, so you can, you know, turn your TV up really loud. Then there's the beautiful Banana House, Rose Apple House and 2-bedroom Rambutan House left to choose from if wild Tarzan sex chilling in loin-cloth isn't for you.

If you want to get up close and personal with the beautiful Chiang Dao countryside, this is the place to be. The sun rise over the fields and trees right outside your door is magical. They cook using vegetables from the chemical-free vegetable plots onsite and there's plenty of space to make a campfire. If you're interested, the owner can arrange a course for you to learn rice sowing, planting and harvesting. The showers are nice and hot, toiletries are provided and there's a fridge and TV in every room.

Please note that this accommodation is further away from the festival than the other places I've recommended. Only stay here if you're comfortable driving the extra distance.

4. Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows

Rates: 100 baht camping, or 650 - 2300 THB depending on how big the house is.

The welcoming entrace to Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows. Photo from their Facebook page.

We've stayed at Malee's a few times. The huts are rather basic and could do with a makeover, but it's OK for a night. The showers are usually cold, but one time we asked for a hot shower and they replaced the gas canister behind the hut. The Honeymoon House is pretty, but more expensive.

There's a tiny pool to splash about in, and the owners take their gardening seriously: everywhere is dripping with luscious tropical flowers, including orchids. Malee's is well-known for its bird-watching expeditions, so stay here if birds are your thing.

5. Chiangkham Luang Resort (for flashpackers!)

Rates: 2150 - 3655 THB

Such rustic. Photo from their Facebook page.

Chiangkham Luang Resort is gorgeous. The fancy huts are dotted throughout a large park area and the restaurant serves top-class food. As you'd expect, every room is decked out with a TV, fridge, aircon, fancy toiletries and towels. The wi-fi is kinda slow though, so it's not so great for watching videos of cats in your downtime.

There's a gym (ha, like I would ever use that on a holiday), sauna and steam room and different kinds of massages to experience.

It's all super-clean and the resort is operated to produce as little pollution as possible whilst still catering to their guests needs for aircon. If you want to have a much more luxurious festival experience, stay here.
Friday, 23 January 2015
Posted by Amy Lou

Yearning for isolated beaches...

It's been a busy day at work today.

I lost my cool with one of my rowdier classes; a rare occurrence that startles me as much as the students. The three strikes hadn't worked, moving ringleaders away from their friends hadn't worked, and not one group had completed the posters that we were supposed to be using today, thus ruining my plans for the rest of the class. They had plenty of time to finish them in the previous class, but didn't, which is the only reason why they had homework in the first place.

Of course I had a back-up lesson just in case, but today the fact that they didn't care at all about not having finished their poster really annoyed me.

Sure, they listened after they realised I was serious and angry. I made it clear to them that the fun lessons they get from me should not be taken advantage of, and the lesson was salvaged and in fact ended in fairly good spirits. But still, I left the class with a bad taste in my mouth and a crazy-strong desire to escape into my own world. I sat in the sun outside and read my book.

Then, I read some travel blogs and developed a serious case of wander-lust.

I want to be somewhere mostly alone, for a little while. 

After a month or maybe longer, I'd come home to beautiful Chiang Mai. The vibrant city and the culture within it that I am enchanted by, frustrated by, hurt by, healed by and generally in love with. Ready to show unbounded love to all of my students, even the ones that I sometimes want to throw out of the window. Ready to hang out, meet new people, laze around in the park, eat pizza in a fancy Italian restaurant, go to the cinema and dance drunkenly to a rock band all night.

But right now, I'm seriously craving a quiet beach life for a while.

I want to go to a difficult-to-reach island and sit under a tree on a beach that hasn't been rearranged by humans much. I want to swim alone in a warm clear ocean, and kayak on a river by myself. I want to dive into a freezing pool in the forest after hiking in burning sun, and eat local, freshly cooked food, and hear nothing but island-life and nature. Maybe there'd be a little outdoors cafe that I could get coffee in, a restaurant serving healthy sandwiches and salads. I don't want an airport, casinos, massive hotels, skybars and golf resorts. I want a clean bed in a hut, with an outdoor bathroom and not much else. I even miss the massive lizard that terrorised me the last time I stayed in a beach-hut, a little bit.

I'm under no illusion - I know perfectly well that I wouldn't want to live in the middle of nowhere forever. I'm completely against the toxic resentment of tourists and I know that I myself am one of the tourists that I'm currently wanting to escape from. I know that simply by visiting an 'untouched' island I'm contributing to the demise of its nature and native culture. The difficult journeys on the buses, in the vans and fisherman boats will one day change to a direct airport-to-island tourist delivery system. I know I have it good, and I love my job and the students that I shouted at today. You don't need to point out any of these things to me, I know, I know.

Leave me to my dreams of paradise today.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Posted by Amy Lou

Busted: The Thai ESL student who tried to slip something past me!

So today, a student finally handed in their New Year poster. 

We'll call him Johnny. The assignment was to finish the sentence "This year, I want to..." with a few ideas. Lovely, smart, totally-not-a-bad-boy Johnny had written:

"This year, I want to read more read more books, play a computer game every day, read hentai with my friend and learn how to bake a cake."

So, somehow, I totally know what hentai is. Don't Google it if you're at work or of a sensitive disposition! FYI, it's Japanese anime porn. Obviously, Johnny had no idea that I know what hentai is and wanted to have a little joke with his friends. Haha. Haha. Hahahahaha :D

Me:         So, what's hentai then?" *curious face*
Johnny:  .......... cartoons, teacher." *totally straight-faced*
Me:         Oh really? What kind of cartoons?"
Johnny:  It's.......... anime, teacher." *still straight-faced!*
Me:         Oh, right. What happens in these hentai anime cartoons?"
Johnny:  Um......... um............" *starts getting red*
Me:         ................I know what hentai is.

Finally, all his friends who had been holding in their laughter gasped and let it all out. "You know hentai teacher!?" Utter disbelief. I just raised my eyebrow. It really was hilarious, poor Johnny didn't have a clue what to say.

Me:         It's cool, you're a young guy... but this is inappropriate for school. Change it, because this poster is going on the wall.
Johnny:  OK teacher. Sorry.
Me:         Nevermind, eh.

Phew, I think I handled it well!  ^___^

Monday, 19 January 2015
Posted by Amy Lou

Finlay House Hostel Chiang Mai: Review

I am a last-minute kinda girl.

I booked my New Year's accommodation on December 30th.

So, there was almost NOTHING left on Agoda. Oops. No private rooms, only dorms. A dorm room on New Year's Eve? Urgghh.... But I had no choice. So, throwing all caution to the wind, I chose a brand new dorm room for us that didn't even have any reviews yet.

You know what? It was awesome.

Finlay House on Loi Kroh Road, Chiang Mai was one of the nicest hostels I've stayed in. It was super-clean. There were small personal lockers for each person staying in the room. The beds were comfortable! They had soft white duvets and pillows on! There was a personal soft-glow reading light next to every bed. There was a clean fluffy towel each, drawers to put our stuff in, a big mirror and hooks to hang stuff on. There was powerful aircon. Andy and I stayed in the blue mixed-sex three-bed dorm room, and happily had it to ourselves. The rooms are cute and kitsch and I would totally stay here again!

photo from Finlay House's facebook page

The staff were really friendly. They had put out massive plates of pad thai, chicken nuggets, salad, fruit, french fries etc to celebrate New Year's Eve. And they gave a sparkly party hat to everyone! It was a really nice start to our New Year celebrations. There's a nail bar in the front part of the hostel, which is kinda weird, but pretty cool? I've never had my nails done before... I wanted to get sparkly ones for New Year, but I spent the time drinking tequila instead, oops.

The nail bar! Photo from

Posted by Amy Lou

So, we just invented a meme...

I sit next to a man at work. Today, he was pulling weird faces, so I asked if he was doing an interpretive dance. He said "Of course. Life is a dance."

A little while later he followed it up. "But, sometimes, I lose the rhythm".


Together, we came up with this:

Sweet eh!?

Life's a dance, but sometimes I lose the rhythm. True.

Thursday, 15 January 2015
Posted by Amy Lou

Prestige CM Residence, Chiang Mai: Review

A brand spanking new hotel has recently opened in Chiang Mai. Andy and I keep going back, because...

Every room in the hotel has a massive, sexy bathtub.

The kind of bathtub that two people can fit into easily. And the water is HOT if you don't turn the tap on too much. Perfect.

Prestige CM Residence is on Huay Kaew road, and is perfect for staying near Nimmanhaemin and Maya, without the Nimman price-tag.


Andy and I stay in this hotel when we go for a big night out in the city and need somewhere to stumble drunkenly back to.

Do you know how hard it is to find an affordable hotel in Chiang Mai with a bath tub?

We actually stayed here for New Year's Eve, and I bought fancy peppermint bubblebath and rose petals from Worawot flower market.......... bliss.

There's a huge window through to the bedroom too, sexy.

My bath had a mountain of bubbles and a ton of deep pink petals. This photo is from :)

Posted by Amy Lou

Be a Workout Warrior with Zalora

Zalora are an online fashion retailer, and I've just teamed up with them. They've offered me the chance to win clothes and giveaways for my readers, woo :)

The challenge: Be a Workout Warrior in 2015! Tell us your workout plans and what you'd wear to work out in.

Crap. 'Workout warrior' definitely wouldn't be two words used to describe me. I don't run, I don't go to boot camps, I love swimming but never quite find the time and despite living in Chiang Mai I still haven't managed to find my way into a yoga class. What kind of workout warrior am I? Um..................

I started 2014 with the best intentions...

Swimming every day slowly morphed into splashing around doing handstands in the pool every so often. My 4 Hour Body Diet was totally sabotaged when I returned to England for a month of wine, cheese and homemade cake.

After getting back to health-conscious Chiang Mai, I embarked on a painful - but genuinely rewarding (for a while) - journey with Shaun T's T-25. The 25 minute workouts changed into 25 minutes of pointless flailing around and the best part about it was the sugar in the electrolyte recovery drinks I downed afterwards.

Low-carb paleo lasted for quite a while, but who can resist rice in Thailand? And Butter is Better does such good cake and lemon meringue pie...

Could 2015 finally be the year when I kick my ass into gear?

Hell yeah. Why am I so certain? Because I'll get healthier by doing things I like, or think I'd like. No more killing myself with painful exercise routines. Gentle changes to my lifestyle has to be the best way, right? Here's my plan:

Juice-diet often, eat healthily with limited carbs, cake and meat.*
Dance twice a week. (I currently go once a week)
Go to yoga classes, finally.

And, here's an important personal side note: *Don't feel guilty when you have cake occasionally.

So, Zalora, here's my perfect work out outfit from your sportswear range:

Red Nike tank 990THB, graphic Nike sweater 1,790 THB, Nike running capris 1,850 THB, Reebok Fury running shoes 2,940 THB, stripey sports bra 1,390 THB and metallic Nike bag 2,565 THB

Nice eh?

It's quite a fancy upgrade from my Jurassic Park t-shirt and leggings. That backpack is freaking amazing: silver metallic!?

Barriers to fitness

It's hard for me to stick to my health and fitness goals, especially when I go on holiday. Even just a weekend away. I associate holidays with relaxation and good (unhealthy) food. And here in Thailand there's always exciting new food to try! Any fitness kick I've been sticking to suddenly ends up at the bottom of my priority list, where it's easy to just forget about it altogether - I figure that I can just carry on when I get back. But, I don't always pick up where I left off. I also am a bit frightened to go to a yoga class, that I imagine to be full of super-healthy vegans easily maneuvering themselves into pretzels.

So I created a Personal Motivation Mantra to keep me on-track with my fitness goals:

*looks for yoga classes in Chiang Mai...*

Do you have 2015 fitness goals?

P.S. Check out this Listicle full of workout mantras; they're awesome. This one below has to get a special mention too! Haha, so true.

Love it!
Photo from Pinterest;
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Posted by Amy Lou

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