Ask anybody who has visited Chiang Mai and most will agree that it’s a laidback kind of place. People take the time to stop and smile and to ask how you are. Life here can be so relaxed that every day feels like a Sunday. But there are some pursuits unique to Sundays that I really look forward to…
Every Sunday throughout the year, come rain or shine, there is the famous walking street market, stretching for about half a mile along the main street that runs through the old city. What I love about this market is that most of the goods are locally made and full of authentic northern Thai charm. It’s a great showcase for local art and talent. You’ll find all sorts here…trinkets and tribal bags…vibrant parasols and colorful fans…wooden lamps…canvas paintings… And there’s serious bargains to be had too, with most goods on offer ranging in price from as little as 80 cents up to around $30. The street market is also a great place to sample the local cuisine, you’ll find vendors selling everything from grilled octopus balls to mango sticky rice.
Sunday in Chiang Mai is also buffet day when restaurants offer everything from English roasts to Chinese dim sum. I am spoiled for choice when it comes to the dishes on offer. But my favorite Sunday buffet option can be found at the German restaurant Auf der Au which offers an all-you-can-eat buffet for only $8. They serve an amazing array of German food from schnitzels to bratwurst to Black Forest cake. My expat German friends love coming here as the food is so authentic.
When I want to escape the city, one of my favorite places to go is Wat Phra That Doi Kham, which means ‘Temple of the Golden Mountain’. You’ll find this quaint little temple perched on a lush and forested hillside about six miles southwest of the city.
As I stand at the foot of the hill, towering trees form a curtain like entrance to the forest trail that leads me to the summit. As I climb, the only sounds I hear are the crackle of dried leaves beneath my feet and the occasional coo from a passing bird. I know I have nearly reached the top when I catch a glimpse of the golden nagas (mythical serpent creatures) that adorn the paved steps leading to the temple entrance.
Upon arrival at the top, I turn to take in the most spectacular 180-degree view overlooking Chiang Mai. I can even see the faint outline of Chiang Mai’s airport and its runway.
Walking through a white-walled courtyard, lined with various Buddha images, golden bells, and shrines, I am greeted by the temple’s most noticeable feature–a towering 56-foot sitting Buddha. For me, this temple is a little oasis of tranquility where I can recharge on nature and fresh air. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.