In 2014 we set off on a Year of Nomadic Family Travel and it has been one of the best experiences in our lives. It was all about change, risk, adventure, and discovery. We took, what some would consider, a crazy leap of faith, and although we can’t say what the future holds, we wouldn’t change a thing. The experiences that we’ve had in the last year are more than most could hope for in a lifetime. We are amazed and so grateful when we look back on it all.

When you decide to travel long-term, many wonderful experiences lay before you, but you must also be willing to leave behind the comforts of home and loved ones. We enjoy seeing what everyone is up to on Facebook and scheduling calls with friends and family, but the absolute best treat is hosting friends while traveling abroad. We love it when people come to visit.

It was a bit overcast when we visited Wat Chedi Luang yesterday, but even with the cloudy skies, it was simply stunning. This was our second visit to this temple complex. The moment I saw it for the first time, I told myself that we’d need to return. Not only because the batteries on my camera had just died, but because it was the kind of place that overwhelms you with its grandeur and beauty.

Thailand is HOT! What better way to beat the heat than to treat yourself to some gourmet ice cream in a fun and creative setting? Iberry was established in 1999 by two brothers out of Bangkok. Their commitment to quality natural ingredients, development of more than 100 tasty recipes, and quirky design has resulted in great success. There are now 11 branches of iberry shops around Thailand.

If you’ve traveled in Europe and toured several cathedrals, then you probably noticed that after a while they all start blending together and your bar for “being impressed” keeps getting higher. Well, the same thing can happen when you’ve visited several wats (Buddhist temples) in Thailand. After a while, you see and appreciate the beauty, but they can all start looking pretty similar. That’s what makes visiting Wat Sri Suphan such a wonderful and unexpected experience. 

After our stroll through Chiang Mai’s Wat Kate area, we needed a place to cool off and rest. We happened upon the Vieng Joom On Teahouse and decided to pop in for a refreshing drink. What a wonderful surprise! The decor is beautiful and the selection of teas and drinks make for a perfect afternoon treat. It was a bit on the pricey side (for Chiang Mai), but that’s not surprising considering the location and the setting. We felt that it was definitely worth the splurge.

We decided to head over to the east side of the Ping River for lunch today. Afterward we decided to stroll through the Wat Kate Neighborhood, south of Kaew Nawarat and east of Charoen Rat.

If you spend most of your time in or near the moat or in the Nimman neighborhood, then this area will seem tranquil and green by comparison. You will find plenty of cute shops and restaurants to visit though. Here are a few things that caught our eye along the way.

A couple of our Thai friends offered to take us on day trip. We visited the beautiful Wat Phrathat Haripunchai temple in Lamphun, just outside of Chiang Mai. This temple is one of the most famous temples in Northern Thailand. The chedi is said to be built on the site of Queen Chamadevi’s palace. Construction on the chedi probably began in the late ninth century, but it was enlarged at the beginning of the 12th century.

Chiang Mai’s “Chinatown” and Warorot Market are both worth a visit and you can do both easily in just one day. The Warorot Market, locally referred to as Kad Luang (big market), is located in Chiang Mai’s Chinatown district, so it’s a two-for-one. The market is comprised of a sprawling 3-story covered market as well as a series of street markets that spread out on both sides of Chang Moi Road and cover an area roughly between Ratchawong, Tha Pae Road and the River. It’s just north of Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar.

We visited a beautiful and extensive garden at the edge of Chiang Mai, just down the road from the Night Safari, called the Royal Park Rajapruek. It boasts almost 200 acres of gorgeous scenery and 2800 different plant species. Because of the large scale, bike rentals are available and, for less active travelers, an electric bus is available to take you around.

Most people visiting Thailand have “riding elephants” on their to-do lists. We were no exception. There’s been much debate about whether it’s cruel or right to visit elephant camps in Thailand and we certainly weren’t oblivious or indifferent to the concerns. In fact, we did a fair amount of independent research before deciding to move forward with our plans and selecting a destination that focused on providing a sanctuary for rescued elephants. You can read more about some of our thoughts on the broader topic here.

When in Chiang Mai, one can’t help but notice numerous advertisements for zipline jungle adventures. At last count, we noticed posters for at least 4 different zipline companies – all vying for the tourist dollar. Wanting a little adventure and a good activity to entertain our 8 year old and a visiting friend, we decided to go with Flying Squirrels Zipline Adventure.

We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand two weeks before the Songkran festival began. As traveling Farang (foreigners), we had heard about the soaking we were soon to receive. Songkran has become known in the contemporary world, especially to travelers and tourists, as a giant water fight or celebration where everyone is drenching everyone else with water guns, water cannons, hoses and buckets. We were certainly excited and curious to see what it would be in reality.

Being the curious travelers that we are, we wanted to learn more about what the tradition was behind Songkran. We wanted to know things like why it was celebrated? Where did it originally come from? Was it still celebrated in a traditional way? How did the traditional fit in with the contemporary images of a giant water-pocalypse?

Slightly more than 2 months ago, our little family decided to sell our home in Portland, Oregon and begin a year-long adventure in Southeast Asia. We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand almost a month ago and have settled in nicely. After researching and viewing several condos in various parts of town, we rented a very comfortable and conveniently located condo in the Nimmanhaemin neighborhood, northwest of Chiang Mai’s central Old Town.

If you are planning a trip to Thailand and you aren’t sure which city to use as a homebase, then we recommend heading north and renting an apartment in Chiang Mai.

When we first arrived in Chiang Mai, we started off renting a room at a guest house in the heart of the old city, near the Thapae Gate. It was a perfect place to explore the city and to begin our searched for an apartment rental.