Arrival & Transport
The airport taxi from Chiang Mai to Soi 9 where our guesthouse was located was only 120B. Josh thought that was preposterous until he realised we were no longer using MYR at 3 to 1, Baht is roughly 30 to 1. So $4 for a big, new, silver 4WD was pittance. Several other modes of transport include the Tuk Tuk (motorbike with back car) and Songtow (truck with bench seats).
As we drove through Chiang Mai it was clear it was a developing country. The streets were dirty, but not unclean. There was no rubbish, infact they were swept and tidy, but they were not Western smooth concrete paths if you know what I mean. The moat through the town was a muddy brown, not something I would consider stepping in although I spotted a local swimming.
Libra Guesthouse vs Sri Pat Guesthouse
However when the cab turned down our street and the evening had began to fall I was in love. The sparkling lanterns and lights, the cobbled streets, the multiple guesthouses and nature-inspired restaurants hiding behind the main road and then he stopped outside our guesthouse and I was so excited to be in that location.
The guesthouse seemed nice enough at the front surprisingly. Having left the booking to just picking where our friends were I was more then worried about our 600B ($18) per night room. The reception lady was brisk and unfriendly though. Even demanding our kids wear diapers to bed so she wouldn’t have to have wet beds. Um, ok.
I should have suspected something when all I know of the word Libra is a feminine period pad.
She wanted to know how long we were staying and I said could we please see the room and then I will let you know. We were shown our room and since it was 9pm we decided we would let her know in the morning. The room was large, the bed was huge (but ultra hard) and the kids had a mattress on the floor. The bathroom was, how can I say? Adequate. But there was no way I was showering over a toilet.
The surrounds were beautifully landscaped. Unfortunately the wifi did not work in our room, which is a huge problem for us with kids. Visiting the lobby one at a time while the kids are sleeping is not our idea of fun.
On the next day we asked about the room and we were told it had already been given to someone else after our 3 booked days. Confused that it had happened over night I nevertheless felt relief at being able to find a more suitable location with hopefully friendlier people.
Other friends of ours were staying 2 roads up at Sri Pat and after a quick visit of their rooms I was in love. I booked in our reminder 4 nights there and breathed a sigh of relief of finding something so lovely in this busy festival period.
Sri Pat was worlds away from Libra. At 1800B ($56AUD) a night for the deluxe room we were happy to pay. The staff were so friendly. The room was deluxe with wood furnishings, flat screen TV, a soft bed, plump pillows. There was a pool and, of course, the same great location.
We had friends staying at both Libra and Sri Pat. Two families that stayed at Libra had no problems, they believed the staff to be friendly & they had no problems with their rooms. However one of our friends was also asked to leave Libra for omitting they had children (despite never being asked who was coming) and ended up with us at Sri Pat. It was great being in the same location as so many people.
One of the families also stayed at the Triple Palms. A brand new place with family rooms consisting of a King bed in one room, living room and twin beds in the other. It was a gorgeous place and I would consider staying there on a visit next time.
Food, Glorious Food
The whole location was fabulous and we enjoyed many fine meals along these streets from Pregos – amazing Italian & Thai food to The Blue Diamond – delicious breakfasts in a beautiful surrounding.
The next street over from Sri Pat was a wet market containing a lady known as the fruit dancer. Mrs King and I walked over 3 mornings together to get muslie, yoghurt and fresh fruit for 50B ($1.50AUD). My son loved this breakfast so much, by the end he was eating the whole huge bowl by himself.
Also close by was a crepe guy, so friendly that every time we passed him he cheerfully waved “Sawadee ka”. Near him in the evenings was a rotee lady. Not as good as the Bangkok one however.
We loved staying in the Old City and of course having our friends rooms away made the stay all the more enjoyable.
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
I think Chiang Mai is one of THE worst places to find backpacker accommodation, we had terrible trouble there last time. So much hard sell to take their treks and cookery courses too. We came up against some very unfriendly people last time, pre kids, thanks for reminding me. Next time I'll try to book something on line before we arrive. The trek we took there was rubbish, I'd done one a few years before with an adventure holiday company and that was a million times better. But, Chiang Mai is lovely, I'd happily stay there for a while if we could find an apartment or something.
Just for balance, we stayed at Libra and it was lovely. Everyone was really friendly and kind and I found the room to be great. Everything was clean and functional and our wifi, in the room, was really fast. Everyone is different but I was very happy paying $18 as opposed to $56:)
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