Amazing Chiang Mai
I originally went to Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong and the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, but little did I know it would end up meaning so much more to me. Chiang Mai is one of those places you go that just kind of ruin home for you. People are so friendly, the weather is so amazing, the food is immaculate, and you find yourself thinking: "do I really have to leave?" It is also a haven for expats, with friendly digital nomads from all over the world, and it's a little *too* easy for it to feel like home.
Loy Krathong, meaning "floating basket" is a festival which thanks the river, buddha, and water goddess for all that the water provides. It also apologizes to the river (lake, pond, etc) for all we take from it and how we pollute the water. Locals float biodegradable krathongs with incense, candles, and things for the wildlife to eat in celebration of this holiday.
The timing of this holiday coincides with Yi Peng, the famous sky lantern festival and my reason for visiting northern Thailand. This festival hails back to the Lanna Kingdom and celebrates the end of monsoon season and the beginning of the cool season. Individuals send up sky lanterns with their wishes for the coming year, letting go of any bad things that happened the previous year.
I am very grateful for these festivals, as I likely would never have discovered the magic that is northern Thailand without them. The food in Chiang Mai is excellent. Make sure you try Thai sausage, khao soi, and mango sticky rice when you come.
In addition to amazing food and festivals, Chiang Mai has some stunning local sights you must see. The area is dotted with beautiful national parks and waterfalls, as well as some of the most extravagant temples in all of Thailand, such as Doi Suthep (pictured above). If you are a fan of zoos, the Chiang Mai zoo does have a panda, which is super rare and indicative of the country's positive relationship with China.
Definitely visit Thailand. And don't sleep on Chiang Mai. You won't regret the visit.