Chiang Mai or Koh Samui?

We're still holed up in Cha-am, taking in the sea every day and enjoying cooking in our little kitchen. No word on whether the US visa will come through yet, so at the moment we're just enjoying paradise, reading, writing and catching up on some client work. Lurvely.

Cha-am is a pretty basic little place - fairly sleepy - but the sea is warm and only about a two minute walk from our flat. Our rental is up on Monday and then we're thinking of heading to either Koh Samui or Chiang Mai where we'll look to rent a place for a few weeks to a month. We've been offered a small house on Koh Samui for $350 for a month, excluding internet and electricity. There also appears to be a lot of properties available in Chiang Mai though, so we're a bit torn on whether we should head North or South.

Koh Samui is an island so it means beaches and swimming. But the rental isn't super cheap, I don't know how fast the Internet will be (kind of necessary in our line of work), I'm not certain how modern the amenities in the house will be, and from what I can tell there isn't a lot of public transport on the island. Still, paradise.

Chiang Mai is a big city in the North and its supposed to be lovely - in the way Northern Laos was lovely only with more modern conveniences. There seems to be reams of apartments and houses for rent there at fairly reasonable rates and it all looks very modern and comfortable. There's also a lot of wildlife around the Northern region - elephants and monkeys - and generally I think it's a bit less touristy because no ocean (positive and negative).

What would you do?

Images: Koh Samui from Photographs-Asia and Chiang Mai from Wikipedia.

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Unknown said...

I don't know if you've already made a decision, but I've had the joy of visiting both of these lovely places in the past year and I'm torn even offering advice!

I am an avid follower of your blog and absolutely adore the abandon with which you and Dan left a conventional lifestyle behind and embrace life! I'm trying to figure out if this is something I can realize in my own life. Thanks for the inspiration.

But gushing aside, really, these are my observations of both places. Koh Samui (I visited on the way to Koh Tao) is breathtakingly beautiful. I went mid-July after sweating my life away in the Hat Yai region for a few weeks, and there was no greater relief in the world. The beaches are serene and gorgeous (and snorkeling! ah!) but very European-tourist oriented. Especially in contrast to the not-touristy-at-all inner southern region, it didn't feel like Thailand.

I visited Chiang Mai a few weeks ago and it's definitely my favorite place in Southeast Asia. The northern people exude a very different hospitable/polite personality and the culture feels (to me) more authentic. You can actually step into every day life and possibly a brief respite from the "you buy from me?" English tourist crap peddlers. Though Chiang Mai is home to one of the greatest night markets in the SE Asia...

Also in Chiang Mai, I went to an Elephant camp were I got to feed and ride the elephants and watch them do tricks (like paint!), raft down a river and even take a slightly less comfortable, though authentic, ox cart ride. If you end up in Chiang Mai, I'd totally recommend this! Also, the convenience and availability of $5/hr Thai massages,and the beauty of Doi Suthep are pretty good reasons to visit.

I can't wait to see where you guys end up and I hope you have a great experience in Thailand!

Amy said...

Thank you so much - both for the sweet words and for your advice. I've checked out your blog and it sounds like we share some of the same passions - can't wait to read more.

We did make our decision and from what you wrote, it sounds like we made the right one. We actually arrived in Chiang Mai last night and so far, so good. We've booked into a nice little boutique hotel and you're so right - the people here so far have been lovely and friendly. Although we've only just arrived, it does remind me a bit of a more cosmopolitan version of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, which I absolutely loved.

The elephants and tigers are definitely on my list of things to do. It's so nice to wake up in a lovely new city.

shivM said...

Great blog.
We are planning a week long trip to chiang Mai in June or July.can you suggest some b and b in Los town budget 700 baht or. About.
Our meal is

gwhit said...

Hi Amy and KTaylor, I'm so glad I found this blog post! I'm on Samui and about to move on. Although I've enjoyed some stuff here, I don't think this place is for me... and I've just suddenly heard alot about Chiang Mai, so my plan is rapidly changing.

Do you have any suggestions about a good area to stay for a few days to check it out? I'm coming in the next few days to have a look, before deciding where to spend my last month in Thailand.

Sounds like you made a good choice!

Cheers, Greg