Mr and Mrs Smith suggested this hotel, and we couldn’t have been more pleased! When you book their honeymoon package, you are greeted with a bottle of Champagne and dessert. I had to pass on the Champagne, but the dessert was a pregnant lady’s dream :) Pillars 137 House gets its name from the original house, which had 137 pillars as the foundation. 100 years and a massive restoration later, the original house is now the library and restaurant of the hotel.
Our favorite thing to do in Chiang Mai was participating in the early morning alms in the old town. It’s when you hand out food and flowers to Buddhist monk novices before the day starts. The food they receive is what they will have to eat for the rest of the day, and it’s believed to be good karma to do! This is done every morning at around 5:30a-6a when monk novices leave their dorms to go to Buddhist school. Just take a tuk-tuk from Pillars 137 to get there, the drivers will know where to take you. There is a food market that opens early in the same area where you can buy the meals.
Once you start seeing the monks make their way to school, you will find they carry small baskets. As you approach them – wearing modest clothes and with your head down, they open the top of their baskets so you can put your alms in. Don’t touch them, they go through a purification process otherwise. After you place your offerings in the basket, they will say a prayer to you. You can just keep your head lower than theirs when this is done, or remove your shoes and kneel down like the locals do.
One of the most recommended things to do in Chiang Mai is to visit elephant reserves, and help the staff with day-to-day tasks like giving elephants a bath and feeding, as well as learn about these amazing creatures that are the icon of Thailand. They book several weeks to months in advance, so make a reservation asap! We can only recommend visiting camps with ethical practices about their animals, and Elephant Nature Park was where we tried going. These gentle giants aren’t meant for carrying people on their backs all day, so an easy way to filter out camps is by the photos they show and you will quickly pick up on what is a tourist trap and what is a serious elephant reserve (the same goes for other animal attractions like tigers, monkeys and cobras). Chiang Mai also has a large evening market that opens after 7p. Though not as large as Chatuchak in Bangkok, there are many things here you won’t find elsewhere. Visiting Wat Phra Doi Suthep and its famous steps is a must see!
Flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a short hour long flight, and the best way to travel in Thailand if you’re short on time like we were. Traveling by train to Chiang Mai would take about 8 hours, a precious day or night of sleep! We found the best places for domestic flights to be Kayak and Air Asia, but Mr and Mrs Smith’s concierge can also help you find the cheapest flights online. The luggage policy on both airlines we flew – Air Asia and Thai Air – are similar to the ones in the US in terms of carry on. Checked bags are charged a fee depending on the size, but you can get a discounted rate when you book with the flights.
What to pack for Thailand:
1. A pair of light colored pants, for cooler days and flying.
2. Short shorts are a nono outside of a beach resort in Thailand, so pack longer length ones like these bermuda shorts.
3. A maxi dress can also be worn for visiting temples instead of pants, just bring a scarf in your purse to cover your shoulders
4. A flowy short dress for walking around town
5. Comfy walking shoes and sandals
6. A hat to protect from the scorching sun
7. A white shirt that goes with everything, including your maxi dress and 1-2 tops like this one
8. A bathing suit for the pool and if you’re headed to the beaches
Mr and Mrs Smith also offers a Just Married Pass that covers room upgrades on all hotels during your honeymoon and exclusive perks to pamper yourselves. They can help you set up a honeymoon registry and suggest must see places and must do activities that will keep your honeymoon off the beaten path.
Visit our Honeymoon and Southeast Asia Honeymoon boards on Pinterest for more, and be sure to check out Mr & Mrs Smith for your honeymoon! Next week we will share about our next stop, Chiang Mai + tips on what to pack and how we traveled domestically in Thailand.