Thailand Christian Missions, Churches and Covid-19.

All Thailand Experiences Christian Mission

All Thailand Experiences changing lives in Thailand for 30 years.

Changing lives in Thailand with the Grace of Christ

Hello again, I’m Randy Gaudet, founder and director of All Thailand Experiences. Those who have read my profile know how I first came to Thailand and my association with missions and churches since 1989. I am now staying in Laos and have been here since Feb. 2020. The last tour we had was early Feb. last year so we have completely ran out of funds.

I came here to Savannakhet Laos in Feb. 2020 to get a new Thailand visa when they closed the border because of Covid-19. At that time my mission objective was to move to Muang Gnam 20 kilometers east of Thaton in Mae AI district of Chiang Mai. My good friend Pastor Daom who I have known for more than 25 years asked me to move there and help him in his ministry.

Pastor Daom is Karen hill tribe. He speaks all the hill tribe languages for the area plus reads, writes and speaks English perfectly. He was trained as a Baptist minister more than 30 years ago and now wants to study about God’s Grace and preach the good news of the Holy Trinity to his congregation. A Christian group from Korea just built him a new church that can hold more than 100 persons but he only has about 12 members. He wants me to teach him more about God’s Grace and how to reach more persons for Christ.

There are about 35 different villages in the area and they all know me as I have tours and helped several villages in this area. We planned to have Sunday evening church service with a meal. We will show videos of Abundant Grace Church service (scroll down to see videos) and give out New Testament written in Thai.

How the All Thailand Experiences Mission started.

After my first mission trip to Thailand from 1989 to 1991 the Lord placed upon my heart to help the needy and orphans in Thailand. At that time my position was audio and video supervisor at Christian Communication Institute, Payap University in Chiang Mai Thailand. I traveled all over north Thailand taking video of baptisms, church events, Christian events, revivals, orphanage homes, etc.

I attended many church services from well-established churches in big cities to small hill tribe village bamboo churches. I met and had conversations with the church pastors several times, Christian mission leaders, Christian organization representatives big and small. What I saw, heard, was told and experienced to me did not represent the kingdom of God at all. What I felt in my heart was these pastors and missionaries were not in Love with God. To me it seemed for them it was just a job. Never did I hear any new covenant teaching or preaching.

Thailand is one of the most unsaved areas of the world. Less than 3% of the population in Thailand professes faith in Christ although Christian missionaries have been visiting since1518.  These populations thrive on Buddhism, which denies a personal God, promotes benevolent works, and emphasizes reason and enlightenment as a means to salvation. Spirit worship and traditional religion have taken an enormous toll on the spiritual well-being of the Thai people, promoting a culture of fear and power. , the majority of the Thai people feel that to be truly Thai means to be Buddhist. Consequently when someone becomes a Christian, or embraces another religion, he usually experiences considerable family pressure and village opposition

The main problem at the time was most pastors and missionaries in Thailand preach the Law and not Grace. They are teaching fear and God’s wrath rather than Love and Grace because of Jesus Christ. Who wants to receive Christ and then fear God’s wrath and trying to make God happy day after day by following an impossible law? Teaching legalism does not work.

One example is I was visiting a large Christian orphanage home for their church service one Sunday near Chiang Mai. They had a visiting missionary there from the Philippines who were preaching in English and a Thai pastor was translating. He was telling these young children that God will punish them if they break the law of the commandments.  I was in shock as he shouted the commandments at the children from the pulpit.

After the service I was invited to eat lunch with the staff where I confronted the missionary about his preaching.  Using the bible I tried to show him that we are now under Grace not the law because of Jesus. He then gave me a mouth full if insults telling me I don’t know anything.

The pastor who is also the caretaker of the orphanage walked me to my vehicle and told me I was not welcome to return any more. He told me the missionary who preached that day is from a church in the Philippines that donates lots of money to the orphanage so he has to let him preach and doesn’t want me there anymore. Oh, OK?

Most churches that I visited back then were more like going to a funeral instead of rejoicing, praising God and listening to the good news of the Gospel. The old hymns of the sweet by and by or the glorious Heaven are being sung in Thai. Preachers are telling their congregation how their suffering and troubles are because they are carrying their cross for Jesus and God is responsible for both the good and bad in their lives, so sad. Thais are spiritual people. If you explain the Holy Spirit, Grace, Jesus resurrection and why to them using scripture they will want to know more.

This is not what I expected I thought people were going to accept Jesus Christ because of the good news of Grace and Love, instead the old covenant law was being taught and that Grace was not available to you if you break the law. I prayed about all this and asked God to lead me and the Holy Spirit to show me on how I can reach these people into God’s peace, love and grace. I was so discouraged I prayed about it and the Holy Spirit led me back home to Texas after 2 years with CCI was finished although they wanted me to stay longer. At the time I didn’t know the Lord would send me back to Thailand. This time to spread the Good News of the Holy Trinity, Love and Grace because of Jesus Christ and to tell Christians they are free from the Law, sin and death.

While in Texas I had a job working at a ranch. I lived in a small trailer by myself and had a truck I could use whenever I needed. When not working I spent most of my time at our church and studying the bible. I had many conversations with my pastor and deacon about me returning to Thailand to continue my mission. I attend a spirit filled church that teaches the Grace of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so they understood my concerns about some of the Christian churches and missions in Thailand.

I wanted to start my own mission but to do that I needed support. My pastor and other church pastors I approached for support told me I need a degree in theology plus mission training which would take at least 3 years and cost money I did not have. I then prayed for months for the Holy Spirit to show me a way to do my mission. A few months later I walked into church for Wednesday night service and bible study and my pastor took me aside with one of the deacons. They told me “Do tours in Thailand, this will support you and your mission.”

For the next couple of months I looked at doing tours in Thailand. I had worked with a river cruise company here in Texas for several years just before my mission to Thailand in 1989. We started with 1 small deck boat that held 6 persons and in three years grew the river cruise to hundreds of tourists a day with 2 boats holding 70 person each. I worked every position from boat captain to guide and promotion and marketing so I had the experience.

About six months later with prayer and enough money to last about 1 month in Thailand, a visa and a 1 way ticket I returned to Chiang Mai Thailand in May of 1992. While at Payap University 2 years earlier I learned the Thai language so I could travel anywhere and speak with anyone in the Thai Kingdom. I rented a motorbike for a month and traveled all around north Thailand visiting and staying in small towns and remote villages. If there was a road my motorbike could ride on I took it.

One of my stops was in the village of Thaton where I visited Wat Thaton Buddhist temple on top of a mountain which has spectacular views of the Me Kok River and the Fang valley below. While enjoying the view a well-dressed Thai gentleman about 35 years old came up to me and introduced himself in English as the secretary for the temple.  He asked me a few questions and I answered him in Thai about my history living in Thailand. He then asked me if I could teach English at the temple and that they would pay me 4000 Thai baht a month plus food and a bungalow to live in.

Wat Thaton Temple
Wat Thaton Temple

I told him I was a Christian and not a Buddhist. He answered that’s OK. I then said I will let him know in about a week. I want back to Chiang Mai and prayed about it. I called my pastor in Texas and asked him what I should do. He said if God is calling me to go ten go. I was also almost out of money so I had to do something. A week later I took the bus to Thaton and  wound up saying there for more than 2 years.

 While at the temple I taught English to Monks, novices, high school students, the Thai Army, local and tourist police. I also did hill tribe programs by taking a small number of tourists to hill tribe villages to spend the evening. All the money for the trek went to the villagers. I bought clothes for the children, medicines and blankets for the families. I paid the villagers to build a bamboo schoolhouse and paid a teacher to teach Thai at the school who could speak their language. 

. While I was there I help start a guest home where travelers could stay in a Lisu hill tribe village and go trekking in the jungle and visit primitive hill tribe villages in the area. This was not easy, as the villages we visited didn’t want visitors as they wanted to maintain their lifestyle and culture. They have seen other villages who accept tourist turn into a village without harmony and lost their culture. These villagers were farmers and didn’t want to look at tourism as a source of income.

I understood the problem as I have seen what a tour operator can do to a village. To them money is first and they don’t care about the hill tribe people or their way of life.

I stayed in these villages and met with the village headmen many times. I learned about their culture, way of life, religion, and do’s and don’ts. We then came up with a plan that worked out well for the villagers and our clients.

I had to follow God’s word in Isaiah 58: 7 “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”

As I was helping these villagers one question kept coming up. The villagers kept asking me “Who is your spirit?”  Now I had to be careful as the temple where I was staying at and was paying me told me do not try to convert villagers to Christianity. I told the villagers a little about the Holy Spirit and Jesus but I could not speak their hill tribe languages. What I did was telephone a hill tribe pastor working and living in Chiang Mai. I told him about the village and he would send a hill tribe pastor to their village to explain to them about God and Jesus I had to stay out of the evangelism process however this was working out well.

I was able to use the computer at the temple so I bought the URL All Thailand Taught myself the HTM language so I could make my own web site. I made the web site, put it on line and now I could do tours to help those in need and orphan children.

For the tours I was conducting we can only stay in a village 1 night per week and no more than 6 persons. There are 35 villages in this area so we always have a village to take our clients. Nothing is allowed to be given to a villager directly by the visitor. It must be given to the guide who then gives it to the villager. No candy for the children and no photographs without permission. No money is allowed to be given for a photograph. The guide must be from the local area and must also be hill tribe and speak the language of the village.

I then trained 3 hill tribe men from the local area who speak English to be our guides. None of these men drink or smoke and their families are very well respected by all the villages. For the Jungle portion of the trek I had to teach the guides to use a different trails so it could grow back. They make a hut out of bamboo and banana leaves for sleeping and I taught them not to clear cut and not to return to an area for at least two months. No more hunting of birds or wild animals.

Without the local culture we would not be able to give our clients the experience they are looking for. We also encourage our clients in helping the local people we visit.

Many of our clients want to help the poor villagers that they visit. We take them to a market here in Chiang Mai to buy shirts and pants for the children before we visit. Shirts or pants can be purchased for a little as $1 USD, blankets for about $3 USD. We have had groups including one from Singapore who stayed at 3 different hill tribe villages. They brought medicines, blankets and clothes. They repaired playground equipment and repainted the school.

Everything I set up in the Thaton area was doing well including churches being built in Lahu and Akha hill tribe villages that we help and visit. The hill tribe speaking pastors from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and now preaching in the villages and training new pastors so I moved back to Chiang Mai in 1996.

I then concentrated on Doi Inthanon National Park where there are 7 hill tribe villages both Karen and Hmong. Here I trained 2 guides for trekking and home stay and 1 for bird watching.  I helpa1 family build a coffee and waffle  shop. I loaned them the money then designed the shop, purchased the equipment and make everything. 2 years later they paid me back. The real good news is there is a church in their village and they accepted the Lord and were baptized.

At the same time I was trying to reach the lost in Chiang Mai by talking about the Lord Jesus and giving free new testaments in Thai and English that were available from Payap University. I would give them my phone number so that if they needed anything or more information to call me. No one ever called me but I prayed that someone was touched by the Lord while reading their new testament I gave them.

All this was about to change in about 2005 mainly because of two new churches in the Chiang Mai Area that were and still are growing rapidly.

I heard about a church that was meeting at a hotel in Chiang Mai so one Sunday I decided to attend. I went early so I could meet the pastor. The pastor’s name is Jonathan and Judy Vickers from Australia and the church is House of Praise. Talking with Jonathan he also had a mission called Christian Outreach Center and Haven Children’s Homes.

I settled in for the service and was blown away. The worship music was upbeat at times with modern songs. The preaching was about the Grace of God using scripture with examples of how God’s Love can change our life in everyday circumstances. You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit during worship. Praise God I found a church that I could take people to and receive blessing. Several locals that I brought to House of Praise Church excepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and was Baptized including a family of 5. Praise God

House of Praise had a 10 AM service in English then a 1 PM Thai service in the afternoon. They were having a problem with the sound during service so I volunteered my engineering service to help every Sunday. When they purchased their new church building about a year later I gave advice in what sound equipment to purchase and I helped install it. I also taught the Thai staff n how to work the sound system. After 3 months or so my help was not needed any longer.

While talking to Pastor Jonathan I learned a lot about Havens Home for children. I asked him if they needed anything and he said always and whatever I good give would be greatly appreciated and Blessed. A week later I loaded my pick up with everything from meet to milk, vegetables to cookies and took them to Havens Homes. actually they had 2 homes close together, one for the guys and one for the girls. Every time our company, All Thailand Experiences, was making money we would telephone the care takers of the Haven Homes which were 2 couples with children and ask what they needed and we would supply whatever they needed when we could.

It was about 3 years later I heard of another new church that was meeting at a hotel in Chiang Mai every Sunday at 10 AM called Abundant Grace Church. The big difference was the service was in English and Thai at the same Time. I waited outside the meeting room as the doors were closed and was very surprised on how many Thai people were showing up and some young missionaries. Looking around I saw they had a room for the children’s church.

They opened the doors and I walked in and was greeted by very friendly locals handing out communion cups and crackers. The room was large and could hold at least 300 or so persons. There was a large projector screen on the back of the stage and 2 large screen monitor on the sides of the room. Everyone will be able to see the stage no matter where they sit.

The praise and worship music during the service was modern with some upbeat songs and some songs the worship team wrote by themselves. The team would go through the songs in English and Thai and the words were put on the screens. The preaching was in English and Thai. The pastor Nathan Gonmei would preach a sentence in English then his wife Salila would say the sentence in Thai. They preached with excitement and vigor with shouts of Amen from the congregation. Now this is a spirit filled church. This is the church I belong to today.

We were blessed by Stephanie and Gary sellers who did a bird watching tour with us and wanted to help. They provided new testaments in Thai and English to Abundant Grace Church to give out. Now new converts and those wanting to know more about Jesus Christ can get a New Testament free. Today Abundant Grace Church has campuses in Chiang, Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok  and Nakon Sawan. Stephanie and Gary also help me financially at times when needed. I am so blessed knowing them.

I am writing this as we need your temporary help until the border to Thailand is open again and tourists start returning. We have gone through bird flu, SCARS, Tsunami, riots, coups in the past here in Thailand and never needed help. Covid-19 has gone on now for about 16 months and no mission without some financial support can last.

I am asking to receive $500 USD a month so I can stay in Laos until the border to Thailand opens, tourists can return to Thailand and I can resume the mission given to me by God. We already have several clients that want to go bird watching with us at All Thailand Experiences in Feb. 2022 and others just waiting to book other tours with us when they can come.

Five examples and teachings from the Old and New Testaments about the validity of God’s ministers being supported by others:

  1. The example of the Levites (Numbers 18:24)- The Jews gave their tithe to the priests for support.
  2. The example of Jesus (Luke 8:2,3)- Many people supported Jesus and the disciples.
  3. The teaching of Jesus (Mt. 10:9,10)- A Kingdom worker is worthy of his support.
  4. The example of Paul (Acts 18:4,5)- He stopped tentmaking to preach full time on support.
  5. The teaching of Paul (1 Cor. 9:1-18)- He had the right to be supported by the churches.

If the Lord is touching your heart and His Holy Spirit is guiding you to give pleaee use the form below to contact me. Please keep me in your prayers and God Bless you. with Jesus Love Randy Gaudet

God Bless,

Randy Gaudet

Boat Trip Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai Thailand

Boat trip Choiang Mai and Chiang Rai Thailand
One of the most enjoyable things to do while visiting Northern Thailand is to take a “Long-Tail” boat ride.
The most popular ride is on the Mae Kok river from Thaton, in far north Chiang Mai province, to Chiang Rai.
Boat Landing in Thaton Thailand

Most ride the local bus from the Chang Puak bus station departing at 7 and 9 am for the 3 1/2 hour bus journey to Thaton. It’s much better to take your time and stay in Thaton for the evening. The reason is 95% of the people riding the boats start in Thaton

Most of the boats from Chiang Rai go only as far as the touristy village of Rhummit just a 30 minute boat ride away for elephant riding. For this reason most boat drivers cannot go all the way to the villages and Thaton because they do not know the area farther up river with rapids. Only the boats from Thaton and up river villages can make the full journey. Local hill tribe people who live along the river also take this boat as it will stop for them if they wave it down. The boats from Thaton filled with tourists going to Chiang Rai won’t stop but those who live along the river with boats and provide a ferry service to Chiang Rai do.

NOTICE: There are no longer river taxis. You have to hire a private long tail boat and find others to join you to keep the price down. This should not be difficult as most who are on Thaton want to take the boat to Chiang Rai. Another thing you can do is to take the 1 day guided tour from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai that includes the boat ride and visiting hill tribe villages with local English speaking guide who knows the area well.

Another possibility is you can charter a boat and spend the evening on the river at the hot springs next to an Akha hill tribe village before going on to Thaton. This is a great way to enjoy the river for a group of two to four persons. This will require a local English speaking guide as the boat drivers do not speak English.

Good food can be had just across the river from the hot springs at the Karen village of Rhummit where you can also arrange for riding elephants. Your guide and boat driver will take you there when you want to eat.

The boat trip from Thaton to Chiang Rai takes around 3 hours. On our 1 day boat trip we start further down the river at the start of the mountain canyons which shortens the trip to 2 hours. We start the trip by picking you up in Chiang Mai then visit Chiang Dao Cave Shrine. We then visit a primitive Lahu hill tribe village then Wat Thaton temple with a magnificent view of the Fang valley and Mae Kok river below. We have lunch and visit a Shan hill tribe village famous for cotton weaving then board the long tail boat to Chiang Rai. We will then transport you to your hotei or guest house or you can ride with us in the air conditioned van back to Chiang Mai.

Join us on a private Long Tail boat ride visiting Akha and Lahu hill tribe villages and hot springs. We also see elephants bathing in the river and locals fishing. This is a 2 day or longer tour with All Thailand Experiencesvisiting ethnic hill tribes and Thai villages away from the normal tourist routes from Chiang Mai Province to Chiang Rai city Thailand.

If you don’t speak Thai it is best to arrange for a guide from one of the tour companies or your guest house in Chiang Rai. They can also provide things like blankets or sleeping bags and food if you would rather eat by campfire. Sleeping is aboard the boat which has plenty of room and comfortable. The hot springs has toilets and showers along with a small store. The springs run into the river which is a good place to take a refreshing bath as the water is not too hot. The Akha hill tribe village next to the hot springs is very authentic with most dressed in their traditional costumes and all living in Bamboo houses. Not many tourists visit the village as most go to Rhummit to do elephant riding and trekking which leaves this area peaceful and mostly unspoiled.

In this video (Above) we visit our hill tribe friends in Chiang Mai Province away from the normal tourist route including Akha, Lahu, Lisu and Karen.

The last bus from Thaton to Chiang Mai leaves at 2:25 in the afternoon. Don’t be in a hurry to leave as Thaton has many things to see and do along with accommodations from 60 to 2000 baht. The Tourist Police in Thaton will help you with any information you may need. They are located along the river not far from the boat landing.

Hundreds of people each day during the busy season ride to boats from Thaton to Chiang Rai. They all leave about the same time in a large convoy one behind the other. For a better experience be different and see the river in the opposite direction. When you see the boats full of people passing just smile and wave from your uncrowded boat as they are sure to be envious.

Loy Krathong “Yee Ping” Festival

Loy Krathong Festival

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong “Yee Ping” Festival Nov. 7 – 10, 2022

The history, traditions and events of Loy Krathong “Yee Ping”.

Loy Krathong “Yee Ping” has an unequaled charm and mystique, whether it is celebrated on a grand scale in a major city or quietly in a small village, but for a truly breathtaking experience, the north of Thailand is the place to go.

This festival is held on the night of the 12th full moon of the year (in 2021 is November 19) in most of the countries where it is celebrated, except in Laos, where it coincides with the 11th full moon at the end of the rains retreat, the Buddhist Lent. In many of the Thai provinces facing Laos across the Mekong River, there may also be a major festival of floating lights at that time, such as Nakhon Phanom’s spectacular Lai Rua Fai (many illuminated boats). Loy Krathong may have originally been timed to coincide with the end of the life-giving rains, as a kind of harvest festival giving thanks for the abundance of the crop now filling the granaries and wishing for further bounty in the year to come. There is also a great deal of symbolism involved in the floating away of the Krathong, representing a cleansing of sins.

Loy Krathong has an unequalled charm and mystique, whether it is celebrated on a grand scale in a major city or quietly in a small village of just a few rude huts, but for a truly breathtaking experience, the north of Thailand is the place to go. Even from the end of Lent, the build-up starts with firecrackers banging and booming in the night and, gradually, there appear what seem to be moving orange stars in the sky. As Loy Krathong itself nears, coconut frond archways spring up at the gates of houses, earthen lamps glow in the night, and paper streamers and lanterns appear everywhere.

With the rainy season gone, the night sky is clear and coolness fills the air. On the night of Loy Krathong itself, the full moon sails over the horizon into a sky filled with light and sound, for the Lanna folk celebrate Loy Krathong in three dimensions. Giant hot air balloons, called Kome Loy, rise into the sky, their fires visible, like some galaxy of orange stars, into the far distance. Traditional rockets known as Bok Fai outdo the myriad of other fireworks crackling and popping everywhere in the crisp night air. And beneath this frenzy of noise and light, the gentle, quiet, and touching act of floating (loy) one’s Krathong.

Thai Clay Candles "Phang Patit"

The traditional months of Lanna are different from the rest in Thailand, and Loy Krathong is always celebrated in Duan Yee – the second month – and the period of the festival is called Yee Ping. It is an important time with Krathong and a different Buddhist ceremony, called Tang Tham Luang, falling within this month. The decorations around houses and temples come alive during Yee Peng with the Kome paper lanterns glowing a host of bright colours. Walls surrounding compounds are decorated with the earthen lamps called Phang Patit. The number of these lamps must correspond with the total age of all family members combined, and their flickering yellow flames give warmth to the cool evening.

The Krathong

Krathong swan

The Krathong are traditionally made from cut sections of bamboo, with neatly folded pieces of banana leaf around the edge, giving the appearance of a lotus leaf. Each must be decorated with a candle, an incense stick, and some flowers, though many are more elaborate. Often some grains of sand and good luck charms are placed on the Krathong, and a few coins are often added; though these usually end up as some young boy’s extra pocket money. At home in the water, they swim from Krathong to Krathong and a little brown hand gropes around for what it may contain. These days the convenience and buoyancy of banana tree trunks replaced traditional materials.

This year, 2021, the Loy Krathong festival is from November 17 to 20. In Chiang Mai, there are raft races on the river on the first day, and boat races for the next two days. The Yee Peng opening ceremony takes place at Tha Pae Gate early on the first evening, followed by a lantern parade and contest at the Night Bazaar. Beauty contests will be held at Tha Pae Gate on the second and last evenings, and parades of individual Krathongs and giant Krathongs start from there on the second and third evenings. Every night, there will be fireworks, Kome Loy launchings, Lanna cultural performances at the Municipal Offices near the river, and, of course, there is nowhere better to loy your own Krathong.

The origins and Traditions of Loy Krathong “Yee Ping”

Tradition has it that the very first Krathong was made by a beautiful young lady at the royal court of the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai some 700 years ago. Her name was Naang Noppamart, and she was blessed with great artistic skills. Others imitated her and there was a competition on the night of the 11th full moon of the year. The king judged the competition. Naang Noppamart’s talents were repaid as her Krathong was declared the clear winner. The king decreed that henceforth this one night of the year should become a festival of thanks and should be celebrated by the floating of boats in the shape and form of lotus leaves. The legend lives on and the beauty queen selected at each of the Loy Krathong celebrations around Thailand is, to this day, the winner of the Naang Noppamart parade.

Loy Krathong Festival in Sukhothai Thailand
Loy Krathong Festival in Sukhothai Thailand

Dating back to ancient days, the decorative ceremony of lanterns was based on Brahmin beliefs, or Brahmanism. At this ceremony, the people of long ago paid respect by worshipping three different gods. These gods were Pra I-Suan, Pra Narai, and Pra Prom. For this reverent ceremony, the candles used to light up the lantern were made from cow’s fat or a wax that came from within the royal gates of the reigning monarch. Usually these candles were made by a Brahmin priest, and of course, the process of making the candles strictly followed the requirements of a Brahmin ceremony.

Formerly, lantern decorations were commonly seen hanging on all mansions in the grand palace. The great numbers and the beauty of the lanterns reflected the status of the royal family members. (Next to the king, the titles of royalty were Jow Fah, Pra Ong Jow, Mom Jow, Mom Rajawong, and Mom Luang). There were also three classifications of lanterns, which were the Kome Chai, the Kome Pra-Tiab, and the Kome Boriwan.

Up until the present time, a tradition developed wherein people sacrifice their time to design and assemble various kinds of strong, beautiful, and creative lanterns. The worshippers donated the lanterns to the temples, asking their wishes to be fulfilled. Usually the person would say a prayer requesting his desire to be a sharp, brighter, and more clever person in the future. This belief is based on the comparison that a bright light would lead a person out of his present darkness into a lustrous future.

As mentioned earlier, these lanterns were devoted to the three different gods. The lanterns were also presented to high ranking officials and wealthy people. It is then interesting to understand why Komes were so presentable and how these lanterns are made. The main structure of these lanterns are usually made with bamboo and covered with a coarse palm paper or cloth. Inside, a bamboo cylinder was necessary to protect the possible burning of the paper, since, altogether, 24 candles were required to light up the lantern. This large number of candles made illumination possible for about three hours. Candles were not always used to light these lanterns. Oils, such as sesame seed, castor, or coconut oils, were also used. The creation of these lanterns is open for the public to see and study during this festival.

People thought that lanterns could only be lit during Buddhist holidays or ceremonies, but, actually, lanterns can be lit every evening or night. These lanterns can be hung on gates, fences, doors, windows, or the roof, or any place an individual wants to adorn with these delightful creations. There have been four different purposes for the northern Thais to hang lanterns. They are for beauty, to pay respect to Buddha images, to make one’s home or mansion brighter, and for propitious purposes.

The Four Traditional Komes (Lanterns)

Nowadays, there are four traditional Komes in the north that attract visitors every year. They are 1) Kome Thuea (carrying lantern) or Kome Gratai (a rabbit’s ear), 2) Kome Kwaen (hanging lantern), 3) Kome Paad (revolving lantern), and 4) Kome Loy (hot air floating lantern).

Lanterns at Thapae gate in Chiang Mai Thailand

A Kome Thuea or Kome Gratai has a lighted candle inside. A Buddhist believer will carry it along during the Yee Peng Parade. When the parade is over, the worshippers will take the lanterns and decorate the temples, vihara, and other buildings. If there are other celebrations other than the Yee Peng Festival, beautifully made lanterns are used to decorate a stage. Usually, a lantern shaped as a lotus is used to pay respect and the citizens will pray to the Buddha images and make offerings to the monks.

Kome Thuea Lanterns

Kome Kwaen are also offered to pay respect, and prayers to Buddha images are made. There are several shapes of this certain lantern. They are the Baat Pra (Alms bowl), Dow (Star), Ta Gra (Basket), and Tammajak (the wheel of law, which means to have a thorough knowledge about religious discourses). The Buddhists will hang these lanterns around a temple, vihara, alms-house, sala, or house.

Loy krathong Kome Gratai LanternsvLoy krathong Kome Gratai Lanterns

The Kome Paad is an interesting lantern since it revolves on an axis. This is done with the aide of the heat from the candle’s smoke. In order to make it revolve, the candle is placed inside the lantern where little gadgets take the energy from the smoke and then revolves. The lantern is shaped like a circle, almost like the earth. Usually there are pictures glued on, such as the 12 characters of the horoscope. This revolving lantern will give the effect of shadow puppets. Kome Paad can only be seen during the Yee Peng Festival. It is placed in the temple gates and is not allowed to be moved from one place to another.

The Khome Loy

The Kome Loy is a lantern that is similar to a hot-air-balloon. It is also quite similar to that of a normal lantern except it does not require 24 candles for illumination. Because the air lantern must rise up to float in the air, it must be lightweight; therefore, it does not have a bamboo cylinder inside. In order to send the lantern into the air, it requires a method to heat the air. This is done by tying a small bowl underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed into the bowl along with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and commences burning, the hot air quickly travels into the lantern and it soon rises into the air.

It is believed that by sending off these lanterns an individual can send one’s sins and bad luck into the air. Usually before the lantern soars into the sky, an individual will pray that one’s sin or bad luck will be transported on the lantern and floated away high into the sky. Sometimes an address is left inside. The purpose of this is when the lantern come back down to the ground, and individual can follow an address and seek for money from whoever wrote the address. Or even sometimes, the maker will put some money inside the lantern. The purpose of the hot air lantern is to worship and pay respect to the Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee. An old legend tells that during war, these lanterns were sent into enemy territory and exploded.

Today in the city of Chiang Mai the release of the Khome Loy (Sky Lantern) is no longer allowed. A few yeas ago fire have broke out in the city when the Khome Loy landed on roofs of shops and houses so the release of these lanterns into the sky has been band.

The Mass Sky Lantern Release events happening takes place at the temple grounds of Lanna Dhutanka Temple, behind Maejo University, at Sansai District some 20 kilometers northeast of the Chiang Mai.

The 4~5 hours’ programmes normally include cultural and religious activities as well as Buddhist ceremonies like the group prayers, meditation and monk procession. And then at the command of the organizer, everyone let go of their lanterns at the same time.

Wat Mok Moli

Ticket prices for these events could costs buyer anywhere from $90 (standard) to $350 (VIP). And due to their popularity, the sky lantern release events are held for 2 nights with the same theme and activities. Thousands of tourists attend the event and tickets sell out quickly. For this reason the Local Thais do not attend this event any longer.

You can release sky lanterns with the locals free of charge at Wat Lok Moli. This temple with a nicely decorated big garden is located on the north side of the old city.

In Chiang Mai, visitors will be treated to an air of festivity in the weeks leading up to Loy Krathong. People begin constructing their Krathong, a small raft to float down the river as an offering. They are traditionally cut in a circular slice from the trunk of a banana tree and decorated with intricate leaf-patterns and flowers. A candle, incense sticks and a few small coins are typically placed as offerings. Archways of banana stems suddenly appear outside homes and businesses, and hanging lanterns, or Kome, are hung anywhere possible. With their beautiful colors and delicate paper streamers, these lanterns glow with a warm charm in the night, along with yellow flames of thousands of miniature terra-cotta nightlights flickering on walls and gateposts in the city.

While Kome are put up all over the city, hot-air balloons, or Kome Loy, are set off into the sky during the festivities. Be careful: there are also fireworks, and the locals often set off their own with no rhyme or reason. And there’s a lot of drinking.

Thai Royal Grand Palace

Thai Royal Grand Palace

The Thai Royal Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand

There are many Thai words in this blog so if you are listening to the Podcast the pronunciation of some words might not be correct. We apologize.

This city landmark should be the first place on any visitor’s itinerary. It is a huge compound on Na Phra Lan Road surrounded by high white walls and occupies an area of about a square mile. The Royal Palace, begun in 1782 when Bangkok was founded as the capital of Thailand, consists of several buildings with highly decorated architectural designs.

The royal chapel or Wat Phra Kaeo, situated in the same compound, enshrines the sacred Emerald Buddha image and is noted for its very beautiful architecture and decorative elements.

On the right hand side, before entering the palace’s inner gate is the Royal Thai Decorations and Coin Pavilion which displays coins and other monetary exchange units used in Thailand since the early 11th century AD, as well as Royal regalia, decorations and medals used in the former royal courts.

The complex is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. Admission fee is 125 baht. (including a ticket to Vimanmek Royal Mansion). Proper attire is essential.

Construction of the Royal Palace began in 1782 and was completed in time for the coronation of Rama 1. The original living quarters were temporary and made of wood and thatch and the walls surrounding the palace were made of wood palisades. After the coronation the King moved into a mansion built of permanent materials. The only other building of permanent material at the time was Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the forts along the walls.

The plan of this new Royal Palace follow that of the Ayutthaya period. Only the central building seen today was missing until constructed as the Chakri Maha Prasat during the reign of King Rama 5. The area of the original palace was about 51 acres. King Rama 2 expanded the area to todays size of about 60 acres. The Royal Palace contains a number of halls, residences, and other buildings constructed by King Rama 1. Later monarchs altered some and renovated others while still others were enlarged or torn down to make way for newer buildings. All the buildings are not listed here but the most important ones are. The buildings are listed in groups according to their location inside the palace walls. A trip to Bangkok would not be complete without visiting the Royal Grand Palace.

Entrance to Chakraphat Phiman Phra-Thinang Chakradhat Phiman

The Phra Maha Monthain Group

Phra Maha Monthain

This group of buildings is located in the central part of the Grand Palace toward the eastern side. It was the first group of buildings constructed by King Rama 1 and his own residence. He also used it for his coronation and has been used for coronations of all monarchs of the Chakri This is the main building of the group and is a living apartment containing the Royal bed chamber and a large sitting room which now houses the Royal Regalia. It is the custom for the newly crowned King to spend a night in this palace to indicate that he has assumed the responsibilities for and power over the realm. the first few monarchs used this building as their living quarters but the Kings of later times built their own residences. They come here only to spend the night of their coronation in accordance with tradition.

Entrance to Phaisan-thaksin Audience HallPhra Thinang Phaisan-Thaksin

Phaisan-thaksin Audience Hall
Phaisan-thaksin Audience Hall

An important part of the coronation takes place here. On an octagonal throne the King receives the invitation from the representatives of the people to rule over the Kingdom. He also receives the Royal Regalia including the crown and the nine-tiered white umbrella from the chief of the Court Brahmin. In the middle of the hall is an alter where the symbolic guardian figure of Siam “Phra Siam Devadhiraj” was placed.

Entrance to Amarintha-Winitchai audience hall – Phra Thinang Amarintha-Winitchai Audience Hall

Phra Thinang Amarintha-Winitchai Audience Hall

There are two things in this hall which were made during the reign of King Rama 1. The upper throne is in the shape of a boat which is now used as an altar and another in front of it which is surmounted by a nine-tiered umbrella. In the olden days this building was used as the formal audience hall where the King met with his officials to discuss state affairs. This audience hall is used for many ceremonies such as their majesties birthday rites and merit making ceremonies. The King also received the credentials of foreign envoys in this hall.

Dusidaphirom PavilionPhra Thinang Dusida Phirom

Dusidaphirom PavilionPhra Thinang Dusida Phirom

This Pavilion was built in the time of King Rama 1 and originally made of wood. Bricks and mortar were added during the reign of King Rama 3. This building was the robing chamber for the arriving or departing king by Palanquin or elephant.

Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat Group

This group was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) and in the beginning consisted of 11 buildings but only three remain today.

Chakri Maha Prasat
This building was constructed by King Rama 5 to commemorate the centenary of the Chakri Dynasty. It was designed by a British architect in the European style with a pure Thai Style roof. Construction took six years from 1876 to 1882.

Chakri Maha Prasat

Chakri Maha Prasat On the top floor of the central mansion are kept the royal ashes and the king gives public audiences from the front projection. The second floor serves as an audience hall and the ground floor is the office of the royal guards.

On the top floor of the eastern wing religious objects are kept. the middle floor serves as a reception hall for royal guests. the lower floor serves as a guest waiting room.

On the top floor of the western wing ashes are kept of the royal queens and high ranking princes and princesses. The middle floor is the guest chambers and the lower floor serves as a library.

The Throne Room

Two galleries join the central portion to both the east and west wing. The eastern portion also has a reception room where portraits of the kings of the Chakri dynasty from Rama 1 to Rama 7 are displayed. In the west portion is a hall where portraits of the queens of Rama 4, Rama 5, and Rama 7 are displayed.

The Throne Room

In the rear center of the Chakri Maha Prasat is the Chakri Throne Room. Here the King receives ambassadors on the occasion of the presentation of their credentials. The emblem of the Chakri dynasty is depicted on the wall behind the throne.

Borophiman Mansion and Siwalai Garden Group

When King Rama 2 had the palace precincts expanded he ordered three golden halls and many European and Chinese style building to be constructed. Later King Rama 3 had these buildings pulled down to make room for temples to be constructed dedicated to his late father. King Mongkut (Rama 3) ordered a residence also be constructed and stayed there until the end of his life.

Phra-Thinang Siwalai Maha Prasat

Siwalai Maha Prasat, Phra-Thinang Siwalai Maha Prasat

This building was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) to enshrine the statues of the four previous kings in the Chakri dynasty in 1869. Later King Rama 6 had the statues moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Since then Siwalai Maha Prasat has been left vacant.

Sitalaphirom PavilionPhra-Thinang Sitalaphirom

Sitalaphirom Pavilion, Phra-Thinang Sitalaphirom

This small pavilion made of wood was built by King Rama 6 as a place for his private repose and as a seat during open air parties. At present the King sits there when he gives a garden party or on his birthday for high ranking government officials.

Phra Phuttha Rattanasathan

Phra Phuttha Rattanasathan

This building was built by King Rama 4 to install the Buddha image called Phra Buddha Butsavarat which was brought from Champasak in Laos. The building has been used by the king for some Buddhist rituals including ordination ceremonies.

Boromphiman Mansionm, Phra-Thinang Boromphiman

Boromphiman MansionPhra-Thinang Boromphiman

This European style building was built by King Rama 5 who planned to give it to the crown prince, H.R.H. prince Maha Vajirunahis who died before it was completed. Prior to his coronation King Rama 7 stayed here for sometime. King Ananda Mahidol (Rama 8) took residence here together with his younger brother and mother when they returned from Europe in 1945. King Rama 8 passed away in this mansion. It now serves as a guest house for visiting royalty and heads of state.

Phra-Thinang Sutthaisawan Phra-Thinang Sutthaisawan

Phra-Thinang Sutthaisawan

Originally a wood structure without any roof decorations built by King Rama 1 to watch parades and the training of elephants. King Rama 3 had it replaced as it is today. It is used to receive public audience from the balcony.

The complex is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. Admission fee is 125 baht. (including a ticket to Vimanmek Royal Mansion). Proper attire is essential.

Wiang Kum Kam Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai Thailand’s Ancient City of Wiang Kum Kam

Located just few Kilometers south of the city of Chiang Mai is Wiang Kum Kam.

Wiang Kum Kam was founded in 1286 before King Mengrai established Chiang Mai in 1292.

In 1558 floods ravished Waing Kum Kam and the town was deserted and little was known about the settlement until ruins were found by villagers plowing their fields in 1984.
Buddha temple ruins at Wiang Kum Kam
Buddha temple ruins at Wiang Kum Kam

With the exception of the odd temple standing on higher ground, the entire township had been buried under at least two meters of silt, gravel and debris from the flood. And so it remained for centuries. Talk of the place continued for years but slowly the knowledge of Wiang Kum Kam drifted from people’s memories leaving only some mention in chronicles of that time. The soil, which now covered Wiang Kum Kam, settled, dried and was eventually used for agricultural purposes rice paddies, fruit orchards and many residential homes were built atop the buried city.

The name had been mentioned in chronicles of long ago but, aside from that, not a lot was known. The name was originated from the term of Kum Kum, Kum means Royal Residence meanwhile Kam means area or territory. And so it might have remained had not the Fine Arts Department (responsible for archeology) started digging in and around Chiangmai during the mid 1980’s. Thanks to a lot of research, hard work and effort the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is, once again, enjoying the light of day and a tremendous amount of archeological and religious interest.

Ancient ruins at Wiang Kum Kam, Chiang Mai Thailand
Ancient ruins at Wiang Kum Kam, Chiang Mai Thailand

Mengrai was a Shan Prince of the Tai people; he became King of Lanna in 1259. Lanna at the time included Yunnan China up to what now the city of Khunming, western Laos and eastern Burma (Myanmar). King Mengrai was both a warrior and a wanderer; he made a point of building fortified towns to consolidate and protect his kingdom. The cities of Chiang Saen (on the Mekhong River) and Chiang Rai were both settled by King Mengrai and pre-date the founding of Chiangmai. King Mengrai had taken Lamphun (the Old Kingdom of Hariphunchai) in 1281 but, after spending a few years there, he wanted a “New City” (Chiangmai) on the rich, fertile flood plain of the River Ping. He moved north from Lamphun and established a fortified settlement on a river-bend which would give protection on two sides and flood a moat dug around the remaining two sides. This was Wiang Kum Kam and the year was 1286.

Map of the Lanna Kingdom Thailand
Map of the Lanna Kingdom Thailand

The Lanna Kingdom was mainly ruled by the Mangrai Dynasty, and can be divided in to 3 periods which are the Early Kingdom (1259-1355), The Golden Periods–of art, culture, power and economy (1355-1525) and the Decline and Fall of the Kingdom (1525-1558).

Riding Horse Buggy at Wiang Kum Kam Chiang Mai Thailand
Riding Horse Buggy at Wiang Kum Kam Chiang Mai Thailand

The ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is quiet and peaceful. Narrow roads wiht small strams and old houses dot most of the area along with 2 temples used today. So far 34 ancient sites have been identified and unearthed. Archeologists are confident that more will follow.

To visit Wiang Kum Kam on a weekend you can partake in making local handicrafts, taste local food or get a traditionl massage. You can lso visit a home constructed just as it would have been during the period of King Mengrai. There are trams to tke you to the mny ruins or you can hire a horse driven carriage.

Horse and buggy at Wiang Kum Kam Chiang Mai Thailand
Horse and buggy at Wiang Kum Kam Chiang Mai Thailand

The best way to tour Wiang Kum Kam is by horse and buggy with your guide or by bicycle. You can rent the horse and buggy with driver at Wat Mengrai and Wat Nan Chang at Wiang Kum Kam.

Chiang Mai Thailand’s Weekend Shopping Bazaars

Chiang Mai Thailand's weekend Bazaars
Chiang Mai Thailand’s weekend Bazaars

The markets on Wualai Road on Saturday and Rajdumnern Road on Sunday are much different than the Night Bazaar.

While the Night Bazaar has it’s flashing neon signs advertising the western food chains and merchandise, crowded narrow walkways crammed with hawkers and tourists, the Weekend Bazaars offer a more relaxing experience.

Chiang Mai Thailand's weekend Bazaars
Chiang Mai Thailand’s weekend Bazaar

Large wide avenues are blocked off from vehicle traffic at 4 PM until 11 PM. Talented craft persons and northern Thai fresh food vendors politely sell they wares along the sidewalks and on colorful temple grounds. Both weekend walking markets are excellent however each is different in the types of wares sold, atmosphere and experiences.

The Saturday Bazaar on Wualai Road is the old city silver-making district and even today you can still hear the tapping of hammers as the silversmiths sculpture beautiful designs on bowls, cups, bracelets, rings and wall murals. You can watch them make their beautiful creations as they sit on the street in front of their shops.

There are several silver shops on Wualai Road so look at all of them before deciding on a purchase. Plenty of food and drink vendors along the street and small restaurants where you can take a rest and take in the surroundings so no need to rush.

Chiang Mai Thailand's weekend Bazaar
Chiang Mai Thailand’s weekend Bazaar

The Sunday Bazaar on Rajdumnern Road begins at Thapae Gate and ends at the city police station about 6 bocks west. About half way up, at Prapokklao Road, the Bazaar continues south past Wat Chedi Luang for another block and north to the 3 kings statue and the old Provincial Hall, which is now the Chiang Mai City Museum. A stage is set up on the grounds of the museum where northern Thai musicians and dancers in traditional costumes give live performances starting around 7 PM.

Rajdumnern Road seams to have one temple after another. The temple grounds are where almost all the food stalls are set up. Here they have tables and chairs where you can sit and have everything from French Fries to Papaya Salad, soups and grilled Thai dishes. Lots of different foods and deserts you probably have never seen before are available. Soft Thai music is usually played on the temple sound system to add to the eating experience.

Both Bazaars are lots of fun and several hours can be spent here enjoying the culture, food, people and atmosphere. Unlike the Night Bazaar with its copied brand products, fake jewelry and handicrafts made in China or Burma both weekend markets have real handcraft persons selling their goods.

Chiang Mai Thailand's weekend Bazaar
Chiang Mai Thailand’s weekend Bazaar

The real fun is not the shopping but the ambience. Every block has traditional Thai Music being played by elders and children. The rich colors of the surrounding temples, the smell of garlic, grilled fish, sausages and chilies being cooked and roasted. People are eating smiling and just having a good time. Oh, one more thing. Get your snack and cold drink and take it to one of the many foot massage operations set up on the sidewalk. Sit back in the comfortable cushioned reclining chair and just watch, listen and take it all in.

Wat Chedi Luang Buddhist Temple Chiang Mai Thailand

Wat Chedi Luang temple Chiang Mai Thailand
Wat Chedi Luang temple Chiang Mai Thailand

Located on Phrapokklao Road road in the city center Wat Chedi Luang was built in 1391 during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma.

Wat Chedi Luang Temple is a must visit when in Chiang Mai. It also houses the Inthakhin City Pillar essentially is for everyone to wish for happiness for all people of Chiang Mai.

Wat Chedi Luang was built in 1391 during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma. He intended the structure to house the ashes of his father, Ku Na. Appropriately; the site was designated as a ‘ku luang’, which houses ashes of royalty instead of a chedi, which house relics of the Buddha. The massive structure was expanded over the centuries, until it reached its final form in 1475, when King Tilokaraj made it the home of the Emerald Buddha, the most important cultural treasure in Thailand. At one point the structure was 144 feet wide and 282 feet tall.

Unfortunately, the pagoda was heavily damaged in the 1545 earthquake during the reign of Queen Mahadevi. The Emerald Buddha remained here for about six years after the earthquake, whereupon it was brought to Luang Prabang (in today’s Laos) by King Setthathirat, who ruled Chiang Mai for a short period in the years following in 1556.

The viharn, or worship hall was built in 1928, is a much newer structure decorated with naga (water snake) and peacock motifs. The standing Buddha image inside is known as the Phra Chao Attarot. Made of a combination of brass alloy and mortar, the image dates back to King Saen Muang Ma (r.1385-1401). The hall to the south near the entrance gate from main viharn contains the Inthakin City Pillar.

Inside Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai Thailand
Inside Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai Thailand

Here in Chiang Mai, people from the city, its suburbs and all over Northern Thailand will flock to pray, and pay respects, at the city’s Inthakin Pillar. Throughout Thailand, people will pray for a rainy season which will nourish the rice crop and ensure a health yharvest. Statues in small shelters surrounding this building are homes of guardian spirits. A week long ceremonies will be from May 24 until May 30.During this time, hundreds of people will attend the Inthakhin either in formal procession or as families or as individuals.

Inthakhin Pillar at Wat Chedi Luang
Inthakhin Pillar at Wat Chedi Luang

Paying respect and praying at the Inthakhin Pillar is not a Buddhist ceremony (the Pillar predates organized religions) but essentially is for everyone to wish for happiness for all people. The Pillar is sited within its own walk-in shrine which is only opened during this 7-day ceremony (visitors please note — the Pillar can not be seen at any other time of year). Any male may enter the shrine to see and to pray. An attire and attitude of respect is essential. Ladies are not permitted to enter the shrine but may view through the entrance portals. In the area surrounding the Inthakhin Pillar Shrine, thousands of candles and incense sticks will burn and there will be ritual washing of a Buddha image with lustral water. People will queue to file past the shrine and will lay gifts of flowers and fragrant herbs at many points circling the shrine. Chao Kawila, moved the Inthakhin Pillar to its present site from Wat Sadoe Muang in 1800.

He built statues of the kumaphan under shelters to the north and south of the main entrance to the temple. He also planted the three large Yang trees from Sri Lanka. According to legend, the tree nearest the City Pillar will protect Chiang Mai as long as it is not cut down. The Inthakhin Pillar — while not exactly in the geographic center of Chiang Mai is certainly at the heart of the people –remains a potent symbol of fertility to all the generations, young and old, of North Thailand.

The main temple at Wat Chedi Luang
The main temple at Wat Chedi Luang

As a visitor to our northern city, you are welcome to join, or observe, the ceremonies. The Inthakhin Pillar — within the precincts of Wat Chedi Luang — is another fascinating part of Chiang Mai and the ancient culture of Lanna Thai. Other buildings in the compound include the Lanna campus of the Mahamakut Buddhist University (This is the northern campus for monks of the Thammayut sect, a reformist sect founded by King Mongkut (Rama IV r.1851-1881, who was dissatisfied with the established Mahanikai sect in the late 1830’s). To the west of the chedi is a viharn with a reclining Buddha and the Sangkhachai Buddha.

Advice for Visitors to Chiang Mai Thailand.

Chiang Mai Thailand Accommodations, Food, Night Life, Travel and Tour Advice.
About the Author: Mr. Randy Gaudet, founder and director of All Thailand Experiences has been living in Chiang Mai and north Thailand since 1989. Randy has written many informative blogs, articles and stories about his experiences in north Thailand.

Many guide books on Thailand only partially cover the real life experiences in Chiang Mai, I have been living here since 1989 so I would like to give you some advice about protocol, travel and accommodations in and around the city of Chiang Mai Thailand. Hopefully it will help you to enjoy your travels in Northern Thailand.

In the foot hills of the Himalayan Mountains 800 kilometers north of Bangkok is the culturally rich city of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is the longest continuously lived in settlement from the ancient days of Siam.

Chiang Mai could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant back trip until the nineteen twenties. Chiang Mai’s distinctive charm is still intact up to the present day.


When you arrive in Chiang Mai Thailand, it helps to know a bit about transportation within the city. At the airport, train station, or bus station, you will probably be met by the representatives of various guesthouses and hotels and tour operators. If you have a specific place in mind and you don’t see the specific signboard, you can always call the place to have someone pick you up from the train station, airport, or bus arcade depot. Taxis are available at the airport, with a price of 150 baht to most destinations.

The common vehicles of public transportation are more varied than public buses. The terms ‘tuk tuk’ and ‘samlaw’ are open-air, three-wheel vehicles, and ‘zeelor’ and ‘songthaow’ describe vehicles with four wheels. Whenever you get in a ‘tuk tuk’, ‘zeelaw’, or ‘samlaw’, you should make sure that they take you where you want to go. Often the drivers work on commission and may tell you that the place you want to go is dirty, closed, or full if they don’t have a previous agreement with the place you have in mind. Always negotiate the price before you get in a tuk tuk or samlaw. A zeelaw ride should cost 15 Baht on a regular route, more if you hire it out to go somewhere out of the way.

The best way to get around Chiangmai is by ‘songtaow’. These are covered pick-up trucks with two benches in the back. “Songtaow” means “two benches” in Thai. You will see them everywhere, and it’s easy to get them to pick you up. All you need to do is to put your arm out and look at the driver, and they will stop. Then tell the driver which street you want to go to, and if he is going that way, he will shake his head “yes”; if not, he will say “no” and go on. Don’t worry—there will be another one right behind him. When the driver turns down the street you want, start looking for where you want to get off and press the switch located on the roof of the cab. The driver will pull over, let you out, and then you pay him.

The fare should be 20 Thai baht or less (around 50 cents). If you tell the driver a hotel or establishment, he will think you want to hire him for a private trip, and the price will be much more. Negotiate any price beforehand if you want to go to an establishment.

Renting a motorbike or scooter:

There is a wide variety of two wheeled transportation available in Chiang Mai from loads of rental agencies. Price start from just a few dollars a day for a 100CC automatic scooter to large harley Davidson cycles, off road dirt motorbikes and every thing in between. It is important to know which type of motor bike works best for where you plan to ride.

IMPORTANT: Most people rent the automatic small scooters however this is very dangerous if you plan to travel into the mountain countryside or to Doi Suthep Temple on the mountain above the city. This is because when going downhill the scooter goes into neutral so you are free-wheeling and must use only your brakes to slow you down. If there are 2 of you on the scooter going downhill you could have a brake failure and find yourself in big trouble. The automatic scooters are made for riding in the city only not in the mountains.

If you are going to go into the mountains rent an automatic clutch motorbike or better so you can downshift when going downhill so the engine can help you slow down. A Honda Dream or Honda Wave is great for beginner riders and has an automatic clutch and a 4 speed transmission so you can downshift to help slow you down and also has a better power range when going uphill.

When you rent any form of transportation take photos from every angle of the vehicle to show the condition of the vehicle before you rent it. This will protect you from any rental agency trying to get you pay for damage that was there before you rented the vehicle.


Booking accommodations might be the biggest decision you will make while visiting Chiang Mai. I hear many visitors saying “Chiang Mai has no real culture as there are too many tourists”. If you stay in the city center inside the moat and city walls, tourists is all you will see. The Chiang Mai locals call this area “Tourist Town”

Since 2010 over 100 new guest houses, small boutique hotels, restaurants, tourist souvenir shops and pubs have been built within or near the moat and old city walls. The establishments have now claimed this area as “The Old City” which is far from the truth. The real “Old City” is the area of “Gatluang” near Wararot Market located along the Ping River where all the commerce, traders and craft persons worked and lived. Inside the city walls is where the Royal Family, temple monks, Royal staff and elite military resided. The citizens of Chiang Mai were only allowed inside the old city walls during festivals, Buddhist holidays and with Royal events.

Today most of the business and residents inside the old city walls and moat are owned and operated by people from Bangkok and expats. This area now is more like the heavy touristy Kaosan Road in Bangkok than the culturaly rich Chiang Mai.

Another popular place is Nimmanhemin road in The “Huay Khao” area. This part of the city is where most of the expats live with condos, coffee shops and shopping malls catering to the western lifestyle. Again most shops owned and operated by those from Bangkok or expats, not much Thai culture here and prices are rather high so Thai people cannot afford to go there.

You can avoid the large number of tourists and experience the real charm of Chiang Mai by staying only 2 or 3 kilometers from the city walls and moat, not only that but at a lower price. There are wonderful communities where you can visit local markets, temples and talk with locals in their shops and restaurants. Experience real Thai food and daily life of local communities. The guest houses and small boutique hotels are far apart and you can get a ride by “Songtaow” into the city center within minutes.

Some of these areas are “Sanpakhoi” just across the Ping River on the Narawat Birdge. This is the home of the first Christian church in Chiang Mai, the lively Sanpakhoi market and Kawila Boxing Stadium. “Waulai” Area is across the street and moat from Chiang Mai gate and home of several small silversmiths, The silver temple at Wat Si Suphan and the Saturday night walking market.

Try booking your guest house or small hotel east of the Ping River or the old silver making area north of town near Wualai road. Waulai road has the Saturday night Walking Night Bazaar and home of the beautiful Silver Temple “Wat Siri Suphan”.


The Thai people have several customs that are important to remember to avoid causing offense. Never touch the head, because it is the most sacred part of the body. The feet are the lowliest part, so don’t point them at others or rest them above ground level. Never stop a rolling Thai Baht coin or any type of Thai currency with your foot, as the money here has a picture of the king on it.

Respect for the king and religious customs is another important part of Thai protocol. They have great respect for the royal family, the flag, and anything with an image of the king, including the money. When you visit a Buddhist temple, you should always remove your shoes before entering any buildings. Men should wear long pants, and women should wear knee-length or longer skirts. Women are not allowed to touch monks or make prolonged eye contact with them. Do not sit on the walls surrounding the jedee, which contains the temple’s sacred relics of the Buddha.

The Thai “Wai”

Meeting and making friends with different people is an exciting part of travel anywhere. In Northern Thailand, it helps to know a bit of the language and something about the protocol. To say “hello”, say “Sawatdee Krup” for men and “Sawatdee Kha” for women. To learn more Thai before you come, an excellent free teaching website can be found at You will gain loads of respect from the Thai people if you learn just the basics.The Thais put a lot of emphasis on manners, so it’s a good idea to learn to say “Thank you”. In Thai, it’s “Kob Khun”, followed by “Krup” or “Kha” for women. The “why”, spelled W A I, made by placing your palms together in front of the upper chest is the traditional Thai gesture of greeting or respect, and the gesture is always appreciated. The custom is that younger people “why:, elders first, so let the children and persons you think are younger than you “why” before you “why” them.

Whatever happens, though, don’t display your anger, because the Thais will think you uncultured, and ranting will get you nowhere. Smile and think “no problem”. Thais do not like confrontation, so getting angry will get you nowhere in Thailand. Here is an example:

Let’s say you arrive at your hotel and want a nice, hot shower or bath. You turn on the tap and find the hot water is not working. What most people would do is call the front desk and complain, and if you are tired, you might raise your voice a little, saying, “The hot water doesn’t work—what’s the problem?” It might take a long time before someone comes to check it out, if at all. What you should do is say, “I don’t know how to get the hot water turned on in my room; would you please have someone show me?” Someone will come to your room within a minute or two to check it out.

Food and Entertainment:

Thailand is a country of gourmands. Eating out is one the nation’s favorite activities, and knowing a bit of table manners will help you appear more civilized. Waiters and waitresses in Thailand are trained to take your entire order. When they take the order, they will often ask “one”, which is their way of asking whether they got it correctly or not. The entire meal is customarily served at the same time, but the empty dishes are removed one by one. Some street-side restaurants will not remove any dishes or bottles until you finish your meal. This is because they do not write down your order. They shout your order to the cook, and after the meal, they will count the plates and bottles and figure out the bill then.

In the evening it seems every neighborhood has pre-cooked food for sale to take home. This is Thai fast food at it’s best. See what precooked Thai food you can buy at the market. Here I bought a 3 course meal and rice for $1.20USD or 50 Thai baht. Why cook at home when you can buy excellent cooked food this cheap

Chiang Mai and the north have plenty of night entertainment available. It runs the gamut from restaurants to nightclubs, discos, or video bars. Thai people are often as interested in meeting you as you might be in meeting them, but one should exercise discretion and sometimes a bit of caution, especially in matters of the heart. In romantic situations, Westerners and Thais both occasionally get hurt. The best advice is to think with your head and your heart. Enjoy yourself, but be very adult about any given situation.

Day trips:

Many visitors to Chiang Mai enjoy taking trips outside the city. We recommend these trips highly, but don’t forget to bring a few extras in case of emergency. Flashlights and extra batteries, as well as camera batteries, are recommended, as are matches or a lighter. Jackets may be needed for the cold evenings, specially when visiting hill tribes high in the mountain, or Inthanon National Park. Don’t forget a first-aid kit and the ever-important toilet paper for emergencies. Ear plugs are a good idea if staying overnight in a hill tribe village, as the roosters can be very loud at 3AM. To see what is available outside the city from trekking and adventures to visiting hill tribe villages and ancient ruins while on tour visit our All Thailand Experiences Main Page.

If you are listening to this on our podcast you can visit the blog to see photos, videos and informative links about Chiang Mai and north Thailand at