The Jewel of Northern Thailand

There is something so loveable about Chiang Mai. This capital of the former Lanna kingdom has such deep history and a unique Thai cultural identity, plus with a healthy dose of western influence, you are never left wanting. In scouting the area for romantic hotels, Rachamankha was the clear winner with a great location, stunning grounds, chic rooms, and a style that invokes a sense of place. It was the perfect honeymoon escape and home-base to explore this dynamic ancient city.

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Tucked on quiet side-street, Rachamankha has the feel of a grand home with a colonnaded facade, courtyards, and breezy outdoor living spaces. We checked into one of the 23 luxurious rooms of this Relais & Chateaux property and knew we picked the right place.

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We were eager to explore Chiang Mai so the concierge set us up with bicycles and a map of the old city. Within the 13th-century walls, a maze of streets lead to dozens of ancient temples and traditional markets now mixed with trendy restaurants, boutiques, cooking schools, bike shops, and everything a local or westerner could want.

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Most of the city’s temples have been restored to perfection and are fully operational with monks and locals coming to worship. Wat Lok Molee was one of the least ornate, believe it or not, with little gilding but still plenty of carvings, mirror inlay, and swooping lines. The Chiang Mai style is a mash-up of Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Lanna motifs and it’s some of the most beautiful in the country.

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After a day of exploring we had built up an appetite and were excited to experience the famous Chiang Mai night market for dinner. There are various markets throughout the week but the Sunday night version on Ratchadamnoen Road is the premier event, where the street shuts down and the whole town seems to come to stroll, graze, shop, and socialize.

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We returned to our room, decorated to perfection with antiques from around the world, and were surprised with a bottle of champagne on our bed. Sooo romantic!

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The food at Rachamankha was delicious, blending flavors of the Lanna, Burmese, European, and quintessential Thai cuisine. One breakfast we opted for a classic Western menu of yogurt, muesli, eggs, and fresh fruit and another day we had a spicy Thai noodle soup…both delicious!

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With full bellies we ventured the ten miles out of old town to the area’s most famous temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Three-hundred stairs lead up the mountain to this pilgrimage site (or if you’re feeling tired there is a cable car for a buck). The trip is well worth it with views to the city, beautiful architecture, and great people watching.

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Despite the incredible restorations across this city, the dilapidated Wat Chedi Luang may have been our favorite temple. Built in the 1300s and destroyed in an earthquake in 1600s, it’s nice to see something in its original form.

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There is nothing like coming back to the hotel pool after a day of sightseeing…especially when there is a masseuse on call! After our swim, we had private massages in the open-air room on the second floor of the pool house.

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Chiang Mai has an incredible vibe about it and the staff and amenities at Rachamankha made it that much sweeter.

Much love from Chiang Mai,
Anne & Mike
HoneyTrek.com

Note: Rachamankha invited us to be their guests; however, all opinions are our own.

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