Hello First-time Travelers!

Are you going on a trip to a particular place for the first-time? Will you be setting foot in a foreign and unfamiliar soil? Rest assured that you have fellow travelers on the road who are embarking on new journeys.

I have been to many places, and the first time I stepped into unfamiliar territory I had to feel my way and rely on what I have on-hand especially when all I had were travel books, maps and print-outs from the web. My friends and I make our own itinerary. It is truly advisable to check out anything about the place before going on a trip.

Yet, you need not necessarily hire a travel agent or tour guide to get you around every time you visit a place for the first time. A little help from locals can add spice to your first-time travels. It can give you the freedom to explore the place and enjoy the feeling of not spending much, based on my own travel experiences.

You can take my word on some tips and information on the places I visited but feel free to be creative and be adventurous. I may offer some advice here and there but, as they say, “experience is the best teacher”. So, read on and find out more about my first-time travel adventures.

I want to make things easy for you. If you want to view the articles I wrote in this site, click the Table of Contents tab.

Photos used in this site are taken by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

And since I’m from the Philippines, I invite you to travel to my country as well.

Video taken from the Best Destination Travel TV site.

Street Dance Watching with Skechers GOwalk

The sky was dark and a downpour was threatening to halt the revelry. We hastened our walk through the crowd-filled streets of Bacolod that were closed for the Masskara Festival celebrations. We walked from one corner to the other, trying to find out if the street dance was already on its way. We waited for hours, standing in the middle of the street until a slight drizzle brought us running to the nearest building for cover.

Getting ready for the Masskara Festival 2014.

Getting ready for the Masskara Festival 2014.

Good thing I was wearing my Skechers GOwalk that was engineered for comfort, especially with the Skechers Performance technology. Otherwise, my feet would have been sore from a long time of standing. I’ve had several experiences in my previous travels when my footwear was a hindrance in my quest to further explore a city or place. Having the right kind of shoe when travelling is essential so that you get the best out of your experience.

Standing and waiting at the Bacolod Public Plaza for the street dance competition to begin.

Standing and waiting at the Bacolod Public Plaza for the street dance competition to begin.

Truly, life on the go gets the ultimate boost with the Skechers GOwalk. Designed to complement the mobile lifestyle of the modern man and woman, it is engineered to promote a natural walking stride and provide a “bounce in every step”. The growing number of Skechers GOwalk enthusiasts also acclaim the shoe’s superb fit and optimum cushioning.

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I later found out why SkechersGOwalk is the superior choice when I’m on my feet and on the move:

  • V-Stride technology features unique angled outsole that complements a natural walking gait and promotes fluid stride transitions;
  • GOimpulse sensors in outsole optimize every stride with stability and cushioning while providing unprecedented amount of traction for enhanced footing control;
  • Resalyte™ Midsole – proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact;
  • Four way engineered stability stretch mesh at front for greater flexibilty and comfort; side panels provide lateral support;
  • Quick-Fit Portal on heel for easy on, easy off convenience;
  • I can go sockless! Integrated OrthoLite® anti-microbial sockliner helps inhibit odor and prevent slippage.
Yes, I can go sockless!

Yes, I can go sockless!

With every step, Skechers GOwalk provided me the lightest, most flexible bounce that’s so comfortable, I wouldn’t mind walking from sun up to sun down. I can now breeze through my daily priorities, enjoy activities within my hometown, or explore far-flung destinations wearing the best lightweight shoe that’s #EngineeredForComfort.

Want to have a chance to get Skechers GOwalk premium items? Visit the Skechers GOwalk kiosk from October 16 to 29, 2014 at SM Mall of Asia.

The Skechers GOwalk is available in any of the following Skechers stores: Glorietta 2, TriNoma, Ayala Fairview Terraces, SM North Edsa, The Annex, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Place Manila, Gateway Mall, Lucky Chinatown, Market Market, Festival Mall, SM Fairview, SM Dasmarinas, Paseo Sta. Rosa, Marquee Mall, SM Pampanga, SM Clark, Ayala Center Cebu, SM City Cebu, SM Davao, Centrio Mall, Cagayan de Oro, and LimKetKai Mall CDO.

See? I made the right choice of wearing the Skechers Gowalk to celebrate the Masskara Festival.

For more information, visit the Skechers Philippines Facebook page via www.facebook.com/SkechersPhilippines, on Twitter, and Instagram via @SkechersPH. Tag your Skechers GOwalk photos and moments using the hashtags #EngineeredForComfort, #SkechersPH, and #SkechersGOwalk.

My magnifique stay in Sofitel Manila

The red and yellow mood lights and the glittering crystal chandeliers created a perfect ambiance that enhanced the artful interiors of the newly unveiled iconic design of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila‘s Grand Plaza Ballroom.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

The last time I was in this hotel was earlier this year when I attended a press event which featured a celebrated international chef. That was when I was still working with the largest publication company in the country. Fast forward to several months after when I have settled back in my quiet hometown of Bacolod where, apart from my full-time job, I write on the side for my blog and contribute to some magazines based abroad.

The poolside.

The poolside.

A friend who used to be my peer as a fellow hotel PR practitioner contacted me to share the news that Sofitel Manila would be opening its newly designed ballroom. It came with an invitation, but I hesitated because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to leave my office and traveling to Manila would entail certain expenses. But when she added that she would fly me to Manila and let me stay for two nights in her hotel — for free — I knew it’s an offer I cannot refuse.

Heavy traffic greeted me upon touchdown in Manila. But thanks to Sofitel Manila’s car service, I was able to endure the bumper to bumper scene with style. The driver was also very pleasant as he engaged me in an interesting conversation. He surprised me with a route that somehow made us avoid the traffic jam.

Spiral Restaurant is known for its wide buffet selection.

Spiral Restaurant is known for its wide buffet selection.

Good thing I was able to still catch dinner at Spiral Restaurant, which is very popular because of its extensive buffet offerings. My friend showed me around the restaurant and its numerous food stations that featured various cuisines from all over the world. The wide selection made me want to get as many food as I could but my tiredness from travel seemed to have hampered my appetite.

The entrance to LeSpa.

The entrance to LeSpa.

As soon as I finished dinner, I went to Le Spa for a relaxing Oasis treatment, which included a Filipino pride massage and an instant glow Themae facial. It made me look forward to spending the night in my soft and heavenly MyBed. But as I got into my room, I couldn’t help but view first the beautiful city lights at Manila Bay.

My comfy bed.

My comfy bed.

See-through shower.

See-through shower.

The next day, after another filling breakfast at the Spiral, I had another wellness session. This time, it was a Detox Retreat at the Vietura Aesthetic Institute. It is like an oasis at the heart of the city with walls filled with greenery. The treatment required me to observe soft diet for the next 24 hours so I opted for a De-Light Japanese set menu. The De-Light menu, which is also available in the buffet selection, was developed to compliment Vietura’s wellness advocacy.

Vietura's lounge. The whole institute is an oasis with its green walls.

Vietura’s lounge. The whole institute is an oasis with its green walls.

My De-Light Japanese lunch set. First course.

My De-Light Japanese lunch set. First course.

And the De-Lightful dessert.

And the De-Lightful dessert.

Our host was gracious enough to give us a peek to the opulent Imperial Residence. Would you believe, the Imperial Residence is comprised of five distinct rooms: four Luxury Club Millesime rooms and the Imperial Suite, which boasts of elegant living spaces, a fully equipped kitchen by Miele, formal dining room, luxurious bath facilities and the largest outdoor living area overlooking unrivalled views of the Manila Bay.

The living room of the Imperial Suite.

The living room of the Imperial Suite.

The highlight of this trip was the Ballroom launch. Corporations, government agencies, event organizers, associations, the media, the French community in the Philippines — Sofitel Manila’s friends all came together to witness the transformation of this iconic ballroom.

The launch of the Grand Plaza Ballroom.

The launch of the Grand Plaza Ballroom.

General Manager Adam Laker introduced the Ballroom’s new chapter while acknowledging its testament to history. Since it opened in 1976, the Grand Plaza Ballroom has hosted numerous events of heads of state and prominent personalities. The Ballroom is also one of the enduring masterpieces of National Artist Leandro Locsin.

One of the buffet stations during the launch.

One of the buffet stations during the launch.

The buffet was even expansive and a miniature Eiffel Tower made of Sofitel Manila’s food stood at one end of the ballroom. The launch was a success. It truly showed that when you’re in Sofitel Manila, life is magnifique!

First-time in Novotel Suvarnabhumi

Arriving in Bangkok on a dark night from Chiang Mai and an early morning flight to catch the next day can be a bit taxing. Good thing we were to stay the night at Novotel Suvarnabhumi, a stone’s throw away from the airport.

Novotel Suvarnabhumi's lobby.

Novotel Suvarnabhumi’s lobby.

But it’s not just the proximity to Bangkok’s gateway that makes Novotel Suvarnabhumi a wise choice for an accommodation where you can rest and relax. As I stepped inside its entrance doors, I was enthralled by the display of elegance and modern art of the hotel lobby. Too bad I was to stay for a few hours only. It seemed cruel that such beauty would only be a place for me to lay my head for the night.

Magnificent lobby.

Magnificent lobby.

The lobby is spacious and a number of restaurants line up both sides. I could imagine a large gathering, such as a convention or conference, to be held here and still have the participants enjoy the ambiance.

The lobby reception.

The lobby reception.

We were led to a small room where we waited for a hotel staff to assist us for our check-in. Later on, we trooped behind him as he carried our luggage to our respective rooms.

Spending a few hours of sleep in this beautiful room.

Spending a few hours of sleep in this beautiful room.

The room was even more magnificent. Inside the bathroom ,the tub has a see-through window that provides a view of the room and the flat screen TV. Of course, you can just put the blinds on if you want some privacy.

See-through.

See-through.

From my window, I could glimpse the pool area outside. But sleep was about to consume me and I had an early flight to catch. So, I hit the bed only to wake up four hours later and have a very early morning quick breakfast. Good thing they already had a buffet set up as early as 5:00 am, despite the limited selection. Still, we were grateful for Novotel’s warm accommodation.

View from my window.

View from my window.

Do you check a hotel review before booking?

A few weeks back, a friend shared with me some information on a survey about travelers and how they access hotel reviews before deciding for an accommodation to book.

It revealed that when it comes to choosing a hotel to stay Filipino business travelers are the most likely to rely on reviews, with 80% saying that these are important. The latest Travel Smart survey of Agoda.com, one of Asia’s leading hotel booking sites and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group (Nasdaq: PCLN), showed that business travelers generally place least importance on hotel reviews, with the Filipinos as among the exception.

The survey, carried out in March 2014, asked 65,000 Agoda.com customers how important hotel reviews are to them, how many hotel reviews they generally read before they book, and if they would book at a hotel that had no reviews.

Hotel Reviews 1

About 59% of Japanese business travelers indicated that hotel reviews do not matter to them. This point-of-view was shared by the Australian (53%), French (51%), UK (46%), and American (39%) business travelers On the other hand, those that put premium on hotel reviews like the Filipinos, are Indian (68%), Chinese (66%), Malaysian (64%) and Vietnamese (62%) business travelers.

Majority of travelers– based on countries with over 100 respondents – research hotels and compare them prior to booking. For most travelers such as couples and families, 36.9% to 40% look at more than 10 hotels before they decide on which hotel to book. In contrast, only 27% of business travelers check over 10 hotels prior to booking. All other traveler types (62%) say that hotel reviews play a significant part in determining their hotel choice, while only 57% of business travelers concur.

Hotel Reviews 2

“Choosing a hotel is influenced heavily by word of mouth, so it’s not surprising that reviews from fellow travelers play a huge role in the decision process,” says Timothy Hughes, Agoda.com’s VP Marketing. “With over 7 million verified customer reviews to rely on, Agoda.com customers can get a great idea of what people just like them – or unlike them – think of the hotel they’re looking at.”

How about you, do you check hotel reviews before you book one? And how many reviews do you read before you make a choice?

Eat’s More Fun in Bacolod

Home sweet home. It truly is. That’s because home is Bacolod, the capital of the sugar bowl of the Philippines. It is known for its delectable food, especially desserts.

I’ve already written some fine eating places in the City of Smiles in my previous blog post Eat is Bacolod. Ever since I came home last June, I’ve visited and tried several restaurants in the city. As they were too many, I was planning of doing separate posts for each. But since the Masskara Festival is just around the corner and many travelers will be coming over, I decided to put them all in one post.

Take your pick and have fun eating!

Pepe’s Restaurant and Bar

Sunday lunch is fun when shared with the family and what better place can there be than to be in Pepe’s. Its restaurant at the second floor of the Azotea Building was a good location, providing a good view of Lacson St. that leads towards the boundary of Bacolod City and Talisay City. There were parking spaces but limited as we were not expecting a lot of people to be heading to Azotea Bldg. the same time as we did.

When it comes to food choices, they have great grilled food menu. The one I had was the finely cooked Baby Back Ribs which was just so sinful as every bite and chew melted in my mouth. After a hearty meal and a good conversation, we capped our lunch with dessert.

The restaurant staff afforded us with a warm hospitality although some orders had to be followed up from time to time. Prices are reasonable as they range between P100-P200.

Address: Azotea Bldg., Lacson St, Mandalagan, Bacolod, Negros Occidental
Phone:(034) 441 0731; (034) 433 2905

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Mely’s Garden Restaurant

I’ve heard about Mely’s from our mother several times. She’s been raving about it. So, one Sunday after church, my sister, cousin, niece and I headed to Mely’s for a filling lunch.

Luckily, we were able to find a parking spot. But Mely’s was full at that time and we thought that our luck must have ended at the parking. Not so because a waiter who welcomed us informed us that they can open one of their function areas at the adjacent building and prepare a table for us.

The restaurant has full glass windows, allowing light to stream in while enjoying the garden view outside.  As we were seated, the staff directed us to the main restaurant where we can choose for the food we could order. The food served were mainly Filipino dishes and I opted for a chicken binakol, a soup with coconut water and meat. We ordered other dishes as well from the “turo-turo” set-up and also from the menu board. The price range was around P100-300 per dish but it can be shared by 2-3 persons.

Address: 6th St, Bacolod, 6100 Negros Occidental
Phone:(034) 435 1080; (034) 709 6200; 0918-9028800
https://www.facebook.com/MelysGardenRestaurant

L’ Kaisei

One of the premiere Japanese restaurants in the city, L’ Kaisei provides a relaxed ambiance with its airy interiors. The food are amazing, too. I tried the sashimi, my litmus test for every Japanese restaurant, and the fish are fresh and tasty. The price are reasonable. Plus, parking is not a problem in this restaurant. If you’re commuting, it is right along the main street of the city where several jeepneys ply the route.

Address: 10th St. cor Lacson St., Bacolod, 6100 Negros Occidental
Phone:(034) 435 0489

Café Uma

Entering Café Uma, I was instantly drawn to the wall that featured magazine clippings of old Negrense life. Plus, you will be amazed by the miniature trains and trucks that carry sugar canes.

But not only the artful ambiance will attract you to Café Uma (“uma” in Hiligaynon means farm, which is often referred to haciendas in the province) but also, and more importantly, its food fare. A dish may cost around P100-300. They are Filipino food, so you get the Ilonggo taste of kansi (bone marrow soup), and adobo, which will sweeten your palate. They also have delicious desserts!

Address: 15th St, Bacolod, Negros Occidental
Phone:(034) 432 3853

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Trattoria Uma

In the same building as Café Uma, but along Lacson St. (the block next to L’ Fisher Hotel) is Trattoria Uma which serves Italian cuisine. The pasta are delectable with the right mixture of seasoning and herbs. Food dishes may cost from P200-P400, depending on your food option. I personally liked their ministrone.

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L’ Sea

At the other side of L’ Fisher Hotel is L’ Sea, which serves dimsum and Chinese delicacies. They have mixed vegetables and noodles. I think we tried a shrimp menu which was very delicious.

Address: 14th St, Bacolod, Negros Occidental
Phone:(034) 435 4922

Café Bob’s

Café Bob’s is known for its brick oven pizzas. But it is also sought after because of its pasta, desserts, and gelato. And at the back of the café, they have their deli where cold cuts and different kinds of cheese are sold.

I like the interiors of Café Bob’s. They sometimes display artworks in their support to local art. Their prices are affordable, given the quality and taste of their food as well as the wonderful ambiance they offer.

Address: 21st St, Bacolod, Negros Occidental
http://www.cafebobs.com/

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Hong Kong Kitchen

I liked the dimsum in Hong Kong Kitchen because they are tasty and mouthwatering. Try their vegetable dishes and pair them with the yang chao. My mother is not a big fan of this place but when I tried the food, I wondered why. We probably don’t share the same food preferences.

Address: Robinsons Place, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City 6100
Phone:(034) 441 0718

Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken

I was a bit curious about charcoal chicken so we tried Peri-Peri. It was full when we got there. They have a large space and we were accommodated at their bar area. They had a special promo at that time that afforded us unlimited soup and unlimited drinks.

Sadly, the soup was a bit overcooked. Even the chicken and the pasta, I was not satisfied. It was such a pity because I was expecting so much from them as the concept of charcoal chicken was a bit interesting.

Address: Robinsons Place, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City 6100
https://www.facebook.com/peripericharcoalchicken

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Chikaan

I think this one tops my list. My sister is not so much into fish and shells. But, oh boy, the kinilaw and the baked scallops were just so amazing! I swear we will go back to Chikaan to try their other dishes. And to think that at that time we were trying to run after time. It took time to cook but we still made it to our deadline.

Address: Robinsons Place, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City 6100

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Negros Museum Café

If not for the price, Museum Café would be definitely my no. 1. Also, this is the best ambiance I ever had. There were artworks everywhere and live jazz music was being played. My favorite is the salad that came with our rice meal. There was no vinaigrette but only oil and some salt. But because of the good mix of vegetables and fruits, it was the superb salad I’ve ever tasted! I would concur with media outlets to declare this as the no. 1 restaurant in town (if you have the budget, of course).

Address: Gatuslao St., Bacolod City 6100
Tel: 0916 908 6641
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Negros-Museum-Cafe/296627380426096

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Cookies and Crumbs

Their cordon bleu were okay. So was the chili garlic shrimp. But the chicken is a bit dry. Still, dining at Cookies and Crumbs is a great experience. The quiet, private corners are inviting. Price range are also reasonable and affordable.

Address: Carlos Hilado Hwy, Bacolod, Negros Occidental

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A Taste of Italy at The Ruins

The  ambiance is perfect. The murals inside the restaurant would make you feel you are in Italy. Then outside our window, the lighted Ruins of the mansion makes you forget you are in the Philippines. It takes you to a different place and era when you dine here.

So we ordered gnocchi alla varesina, salsiccia and bruschetta. It even looked tasty. But as we took our bite, the salty aftertaste stayed on our tongue. It never got any better. Spoon after spoon, the saltiness overpowered the flavor of the food. We had to order a P100 worth of bread just to downplay the salt. The price was also a bit steep. But it would have been acceptable given the location and the Italian recipes. Yet, the salt sure made us leave our dinner with unhappy tummies.

Address: Talisay, Negros Occidental
http://www.theruins.com.ph/restaurant.html

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Greenoz Pizzaria

I’ve been seeing a lot of Greenoz branches all over Bacolod, Talisay and Silay.  I’ve known Greenoz as to having one of the largest pizzas there is.

We dined in its store in Alijis and ordered a pasta and a pizza (of course!) They didn’t disappoint us. You’ll see the pizza being prepared and you can even watch them. Price is very reasonable, too.

Phone: (034) 4344294
http://greenozpizzariabcd.weebly.com/

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Sharyn’s Cansi House

You wouldn’t think you’ll find a delectable bone marrow soup in one of the dilapidated buildings in the Capitol Shopping Center. But in one of those humble joints is Sharyn’s Cansi Hosue. We never dined here but we bought kansi to bring home. The food is affordable and it was definitely one of the best bone marrow soup in this side of Bacolod.

Address: C-58 Narra Avenue, Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Phone: (034) 433 1374

Sofia Bread and Pastries

Coming from Sharyn’s and making a U-turn at Hilado St., we chanced upon Sofia Bread and Pastries. It seemed pretty new. Their cakes looked tasty. We bought some breads,which were good. They run out of their pasta offerings that day. We could have taken our snacks there if those were available. I like it’s interior design with interesting posters and quotes on the wall.

Address: Narra Ave., Hilado Street, Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Phone: (034) 703 2833
http://www.facebook.com/SofiaBreadAndPastries

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B&C Korean Bakery

Right next door to Sofia’s is another bakery. It’s the B&C (or BNC or Bread and Cake) Korean Bakery. They have free tastes and they have all kinds of Asian breads — there’s kopi roti, goroke (or croquette), lamington cake, and so much more. The pastries are interesting as some I’ve never seen them before. They also have a branch at the 2nd floor of Lopue’s East.

Address: Narra Ave., Hilado Street, Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Phone: (034) 458-0554

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Wats in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is home to one of the old Thai cultures, as seen in the many heritage sites in the city. In fact, the old square alone has several ancient temples that reflect the Lanna culture.

My last trip to Chiang Mai was more focused on business travelling and we never had so much opportunity to visit the temples. I didn’t mind because I have visited five temples there during my 2010 trip. But on our last day, as we were the last batch to fly out of the city, our hosts told us that we can roam around the city, visit the umbrella making center and drop by in one of the temples.

I kept my silence hoping that it won’t be a temple I’ve been to before. But I instantly felt guilty as I might be a bit selfish for thinking that way, I thought that if ever it happens, I’d happily show my fellow visitors around.

As we passed by Dhara Dhevi, I heaved a sigh of relief knowing that the temple we would be going to was something I’ve never set foot before.

Wat Buak Krok Luang

Wat Buak Krok Luang’s compound was not as large as the previous temple grounds I visited four years back. At the far right of the area, there was what looked like an excavation for a new building that had to be constructed.

The temple itself was of medium size. Yet, do not be deceived by the area because Wat Buak Krok Luang, or what was also known as Wat Muang Kham, is one of the significant temples in northern Thailand.

Wat Buak Krok Luang

Wat Buak Krok Luang

Old documents have already mentioned the temple since 1822. It has undergone several renovations as it was continuously restored by Lanna royalties. Its design was an interesting example of northern Thailand architecture, depicting details and materials that are characteristic of the indigenous Lanna Style. At the entrance, serpents with bird beaks were found on both sides of the steps. Inside the temple, an interesting mural that tells about the life of Buddha filled the walls.

Mural paintings inside the temple's walls.

Mural paintings inside the temple’s walls.

In my familiarization trip in November 2010, I had the good fortune to enter several other temple grounds that also play a part in the history of Thailand. Here are the religious sites that I have visited.

Wat Pra Singh Voramahavihara

Constructed by King Phayoo of the Mengrai dynasty, Wat Pra Singh, which is also known as Wat Lee Chiang, is an important temple in Chiang Mai for over 700 years. The site of the temple is said to be the very spot where the chariot bearing the Buddha image broke down at the time when King Mahaprom ordered the image to be presented to the Chiang Mai king, King Saen Muang Ma of the Lanna Thai kingdom.

Wat Pra Singh

Wat Pra Singh

After several reconstruction and restoration processes, the wat was given the status of royal wat in 1941. The temple houses the Buddha images Pra Buddhasihing and Pra Thongtip.

Inside the temple devotees come to pray.

Inside the temple devotees come to pray.

Wat Chedi Luang

The chedi at Wat Chedi Luang was the tallest structure in Chiang Mai for over 500 years before it was destroyed in an earthquake. The temple was built by King Saen Muang Ma as a place where he would enshrine his father’s relics. Construction began towards the end of the 14th century but it was King Tilokarat who was able to see its completion.

The chedi still rises behind the temple.

The chedi still rises behind the temple.

Still under reconstruction, the remnants of Wat Chedi Luang is still impressive. Elephant structures surround the middle level of the chedi. Inside the temple grounds are also Wat Pan Tao, the city pillar, the assembly hall, the Mahamakut Buddhist University, the Yang tree, and other prayer halls.

Still magnificent, the Wat Chedi Luang.

Still magnificent, the Wat Chedi Luang.

Wat Chiang Mun

Wat Chiang Mun is said to be the first royal temple that was constructed in the vicinity of Chiang Mai’s old city area. The temple compound houses the white quartz image of the Buddha called Phra Setangkamanee or Phra Kaew Khao.

Wat Chaing Mun

Wat Chiang Mun

Also found within the temple grounds is a stone inscription that dates back to 1581, detailing the historical records of Wat Chiang Mun and Chiang Mai. The elephant-surrounded stupa called Chang Lom is more than 700 years old and considered to be the oldest and most significant stupa inside the compound.

Chang Lom, the elephant-surrounded stupa.

Chang Lom, the elephant-surrounded stupa.

Wat Lok Molee

This is said to be the temple where the 10 monks from Burma who were invited by the sixth Lanna King of the Mengrai dynasty stayed. They were asked to deepen their study of Buddhism in his kingdom. Although it was not indicated when the temple was actually built, historical records first mentioned Wat Lok Molee in 1367. In addition, the chedi was built in 1527 through the orders of Phra Kaew Muang and the main hall was erected in 1545.

The entrance to Wat Lok Molee.

The entrance to Wat Lok Molee.

This temple is also significant because this is where the ashes of the Royal Mengrai Dynasty members were kept until the end of the dynasty.

The temple and the stupa behind it.

The temple and the stupa behind it.

Wat Lok Molee is distinct because of its intricate design on its façade and the materials are made of wood.

Intricate design on its wooden facade.

Intricate design on its wooden facade.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Located on the mountain of Doi Suthep, this temple offers a magnificent view of the city of Chiang Mai. Legend has it that Sumanathera, a monk, had a vision where he was instructed to find a relic in Pang Cha. There at the site he found a bone, believed to be of Buddha, and brought it to King Dharmmaraja of Sukhothai. Although the king hosted a ceremony, he asked the monk to keep the relic. As King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of it, he invited the monk to bring it to him to which Sumanathera obliged with King Dharmmaraja’s consent.

Going up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Going up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

As the relic divided into two, the king placed the larger piece at the back of a white elephant, which believed to have climbed Doi Suthep when released to the jungle.

Elaborate architectural design on its roofing.

Elaborate architectural design on its roofing.

From the entrance of the temple grounds, visitors can either climb the 309 steps to get to the main area or take a tram. Many pilgrims go to the temple, which is regarded to be a sacred site, to say their prayers or bring their offerings.

The golden stupa shines brightly under the sun.

The golden stupa shines brightly under the sun.