Chiang Mai on your own – 7 tips for 50plus flashpacking fashionistas

Chiang Mai tips flashpacker

People of an older age – for example over 50 like us, who travel a country on their own with a rucksack and treat themselves to one or two luxuries are called flashpackers.

I can’t really explain the word, but I can explain the idea. It’s like backpacking, but chic and comfortable. First class sleeping cars instead of bus travel without air conditioning, 80 litre trolleys instead of 50 litre rucksacks, nice accommodation, sometimes a fine restaurant instead of always just street food. But the basic idea of backpacking remains… Make plans on the spot, let yourself be surprised, talk to other travellers and locals and get tips, stay where it’s nice and then move on at some point.

As you get older, another luxury is added, namely taking your time and letting go of the need to see as much as possible. Slow travel.

Travelling without time pressure, letting yourself drift and indulging a little. Spend 4 to 5 nights in each place instead of one or a maximum of two. You don’t have to visit every temple, club or insider tip, you don’t have to have travelled to every corner of a country.

For all those who feel the same way, here are my 7 best over-50 travel tips for Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city.

1. Travelling by night train from Bangkok

The first-class sleeping cars are clean and (very) air-conditioned. You have a compartment for two with a small washbasin and two beds on top of each other. A thin blanket and towel (both freshly washed and wrapped in plastic) are provided, but it still makes sense to dress warmly. The journey takes about 11 hours and is really good to endure. It is essential to book a few weeks in advance, as most night trains only have a 1st class carriage and these are quickly fully booked.

2. Overnight stay at 99 The Heritage Hotel

Great service and a chic ambience in a beautiful colonial-style building in the old town. Our deluxe room with a small balcony overlooking the beautiful courtyard came with a complimentary lunch and afternoon tea. The breakfast was great and the staff read your every wish from your eyes.

3. Street food and night market tour with Tanya from With locals

The perfect start to a stay in the north and for anyone travelling to Thailand for the first time. In addition to the culinary discoveries (Khao Soi!!!), you will also get a first impression of the city, the street food market in the north, the Chinese market in the east and the night market in the south of the city. You will also learn how to drive a shared taxi and all the important words such as “hello”, “thank you” and “delicious”!

4. Explore the old town and its temples on foot

Chiang Mai is big, but the old town is small. Surrounded by the remains of the old city wall, life and traffic here is very cosy. Many small restaurants and plenty of hipster cafés invite you to linger and the 99 The Heritage Hotel provides its guests with a map of the city, on which the most important sights and temples are marked and their history and significance explained. Everything is within walking distance.

5. Cooking class with Vannee from With locals

You cook a total of 4 courses (of your choice, we opted for red curry, chicken with holy basil, pad thai and tom kha gai). Vannee’s husband picks you up at the hotel, takes you to the market and buys a few ingredients. At Vannee’s cookery school, we first have water and a small snack, then we get to work. The ingredients have already been weighed out and just need to be chopped and then cooked. Everything is spotlessly clean and hygienic, and to my great delight, instead of whole chicken pieces, I had finely chopped chicken breast.

The chef demonstrates all the steps and shows you exactly what to look out for during preparation and cooking. She also gives tips on what you can substitute at home if you can’t get certain things in the Asian shop. All four courses are freely covered. At the end, everything is served together and eaten at the same time. Thai style.

We are quite enthusiastic about our creations and are brought back to the hotel very full and equipped with a cook book (with pictures!) made by Vannee. The next cooking club at home can come!

6. A massage at Zira Spa Chiang Mai

First choice when it comes to Thai massages in Chiang Mai. Says TripAdvisor and says me. I had the Zira’s Signature Treatment (received as a gift). 3 hours of pure relaxation in a private spa room with shower and toilet. It starts with a foot bath, followed by the Royal Thai Lanna Massage, a classic full-body Thai massage in which you are clothed. It begins with a special finger massage in which the fingers are inserted into long funnels and then stretched. It sounds strange, but it feels good, especially if your hands often hurt anyway. The aromatic oil massage with warm oil is a dream and the masseuse makes sure to work intensively on the areas that need special attention and that you can request accordingly. A facial treatment and massage rounds off the programme. Afterwards you feel a good 10 years younger and – in my opinion – look it too. 🙂

7. Food at the Bodhi Terrace at Anantara Chiang Mai

The street food in Chiang Mai is really, really good and if you want to sit a little nicer, you’ll also find lots of great little restaurants. But for a romantic evening by the river with sensational food and no less sensational service, Bodhi Terrace Restaurant is the place to be. The khao soi here, a curry noodle soup, was the best I’ve had in all of Thailand, and I’ve eaten many. And the pomelo salad with grilled river prawns was also to die for.

Aof, the waiter responsible for us, really read our every wish from our lips and took a lot of time to explain the individual dishes. Simply fantastic.

The Bodhi Terrace is part of the Anantara Chiang Mai 5-star resort. The whole complex is very beautiful and luxurious. I liked the 99 The Heritage Hotel better for accommodation because it simply has more charm and is much more personal. But the restaurants (in addition to the Bodhi Terrace, there is also a more meat-centred restaurant called The Service 1921) are really in a class of their own.


Do you want to go flashpacking now? Here are the most important travel essentials for women travelling individually.