24 April-9 May 2017
Greetings from ChiangMai, Thailand
The hour and fifteen minute flight up from Bangkok got me in at 16:15, providing plenty of time for the four kilometer walk up to the Furama Chiang Mai Hotel. This time mindful of my heavy pack and heeding suggestions from my favorite nag, I relented and hired a taxi for the fifteen minute ride... cost about $7.
Long experience with the excellent Furama Silom Hotel in Bangkok prompted me to try the Chiang Mai Furama. What a mistake that turned out to be. The building is old and dated, plus located west of the old city moats far from everything. As I had booked a prepaid room for three nights, I resolved to make the best of a bad situation. The wonderful Furama Executive Club enjoyed in Bangkok is a scruffy shadow in Chiang Mai. Naturally, I immediately used the time to start the hotel shopping hikes of explorations, logging three days of thirty thousand steps against a daily target of ten thousand. The extra exercise is very welcome as I continue to struggle with high blood glucose levels despite daily insulin shots.
I remembered the great hotel found during my last visit to the city in 2003 and checked old notes for the details. The Lotus Hotel was attached to a major shopping complex just west of the north-west corner of the old city moat. A bit of Internet research and I soon found the $44.50 Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel located behind the Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex right where I remember it and booked a deluxe room for four nights hoping to spend much longer than that in the place. However, the Lotus could only confirm four nights and that forced me to find alternatives starting 1 May.
The Lotus still is a bit remote from all the action, so I focused attention on hotels in and around the Night Bazaar area where I discovered the Dusit Princess Chiang Mai Hotel. An inspection convinced me to book a couple days trial and then extend that another two days. At $71.50 for the Deluxe rooms it seemed extravagant, but then I'm worth it, right? After the first night it became clear I needed to keep looking for my perfect Chiang Mai abode.
Several inspections later I found the 15th floor luxury rooms in the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel at $64.00 and booked the initial few nights. None of the booking agents like Agoda list the Luxury class room in the hotel. Deluxe is the highest advertised class. The receptionists at the hotel revealed this secret and noted the better 15th floor luxury rooms could be booked at the same rate as the booking agents' deluxe rooms, if done in person at the hotel. The rooms on the 15th floor include access to a very nice semi-private lounge as well as offering slightly better views of the surrounding city. Based on my four days in this house I can say it is the best value of the four hotels I've tried here.
Pondering onward itinerary possibilities, I decided the problems of Internet access in China are just too onerous for this stage of my life and the allure of Iceland more compelling. So, I'll divert to Turkey on the way to the frozen realms. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities and a place where I know there are good value hotels. Better flight choices start in Bangkok, so I'm heading back there for a few days of final preparation... in the great Bangkok Furama Silom, of course.
Fred L Bellomy
My Chiang Mai Hotel reviews:
Furama Chiang Mai 3 nites $55.00 - Not recommended
Remote location inconvenient for independent travelers
Staff friendly and helpful throughout hotel
Welcome fruit and letter: Executive Club
WiFi O.K. in room.
Large Chinese group with bad manners at breakfast
Mediocre breakfast with stale bread & cold eggs tray
Executive Club poorly implemented and staffed; uses lobby space and unavailable refreshments @ happy hour.
Building is old and of dated design; needs maintenance.
Sleeping room too large, poorly furnished and uncarpeted
Two separate A/C units cool, but with high humidity
Large bathroom with separate shower & tub
Kitchenette w/o microwave, but big refrigerator.
Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center: across the boulevard after block long driveway out from hotel; a big plus.
Located behind the Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex a few blocks west of north-west corner of the old city moat.
Good 12th floor view & impressive lobby atrium.
Thin, firm mattress pad... though not uncomfortable.
Slip shod housekeeping: no sheets ever changed
Breakfast just average.
WiFi intermittent with slow connections
No safety box!
Fresh fruits and flowers; very nice.
Dusit Princess Chiang Mai Hotel $71.50 4 nites - Very nice
Middle of Night Bazaar location; very busy at night.
WiFi occasionally excellent, but aggravating sign-on always requires a Facebook advertisement delay.
Bathroom plumbing problems not addressed
TV cable connector loose & fell out: no TV 20 hrs.
Breakfast above average - good coffee, fruit
Very pleasant staff throughout hotel
Room not made up until late afternoon.
Imperial Mae Ping Hotel $64.00 4 nites - Excellent
Luxury room on 15th floor very private with guard
Good selection of dishes during breakfast
Friendly, helpful staff throughout the hotel
Two fruit plates plus wedding? cake mistake?
Excellent WiFi everywhere.
Perfect A/C throughout hotel.
Tiny bathroom, but practical.
Just adequate hot water for shower.
Very pleasant pool area for relaxing and dining.
Fully booked day hectic and unpleasant... for me.
No decaf here or in any of the other hotels!
Only a block from all the Night Bazaar activity