THE BACK UP PLAN Chiang Mai
Most long time Phuket foreign residents have heard the mythical Chiang Mai tale of a burned out island expat who heads north and finds riches, all things cheap and cheerful and of course cool weather.
Coming back from a short trip to CM, first let me say it was indeed hot – very hot. While not as hot as Phuket's lets just say I got up close and personal with my hotels aircon.
Now it's been a while since my last trip and there are some very nice hotels such as Mandarin, Four Seasons, and The Chedi on offer. I stayed at the Manathai which offered a great location, charming product and lovely staff.
Still driving around the city streets you can't help but feel you are in Phuket town (or city as it is properly called). It's a city and there is traffic, a large tourism industry and certainly countless stalls selling exactly the same hill tribe hats or funky rude t-shirts).
There is the good side, drivers are more courteous, and the airport is immaculate compared to our islands chaotic transit link, which is looking like rush hour at Super Cheap these days.
Yes things are less expensive but not by a lot. International schools and villas are not far off our inland properties nor education priced different from British International or Phuket Academy.
While the short average length of stay and seasonal trading have plagued Chiang Mai for years forward sentiment is good as you speak to hoteliers. Culture tourism and European wholesalers are fueling growth.
As I checked in for the direct AirAsia flight back to Phuket I ran into two people I know who reside near to me. Both had been north for five days and said 2-3 days would have been enough.
So yes wanderlust and life on the other side often seems better but before you pack your life's belongings its best to do you own personal fact-finding.
Chiang Mai will no doubt continue to attract a large contingent of foreign residents. Options are good in life and if we all wanted to sleep in the same bed, it might be an over crowded house.