Chiang Mai update October 2021

Old hotel Chiang Mai news
Tourists in bicycle taxis
Start of the samlor tour of USAC

The Chiang Mai update of October 2021

I have decided to make a personal email to update you on the reopening of Chiang Mai in October and the situation on the ground. This is not a mass email campaign. I have selected a small number of addresses. I have chosen this format because it is more personal. If you don’t want to receive these updates, please let me know and I will remove you from the list. No hard feelings.
Everyone is aware of the situation so I won’t elaborate on that. I have used the past year and a half to travel extensively in the north of Thailand, do research, write content and design new tours for my websites Chiang Mai a la Carte and Green Trails.

Table of Contents

Young people having lunch
USAC group having lunch

Tour for USAC

On Sunday, September 12, we did our first tour for 16 American exchange students from USAC, the University Study Abroad Consortium. We have been working with USAC since 2018. USAC offers more than 50 academic study abroad programs in 27 countries. These students stay in Chiang Mai for four months and have done the two-week quarantine, so they are not regular tourists. They do courses at CM University and stay at the campus. We do several tours and trekking for them, and I give lectures about hill tribes. On Sunday, the tour we did with them was a combined samlor and bicycle tour, visiting historical sites in and around Chiang Mai. More pictures of the trip are on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Old hotel in the 1970s
Pornping Hotel in the 1970s. Picture by Håkan Carlsson

The gentrification of the Night Bazar

There is some exciting news on the hotel front. The addition of two five-star hotels and the re-branding of another hotel is part of a significant development plan for the Chang Klan/Nightbazar/Charoenprathet area, which used to attract many tourists.

The Meliá Chiang Mai

The five-star Meliá Chiang Mai will open on December 1, 2021. The Meliá Chiang Mai is the old Pornping Hotel, which opened in the The 1970s and had become a bit rough around the edges. The Meliá is going to be spectacular. Just have look at the website. I have met the GM Edward Snoeks, an experienced hotelier from the Netherlands, a couple of times. As soon as the hotel allows it, I will do an inspection. Mélia, by the way, is a Spanish hotel chain.

White and blue buildings
The Pornping and Diamond hotels in 2020

The Intercontinental Chiang Mai Mae Ping Hotel

The old Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, dating back to 1995, is undergoing a major restoration and will open as the five-star Intercontinental Chiang Mai Mae Ping Hotel on September 1, 2022. Last week I met the GM, Peter Pottinga, another experienced Dutch hotelier. He described the formula of Intercontinental as a “living museum.” They will organize events and exhibitions.

Hotel with many rooms
The Imperial Mae Ping

The new wing in colonial style

Besides that, they will build a new wing in the same colonial style as the former British Consulate on the Ping River. The consulate is now the restaurant “1921” of the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort. The hotel will also adopt an ancient, neglected temple, Wat Chang Khong, and take care of it. The temple is next to the hotel. The InterContinental Hotels Group plc, marketed as IHG Hotels & Resorts, is a British multinational hospitality company. I am looking forward to the opening of the Intercontinental Chiang Mai Mae Ping Hotel!
Temple in forest
Wat Chang Khong

Le Méridien Chiang Mai

Peter also told me that Le Méridien Chiang Mai, which opened in 2008, will be renovated next year and re-branded as the Marriot Chiang Mai. This renovation will probably not be as time-consuming and drastic as is the case with the two older hotels. Le Méridien and Marriot are part of Marriott International, Inc., which is an American multinational company.

Asset World Corporation

These three hotels are in the Chang Klan/Night Bazar area, less than one km away from each other. The buildings are the property of Asset World Corporation (AWC). This real estate group is part of Thai Charoen Corporation Group (TCC), one of Thailand’s leading corporations.
 TCC also owns Thai Bev, the company that produces Chang Beer, amongst others. AWC is also the owner of the Galare Nighbazar complex, the Lanna Ancient House, the old Nakornping Hospital, and Panthip Plaza.

Hotel in the city Chiang Mai update October
Le Meridien Chiang Mai

The beating heart of Chiang Mai

According to Peter and Edward, the renovation and re-branding of these three hotels is part of an ambitious plan to breathe new life in the Charoenprathet/Chang Klan area. The Lanna Ancient House will become part of a boutique hotel. I am delighted with this development plan because I love this area. For me, the Chang Klan/Nightbazar/Charoenprathet area is still the beating heart of Chiang Mai. It is urgently in need of major modernization though.

Old house on stilts teak trade Chiang Mai update October
The Lanna Ancient House

Mae Wang trekking area survey

Earlier this month, I visited the Mae Wang trekking area with our “evergreen” guide Pornchai. We used to run many tours to this area. There were at least 20 elephant camps, but most have them closed. There was no one at the bamboo raft station. Next month, we will have a tour of the USAC students in the Mae Wang area, so we will make sure everyone is ready by that time. It was great to go on a survey again. Many more will follow in the coming weeks. This ends the Chiang Mai update of October 2021.

Young elephant behind a fence Chiang Mai update October
Baby elephant at Mae Wang