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Monks releasing flying lanterns during the Loy Krathong festival. (Photograph by Daniel Nahabedian, My Shot)

Alana’s Chiang Mai

Alana Morgan quit her 9-to-5 job in Seattle and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand to travel and experience the world. Two years later, she’s still living abroad and planning her next move. Here are a few of her favorite things about Bangkok’s “little, nicer, cleaner, smaller, calmer, prettier sister” city.

Follow Alana’s story on her blog and on Twitter @alana_morgan.

Chiang Mai is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to go eat some great cheap eats on the street.

One of the countless stalls at Chiang Mai's Sunday Night Market. (Photograph by Diane Valera, My Shot)

November is the best time to visit my city because the weather is perfect — coming from Seattle, any place where you can see the sun ever day is just about heaven.

You can see my city best from getting lost in the little sois (streets).

Locals know to skip the Night Bazaar and check out the Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets instead.

The weekend night markets or daily Warorot Market are the places to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

My city’s best museum is: scratch the museums and spend your time walking around the different parts of town. So much of life is lived outdoors in Southeast Asia that the best way to soak it up and learn is simply to keep your eyes open.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s there’s a method to the traffic madness. Watch it before hopping on a motorbike yourself.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai. (Photograph by Ed Gabrys, My Shot)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is on the mountain, Doi Suthep, on the edge of town.

My city really knows how to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year, because the center of town is closed for a massive a three-day water fight.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they eat barbecued pork skewers and sticky rice for breakfast.

For a fancy night out, I head to the trendy Nimmanhaemin area for a table-side bottle of whiskey and some great people watching.

Just outside my city, you can visit mountainous jungles and tiny villages.

My city is known for being the second largest city in Thailand, but it’s really  a small town with a close community.

The best outdoor market in my city is…they’re all outdoor markets — from clothes, to food, to flowers!

Good Morning Chiang Mai is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and any noodle soup stall is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the expat magazine, Chiang Mai CityLife.

Another day at the Elephant Nature Park, a rescue center near Chiang Mai. (Photograph by Jeff Gear, My Shot)

My city’s biggest sports event is muay Thai fightingWatch it at several stadiums throughout town.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I am even more thankful for the 30 baht ($1) street-stall meals.

To escape the crowds, I take my motorbike for a ride in the countryside.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be a very modest one because although it has a lot to offer, it’s always humble.

The dish that represents my city best is khao soi, a northern specialty of a spicy, coconut curry served over yellow egg noodles, and Sang Som and soda is my city’s signature drink.

Practically every Buddhist wat (temple) is my favorite building in town because they are all so intricate and beautiful.

The most random thing about my city is the fact that you may just see an elephant walking down the street.

The North Gate Jazz Co-Op is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Monkey Club on the west side of town.

Going ziplining, chatting with a monk, learning to cook Thai food, meditating at an ancient temple, eating grasshoppers and enjoying a massage — all in one day — could only happen in my city.

Tourists being driven in an ox-driven carriage in Chiang Mail. (Photograph by Elena Popescu, My Shot)

*We only have 3 seasons!*

In the hot season you should head to mountains of northern Thailand for cooler temperatures and breathtaking views.

In the rainy season you should always have a poncho…and some patience.

In the cold season you should enjoy the perfect weather day in and day out.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss making a wish and setting off a paper lantern during the Loi Krathong Festival.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is the John Butler Trio‘s “Ocean.”

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Chiang Mai is Bangkok’s little, nicer, cleaner, smaller, calmer, prettier sister and has some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see.

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