Chiang Mai, Thailand (+ babies)

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Last weekend we took a family trip to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. This was my second trip (Frank’s fourth), but needless to say, this was a little different from our first Chiang Mai vacation.  That trip, we had been married for barely a year, were still new to Thailand and spent our time zip-lining, enjoying long late dinners and lounging by the pool.

Fast-forward a few years and we are a family of four. This trip was different, but no less fun!

Monks Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is home to some really beautiful temples, so we spent a good amount of time bouncing around between them.

Frank Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai_Frank and girls

Chiang Mai

Frank and I both wanted one (just one!) nice picture of Molly and Clara in a temple, but those two are way too active to sit still for a picture.

Molly_Clara Temple


Clara and Molly Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Temples

Even if we didn’t get “the” shot, I suspect some other member of the Molly and Clara paparazzi might have.

Chiang Mai Temple Pic

Temple Crowds Chiang Mai

In addition to sightseeing, we were on a mission to find a carved wood piece to take home with us, so we hired a taxi to take us around to some of the shops. And we shopped, and shopped, and shopped…and the girls did great, all things considered.

Since every 10-month-old’s favorite thing is to hang out in the Ergo while her parents examine every wooden spirit house and sculpture in Northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai Word Carvings

Letting them touch things ended up being a pretty good distraction technique.  Bells and gongs were particularly intriguing.

Jess Clara_Chiang Mai Bells

Back in Chiang Mai, we went out for dinner a couple of times to enjoy the weather (cooler than Bangkok, but still not “cool”). And even though we’re sort of early-bird-special people these days with the girls’ early bedtime, we found some really good food. All of which I forgot to photograph. Except for these chicken green curry roti which were AMAZING.

Green Curry Roti in Chiang Mai

As Clara and Molly get older, I get increasingly excited about having them sit with us and try all the different foods we’re eating. Even now, they’re pretty flexible and happy to try all different flavors and dishes.

Dinner_Chiang Mai

And usually they’re pretty patient with meals.  It helps that we keep a stash of Cheerios around and that every waiter in all of Thailand is happy to entertain them.

Dinner_Chiang Mai Riverside

One night we had early appetizers and drinks at the Anantara along the river which was beautiful.

Chiang Mai_Riverside

Clara and Molly liked playing in the grass.  And eating the grass.

Molly Clara_Chiang_Mai

We bee-lined it back to the hotel that night, but not until we stopped at the Tuk Tuk popsicle truck.

Popsicle Truck Chiang Mai

Clara, being too young for popsicles, was unimpressed.

Clara_Chiang Mai Market

It was a great trip, and one I’d definitely recommend to people with kids. Chiang Mai is fairly easy to do on foot and with a stroller, and the markets and temples, and variety of restaurants made it a lot of fun for all of us. It’s so much more relaxed than Bangkok, which makes it a really nice change from this city we live in.

Chiang Mai_Tuk Tuk

It was sad to pack up and see the trip end.  Clara and Molly did great on both flights, and fell fast asleep in the car on the way home from the airport.

Clara and Molly_Chiang Mai

I think we’re starting to get the hang of this traveling-with-babies thing. I’m already thinking about where we should take them next!


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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. Hi I loved reading your article. We will be travelling to Chiang Mai with our two little ones next summer. One will be 18 months and the other three months (second baby is due in April). I’d love to ask a few more questions about the logistics of your trip if you don’t mind? Were car seats readily available etc and places to change babies nappies near the temples etc?

    1. Hi Corryn! Oh wow – you’ll totally love it. We found it to be such a great place to travel with young kids – we felt very safe all the time, and people were so friendly / sweet with our kids. We never felt out of place having them in restaurants, even when they were not the quietest of patrons. 😉 Thailand in general, including Chiang Mai, did not offer the sort of conveniences you mention (it was a few years ago though, so there’s a change things have changed). Few taxis have seatbelts, and at that time, we never encountered any car seats except the ones that we traveled with. One thing I’d recommend looking into is hiring a car service. It’s surprisingly affordable to hire a van / car to pick you up from the airport and / or hire one for a day at a time. A simple google search will probably turn up a few services that are operating in English. A car is not necessary – Chiang Mai is very walkable, though the sidewalks and roads are uneven and can be a bit challenging with a stroller – but we often found it nice to have a car with us all day to stash our stuff while we toured temples and cool off in between. We often preferred to wear our kids in slings or back-packs for shorter outings instead of dealing with the stroller. I never encountered a changing table in any public restroom, so I always made sure to bring a small changing pad and would just change them on the seat of a car or set them down on the changing pad under some trees and change them there. Feel free to email me if there are any other questions I can help with!! jess @

  2. Oh my goodness! Babies in temples! I love this so much! 🙂 I have loved following your photos for a while on Instagram now and I am so happy that I took the leap and came to spend some time on your blog! We love to travel (especially in Asia!) and love everything about your blog. We have started adding a lot more travel + food related content to our site. I am happy to discover your “travel” section too!

    1. Alix – you’re so sweet! So glad we found each other here in the inter webs! Thanks for checking out the travel posts – I love reading others’ travel posts as well. But you live in Paris, so you’re already living my dream! 😉

  3. This is one of those posts that I read and can’t get over the amount of difference in our lives, lol. But I love it! Glad you guys had a nice trip 🙂

  4. I love reading your updates… I love your pictures! The babies are getting more adorable by the day! Do I take it
    that you are coming to Kansas City for a visit soon?

    1. Mary Ann – it does! We’re not sure quite when yet, but we hope to be back in the U.S. and Kansas City at some point in the coming months!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your photos of Chang Mai – I hope to go there on my next trip to Thailand next September. It does look peaceful compared to the big city. I can highly recommend Koh Lon (off Pattaya) as an idea seaside get-away.

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation, Connie! We haven’t been there yet, but are always looking for new travel ideas.