This is part of the Trip Report So Long Mongolia, Hello SE Asia (December-January 2015) which covers:
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Chiang Rai, Thailand
- Yangon, Myanmar
- Ngwe Saung, Myanmar
- Mandalay, Myanmar
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Hong Kong
- Orlando, Florida
Catch up by reading the preview, The Banana Pancake Trail to Myanmar Starts This Monday, then the overview, Thailand, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Disney, Home, where the game time decision was made to leave Mongolia for good.
Getting There: From the bus station, hire a tuk-tuk for $4. To get to the airport, pay no more than $8 for a taxi. The airport is close by so don’t leave the hotel earlier than necessary.
I tried to leave the Prison of Posh for local life but ended up being overcharged and underwhelmed. After one night at Nak Nakara, I made the executive decision to move to Le Meridien Chiang Rai. The cost of the room during the December peak season is $140 for the standard room or 4000 SPG points. I went with points which was a good value since I value SPG points at 3 cents/point. To make this determination, I use the standard room price as the test for whether to use cash or points even if I know I will be upgraded to a suite. Unless I’m somewhere like the Maldives , I’m not going to pay extra for a nicer room so that amount shouldn’t be included in the computation.
The check-in was quick and smooth. As a platinum member I had been upgraded and would receive complimentary breakfast and happy hour.
After bouncing around from Mongolia to Bangkok to almost missing the train because of the Myanmar visa, it was nice to unwind at a proper hotel. Though prices for food and drink are outrageous compared to those in town, it was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I sat back and enjoyed the view of the pool and hotel grounds.
What a room for 4000 points. Nice bed, great bathtub, lovely shower, and a spacious balcony that overlooked the pool.
The Happy Hour
I showed up promptly for the start of Happy Hour which featured frozen drinks, beer, and wine. Snacks were also included. The trick to happy hour is to stop drinking immediately when it ends, lest you cut into your profits by ordering a $7 beer that costs $.65 on the street.
Le Méridien is a bit far from town. I recommend leaving the resort and hailing a tuk-tuk or hopping on the back of a motorbike. Though taxis aren’t that expensive in comparison, I can’t rationalize giving away my baht without good reason.
Le Méridien Chiang Rai is unquestionably worth booking because of the perks described above. It’s undervalued at 4000 points making it the best bargain I received in Thailand even with my stellar haggling skills.