Decisions, Decisions

Chiang Mai, Santiago or Cappadocia?

When you work in travel, you’re exposed to a seemingly endless number of amazing vacation options, and choosing between them can sometimes be paralyzing. Our own Mitchell Friedman is experiencing this indecision quite acutely, and he needs your help. Where should he go next?

I’m ready to start planning a vacation. The only problem, and it’s a minor one, is that I have no idea where I should go. I’m hoping you’ll help me decide.

Here’s what you need to know about my conundrum:

1. I’m looking to travel this coming spring
2. I only have time for a one-week vacation
3. I’ve narrowed my options down to Cappadocia, Santiago, and Chiang Mai

Below, I’ve laid out my pros and cons for each spot, and at the end I’ll ask you to vote on which one I should choose. You can also suggest a different destination in the comments, because more places to consider is just what I need.

And if you’re wondering: yes, I do intend to follow through on your preference. At this point, I’d love nothing more than for someone to make this choice for me. And besides all that, this is a great way to inform my bosses that I need a week off.


Cappadocia

PROS:

Since the moment I laid eyes on it (specifically, its Instagram “location page” page — seriously, check it out), I’ve been obsessed with this region of Turkey. The surreal, dreamlike landscapes, the bizarre hoodoo spires that pop out of the ground, the caves and ancient underground cities. All of it. The description du jour of the region is “out of a fairytale,” and I’d love to go spew my own clichés about the place, which I’ll brainstorm from a hot air balloon floating over the artsy erosion of the Goreme valley. It’s one of the most unique places in the world.

CONS:

With a level three “travel advisory” from the U.S. State Department on all of Turkey, citing terrorism and arbitrary detentions, I have to take the government’s advice and “reconsider travel.” Cappadocia doesn’t fall into any of the regions called out more specifically by the advisory, but as the US and Turkish governments feud, it seems more and more prescient to wait on a visit until the situation’s more predictable. At the same time, you never know what will happen in the future — and it’s such a shame to miss a chance at visiting a place so remarkable, and to connect with the people who really make up the country.

WHERE I’D STAY:

Argos In Cappadocia - boutique hotel in Cappadocia

Argos In Cappadocia

Nevsehir

You can actually sleep in the archaic cave dwellings carved into the region’s soft volcanic rock, and Argos in Cappadocia is one such example of an extremely comfortable cave hotel, with some rooms sporting private terraces or in-cave pools. Where else do you get to say the phrase “in-cave pool”?

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Santiago

PROS:

Santiago is a bucket-list location in South America, a massive city set among the Andes and chock full of day trip opportunities. For example, you can do hot springs and hiking in the Andes on one day, and then turn around and visit the Maipo Valley, a wine region to rival Mendoza in Argentina, the next. Wine and hiking, we can agree, are the two equal and opposite pillars of any vacation. Plus, gastrotourism is my favorite word, and Chilean seafoods with names like locos con mayo (giant sea snails with mayo) and pastel de jaiba (a sort of cheesy crab casserole) are ones I’m willing to go the extra 5,000 miles for.

CONS:

There is so much I want to see in South America. But I only have one week, so does it really make sense to travel all the way to Santiago without ticking a few other places off my ever-growing list of dream destinations? Imagine the angst of having Patagonia and Easter Island within your sights but just beyond your reach. I might do something rash, like accidentally quit my job to leap into a life of backpacking around the globe. Since I really don’t want to quit my job or go backpacking (big hassle) right now, maybe I need to save my trip to Santiago for when I have a couple more weeks, at least, to explore the continent. I could save this one for later.

WHERE I’D STAY:

Matildas Hotel Boutique - boutique hotel in Santiago

Matildas Hotel Boutique

Barrio Brasil

Housed in a vintage 1912 structure in the central, architecturally fascinating neighborhood of Barrio Brasil, Matildas Hotel Boutique is in easy range of plenty of bars and restaurants, so I could easily get my fix of Chilean food and Pisco Sours (the classic cocktail of the region). And, of course, some rooms have views of that other Santiago showcase: the Andes.

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ChiangMai

PROS:

Chiang Mai shares much of the upside of Santiago, as it’s both the largest city in Northern Thailand and the capital of the mountainous Chiang Mai Province. So if you’re starting to feel like you know my priorities here, I’m yearning to visit the city for the food scene (with Khao soi the can’t-miss dish) that everyone expects in Thailand, but also itching to visit all sorts of natural attractions in the wider region. Places like the “sticky waterfalls” of Bua Thong and the massive Pha Chor canyon in Mae Wang National Park are within an hour or so of the city. Not to mention, Chiang Mai has plenty of nightlife (and a highly recommended night bazaar), and hundreds of ancient Buddhist temples. It has, to put it succinctly, everything. I am, to put it lightly, dying to go.

CONS:

So, is this the perfect choice? No, unfortunately, because two of the most convenient spring travel months encompass “the burning season” in Northern Thailand, and it can be difficult to know exactly when the air quality is going to really start deteriorating, how long it will last, and whether it will really affect the experience. Conventional wisdom says “to avoid” March and April in Chiang Mai. I could adjust my travel accordingly, but it’s inconvenient.

WHERE I’D STAY:

Tamarind Village - boutique hotel in Chiang Mai

Tamarind Village

Mueang Chiang Mai

In the heart of the historic old city, Tamarind Village nonetheless feels like the countryside with its bamboo-arch gateway and leafy, massive namesake tamarind tree. As soon as you venture outside the grounds, however, you’ll find the famous night bazaar and dining options all along the river. A relaxed vibe in the heart of the city? Very appealing.

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So now that you’ve heard all my lauding and kvetching — where should I go? Help me out by voting below, or, now that you know my most intimate travel desires, suggesting another destination in the comments. Go ahead, make my decision for me.

 

Where should Mitchell go?