Review: The Galare Thong Tower Condominium

We stayed in the Galare Thong for two months and got to know both the complex and the surrounding area very well. Overall we really enjoyed our stay there and would recommend it to people who want to travel on a backpackers budget but without staying in hostels and who prefer to live in a quieter area. It’s also great if  like us, you need to work on the road, as there was plenty of space for us each to have a comfortable desk to work at.

Having said that when we arrived on the first day we couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. We had opted to walk to the apartment from the Old Town just to see whether the reviews that told us the walk would take 30 minutes were correct or not. In hindsight this was not a great idea. It was scorching hot, we had heavy backpacks to carry and we were exhausted after a long trip from England.

The walk look longer than expected and when we finally made it there we were told that we had to go straight back out to withdraw enough cash to pay the first month’s rent. What? No way! I removed my booking confirmation in a huff and showed the front desk that it clearly said that I could pay with my credit card on arrival but the receptionist just claimed not to understand me and sent me packing. GAH!

This was a terrible start as we were already hungry, tired and hot which is not a good combination!!

We did as instructed though we refused to withdraw cash to pay a holding deposit of a further month’s rent which just seemed ridiculous. I stood my ground and won which was mildly satisfying but not enough to cheer me up!

We were shown to our room (406) which was on the fourth floor. My first impression was relief but Glen wasn’t so sure. There’s no doubt that the apartment was much more worn than the pictures had let on but it was big and comfortable and so I was quite happy with it. In fact within just a couple of days Glen came to love it too. It’s funny how your standards change when you are away. I probably wouldn’t be happy with that room in England but in Thailand I thought it was great!

Galare thong invoice

What a one month stay costs at Galare Thong

Where is it?

The condo is located on Chang Klan Road and is about a 45 minute walk into the old town.

472 Chang Klan Road Chiang Mai 50000

Chiang mai

The square in the top left is the Old Town

A songthaew will take you into town for around 60 baht /£1.20 and there are always tuk tuks nearby who will cost a little more. When getting a ride from town to the apartment many drivers won’t know where the Galare Thong is but it’s right next door to the Park Hotel which they will know and so always ask them to take you there.

The condo is at the end of a small dirt road and to get to it you have to walk past a few bars and restaurants. There are quite often people outside the bars who are always happy to say hello and we came to enjoy seeing them every day. There are also some really friendly dogs hanging around who we played with every day and now miss!

galare thong

Isn’t Snowman the cutest?

I had read previous reviews which warned of vicious dogs along the dirt road which made the condo difficult to reach and sure enough, there is a sign warning of just that at the entrance, but in two months we never saw any dangerous dogs and felt completely safe walking to and from the condo.

What’s nearby?

Despite the initial disappointment we really came to love this area.

Close by there are lots of water machines where you can fill up a 2 litre bottle with clean water for just 1 baht /2p (they’re only supposed to do 1.5l but some machines gave out more). There are also numerous laundry shops though we chose to do ours at a machine one street over as it cost only 20 baht /40p for an 8 kilo load. You can read a full list of how we saved money in Chiang Mai here.

Laundry chiang mai

Waiting for your laundry isn’t so bad here!

Other great amenities:

  1. The Anusarn night market is about a 20 minute walk away and is brilliant. We ate here almost every night and never had a bad meal. It’s cheap, delicious and fun! You can read about the best places to eat here. It’s also a great place to buy cheap clothing and there are some cool bars around too!
  2. Signature coffee. This is around a 15 minute walk away and does the best, cheapest, happiest coffee in all of Chiang Mai. The owner is simply adorable too.
  3. Pad Thai Lady. We have no idea what this restaurant is called but we are quite sure that it serves the best pad thai in all of Thailand. You will find it right next to the curve just about 10 minutes walk from the condo and a huge, yummy meal will cost you about 70p.
  4. There are plenty of 7 Eleven’s within walking distance and so it’s easy to keep your kitchen stocked.
  5. The Rati Lanna Hotel is close by and allows visitors to use their swimming pool / gym facilities for a fee
  6. For the best breakfast in the world make sure you go to the Butter is Better Bakery.
  7. There are literally hundreds of massage / beauty shops in Chang Klan Road. I used them for thai massages and mani / pedi’s which were super cheap.
  8. The condo will loan you a bicycle for the month for around 1,000 baht / £20 and it’s a great way to explore. Not far from the condo is a beautiful countryside area with amazing scenery but I’d recommend you try it out with a proper cycling tour first, like we did.
  9. There is a really popular art gallery nearby, you’ll walk past it on the way into town.

    coffee chiang mai

    Yuuum. Signature is the best!!

We weren’t very close to town but in our opinion this was a huge plus. Whenever we wanted to experience the crowds or temple hop we would walk into town whilst slurping on an iced coffee (heaven) but at all other times we had room to move around and really got to mingle with the locals.

Pro’s

  • It’s affordable (check out our full expenses here)
  • You get a lot of room with plenty of space to work and live
  • There are a lot of ex-pats in the building so it’s easy to meet people
  • The apartment has both a cafe and a small shop which is very useful
  • There are plenty of facilities nearby
  • You get to experience truly living like a local
  • The apartment has a spacious kitchen so you can cook if you want to though it’s cheaper and more fun to eat out
  • There is plenty of parking available
  • It is well run and the staff are very helpful
  • It’s quite far from the old town and so is much quieter
  • It’s safe
  • The bed is absolutely huge and so comfortable

Con’s

  • It’s quite far from the old town and so will not suit you if you want to be in the action
  • The wifi is not amazingly fast though it is workable
  • The rooms are a little tired and could do with some TLC
  • The walls are quite thin
  • The aircon was too loud for us to use (this actually saved us lots of money on electricity as we bought a cheap second hand fan instead)
  • The landlords expect to be paid in cash which is irritating
  • Each property is owned by a different person and privately rented so standards vary hugely across the individual apartments
  • Ants! You can’t leave food out on the counter-top and we stored EVERYTHING in the fridge. We bought a cheap can of ant spray which fixed the problem.

If you’d like to stay at the Galare Thong you can make a booking through their website. You can find cheap flights here and don’t forget your guidebook!

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