We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand without a place to stay on Christmas Eve. We had been in Bangkok the previous 4 days but could not find anything in Chiang Mai through the internet, by phone, or through friends and connections.
Our plan was Chiang Mai for Christmas plus we are flying over our 20-year old from LSU on Dec 29. We'll likely be in Chiang Mai for 3+ weeks before traveling to a close country (Laos or Cambodia) for a week or so before re-entering Thailand to extend our visa another 30 days.
What we didn't know is that even though Thailand is not Christian, everyone takes holiday IN CHIANG MAI from Dec 26 - New Years (roughly Jan 4), thus making it near impossible to find a place especially when traveling as a party of 6 and soon to be 7.
So we arrived at the Chiang Mai airport at 3PM with no place to stay on Christmas Eve. We continued searching the internet and calling place after place (keep in mind we are on a tight budget). 4PM - no place. 5PM - no place. 5:30 we find a place called Joy's House - a guest house about 15 minutes outside of city center.
Turns out that Joy's House is not only a guest house but a children's shelter. Kids from SE Asia and Burma, etc have been taken-in here and some have been schooled and raised here their whole lives through a foundation. Amazing! We had no idea. As we arrived there were Christmas lights, decorations, music, and tons of kids getting ready for what looked like a Christmas Eve celebration. So after a weary and challenging journey and a bit of stress about getting my family shelter for Christmas Eve, the link is what we arrived to.
It was such a blessing. The owners are not Christians but told me that many of the children are Christians due to missionaries through the years, so the celebration was for the children.
Hope you enjoy the link to a short snippet of the kids singing.
UPDATE: We are back on the hunt for a place to stay as our Joy's House accommodation was too expensive. Stay tuned.