Adventure Through Chiang Mai, Thailand
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Chiang Mai is a big city with a little town charm. Its vibrant culture and unique experiences make the city suitable for just about everyone. In fact, it is one of my all-time favorite places to visit because of the people, the culture, the walled city, picturesque mountains and the elephants! Here you can be fully immersed in the beauty of Southeast Asia and all the glory of local culture and its Buddhist temples.
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Where to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand
137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
In a restored 19th-century teak building, this special stay is a destination unto itself, known for its glamorous suites, spa and plugged-in tours.
Complimentary 30-minute massage.
akyra Manor Chiang Mai
A luxe design hotel in Chiang Mai’s arts district, with a sustainability focus, sleek guestrooms and a rooftop pool.
De Naga Hotel
Inside the moat of Chiang Mai’s Old City, this stylish boutique sleep is walking distance to the Sunday Walking Market and has a small cafe and brasserie.
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Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is a bustling city filled with things to do but let's start with a visit to the Elephant Nature Park. This park rescues elephants from being show and labor elephants. I highly recommend doing the Pamper a Pachyderm tour where you spend the day with Muoy Khamwichai's elephants. On the tour, guests spend the day with the elephants and their mahouts, or caregivers, preparing their breakfast and feeding them, walking them into the foothills, enjoying a Thai lunch while the elephants graze and then bathing the elephants in the river before it is time to return. It is the most amazing experience!
When you are done with the elephants and want to indulge in culture, head to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – a beautiful temple on a mountaintop. You can either hike up the mountain, hire a driver for the day or hop into a songthaew – red trucks that you can take as a cab. On a clear day, you can look out over the city of Chiang Mai. On your way back down to the city, make a stop at Chang Phueak and take an easy hike to two stunning waterfalls. The Wat Chedi Luang Buddhist temple was constructed in 1401. It is wonderful to tour during the day and beautiful to see lit up at night. Wat Prasingh temple is in the center of the Old City and is the largest Wat in the city. Head to this Wat in the early afternoon and you'll have a chance to browse a market on the grounds after visiting the temple.
Culinary Exploration & Shopping
Take a cooking class at the Thai Farm Cooking School. You will stop by the local market for a short tour before heading out to the countryside to visit their organic farm and then have fun preparing your favorite dishes in your own cooking station. Go hungry because you make a lot of food!
You should also try street food at the Chiang Mai Gate Market. This market happens every night but the best nights are the weeknights. The vendors sell everything from Thai iced tea to pad kra pow – spicy meat and basil dish – to mango sticky rice topped with coconut milk. The Sunday Walking Street is a must-do for any kind of shopping and eating too. This market runs along Rachadamnoen Road. If you go early, you will most likely avoid the crowds. If you're interested in doing any shopping, allow yourself several hours to wander, shop,and eat. The Saturday Walking Street is along Wualai Road and is a little tamer and less crowded version of the Sunday market.
Do you love jewelry? Take a silversmithing class at Nova Collection. You can make a one of a kind piece of sterling silver jewelry in just one day – amazing!
Finally, relax at the beautiful Huay Tung Tao reservoir. You can rent a hut on the lake for a few dollars and a huge tube to lounge on the water. Hungry? Not to worry, you can order delicious meals from local kitchens onsite. Hire a driver to take you there for the day.
A note from Kim
You can visit Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle for a day trip. Chiang Rai is a beautiful city in Northern Thailand with breathtaking temples and spectacular views from a lookout over the borders where three countries meet: Thailand, Burma and Laos.
Eat & drink in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thai dishes in the North are different from ones in Bangkok and even Phuket. Some of my favorite foods to try are khao soi, pad Thai, papaya salad, curry and rolled ice cream. You are best trying these at the market, but if you must visit a restaurant Lemongrass is a delicious Thai food restaurant where you can't go wrong.
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