Featured Image: Temple Design by Destiny Carter (www.destinycarter.com)
If Chiang Mai is a destination on your journey into Thailand… you made the right call. Chiang Mai was one of my favourite parts of Thailand, and even though it is the northern part of the country (not the beaches you’re used to seeing in all the pictures) it is just as beautiful!
Where to Stay:
Rates: $50-72 CAD $$$
We stayed at the Green Tiger Vegetarian House and I couldn’t recommend a better place to stay. The hostel was located down a small side road and was absolutely beautiful! With a bubbling pond and a bridge to enter the hostel, a beautiful restaurant, and majestic outdoor pool—there was no way that we were leaving this place. We ended up staying an extra day just because we loved our stay here so much! The lady at the front desk spoke perfect English, and she was great to talk to about what to do in Chiang Mai and about Thai culture in general.
The bedroom was extremely spacious with a television (not like you need one!), safe, washroom with an open glass shower, comfy bed, balcony, and a fridge. There were no bugs spotted in this resort, and the sunrise and the sunsets were beautiful from the roof.
We also received a complimentary breakfast, and I heard it was amazing (I was too lazy to wake up early enough to get it!).
Where to Eat:
We had eaten at many different places, but our favourite restaurant (which we became regulars at) was the Bamboo Bee Vegetarian Restaurant. It is a small restaurant that you will likely miss walking by, but it is highly-rated on TripAdvisor. PLEASE—go here. The food is so amazing; I can’t even describe it to you. Everything is fresh and made right in front of you. Here are a few pictures to get you foaming at the mouth:
Dessert: You will see a few people walking around with coconut ice-cream, and this is the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted in my life!!! Get the milk on it as well, it’s a can that they pour over the ice-cream.
What to Do:
Price: $1,300 THB $$
Pick-up at Hostel/Hotel ✓
I don’t particularly like cooking too much, so I was skeptical about this activity—especially because of the price. But, the reviews on TripAdvisor were too good to pass up. Let me say that this was one of the best days on our trip! The cooking school provides you with an instructor/tour guide, and they take you to the market to explain the spices and ingredients that are hidden in Thai food. Then you take a trip to the farm, where you walk around the garden, learning more about Thai culture and food.
M.B. was our instructor and was so energetic and hilarious!!! She was one of the funniest people we met on our journey and also spoke perfect English.
After taking a trip around the farm, we were supplied with our cooking ingredients and made four different dishes throughout the day including:
- Coconut soup
- Green Curry
- Pad Thai
- Mango Sticky Rice
You have other options to choose from if those dishes aren’t your favourites. The cooking was fast-paced, but even I could do it (which says a lot from a person who makes tortellini every day). You could take home your dishes if you couldn’t finish them, and you got to meet people from all over the world at your dinner table.
My friend and I ended up talking to MB for a while about Thailand and her family, and it was a really amazing experience. Cooking and connecting is definitely a thing. I would recommend this experience for anyone traveling to Chiang Mai.
Price: Half Day Visit Afternoon – $1700 THB/person $$$
Pick-up at Hostel/Hotel: ✓
Now, what did you come to Chiang Mai to see—elephants. So this tour is worth every pricy penny.
Tip: WEAR RUNNING SHOES. We were not required to wear runners, but scaling a cliff in flip flops was not fun, as there is a lot of hiking throughout the day.
They lied about the journey to the sanctuary, it is about 2 ½ to 3 hours long and a bumpy journey—so take gravel if you need it. I don’t get carsick, but I was feeling a little nauseous at points.
We chose this sanctuary because you don’t get to ride the elephants and they are treated humanely (from what we saw this was the truth). You get to come into contact with several elephants along your hike around the sanctuary, including two baby elephants!
Then you have the experience of bathing the elephants in a pond (which was a bit gross because they were pooping in the water with you, but we didn’t get sick!). You also get to jump in a mud pit with the elephants and lather the elephants in their favourite suntan lotion (aka mud). If you love elephants, you will LOVE this experience! They also follow you around with a camera, so you have plenty of free pictures on Facebook to take with you after your journey. It is definitely one that you don’t want to miss out on.
Price: 290 THB/ person + free drink $
This show was the best drag show my friend had ever seen (and she has seen a lot!). I found it so amazing, I thought I was watching Rihanna on the stage herself (yes—they have a Rihanna look-alike). The performers were outstanding—I was blown away, and the show was hilarious. This is perfect for a late night adventure, and there is no way that you won’t be entertained. If you are a guy, you will be targeted, and the performers will make- out with you at some point in the show. I think every guy in the audience got a kiss on the lips at some point. So get comfortable!
Location: Chan Klan Road
There are many different markets to go to in Chiang Mai, but the night markets are crazy! If you don’t like crowds, I would avoid this market because there were so many people. I’m not a big shopper, but there were so many cheap steals at this market. You could buy fake everything; from Nike shirts to Naked makeup palettes.
At the night market where the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show is located, they also have the “fish spas,” which were an interesting experience. I think everyone should try it just to experience how weird and ticklish it feels, but I get it if it’s not your thing!
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chiang Man
Prices: Free unless you rent a robe $
So again, if you are visiting temples—you need to dress classy! However, they have robes to rent at the entrance of the temples if you need to cover-up. I don’t remember the names of all of the temples we visited, but they are all around Chiang Mai, and all you need to do is go for a short walk to find them. The temples are also indescribable, because they are mind-blowing to look at in person. You can even go inside to kneel and pray, which was an incredible experience as well. I would suggest taking a day to walk around and see as many temples as you can.
Near the Wat Chedi Luang temple, there is a “monk chat” where you can ask a monk questions about their lifestyle, culture, etc. The monks want to learn how to speak English better, so chatting with you benefits them too. We spoke to a monk who did not speak English very well, but other monks there spoke perfect English. It was a bit awkward at times, but we learned more about Buddhism and Thai culture, which was one of the goals of the trip.
When my friend asked: “Are you allowed to have a girlfriend?” things got awkward. I recommend you don’t ask this question!!!
Location: 14/7 Santisuk Road, Santitham
Before our stay at Chiang Mai ended, we wanted to get our nails done before going to the islands. This nail art salon was the cheapest we found in Chaing Mai and was amazing! The service was fast, and the lady doing our nails was extremely talented. An Australian man also owns the shop with the lady, so he was extremely nice to talk to and gave us tons of information about Thailand too. I would recommend going here if you plan on getting your “nails did” at some point along your journey.
Enjoy your journey to Chiang Mai, and get ready to experience the most beautiful place on the planet! Safe travels ❤
If you have more questions about Chiang Mai, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, as I would be happy to give you more recommendations!