I might be a little biased but Chiang Mai was my favourite place that we visited in Thailand. The weather in Chiang Mai was a welcomed relief from Bangkok’s sticky heat and the locals were very friendly. Even though Chiang Mai is a touristy city; it doesn’t take itself too seriously – it’s very laid back and quiet. It’s easy to relax there.
Here are a few quick highlights:
- Shopping: We went to a Sunday night market that Suzie and Andrew’s friends had recommended to them and it was a lovely experience. The quality of items there was starkly better than the stuff in the Bangkok markets (here there are mostly handmade things). I wish I’d done all my souvenir shopping here!
- Temples: If you like to see temples, this sleepy city has many. On the street where we stayed there were three and each one was beautiful and unique.
- Food: Chiang Mai has northern cuisine and the one difference between it and the south was that there’s less seafood dishes (which makes sense because it’s a mountainous area). Also, there are more bitter flavours/herbs here which work nicely in many of the dishes. Overall, Chiang Mai has an amazing assortment of restaurants with cool vibes; it’s easy to walk down the street and find something to suit your cravings.
Oh, and to change things up a bit we decided to go on a tour during our full day there which included seeing a lot of waterfalls, visiting a Karen tribe village, and the Royal pagodas.
- Waterfalls: the first one was impressive and exciting but after a couple we were ready to move on (especially after I took a fall on slippery rocks :p I am fine though- nothing a Thai massage couldn’t fix).
- Karen tribe: This was probably the highlight for me. Here’s some info about them.
- Pagodas: impressive views and architecture.
You may ask why we didn’t go see the elephants as that seems to be what Chiang Mai gets associated with most… After a ton of research we made the call that we won’t be visiting any elephant farms or sanctuaries for ethical reasons. Even sanctuaries that advertise the fact that they are treating their elephants ethically are a little sketchy. They say that you can bathe and feed the elephants instead of riding them; however, wouldn’t it be annoying for the elephants to be bathed multiple times a day and surrounded by humans constantly? I don’t know, it didn’t feel right so we nixed that plan and still had an amazing time in Chiang Mai.
I wish we’d planned to spend more time in Chiang Mai; I feel that there’s a lot to it and the weather for us Canadians is just perfect there! We also found that the people here in the North are much warmer and genuine; there isn’t that push to sell you everything and anything that we felt in Bangkok. I would definitely return and learn more about this beautiful place.
Until next time, stay kind.