My o my Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is situated in the northern area of Thailand and generally the most popular stop for tourists visiting the north.
This really isn’t surprising Chiang Mai has so much to offer, be it a bustling City, rolling hills in easy reach, or lady boy shows. It has something for everyone.
Getting to Chiang Mai
Most people fly into Bangkok and then make their way to Chiang Mai via either bus or flight. We chose the later.
Our flight cost around £40 and we booked it the day before. It is a really short journey unlike the bus and great if you want to save time.
From the airport it was a short taxi ride to the old city where most people stay when in Chiang Mai.
Rustic guest house
We stayed just on the outskirts near China Town at Rustic guest house. It was reasonable at 2,475 (£54.50) for 3 nights between two.
It was a really pretty little guest house, and the beds were amazing, so big and comfy.
The 2 girls who worked on the reception were lovely, they helped us arrange our tours answered all our questions and were just generally really nice people, they made the stay.
Lunch on the river
Armed with our restaurant map provided by guest house we strolled over the bridge to the other side and wondered down the road checking out all the little restaurants and cafes.
We decided on a place called the goodview, as the name says it has a really great view over the river and it was a perfect spot to have food and a beer.
It was early evening by the time we finished eating and we noticed that the place had started to fill up and live music had started.
So instead of going back and showering after a day of travel like normal people, we decided to stay into the evening and enjoy a few more beers!
Temples and museums
As with most places in Thailand there are tons of temples. With out meaning to be controversial I am not a massive temple fan. I can appreciate them for their beauty and respect that they are people’s place of worship but I can’t spend hours walking around them without feeling a little bored.
Having said that what I liked about Chiang Mai was that the temples and museums were dotted around the city. So it was easy to include the temples in your strolls around the city.
Top temples in Chiang Mai include:
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Suan Dok
I captured a couple while exploring the city.
We had done a lot of research on elephant sanctuaries before deciding to book, we didn’t want to contribute to animal cruelty.
It’s obviously hard to decide which sanctuary to go for, when all you are basing your decision on is online reviews and word of mouth.
We knew we didn’t want to go anywhere that rode the elephants or used hooks or other damaging items.
I used tripadvisor, Pinterest and online searches to research the sanctuary’s as well as speaking to the ladies in our guest house.
Eventually we settled on elephant jungle sanctuary. It had positive online reviews and people we had met in our guest house said the animals appeared well looked.
Elephant jungle sanctuary
The half day tour cost 1,700 baht. We were picked up from the guest house at 6:30am and driven around an hour and half to the sanctuary.
You are picked up in an open truck kind of vehicle and it can get pretty bumpy and windy. But it was a great opportunity to chat to the other people on our tour.
When you arrive at the sanctuary everyone is given a briefing about the day and safety rules.
Briefing done, you are provided with sugar cane and bananas and you are able to feed the elephants.
Stephen and I even got a ‘kiss’ from an elephant, by kiss I mean they suck your face with their trunk!
After feeding them, you are able to mingle with them, touch them and take photos. This was my favourite part, there were around 10 adult elephants and one 5 month old baby and a 5 year old calf.
It was so humbling and amazing to be so close to such large gentle creatures. Being able to watch them interact with each other, splash around in the water and feast on their food, was truly and experience I will never forget.
It was definitely a highlight of my trip so far.
Later you are able to get in the water with the elephants and give them a mud bath. This was the only part that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. Some of the elephants didn’t seem like they wanted to be in the water and the trainers were encouraging them to get in.
However, it was reassuring to see that if the elephant didn’t want to get in after a couple of tries the trainer did not force them to. Nor did they use any form of violence.
After bathing the willing elephants you say bye to them before heading to shower and changing. You are also given lunch which was really tasty, curry, veg, noodles, and fruit and a nice surprise since we were not expecting to be fed on the half day tour.
I would highly recommend visiting an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, it was one of the best experiences so far.
There are so many markets in Chiang Mai, and they all varied slightly in offering. Be it food, handmade items, clothes or souvenirs.
Our favourite markets included:
Saturday and Sunday Market
We especially loved the markets for food, it was a great way to get yummy food at cheap prices. The night bazaar food court was probably my favourite. The Turkish stall was amazing especially if meat isn’t massively your thing. I had falafel, hummus and pita and it was delicious.
Lady boy show
Within the night bazar, is Chiang Mai Cabaret show. The show starts at 9:30pm. But we bought our tickets at around 8:30 and had a drink in the ‘hard cocktails’ shack until around 9pm.
If you want seats near the from then it’s definitely worth getting there early. Though word of advice if you are front row you are going to get picked on.
Tickets cost 300 baht and includes a drink on arrival.
The show was so much fun, it included imitations of classics such as Whitney Houston, Britney and Christina as well as recent Ariana grande songs.
Some of them were honestly really convincing, while others were obviously tucked, but it made for such a laugh.
They interact with the crowd really well, and like I said front row gets picked on. One guy who had been in the toilet got pulled on stage when he returned and given a blind folded lap dance as well as a kiss. A birthday girl got some special treatment on stage too!
Stephen was lucky enough to get a close encounter as well despite being on the second row! Not sure how much he enjoyed that part.
All in all, the show was a lot of fun. I honestly spent so much of the show with a grin on my face. A really cool way to spend an evening!
Thai kitchen cookery centre
We booked an evening cookery class through our guest house at Thai kitchen cookery centre to learn a bit about Thai cooking.
It cost 800 baht and we were picked up at 4pm, arriving back at 8pm.
As part of the course you are taken to a market where the teacher (can’t remember her name) explains various items to you and allows you to browse the market.
You have various options to chose from as to what you will cook for the evening. I chose, green curry, pad thai and spring rolls.
The teacher so much fun, she made the class really interesting and had a great sense of humour. At the end of the class you sit with everyone (there were 5 of us) and eat the food which you have prepared.
It was a great way to spend an evening and it was really great to enjoy the food you had cooked.
I absolutely loved Chiang Mai, our guest house was lovely and the staff so kind and helpful.
The markets were amazing, and the food delicious.
The lady boy Cabaret was so much fun, a great way to spend an evening.
The elephant sanctuary was one of the best experiences on my trip and then cookery class was interesting and yummy!
I would 100% return to Chiang Mai.