In this post I’ve rolled my usual ‘Week in Pictures’ and Travel Tips all together so I can share with you the best bits I experienced in Chiang Mai.
We spent 4.5 days in this slow-paced yet high-vibed northern Thai city.
The point of our visit to Chiang Mai was to relax and go with the flow.
We arrived with no plans and took our time to explore the Old City and our one big adventure was up north to the Elephant Sanctuary.
Below I share a multitude of pictures and my top picks of what you can do in Chiang Mai when visiting for a short period of time!
Wander The Serene Sois
It’s not uncommon for many of the old cities across Thailand to be surrounded by high walls and a deep moat for protection. But Chiang Mai is the only city where the old town walls are still mostly intact.
It’s within these walls you will find charming Sois (lanes) to wander down whilst imagining how exotic it once was, being a thriving centre for Buddhism, artisans and merchants.
The Sois of the Old City provide a never ending supply of quaint guesthouses, local restaurants, massage parlours and street vendors…as well as colourful photo opportunities.
Chiang Mai’s old city is teeming with Wats (Temples) and you really can’t walk down a Soi without seeing one standout in all its glory.
I feel I’ve seen my fair share of Temples since living in Asia, (especially when I visited Bangkok) but Wat Pan Tao is definitely worth checking out.
Wat Pan Tao means “to increase 1,000 times” and is crafted from ancient teak.
The sheer amount of temples in the Old City helps to create the total blissed out vibe of Chiang Mai.
It was great to just roam the lanes on foot and take in the cool street art, sip fresh fruit smoothies and just generally see how the locals live.
The answer to how they live = very laid back!
The next time I’m back in Chiang Mai I’m definitely going to hire a bike and see the Old City by pedal power!
Bike hire is readily available and it will only cost you about $2 AUD a day!
Sunday Night Markets
If you’re in Chiang Mai on a Sunday you must head to Ratchadomoen Road for the night markets.
This main street within the Old City is blocked off to traffic and is throbbing with tourists and locals alike. (‘Throbbing’ meaning tens of thousands of people in the jam-packed streets!).
Running west from Thapae Gate, Ratchadomen is complete with craft markets, street food, local dancers and performers.
Even if markets aren’t your thing (like my husband!) it’s still work checking out.
I can highly recommend enjoying Happy Hour drinks at Villa Duang Champa to get you and your reluctant shopping partner in the spirit!
Chiang Mai, Old City – Where To Eat
This simple, open air restaurant is definitely one of the best places to get your Thai food fix.
Located in one of my favourite Sois, Soi 5, be prepared to enjoy delicious homemade food in a super laid-back environment.
The Pad Thai and Tom Ka Gai were exceptional but it was the Thai sweets that made us go back a second time!
You should definitely try the warm pumpkin and condensed milk dish and the banana fritters and coconut ice cream are amazing.
1 50200, 7/1 Rachadamnone Rd Soi 5, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
If you’ve eaten your fair share of Pad Thai the good news is there’s a fantastic option right next door to Kanjana Restaurant.
Farm Story is a small Thai teak house that serves up yummy organic meals.
This little restaurant is kind of quirky but I can highly recommend their Falafel Salad Pita Bread, Rain Sweet Sandwich and icy cold Mango Shakes!
7 Ratchadamnoen Road Soi 5, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Kabab House – Indian Food
If you’re looking for a scrumptious and great value meal, you can’t go past Mr Shammi and his Kabab House.
His sales pitch included being rated number one on Trip Advisor. But the aromatic smells wafting from the busy tables were enough to make us take up residence.
All the dishes we had were excellent and the Naan was pretty damn extraordinary.
Ratvithi Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Elephant Mahout Training
I’ll admit that visiting the elephant sanctuary wasn’t high on my hit list in Chiang Mai, but after getting up close and personal with these majectic creatures I’m super happy I did it.
We ventured about 1 hour north of Chiang Mai to Water Runner and Bobby’s Elephant Home.
The purpose of our day was to be trained as a ‘Mahout’ (native elephant herder) and learn how to look after the Asian Elephants.
We started off learning more about the elephant, their behaviours and how to speak the Thai elephant commands (I think I now know more Thai than Cantonese!).
Once we were deemed competent in ‘Thai elephant language’ we fed them copious amounts of pumpkin and baskets full to the brim with jungle bananas.
Once our elephants were all fuelled up we were then taught how to control the elephants and ride on their necks.
After we trained our elephants to go sai, qua, toy and pai (left, right, backwards and go!) we commenced our short elephant ride across the river and through the jungle.
I pictured myself as a Thai princess roaming the jungle all regal like….and rocking a double denim Mahout outfit!
The best part of the experience was sliding off out gorgeous eleohant and getting to bathe him in the river.
He took great delight in spraying us with his trunk whilst we lovingly ladled water over his giant body!
It was the perfect in to a very memorable day!
So that’s it for this giant wrap up of my time in Chiang Mai!
I hope you enjoyed it!
Next week I’ll share all of my pics from Phuket and the amazing Point Yamu Resort where I’m currently staying (AH-MAZING!).
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