Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

I Left My Heart In Chiang Mai

I was sleep deprived, freezing cold, desperate for a shower and completely traumatised from having to use the train toilets. Yet, as soon as I arrived in Chiang Mai, I couldn’t have been happier. I just knew I was going to love it.

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Chiang Mai has a great vibe about it, it’s lively enough to have a great atmosphere, but not over the top or ruined by tourism. The city itself is built within a moat and still manages to maintain a very historical feel about it, adding to it’s unique character.

There is so much to do in Chiang Mai. I spent a fair bit of money, but it was worth it. We didn’t want to miss out on anything! Here’s a rundown of our experiences during our, almost, three week stay!

#1
The Thai Elephant Home
Probably one of the best days of my life! I had my very own elephant for the day. We fed, bathed and rode the Ellie’s bareback through the jungle. It was such a fantastic experience, so I’ve devoted a whole post to it! Have a read… A Day With The Ellie’s!

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#2
Jumbo Trekking
I never thought I’d ever be trekking for three days through the Thai jungle. Blood, sweat and lots of tears went in to this trip, but I did it! And the feeling of standing on top of a mountain with a village tribe will definitely stay with me for life. Have a read of my post 3 Day Jungle Trek to find out more.

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#3
Thai Cooking Class
The extent of my cooking at home is usually pasta and baked beans. I’m not the most domestic female in the world, that’s for sure. But I really enjoyed the class. Thai food tastes so flavoursome and amazing, but it’s actually pretty simple to cook. You buy your ingredients at the local market and then start your day of being a chef! After each meal that you prepare you get to eat it with the rest of your group. So make sure you have an empty stomach and your sociable head on! I’d recommend the full day at Thai Cooking School. The staff were super friendly and the kitchen was great. YUM.

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#4
Shopping
Woohoo. Everyone loves a bit of a shop. First stop was the Airport Plaza mall, a huge shopping centre with high street and designer shops, as well as traditional souvenirs and a truck load of places to eat. Prices here are same same to home though, not too good for bargains. Second was the Night Bazaar. I thought it was pretty over rated, just a standard under cover market with the same products as everywhere else in Thailand. The best market was the Sunday Market, our last shopping trip! Every Sunday from 4pm roads are closed and this massive market is set up. It’s awesome. Really nice ambience, local entertainment, good street food and so much to buy! It’s all you could want from a market and more! Stay for the Sunday Market and make you’re Thai shopping dreams come true!

#5
Zipline
You get taken to the jungle and given the chance to act like a monkey for a couple of hours. Pretty decent (unless you’re afraid of heights). The various ziplines, bridges, spider nets and absail drops are good for the adrenalin! The sense of freedom and awesome views make the trip worthwhile. Safety is good here too, nobody died in my group anyway..!

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#6
Nightlife
There is a wide variety of bars and clubs in town. We didn’t go too mental, but if you want to you can. Our evenings consisted of having a couple of drinks after dinner, followed by a few more at a local bar. One bar we went to had live music, it was such a good night, loved listening to a bit of Santana while shotting their local run/whiskey… I’ll never know what that stuff actually is!

#7
Temples
We are only on destination two, and I’m already pretty temple’d out. We did however go to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain. You can see the whole city, the view is spectacular. We were also lucky enough to see the baby monks ringing the bells, I have no idea what it was symbolising, but they were adorbs. If you want to see more temples, do not fret. There are about ten thousand others.

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#8
Kikie’s House
I don’t usually write about hostels, as they are pretty similar wherever you go. But Kikie’s was different. We loved it! Kikie is the friendliest Thai woman you will ever meet, she’s funny, really knowledgable and cooks a siiiick BBQ on the roof! The guesthouse is central, rooms are beaut and the atmosphere is always ‘chill out with a beer in hand’. If you go to Chiang Mai you need to stay at Kikie’s.

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Other major attractions in Chiang Mai include Tiger Temple and the Zoo. We didn’t visit these, as I don’t believe that the animals are treated correctly and I didn’t want to support these institutions. Our friends however did visit Tiger Temple, and loved it. I guess it is down to personal opinion and morals. But personally I do not think it’s natural to lay across an adult tiger without it wanting to bite your head off, something dodgy is going on and I am not naive enough to believe it’s okay.

Chiang Mai is way up there on my favourite places so far list. No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit up north! I left my heart there, that’s for sure.

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4 comments

  1. Was the train ride such a pain for you? You should try to take a train ride in China. I bet you would enjoy 26 hours among Chinese smoking cigarettes and eating their food with open mouths :). I’m glad you enjoyed Chiang Mai. Never been there but cooking classes sound great! Enjoy. We’ve been following your adventures and we’re so happy you’re enjoying yourself!

    • The train itself was fine, just a bit chilly. The toilets on the other hand were not so pleasant! Especially when I wasn’t feeling well! Oh no, that doesn’t sound like a fun journey! I hope you guys are all ok and enjoying China. I’m loving backpacking so far.

  2. I agree with your sentiments on Tiger Temple… I’ve seen photos from other people and I just think it’s wrong. Thanks for all the Chiang Mai ideas though! Can’t wait to do a cookery class and just wander around town taking in the atmosphere.

    • I’m glad you agree 🙂 have a wonderful time, just soak up the awesome Chiang Mai vibe! And enjoy the cooking. It’s yummy!

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