Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand has everything to offer from shopping, nightlife, nature, cooking, massages…what will you choose?
Most tourists, especially the ones with only one- or two-week holidays, concentrate their visit to Bangkok and the Southern peninsula, researching the perfect turquoise waters to swim, snorkel, dive or tan. But the Northern part of Thailand is also a must-see because it is so different, and feels more like Thailand than the other touristic places. Life in the North is on a much slower pace (and for the better!), the people there are just so nice and helpful too!
Chiang Mai is one of the biggest cities in Thailand but it has this laid back atmosphere reminiscent of small towns. I stayed in Chiang Mai for four days with two friends and from the minute we set foot there, we loved it! On the first day, we decided to walk around the old city and take it easy. We walked through the streets, visited a few temples, drink delicious fruit shakes in the street around the market, enjoyed Thai street food and already did some clothes and souvenirs shopping at the Saturday evening market.
The second day, we signed up for a full-day cooking class! We were brought to the market to identify the ingredients we would be needing for the recipes, then to an organic farm, which was around a 20-minute ride outside the city where we were given hats and baskets to take the ingredients from the garden. We then continued with a day of cooking/eating/cooking again/eating again/cooking once more/eating once more. Now Pad Thai, Tom Kha Gai (coconut milk soup with chicken), spring rolls, Khao soi curry chicken, and deep fried bananas have no secrets for me anymore! Yummy… After all this eating, we finished the day with a small cycling tour around the fields, before riding the train back to Chiang Mai. In the evening, we wandered around the Sunday evening market and had street food again.
The third day, we went on a day trek. While most of the one-day treks offered by agencies include elephant riding and bamboo rafting, we chose to do only walking. We ended up on a 5-hour trek in the mountains outside Chiang Mai, walking through fields, banana trees, bamboo forests, and waterfalls, magical.
On the last day, after the tiring trek, we decided to stay in the city and relax. We went for massages at a spa to treat ourselves with fish pedicures, oil massages, manicure, and pedicure. For just a couple of hundred bahts each, so cheap!
In conclusion, I can say I had a lovely time in Chiang Mai, and I urge everyone to include the north of Thailand in their next holidays in Thailand!
Here are some “tip links” I’d like to share with you:
Ginny place a café, guesthouse, travel agent in the heart of the old city. We had lunch and dinner there and also booked the trek day and the bus to Pai with them. The owners are a Thai-Western couple (she is Thai, he is from the USA or Australia, I don’t remember) and they are just the nicest people! Tee has been very helpful to us, serves delicious Thai food (but not only), and remembered us after we came back from a few days in Pai, asking how it went and comforting us after some small bad adventure we had in the return bus.
Smart Cook Thai cookery school This is the school we chose for the cooking class, and we loved it! It’s small and friendly, you can choose the day at the farm like I did, or the class inside the city (with food shopping at the market), our teacher was super nice, and he even offered us an apron with the school logo (they are usually on sale, but since there was a misunderstanding that led to the class starting a bit late, it was offered to us without us complaining, how nice right?)
All my photos from Chiang Mai in these albums:
Thailand in Elitechrome Bangkok and Chiang Mai with L-CA+
Thailand in Tungsten with Diana Mini Chiang Mai and Pai
Thailand in Black and White Chiang Mai and Pai with L-CA+ and Lady Grey