So you’ve booked on to our amazing 10 day tour of Thailand (the only introduction to Thailand there should be!) and you’re starting to think about what you might do next. You’ve heard people talking about Chiang Mai (according to Trip Advisor, it’s the 24th best destination in the world for 2013) and you want to know more about what you can do there … Ultimate Thailand to the rescue!
Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai is an ancient city in the north of Thailand. In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the wonderful Bangkok, Chiang Mai is home to around 200,000 people, compared to the 9 million people found in Bangkok. You’ll get an authentic Thai experience in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is fast becoming famous for the markets they have available. The Night Bazaar has some great bargains on offer. If you want fake designer clothes and watches or a nice token t-shirt to take away for a keepsake, this is the place to go! Be prepared to haggle though, these bargains don’t come too easy! For tips on haggling, check out our advice on how to bargain effectively, without causing offense.
Once you’ve explored the Night Bazaar, if you’re not too shopped out, head to Rajdumnern Road for their market, held on Sundays. While the Night Bazaar is great for cheap fake brands, the Sunday Bazaar has authentic hand-crafted goods, usually sold by their creators. If you make your way through the stalls, down to the Chiang Mai City Museum, you’ll find live traditional performances starting around 7pm. The streets are lined with food stalls offering many different options of food including dishes you would be familiar with and must try new culinary delights. The atmosphere alone is reason enough to visit, even if you are not there to shop. With an abundance of sounds, smells and sights to behold, this market will delight all your senses!
For a glimpse of authentic Northern Thai life, head to the Bull and Water Buffalo market on a Saturday morning in Sampatong. You probably won’t buy a buffalo but the experience is definitely worth sacrificing a lie in for!
There are adrenalin rushes a plenty on offer in Chiang Mai. You can experience the Flight of the Gibbon where you glide through the rainforest on the longest zip wire in Asia. If you wanted to extend this experience, you can choose a multi-day tour … choose from white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and much more.
If you can, it is recommended to hire a moped and drive to Doi Pui, the highest peak in the national park. From here you can access Mae Sa falls, Huay Kaew falls and Monthathan Falls, explore the forest, filled with some amazing wildlife and visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the holiest Buddhists sites in Thailand. If you want to take a peek at a way of life that has hardly changed for hundreds of years, visit the small hilltribe villages that can be found in the vicinity of the park. You will not be disappointed!
Chiang Mai is a great spot to experience the delightful elephants but in a way that is safe and kind to them. We at Ultimate Thailand don’t condone some of the elephant experiences that are available but we can vouch for some of the sanctuaries that can be found around Chiang Mai. One of our favourites is the Elephant Nature Park where you can help feed and bathe an elephant for the day, help overnight or volunteer for a week and contribute to the care of these wonderful animals!
Other things to check out in Chiang Mai … the Thai Boxing comes highly recommended. Check out the Thapae Boxing Stadium found in the heart of the backpacker region. There’s an excellent rooftop reggae bar – check out their Facebook Page. If you get the opportunity to catch the lantern festival while you’re there, don’t miss out!
If you need any advice on where to go and how to make the most of your trip, Ultimate Thailand is here to help in any way we can! Contact our team … they’ve all travelled Thailand extensively and will happily pass on a few of their experiences to you to help make your trip unforgettable!