Chiang Mai is a city in the north of Thailand, famed for its many temples, glorious food and chilled back vibe! In my three years in Thailand I have explored many islands and beach areas but had never made it up north so we took my parents with us and spent a few days exploring.
There are said to be over 300 temples in Chiang Mai, and one of the things I had read about doing was chatting to novice monks who want to improve their english. Our gorgeous hotel, 99 The Heritage, was within the city walls (read more here) and directly opposite Wat Phra Singh where we spent a great half an hour chatting to some monks. My dad particularly enjoyed this and if your visiting Chiang Mai definitely add it to your list!
One of our favourite Thai dishes is Khao Soi, a Northern curried noodle soup which is usually served with chicken – the days Khao Soi is on at school everyone gets very excited so of course this was top of our list to find. Thankfully it’s served everywhere so we got our fill, my husband ate it every night. Another great thing about the north of Thailand is prices are significantly cheaper than we are used to in Bangkok so we went for a family foot massage – 150 baht each for 1 hour. There are plenty of good places for a massage so just have a wander and see which you like the look of. The city is also famous for its night bazaars and markets so we spent quite a lot of time wandering around these, trying local street food and looking at the local crafts.
Chiang Mai old town is a small, compact area so we explored on foot, occasionally taking a red songthaew when we needed to get somewhere specific or the heat got to us. One afternoon we escaped the swelter and spent an entertaining few hours in Art in Paradise, which would highly recommend for adults and children!
The highlight of our time in Chiang Mai for me was the day we spent at the amazing Elephant Nature Park. If you are coming to Thailand I would absolutely beg you not to ride an elephant (read why here) but instead go to a rescue centre like this one and enjoy spending time with the elephants in other ways. I actually booked this as a belated birthday surprise for my parents who were a little apprehensive at first but ended up having a great time. We met naughty baby elephants, walked with a herd, bathed them in the river and fed them copious amounts of corn, pumpkin and watermelon. It was a really magical experience and one I will never forget and will always encourage others to go and do!
I absolutely fell in love with Chiang Mai, the vibe there is so laid back and chilled out! Everything just moves at a slower pace which made a refreshing change and the little independent shops and boutiques made for some great shopping. The food is also quite different to our home city of Bangkok so we enjoyed trying new things as well as gorging ourselves silly on Khao Soi, our favourite curried noodle soup.
This was my first time in Northern Thailand and I can’t wait to go back again. Next time I will definitely allow time to visit neighbouring Chiang Rai and the spectacular White Temple.