Chiang Mai is a vibrant and cultured city in Northern Thailand. It’s a land of hazy mountains and exciting hill tribes, a popular spot for experienced travellers, and a paradise for shoppers. Enjoy Thai massages, cooking courses, explore the variety of handicrafts and antiques on offer, lively nightlife, and indulge in wonderful cuisine. Despite its moderately small size, Chiang Mai truly has everything a traveller could want or expect on a holiday trip. Here are five unique things to do while visiting this gorgeous Thai town.
- Visit an Elephant Sanctuary. For many people, riding on the back of an elephant in Thailand is the ultimate bucket list experience. However, there’s now devastating evidence to support claims by animal welfare experts that this practice of tourism is very harmful for Asia’s gentle giants. Instead, visit an elephant sanctuary and volunteer for the day to support these elephant refuge centers to support more sustainable methods to keep elephants happy and healthy. Elephant Nature Park and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary are two of the most popular choices.
- Go temple hopping. Chiang Mai has some of the world’s most beautiful temples. Whether you want to respect the enormous, mosaic-inlaid sanctuary at the 14th century Wat Phra Singh, chat with monks at the 15th century Wat Chedi Luang, or travel back to 1465 and admire Chain Mai’s oldest temple, Wat Chiang Man, temples offer something for every type of traveller. The best way to get around and see most temples in by car, so consider getting a car rental Chiang Mai and hit the road.
- Zip line through the jungle. Experience the beauty, magic, and adventure inside an area of Thailand’s pristine rainforest like never before. Soar like a bird through treetops in a beautiful untouched ancient jungle surrounded by the magnificent Yang trees. In ancient times, the Yang tree was consecrated the divine tree and Buddhists used its resin to light an eternal fire for their Buddha statues. Jungle flight Chiang Mai and Flight of the Gibbon are two tourist favorites.
- Cook up a storm at a cooking school. Learn how to cook traditional Thai dishes in Chiang Mai with native people. Learn unique cooking style and dishes, plus the history and culture of their ethnicity. Most trips usually include light refreshments and a trip tour to local market in order to pick up fresh ingredients. Over a full day, you will have the opportunity to learn and cook appetizers, desserts, stir fried dishes, soups, spring rolls, and curry pastes. Not only will you learn the basics of organic cooking, but you will experience how locals with many years of experience and resourcefulness create a self-sufficient and independent farm.
- Explore Doi Inthanon National Park. Doi Inthanon National Park, also known as ‘the roof of Thailand’ is home to the highest mountain in the whole country. Surrounding this granite structure is a 1000-sq-km national park, scattered with hiking tracks and waterfalls. Visit Doi Inthanon when the heat of Chiang Mai gets too much. Hike your way around and look out for hill-tribe villages surrounded by rice terraces, which are very picturesque. Most tribal people now work at farms and flower nurseries on the lower slopes.