We all reach to a point in life where work-life balance is of utmost importance. When you just don’t have the time, how do you sit back and relax? I decided to WRITE. I remember wanting a break so bad, that I just booked my tickets with no plans. So here it is… MY TRAVEL SERIES, sounds very trippy doesn’t it? 😉 This is about the few places I visited during my vacation to Thailand. I’ve also put together a list of activities to indulge in based on my own experiences.
For today’s article, I’m going to share the fulfilling experience I had in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. While people are very hospitable, the local street food is to die for. . (Excuse me for my photos, these were all I could capture in the moment)
About Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, unlike other cities in Thailand, is very rooted to its history. The old city gates still tell you a story of the yesteryear. If you do visit Chiang Mai, do not miss out on exploring the Old city. Easily accessible on foot or bike, the city is safe for travelers. One can sense Thailand’s culture & history through it’s architecture. The ancient design of the walls and gates that surround the city.
We managed to explore the Old city and pay visit to the Wat Chedi Luang a 13th century Wat. The contemporary design coupled with peaceful temples and Wats makes this top my list of places to visit in Thailand. The people are very helpful, you can move freely on cycles, two wheelers which you can rent from the hotel itself. We hired bikes from the hotel and explored most of the Chiang Mai. We explored the Old & New City in the 2-3 days we spent there.
The new city on the other hand has ample options. Posh hotels, supermarkets, street stores, nightspots, the list goes on. A lot of activities and well planned routes to tour around Chiang Mai are some highlights when passing through the New City areas.
FIVE Exciting Must Do’s when In Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai offers plenty of options for backpackers, honeymooners in terms of stay options, activities and itineraries. Yet it’s easy to explore the city on your own. We too decided to explore city as a local. To give you further insight I’ve put together list of FIVE exciting must do’s when in CHIANG MAI
Chiang Mai Cabaret Show:
When in Chiang Mai you ought to go check out the famous Cabaret show. This is one of the most entertaining shows put together by a professional ladyboy troupe. The troupe performs to popular tracks of pop artists we’ve heard while growing up. Located in the Anusan Night Bazaar the nightly show features some of Chiang Mai’s prettiest and liveliest lady boys. This show tops my list of must do’s not just in Chiang Mai, but in Thailand as well. The performers sing, dance and put on a great show for the audience, dressed in outrageous outfits, makeup and wigs. The cabaret show runs for about an hour and is open to families. Performers mingle with the crowd and even involve people from the crowd into their acts.
When in Chiang Mai you can’t miss out on an exhilarating experience at the Grand Canyon. The thrill of a deep canyon with fun activities at the water-park is worth it. Located about 30 – 45 minutes from Chiang Mai City, the Grand Canyon is one of the most adventurous places to visit when holidaying in Chiang Mai. Adventure seekers can enjoy activities like, zip lining, wake-boarding. The water-park has an inflatable obstacle course which is as fun as seen on the program Takeshi’s Castle. Those daring enough can try jumping into the Grand Canyon but it’s dangerous and not something I’d recommend.
Spend about 2- 3 hours of your day here, enjoy the meals at the restaurants by the water-park. You can end your day after witnessing an orange sky at dusk. The water-park is open between 9 am to 6 pm. The best time to visit is early evenings when it’s not too hot. The entry fee ranges to about 250- 500 Baht, but the experience is priceless. You can avail a discount if you enter as a group.
Temples & Wats – Doi Suthep
Visit to Chiang Mai seems incomplete without taking time out and visiting some of the famous temples and Wats around the city. Dated back to the 13th century, over 300 Wats surround Chiang Mai city. This somehow reminds me of Goa where every 5 kilometers you come across a chapel or a church.
The most obvious choice that one simply cannot miss is the Doi Suthep. Located at the top of a hill overlooking the city, one of the most holy Buddhist sites. The Doi Suthep attracts a large number of foreign tourists throughout the year. Travelers from all over the globe come & experience the surreal beauty of this holy destination.
The journey up the winding mountain road is an experience in itself. I recommend you hire a car or use the rental vans that are easily available for about 100 Baht (red truck). You need to climb 306 steps up to reach the Doi Suthep. Spend about 50 Baht on an average as an entry fee and pay respects to the relics . The temple is open from 6 am to 8 pm every day, but weekends and holidays tend to get overcrowded. There are many waterfalls, attractions you can visit near the Doi Suthep. One could spend a whole day around this side of the city.
Another popular Wat in Chiang Mai’s Old City is the Wat Chedi Luang. Built in the 13th Century, this pagoda was once home to the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred religious relic. Though a very old structure, what caught my attention is that Wat Chedi has sustained for so many years. Reduced to half its size after the earthquake in year 1545, the restoration of this piece of history along with the staircase and the original architecture compliments the design even today.
We did have a constraint during our trip to tick off all the must dos. Yet, one experiences is still on my mind for the next time when I visit Chiang Mai. The Riverside – Mae Ping, offers less crowded walkway than the ones in Bangkok with local dining options. Food stalls and the Warorot Market which I did visit ( I didn’t know then that it was this close to the riverside) has plenty of textile shops and eateries you can binge at. I remember walking into one building in Warorot Market and enjoying a hot pot with alluring flavours that lift the soul. This honestly was the best breakfast meal I’d had in Thailand. Mae Ping is a great reflection of the laid-back attitude held in the north of Thailand.
This spot may not be one of the popular ones but is definitely a must when sitting by the river. There are boat rides and tours that take you sightseeing from this point to other popular sites. The local joints are a must to indulge in when in Thailand. Be it food or drinks, Pork meat is a staple (pig ears etc available too) and Chicken is more of an option on the menu. I did try the street food but not anything out of the ordinary, if you know what I mean? 😉
The Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is divided into indoors and outdoor spaces. Located amidst popular Pubs, hotels, local sit out bars and restaurants, the vibe here is different altogether. This place is an ideal shopping spot for souvenirs, accessories, antiques, and so on. The quality is not all that great but if you look carefully, you do find some stores with authentic items to pick. Anusam Market, same area as the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show, has some incredible vendor shops selling stoles, dresses, antiques, bars, eateries serving snails as well. We did most of our shopping around here.
I was unable to explore all the markets and spaces in Chiang Mai but as listed above there are definitely many more favourites I will need to add to the list in the years to come. Every experience is different and Chiang Mai being a city diverse in its architecture, religion and status just creates the right environment for everyone to live in harmony. I am totally impressed and would love to experience more of Chiang Mai the next time I visit.
Just wanted to point out, avoid visiting the elephant sanctuaries / as they are more so a scam. I for one do not think visiting one will better the lifestyle for an elephant. It’s great that they are rescued but still kept captive while at night most of the animals are tied up in sheds. So how is that allowing them live freely?
I have shared with you my overall experience in Chiang Mai which took us about 3 days in total. The food, culture and people made my holiday worthwhile. To all of you planning to visit Chiang Mai, be ready for the experiences to come your way. Explore the cities on a two wheeler to embrace the beauty of the City. Take in the aroma of the street food and enjoy the special BBQ specials you find on the streets. You won’t get a better city to experience the rich culture Thailand has to offer.
Do share your experience in the comments section below and do feel free to suggest any new places you may have come across during your trip.
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