Chiang Mai was one of my favourite places to visit in Thailand this winter. Here are some of my must-do things for anyone visiting. Did I miss any of your highlights? Add them below in the comments!
Elephant Nature Park
This place was one of my highlights of my entire trip to Southeast Asia. I absolutely fell in love with the Elephant Nature Park, the gorgeous grounds that it resides on, and every single elephant with their heart wrenching stories. Skip all the inhumane elephant trekking camps that most tourists flock to, and opt for a place like this. The scenery alone is worth the day or multi-day visit, and you’ll leave even more in love with this majestic animal.
Read more about my experience here.
Insider Tip: If you have the time, opt for the 2 day/1 night visit to give you more time and a more up close and personal experience with the elephants.
Wat Phra That
In Asia the amount of temples is pretty overwhelming, especially in a place like Chiang Mai that is exploding with temples on every street. We figured this temple may be like all the others but were told if you were going to see a single temple in Chiang Mai, this should be it. We loaded the shared taxi to the mountain of Doi Suthep which was about a 45 min drive and we were glad we did. This temple was amazing. It was so alive with active monks praying, and blessing tourists and traditional Thai dancers. It was work the trip there, and the panoramic views of Chiang Mai cannot be beat.
Read about my experience visiting here.
Insider Tips: Try visiting first thing in the morning as it does get busy with tourists and don’t forget to dress appropriately.
This is one night market you don’t want to miss. Despite the fact that almost every city has their own, Chiang Mai’s was the biggest and the most lively we had been to. Every street in this area were filled with vendors, including one closed off area that was lined with vendors, entertainment and great restaurants and bars. Leave quite a bit of time to explore the area as it is quite the maze of vendor after vendor.
Insider Tip: Remember to bargain for all your purchases and don’t feel bad about starting out low!
Eat at Bamboo Bee
I usually stay clear of specific restaurant recommendations in these posts but this was one that was 100% worth a mention. Bamboo Bee was the best meal we ate on our entire trip in Southeast Asia, and believe me when I say that we had A LOT of good food on our trip. This restaurant was a tiny hole in the wall that you probably wouldn’t normally stop at but should. The restaurant is run by one lady highhandedly. She is the hostess, waitress, and cook! Although this may turn some people off, the food was worth the wait and super authentic. Not to mention you can watch her cook it up in the front of the restaurant. We liked it so much we wanted to go back again!
Insider Tips: Try the fresh spring rolls and pad Thai, plus if you have extra time the owner also offers a variety of cooking classes!
Talk with the monks
An unusual experience that we didn’t get a chance to partake in but I’d highly recommend it as it is something that you don’t always get the chance to do. Several temples offer this opportunity for tourists to come chat with monks to practice their English. This is a great opportunity to ask them questions and learn more about their culture. Plus how often do you get the chance to just sit and chat with a monk!?
Insider Tip: Prepare some questions you’ve been dying to have answered before you come!