Chiang Mai is filled with so much beauty. My friend Miranda and I stayed here for 4 days and like most unknown places to travel to, there could always be more to see and do.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai?
We found this amazing Airbnb with a traditional Thai house located in Old Town. It definitely feels like a hidden paradise once you cross the gate to enter this Airbnb. The house was very clean when we arrived and throughout our stay. We were greeted with a coconut drink. Since Miranda and I were there during the off season, the prices were pretty cheap. We paid $56.49 a person per night. Although it came with mosquito nets and staff assembled them, Miranda and I definitely got bit often (the mosquitos may have just really liked us) as this was an open house. This is likely due to us staying there during the rainy time of the year. Don’t be alarmed though because everything was so green and it was well worth it. The mosquitos and insects that visited us during our stay definitely made for lasting memories and quite an adventure!
The great thing about the Sala was that it came with a microwave and refrigerator to store and heat up food. One of the best Airbnb’s I’ve stayed at. Our host was very responsive and helpful to answer any questions. There were also a few laundry mats nearby that are available.
Website to Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7652475?guests=1&adults=1
How to get around in Chiang Mai?
Miranda and I did a lot of walking in Chiang Mai as our Airbnb was in a fantastic location. There is also a tuk-tuk or the app Grab, which is the Uber of Asia. Our friend was able to get a discount on using grab initially. When Miranda and I tried we weren’t so lucky. However, it sounds like most new users are able to have access to this promotion.
What to do in Chiang Mai?
1) Take a cooking class. Miranda and I registered for a Thai cooking class before we left for Thailand. It was one of the highlights of our trip. We went through Vannee, at Vannee Classic Home Cooking. Vannee and her husband picked us up at our Airbnb. Once in the car, we selected what dishes we would be cooking from a list of options before heading to a local market. Miranda and I decided to cook the following 6 dishes: Chicken Massaman Curry, Stir-fried Sweet & Sour Mixed Vegetables, Noodles with Back Bean Sauce, Cucumber Soup, Papaya Salad, and of course dessert–Steam Banana Cake. After purchasing everything from curry paste to meat, we headed to Vannee’s home where we began the cooking process.
It was a great way to learn about Thai cooking and meet such a fantastic woman. Not only did we get to eat each course but we were given a certificate and a cookbook of various Thai dishes (72 to be exact). Since Miranda and I had so many leftovers we brought them back to our Airbnb and were able to reheat them. These leftovers provided at least 2 additional meals for each of us. Vannee’s Classic Home Cooking has options to do a morning, evening, or afternoon cooking course in addition to an all day class. The morning, afternoon, and evening courses are 800 Baht a person and come with 6 dishes while the all day course is 1,000 Baht a person and comes with 7 dishes.
Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/CHCChiangMai/
2) Visit the local coffee shop or massage parlor at the Northern School for the Blind. Support the Northern School for the Blind by visiting their local coffee shop or massage parlor where students work. The price for a Thai massage is 150 Baht per hour.
If you are an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech therapist, visiting the Northern School for the Blind may be a great opportunity to learn about how allied health professionals work abroad. Miranda and I were able to meet with the school occupational therapist, get a tour, and spend half of the morning with the children that attended the Northern School for the Blind. We also learned that the Northern School for the Blind accepts volunteers throughout the year. Had I known earlier, I may have changed my schedule to volunteer for a few weeks while in Thailand.
E-mail address for school: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone number: 053-278009
Address: 41 arrak road, Phrasingh, Muang, Chiang Mai
3) Go to an elephant sanctuary. Before going to an elephant sanctuary, please try to do as much research beforehand to find one that is ethical. Miranda and I thought that we did. However, now after reading more about the organization we visited, it sounds like it may have not been the nicest to the elephants (an article/video images I found by a previous visitor shows that they may chain them at night). We visited Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. The price for an all day visit at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is 2,400 Baht. This includes pick-up at your location. Once Miranda and I were picked up, we shared a vehicle with about 10 other individuals. Getting to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is incredibly bumpy. If you have motion sickness, be prepared ahead of time. A child who was traveling with her family got sick when we were driving down the dirt path entering the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Once we arrived, it was well organized. We were given special clothes to change into and wore our bathing suits underneath. Whatever you do, don’t forget to wear insect repellent and bring a towel and change of clothes. Once at the sanctuary, we were able to feed the elephants bananas, make herbal medicine balls that we would later feed to these beautiful creatures to assist with their digestion, and bathe them. The bathing sounds very fun. I hate to be a party pooper here but do keep in mind that it can get quite dirty. Our group bathed the elephants after they were fed and given these digestive medicine balls. Needless to say, the water was filled with a lot of elephant dung and pee. I am grateful that my nurse practitioner gave me some pills to take before going to the elephant sanctuary in case some of the dung splashed into my eye when we were bathing them and caused an infection.
This was one of two elephant sanctuaries that I visited during my time in Thailand. The second was Wildlife Friends Foundation near Bangkok, which I highly recommend. Despite the fact that we did not ride the elephants, in hindsight, after visiting the Wildlife Friends Foundation there were some red flags at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. The Wildlife Friends Foundation made a good point, that most wild animals wouldn’t be as friendly to see a person or let him or her pet them unless they have been trained to do so. Many times when elephants are trained it is in a cruel and inhumane manner. When we were feeding these elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary many of them were trained to blow on us with their trunk as if they were performing in a show. If you’re deciding to go to an elephant sanctuary, make sure they do not allow riding of these beautiful creatures. Although we weren’t allowed to ride these elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, I wish I knew more before visiting it in Chiang Mai.
4) Visit Wat Phra Singh Temple. Miranda and I were walking distance from this magnificent and ancient temple. While visiting the Wat Phra Singh Temple, we met a group of young students who were studying to be monks. Miranda and I learned that becoming a monk for a year to two in Thailand is common for young males. These students asked Miranda and I if they could have a conversation with us to practice their English. It was wonderful to learn about all of them. Our conversations discussed everything from aliens to life in Thailand. There is an International University for Monks nearby Wat Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai. It is not uncommon to see many monks walking throughout the temple grounds. For foreigners the price to enter the main assembly hall is 40 baht and walking around the area is free.
Read below for more information about this temple: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g293917-d447648-i295149629-Wat_Phra_Singh-Chiang_Mai.html.
5) Check out some of the local bars. Explore the local bars that Chiang Mai has to offer. You never know all the interesting people you will meet while out…
- Oasis Rooftop Bar: This is a good bar to come to for a relaxing drink and charming view. It’s on the calmer side so if you are looking for a party, keep going. We didn’t make it here for the sunset but from what I read about visiting this place, that is one of the best times to come.
- Thai 1 On Bar And Grill: This is a good bar to visit if you are from the States and feeling homesick. It’s not very far from the Oasis Rooftop Bar. They had some good grub, beer, and soccer playing when we stopped for a visit.
- Zoe in Yellow Bar & Night Club: If you are looking for a fun late night scene, look no further. Not going to lie, coming here made me feel old. After an hour of dancing to loud music crammed with a bunch of people, I was ready for my pajamas and bed. And I’m finally ok admitting that.
7) Get a Thai massage at Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj & Old Medicine. What better place to get a Thai Massage than at a massage school? If you are planning to visit this location, it may be good to build in some extra time as there can be a wait. There is a really nice mall walking distance from the school to visit if you need to do something while waiting for your massage.
8) Meet new friends. One of the best parts of traveling is meeting individuals from all walks of life. While in Chiang Mai, I was able to reconnect with my friend Lina from France who I met at the airport in Chiang Rai. She came with Miranda and me to explore The Oasis Rooftop Bar and Thai 1 on Bar and Grill.
Miranda and I also met our new friends Lexy and Kelsey who were in our group at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Lexy was on her way to take a yoga instructor course near Koh Samui. She showed us her poolside view from her Airbnb and it was so breathtaking. Later that night, Miranda and I experienced the night life of Zoe’s with Kelsey…
9) Visit the Sunday night market. This market is well worth visiting if you find yourself in Chiang Mai on Sunday. Try delicious food while searching for souvenirs. You could spend the entire evening here. I was able to find some luggage while shopping, which I use regularly. It’s a great opportunity to work on your haggling skills too.
Chiang Mai is a spectacular city filled with so many wonderful people and activities. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.