Chiang Mai, with its alluring misty mountains, and laid back, yet chaotic charm, is located in the North of Thailand. It is a melting pot of cultures; expats appear to gravitate here, primarily to teach English.
It took me a little while to ‘get into’ Chiang Mai. Up until my visit there, I had only spent a few days in the lazy and touristic beach town of Aonang, Krabi. So Chiang Mai was really my introduction to the Thai lifestyle.
I intended to stay three or four days, but ended up staying for six, but could have easily stayed longer, it won me over.
There is a lot o do in Chiang Mai. Here is what I got up to in 6 days
My first introduction to Chiang Mai was at the walking street market. I met a German traveller called Marc on my first night, and together we went off exploring. It was a chaotic introduction. People everywhere, incredibly strange things for sale, noise (so much noise) and traffic! However there was amazing food on offer.
At the end of the night, I experienced a typical South East Asian Monsoon. The heaviest rainfall I’ve seen in a while. We ended up buying some cheap poncho’s to walk back to our hostel in. That was the first of many rain and thunderstorms in Chiang Mai
All that Jazz
If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on a Tuesday, I highly recommend the North Gate Jazz Co-Op. This is a very unassuming place, that you’d easily walk past during the day, but come 6 or 7pm, its packed. People are even sitting on the street on makeshift chairs. Volunteer jazz musicians come and just jam. Its free and the drinks are cheap.
I am a huge foodie. I love eating It and cooking it, and so couldn’t pass on the opportunity to learn to cook some of my most favourite foods in the World. I went to the Thai Farm Cooking School, set in an organic farm in the countryside. A perfect day.
Lions Tigers and Bears, oh my!
My visit to the controversial Tiger Kingdom just outside on Chiang Mai, turned out to be a better day than I expected. The Tigers are treated well, and I got to cuddle some cute baby ones.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls
The Mae Sa Waterfall is one of the largest collection of waterfalls, 9 in all. You’ll get a good exercise walking around, with a number of steps, but the views are worth it.
Get your sweat on
Muay Thai Boxing is a great way to work off those one to many plates of Pad Thai, or fried Spring rolls. I visited Gym Bangarang for an hours session in the ring. An amazing workout
Being a Culture Vulture by Temple hopping
South East Asia is all about their Temples. They are in many places, due to the main religions being Islam and Hindu. There are various small temples in and around Chiang Mai itself. The biggest temple in Chiang Mai is the Dei Suthep Temple. Located high on a hill, overlooking the city. This is various temples in one, has a good number of steps to climb up, and amazing views from the top.
Word to the wise, pay a Songthaew driver a fee to the bottom of the hill, there will be other taxi’s or transport there to take you up. It shouldn’t cost more than 100 Baht. I paid for private transport .. 4x the price!
Supporting community programmes
Getting a Massage from an ex-criminal was one of the nicest things I did in Chiang Mai. It was relaxing, but also great knowing that I was helping some people get back on their feet.
I had a really enjoyable time in Chiang Mai. A lot of ‘standard’ tourist activities mixed with non touristy things. I can see why it is so easy to be an Expat here. This is a destination I’d love to return to, to explore a little more.