Many travelers to Thailand generally flock to the beaches of the Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangnan for the full moon party. But anyone who wants to get a true sense of the diverse landscape Thailand has to offer must visit Chiang Mai.
Located in the north, Chiang Mai features a more relaxed vibe that is not felt in Bangkok. Surrounded by a lush and fertile landscape, locals have more of a agricultural tendency than what you would see in big cities like Bangkok. Here you will find many adventure activities such as elephant trekking, multi-day hiking excursions, and river rafting.
Generally speaking, before getting to the ‘Things to do in Chiang Mai’, there are a few things you should know about Thailand.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO: Make sure you order a beer at a restaurant. They usually serve it on ice and it actually tastes really good.
DO: Have Pad Thai at a local ‘mom and pop’ restaurant (away from the tourist places). It costs about $1 and it’s usually the most delicious thing on earth. To make sure the place is local, just look at the people eating there and if there is tourists, then that’s the place to go!
DON’T do ANYTHING to disrespect the King. The King is very well respected and doing anything to the contrary can result in some for of punishment.
DON’T touch a Thai person on the top of the head. This is seen as very disrespectful in the Thai culture.
Things to do:
1. Wat Doi Suthep – A really cool Wat (Temple). Its at the top of the mountain that overlooks the city. Go up on a clear day and you will have a spectacular view of the mountainside and Chiang Mai.
2. Elephant Trekking – There are a lot of day trips you can do that will pick you up right from your hotel. Do some research on which one you go to because some can be pretty cruel to the elephants. The river rafting is fun and a lot of the places combine the two. Generally its pretty touristy but when else are you going to ride an elephant?
3. The Night Bazaar – Its generally all cheap stuff but you might find some poorly made knock offs or brand names for $5. The fun part is going and haggling with the vendors. Generally you should pay half of their asking price… or less.
4. The Old City – Rent a bike and cruise the streets of the old city which is located inside the moat. Its cool and there are lots of Wats (temples) to stop into.
5. Dada Café and Juice Bar – A funky little place where lots of backpackers go. You can get some healthy dishes that aren’t really Thai but still something you don’t normally see.
6. Thai Cooking Class – Usually these classes will teach you how to make 4 traditional Thai dishes. Its interesting to see the different ingredients that they use. A lot of the ingredients are really hard to find back home and rarely used in Canadian cooking.
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