MYSTICAL CHIANG MAI
Known as one of the more famous Northern Provinces of Thailand, Chiang Mai is an ecstatic mix of culture, nature and native mysteries. There are more than ample places for you to discover, go wild and yet be ultra-religious. As one of the “Old Cities” of Thailand, there is a slower pace of development which has kept the Chiang Mai more exotic, and yet mysterious to many who visit. Do not expect big city parties, loud and vibrant lifestyles, or a concrete jungle but instead expect a quiet holiday, back to nature adventures and a hand in traditional craftsmanship or live like a native. If you are looking for unusual sights, adventures and a family style holiday in Thailand, Chiang Mai is the doorway to your Northern Adventure!
The province of Chiang Mai is predominantly hilly. This terrain makes it an interesting province to explore, plus much of the area is still very much left as a natural environment including the National Parks and native villages. If you like, and do not mind long distant drives, then renting a car to get to Chiang Mai is a ride of discovery all along the way. Do not worry about pit-stops; there are plenty along the way including food and snack outlets. So the foodie traveler will pretty much enjoy this ride, gorging on typical Thai food all along the way. Off course as with long drives, a toilet is a must. Gas stations have adequate facilities but be prepared to squat unless you use the toilets meant for the disabled provided it is not occupied! If you don’t want to drive then be driven for an alternative. There are trains, buses and vans that ply the route to Chiang Mai daily. If you can’t wait to get there fast enough short of being a bird, then a flight to Chiang Mai is your best alternative. There are several flights available daily from the domestic airlines as well as a few from neighboring countries who fly direct from Bangkok.
Chiang Mai being further north has a much cooler temperate climate. Rainfall is also more common than in Bangkok. The best times to visit Chiang Mai is between November to March especially if you are thinking of jungle treks, rock climbing and swinging from tree to tree! If you are thinking that you will be bored in Chiang Mai, think again! There are activities there that you wouldn’t even come across in any other part of Thailand which is unique only to Chiang Mai! Check out our suggestions for a splendidly good time in Chiang Mai which will keep you coming back for more. You might even consider staying on as have many a traveler!
Top 10 destinations
Own your own elephant for a whole day with Patara Elephant Farm.
That is right! Your very own pet elephant for a whole day! You can boast to the world that you have had the biggest pet in the world. This means that you have to really care for your pet elephant the whole day from feeding it to bathing it and even taking it out for a walk in the wild. You also get to stalk an elephant out in the wilderness, well more or less, and help in a birthing process if there is an elephant that is about to deliver her baby. Not only will you get a chance to interact with them, you will also learn all about them and why they are so important to Thailand. The Patara Elephant Farm is a unique experience and can be participated by young and old alike including the disabled! You should try this elephant tour in Thailand which is truly one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that few have the opportunity to even talk about.
Take to the skies of Chiang Mai with an exclusive romantic balloon flight
Around the world in eighty days? That would be a little too much considering you just got to Chiang Mai. However you can still get a good bird’s eye view from a personal balloon flight right here in Chiang Mai amidst the beautiful mountain views. Imagine floating along as the world goes by just under your feet, a nice cuppa in hand and touching the clouds. The one hour and fifteen minute hot air exclusive romantic balloon flight in Chiang Mai will bring you close to 20,000 feet above ground level. The panoramic view is a sight to behold. Just like Phineas Fogg in the challenge to go around the world in eighty days, you get to feel the wind in your face as you float above tree tops, mountains and valleys of the Chiang Mai landscape. Enjoy a full breakfast while floating above on a clear blue sky in your personal balloon gondola. All too soon you will find yourself having to land again, so savor the exclusive romantic balloon flight while you can!
Scuba diving in the hills of Chiang Mai with Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium
There are no seas around Chiang Mai, in fact far from it but yes, you can actually go scuba diving in Chiang Mai among the marine life and if you are lucky, have a mermaid or two to accompany you while you are diving! Who says you need to go all the way to the coast and islands of Thailand just to dive among the rich underwater flora and fauna which includes sharks, large rays and fish. You can do it right here at the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium. Notably it is the only sea and fresh water aquarium to offer that facility to avid divers. If diving is not your sport, you can always tour the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium which has a good collection of marine and fresh water fish observation tunnels and displays. You can feed the fish or watch the underwater mermaid show in the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium!
Seeking out the “Long Necks” – legendary hill tribes of Thailand
You have seen it in the National Geographic documentaries or even in other documentaries on TV and cable networks. Ever wondered how these women of the hill tribe manage to have such long and elegant necks? Well, here is the perfect opportunity for you to come and have a look! The women of the Karen hill tribe are well noted for the brass ring adornments they wear around their necks. These rings help to lengthen the distance of the chin from the torso and it is believed that these rings can never be removed lest the neck breaks without adequate support. Now, this is jewelry and decorations for life till death do part! Located in the northern regions of Chiang Mai, you will have quite an adventure visiting the Karen Long Neck village as well as the Akha and Lahu tribal villages.
Try your hand at the local craft industries and make an umbrella to keep out the rain!
Chiang Mai is home to some of the most fascinating art and craft industries in Thailand. More or less everywhere you look; there are lovely teak carvings or even beautiful umbrellas all nicely decked out with hand paintings. You can make your way to the Umbrella Village in Chiang Mai and take a look at how these gorgeous umbrellas are made. You can even make one of your own if you are artistic enough or if not maybe just make a small one like those you find in a cocktail drink! The Lann Handicraft Center at Sankampang District is a great place to start. Home industries are in abundance here and you can wander around watching these artisans at work or get your hands moving and trying out one of the crafts. We always recommend the umbrella art because it is the easiest to make and plus you can fold it to bring along back with you. After all, unless you are planning to ship that many things back, a small umbrella is the most practical!
A Spiderman’s holiday in Chiang Mai
If scaling walls are your favorite past time, Chiang Mai and its rugged mountains in the many National Parks are the best places to attempt the fine art of rock climbing! There are many tour packages in Chiang Mai that specialize in different disciplines of rock climbing in Chiang Mai. You can take a beginner’s course or even an intermediate rock climbing rescue course. Even Spiderman would be proud to swing freely among the beautiful sights of a Chiang Mai National Park while hanging on to a rock face!
From the rocks to the river – a cruise down the Mae Ping River
Adventure never stops in Chiang Mai. From the National Parks in the wild to the slow serene Mae Ping River, there is always an adventure waiting for you. A leisurely cruise on one of the Mae Ping River Cruise in Chiang Mai is a fascinating adventure down this cool river with water fed from the mountains of the province. You can take in the sights of wooden teak houses and marvel at the carefree life of rural Chiang Mai where kids splashing in the cool waters of the river are still a common sight. Makes you want to jump in and join in the fun! You even get to be a rice farmer for a few minutes while on the cruise, then you will know where that lovely fragrant rice you so happily consume comes from!
Fly the treetops of Chiang Mai on a zip line adventure!
You can explore the National Parks of Chiang Mai from a different perspective…that of a flight from the top of one tree top to the next tree top. Come to think of it, just like Tarzan in the jungle but off course you do not have to wear just a piece of loin cloth! There are two zip line adventures in Chiang Mai. One is the Flight of the Gibbon and the other is called Jungle Flight in Chiang Mai. Both these adventures require some form of fitness to climb the hill and tree before you can actually enjoy gliding down the zip lines. So be prepared for a walk through the jungle for a bit and to climb up a tree on to the flight platform. We hope you do not mind heights! Don’t laugh at those who will be hollering and whooping their lungs out on the way down, you just might do the same!
Be a Thai chef for a day in a Chiang Mai cooking school
Take the mystery out of all those wonderful Thai dishes by learning how to cook it for yourself from the master chef himself at the Thai Cookery School Master Class! Yes, you can now still have the wonderful taste of Thailand even when you have to go home after a great holiday. Learn all the finer points that go into Thai cooking and best of all, get to eat what you have labored over for a few hours. You can even bring a friend along to help you eat all that food. Now isn’t that a great way to impress your companion or wife/husband to be?! Thai cooking requires a lot of preparations, so this is a real hands=on experience to know what to do, ingredients to use and actually see them for yourself as well as to taste it. This is even better than watching all those cooking lessons on the telly!
Explore the nocturnal creatures of the wild at the Chiang Mai Night Safari
While most animals are asleep in the night, the real predators of the wild will come out to play. No, this does not mean vampires, ghost and ghouls. We are talking about those fascinating creatures like the tigers, hyenas and you might even be surprised that the other animals don’t even sleep that early! You can still see antelopes, giraffes, wildebeest and a whole host of other animals during the Night Safari. You might be interested to know that the Chiang Mai Night Safari is only one of two in the whole of Thailand, the other is in the province of Chonburi. If you do not like walking the whole zoo, you can take the trams and there are even facilities for the disabled. As the animals do not sleep that early, you can still get to watch the shows and feeding times for some of the animals. So when you are in Chiang Mai and not sure what to do in the night…go check out the animals!
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