Take a night train, sleeper bus or flight and head to Thailand’s second biggest city – Chiang Mai! Surrounded by mountains, most of the city is walkable and squared in by canals so it’s easy to find your way. Take song thaews (trucks) for around 30 baht or haggle for tuktuks. With a cooler climate and fresh air, you definitely should not miss a visit here! I lived here for 2 months and despite the hard work I was doing, I really enjoyed it!
1.Elephants elephants elephants! Head to Hug Elephant Sanctuary and spend the day with these gentle giants, feeding, bathing and observing them. Read here for why you should choose your sanctuary carefully! This is one f my favourite sanctuaries that I’ve been to twice! http://www.hugelephantssanctuary.com/
2. Chiang Mai Grand Canyon – not quite as Grand as the U.S version but it’s still pretty sweet! Rain waters have filled up an old quarry and the result is stunning blue water where you can go cliff jumping (if you dare) or just float around on wooden rafts for the afternoon. Take a tuktuk
3. Sunday Walking Market…night market…or just any market in Chiang Mai! Quirky, unusual stuff that you don’t normally find in Bangkok or the rest of Thailand!
4. Ziplining – spend the morning whizzing through Chiang Mai’s jungle, over natural scenery and valleys below.
5. White water rafting – better in rainy season (May – October), hold on tight to your dinghy while sweeping down rapids and admire monkeys and elephants on the river banks on the gentler river swirls
6. Tubing – Vang Vieng it isn’t but plonk yourself into a rubber tube, attach yourself to your mates and, more importantly, the tube with the ice bucket full of beers and float your worries away down the Ping river – watch out for the occasional nibbling fish!
7. Day trip to Doi Inthanon – the highest point in Thailand and the foothills of the Himalayas, stopping at a few waterfalls on the way!
8. Day trip to Chiang Rai and the white temple – one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand! Stunning on the outside and just plain weird on the inside!
9. Eat Khao Soy – my favourite Thai dish. Think yellow curry with egg noodles, crispy noodles and a chicken drumstick.
10. Visit Street Pizza – it’s true, you can eat too many noodles. Check out this restaurant that I personally claim to be the BEST pizza in Thailand!
11. Try a cooking course – even if, like me, you prefer eating to cooking, this is still a fun way to spend the day and you get to eat a lot too!
12. Brunch at Chiang Mai Breakfast World – amazing European bread, cheese, cold cuts of meat…not cheap but worth the investment!
13. Party at Zoe in Yellow area with the dirty backpackers! Be warned, most bars close by midnight. It’s an army thing.
14. Celebrate Songkran – Thai New Year from April 13-16th with a massive city-wide waterfight! I’m talking water guns, pistols, ice buckets, hoses, a Buddha procession that comes down from the hills and being solidly wet for three days. The most fun you will ever have in a Hawaiian shirt! Chiang Mai is arguably the best place to celebrate and party and a lovely mixture of tourists and locals!
15. Celebrate Yi-peng and Loy Kratong in November in Chiang Mai – one of the best places! Watch thousands of floating lanterns wind their way up into the sky for hours like something from a magical Disney movie.
How to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok: