Chiang Mai is one of my favourite places in the world. The small city north of Bangkok has a lovely rustic charm. Its laid back atmosphere, quirky cafes and busting markets make this the perfect place to stay after a couple of crazy days in Bangkok. Nicknamed ‘The rose of the North’ Chiang Mai is packed full with natural wonder, beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture and delicious food. If you are still not convinced here are some other reasons to add Chiang Mai to your travel list today.
Chiang Mai is home to over 200 temples. The intricate carving and stunning hand painted murals are stunning and well worth a visit. I spent a lot of time during my stay wandering around the Wats submersing myself in their beauty and calm.
One of my favourite aspects about this city is the food. Chiang Mai is full of lovely little restaurants which serve traditional Thai dishes that are cooked to perfection. The food is nothing like what we are served in Thai restaurants here in the UK. During my stay I had some delicious curry’s that were jam packed with flavour and nothing like I had ever experienced before. These curries became my staple diet throughout my stay and I have spent many evenings trying to replicate them (unsuccessfully) ever since.
If you are looking to take home some beautiful handcrafted souvenirs then you need to head to the night Bazaar in the centre of Chiang Mai. You can spend hours wandering along the rows and rows of handicrafts from beautiful sparking jewellery to had carved wooden bowls. Just make sure to watch your wallet as pickpockets abound. Also not to be missed is the food market where you can grab some yummy street food and listen to a live band. We spent every night here as it was so much fun.
If you can try to visit Elephant Jungle Sanctuary during your stay. They are an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai. Unlike most of the other elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai you can tell that they are concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand and do their best to make sure they are well looked after. They are devoted to rescuing abused elephants from all over Thailand and other close by countries. . As part of our visit we were able to get up close to these incredible animals and bathe them. It was wonderful to see them enjoying their surroundings.
The best foot massage I have ever had was in Chiang Mai. Most of the hotels have a full spa service but there are also some upmarket standalone massage salons. They are very cheap almost a tenth of the cost as what you would pay in the UK. During my stay I made the most of this and had one near enough every day.
There are lots of backpackers in Chiang Mai so it is a great place for people watching. I really enjoyed finding a cafe on the high street, grabbing a fruit juice and sitting back watching the world go by.
Aside from the night bazaar in Chiang Mai there are lots of lovely shops where you can buy beautiful handcrafted goods. Small stores that offer everything from household goods over furniture to unique clothing are dotted around the city. I managed to get some beautiful products from the lovely small boutiques of which there are plenty spread around the city.
Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations for backpackers. Due to cheap living Chiang Mai has become a very popular base for expats and digital nomads making it a great place to meet other travellers.
Trekking is really popular in Chiang Mai there are lots of different routes available taking you through jungle, mountains and hill tribe villages. Many of the trek packages available also include bamboo rafting, waterfalls and visits to one of the elephant sanctuaries. Trekking is a wonderful way to experience Northern Thailand.
Thailand is home to some of the most delicious dishes in the world. There is an abundance of cooking schools in Chiang Mai where you can learn to whip up a pungent Tom Yum Gung or Penang curry that really packs a punch. Most of the classes include a trip to the local market where you can source fresh ingredients for your meal.