Far in the north of Thailand, you can find this amazing little city called Chiang Mai! We took the Polar-Express from Bangkok to this green paradise. The relation between the outdoor and inner temperatures in the train was not really balanced.
The diversity in Thailand is spectacular. Bangkok and its chaos, but also the amazing beaches of Thailand were really exciting and the main reason for most Thailand visitors to travel here. But you should definitely have the north in mind, too.
Green and fresh air everywhere
After the 16 hours train ride, we arrived in paradise. The air was so fresh, clean and much better than in Bangkok. We were surrounded by green and a little bit outside the city you’ll find the rice fields. This was what we were searching for!
And of course, it was so much calmer than anywhere else in Thailand. Well, there’s traffic, too. But it doesn’t even come close to Bangkok’s insanity.
Due to shifting cultivation pollution has increased over the passed years. But this depends on the time of the year. We didn’t experience something like that during our stay.
Chiang Mai’s many many temples
They’re everywhere in this great country. Like the Hindus in Bali, Buddhists in Thailand worship their holies and gods daily in one of the many temples surrounding them.
As most of you will only be there for a few days (like us), we would recommend you to focus on the most important ones.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Too fast, too furious – this is how I would describe the drive up to this temple. The driver seemed to drive this route daily. Nevertheless: We will always remember this trip up there and the strange feeling in our stomachs.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai’s landmark and was built in the 14th century. The handrails are decorated with snake sculptures and the stairs up let this place look mighty.
Those few steps weren’t too exhausting, but great exercise for your legs. Reaching the top, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view and a beautifully cultivated temple garden. Gold, demons and monks make it an even more perfect place.
The beauty of this temple might be one of the many reasons why it seems to be Chiang Mai’s most crowded place.
Wat Chedi Luang
This temple complex was also built in the 14th century. To make it short, most temples in this city were built at that time.
The Chedi Luang temple was destroyed by an earthquake in 1547. But the restorations started in the 1990s. We think the destroyed version looked very well as well.
As there was a ceremony while we were here, we were lucky to experience the deep spiritual atmosphere at this place.
Municipal temple complexes
There are a lot of temples spread over the city. We visited another one close to our Guesthouse but we forgot its name.
Somehow they’re all worth seeing. But somehow they all look the same after a while.
Hiking and elephant tour
There are a lot of tour providers in Chiang Mai. You should compare prices and you should do this quickly at your arrival day as the tours start early in the morning. These tours include pickup, lunch, the tour itself and the trip back to your accommodation.
We decided to make the one day trekking tour through the rice fields, rafting and the elephant ride. If you have more time, you can also make a several day hike through the jungle. We know from other travellers that it was worth the trip.
The tour started with the elephant ride in the morning. We know there are concerns regarding this activity. You should inform yourself before about the conditions in which the elephants live. Thank God our elephants seemed to do very fine. One special fella stole our hearts: a cute baby elephant following us and trying to get as many bananas as he can.
Be prepared for the elephant’s trunk which produces a lot of mist. From time to time, your face may be covered by that.
While hiking afterwards, you pass beautiful rice fields, swim at waterfalls and wow because of nature itself. Our guide told and showed us a lot. We visited a small village in the middle of nowhere, which doesn’t mean they’re not prepared for tourists.
Our guide was making fun of us by showing us our prejudices: Everytime we saw an insect, he was like ‘Hm, lunch’. We can’t even slightly imagine what Thais might think about us.
At the end of the tour, we could experience a little adventure by floating downstream on selfmade rafts. You got a little bit wet but it was so much fun.
Pink eye? – No problem!
What I will always remember: Our guide! The morning we started the hiking tour, I woke up with a pink eye. It was disgusting and painful. There are pictures of it and no one will ever see them.
Our guide was fabulous, trying to find a pharmacy and medicine. He didn’t even want the money. Insane. These people are so easy going. How could you not love Thai people?
Furthermore: The price for the whole day including everything was around 15€ per person.
Aside from the astonishing nature, there is also no financial reason not to make such a trip!
You should plan two to three days for Chiang Mai!