Where Bangkok has the monopoly on the loud and ostentatious, Chiang Mai has the skinny on all that is picturesque, calm and leafy. Chiang Mai presents a very appealing alternative to the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok. Instead of finding themselves battling a bunch of traffic and frazzled pedestrians, tourists who visit Chiang Mai find that there is a cool and pleasant town that is easily navigable by foot. Short trips out of town find you close to waterfalls and stunning countryside, and it’s all in all a very pleasant experience here. Be sure to plan a trip to Chiang Mai as part of your Thai adventures. Let’s take a look at some of the incredible things on this list by Travezl that you could be getting up to as part of your trip.
Visit the old town
Despite the huge array of signage offering you yoga courses and trekking trips, the old town of Chiang Mai has a huge amount of contemporary arts, driven by the younger generation of the capital. A slew of galleries and co-working spaces sit alongside artsy cafes each filled with people who are keen to show off their work. Unlike plenty of other modern Asian cities, where people have pushed aside tradition to make way for modernity, this isn’t the case in Chiang Mai. The younger generation continues to embrace older establishments and enjoy the custom of bare-bones food spots and traditional fare. You can enjoy a dish of traditional laab, a spicy minced meat salad full of herbs; or perhaps a morsel of sua ue, a herbed sausage fragranced with lemongrass and served with sticky rice. These older style eating establishments sit side by side with modern cafes and bars.
Support the arts
There is a small and growing community of artists and designers here, and you can support them in a number of ways – whether it’s buying some artworks, heading along to a gallery exhibition or joining in on a poetry reading. You can enjoy the scene at Gallery Kang Wat in Baan Kang Wat, or head to the Hern Gallery – an offshoot of the Gallery Seescape. This opened recently on a bend of the Ping River, and you can find it south of the old town.
Learn to cook
With an abundance of incredible restaurants and stores selling stunning and fragrant foods, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ll never need to know how to make these items. Not so. It will stand to reason that you’ll need to leave here at some point, so you should know how to make the dishes that you love. There are dozens of options for learning how to cook here, so simply pick your favourite and get stuck in. There will be plenty of work done on the mortar and pestle, so make sure you have your muscles primed and ready for that!
Help the elephants
It’s never been cool to exploit animals, and now there is a way to help them while still experiencing the incredible majesty of their size and stature. Visit the Elephant Nature Park and enjoy some time working to help the people who rehabilitate elephants here. You can spend a week here helping with reforestation, animal care and supporting the charity, so if you have the time and money to spare you should!
This is just a slice off the surface of some of the many incredible things that you can do in Chiang Mai, and you’ll find that with just a little bit of digging you’ll uncover some of the most incredible adventure and delights. Be sure to pack a healthy sense of adventure when you plan your next trip to Thailand!