We can not really go back in time. But we can fly 700 kilometers to the north and visit Chiang Mai, the city that has grown in recent decades and is now the second largest city in Thailand, the capital of the north, a tourist stronghold and an opportunity to get to know wild Thailand, the place where nature is still kicking, Ancient and tropical nature intertwine with each other and occasionally struggle for control.
Beginning in the late 20th century, Chiang Mai began a rapid growth momentum, from a small town, almost a village, to a large and vibrant city. Thanks in part to the influx of tourists who visited it, and in general, in northern Thailand. Markets, shopping malls, hotels, high-quality restaurants, bars and cafes have emerged. But when you leave the center and stroll through the streets, simplicity is still evident. There are hardly any skyscrapers, the houses are still small, some have courtyards where you can still see chickens running around. The combination of rural simplicity and bustling centers allows you to enjoy the true Thailand of yesteryear in today’s comfort. This atmosphere is one of the reasons for the wave of tourists visiting the city, but not only. Most of those who come are looking for nature and looking for Asian culture – both of them are abundant here.
If we have made the journey to the city in the boat of time, it is fitting that you get to know it from the past to the present. And out of respect for the king of Mangeray, we shall first focus on the city and then go out into nature. The ancient walls still delineate the Old City, between these walls are ancient and large temples. The city itself has more than 300 temples. Some are as large and important as the huge Praha Singh Temple, which is an active Buddhist center. There’s also the ancient Chedi Luang Temple, which seems to have come out of the movie The Jungle Book or Indiana Jones.
There are many more – each temple is built in a different style and in another form. There are so many temples that you will even find strange temples, such as the temple for dogs. It’s nice to wander around the Old City, but why walk if you can do it by riding? Segway tours pass through the city from temple to temple, from site to site.
The Segway will also pass through the newer sections of town. In Chiang Mai there are many malls and markets. As a tourist in Thailand, we must visit the huge Central Plaza mall, which hosts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the region every day. Right in the heart of the city is the Pantip Plaza shopping mall and the Xenco shopping mall.
You must be hungry by now. In Chiang Mai you will find a variety of restaurants and stalls offering northern delicacies, some slightly different from the center and south of Thailand. But maybe you want to learn to prepare your own food. Come for half a day or more at the well-known Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School and learn the secrets of Thai cooking. Whether you take a beginner’s or advanced course, when you get home and miss the taste of Thailand, you’ll be able to recreate it by yourself.
Go to the 3D museum, where you can “walk” into pictures, and can be photographed as if you are part of a well-known artwork or a wild walk in nature. A most amusing experience.
We promised nature, you’re right. So before we leave the city – a taste of nature in the city itself. In Chiang Mai there is a large zoo where you can see many interesting animals, most of which are typical of Asia. You can see panda bears, white tigers, plenty of monkeys and parrots, and penguins. True, there aren’t any penguins in the tropical belt, but it’s a good excuse to build a cold compound, to dispel the heat of the trip to the zoo. Want more animals? Happily – take a tour of the night safari, on an electric train traveling among the animals, which come alive after the heavy heat of the day has passed. Predators watch from afar and the vegetarian animals feed. Want even more animals? Now we must leave the city.
Before leaving the city, let us visit some historical sites. Alongside the city there are artisan villages. For the comfort of the tourists, the artists in each village present their art in one site. You can buy creations and you can make do with watching the artists, who with simple tools quickly create amazing things. Here in the village of the painters, in a matter of minutes they will paint colorful works on the paper umbrellas they made there, or on their own fans and whatever clothes they give them. Here’s a little tip: the paintings are so vast and cheap that it’s hard to resist – Bring plenty of simple clothes you bought in advance, for example in the Kad Luang market, and let artists paint on them.
Now we will climb the Doi Suthep mountain, only 15 km from the city but higher than it, where one of the most important temples of the north is located.
From Doi Suthep We go out into nature. The green valley and those wooded mountains contain plenty of places to hike and experience nature. You can go trekking for a few days in the mighty rain forests, and you can go for day trips. Either way, we will discover wild nature. For the tallest peak, visit Doi Inthanon Reserve – the tallest mountain in Thailand is over 2500 meters high. From here we will be able to see huge, flowing and stormy waterfalls. Some of them fall from a height of tens of meters, some are dozens of meters wide, and others are modest. Alongside rice terraces, we can explore the vegetables of hidden villages and ancient tribes. You can sail slowly on a raft in one of the rivers that cross the wooded plains.
Yes, you can certainly experience a lot of action, in the woods, in rafting, on ATV trips or on jeep trips. You can even get to know the forest from a bird’s eye – is one of the many zipline trips in the area. From tree to tree, metal ropes are spread and we slide safely but quickly from tree to tree – we see below us the tangle of green treetops in all shades and streams that break through the rocks and trees. Do you really want to fly? A bungee jump is waiting for you. After all the trips must surely rest your sore muscles. Go visit the local geyser, then enter one of the pools created by boiling water, visit the Spa of Mother Nature.
Shopping in Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai, capital of northern Thailand, has many attractions for the millions of tourists who visit it every year. And undoubtedly the area is full of attractions in the most beautiful and unique landscapes and jungles in Thailand. But what about shopping?
Night Market: Chiang Mai has a huge night market for fine art, handicrafts and counterfeits of all kinds. The market spreads over an area of several streets on the sidewalks of the squares and inside the houses. There are also some modern shopping areas. On Sundays, the Bazaar also holds handcrafts and food that draws locals and tourists to Rachidamnon Street, the main street in ancient Chiang Mai. There are also countless massage parlors, some of which also offer massage classes, and there are cooking schools as well.
Warorot Market: The bustling Warorot Market, is reminiscent of the Chinatown market where you can find a variety of regional dishes as well as cheap clothes (mostly fakes).
Shopping malls in Chiang Mai: In the city of Chiang Mai you will also find standard, air-conditioned shopping malls. The largest in northern Thailand, are Central Airport, KAC or KAD SUANKAEW
Sunday market in Chiang Mai
If you are in Changchai this weekend – why not go shopping in one of the biggest markets in the north? No, do not worry, when we say shopping over the weekend we mean the Thai weekend, we mean the Sunday market.
Every Sunday, from 4pm to midnight, the main street in the ancient city of Chiang Mai is closed. Ratchadamnoen Road and the streets that emerge from it turn into a long and bustling pedestrian mall, over a kilometer long. Merchants of all kinds spread their wares on stalls or on mats on the road. You will find clothes, fabrics, toys and stationery. Everything from everything. Quite a few peddlers are also the creators of the goods sitting on the mat, or a small chair at the stand and before your eyes sew the bag, draw on the shirt, weave the rug and so on.
Those who are tired of wandering for a long time are invited to try an abundance of cheap and fresh food stands or centers for foot massage and all at ridiculous prices. Now your bag is filled with unique items, the stomach was filled with fine Thai food and the pocket was left almost intact. It’s time to lean back to let a trained massage therapist soothe your sore feet.
In the background, Thai music by local artists is heard. The old town houses are lit up and all the temples are painted in gold at night, indeed it is Sunday market in Chiang Mai.
Elephant camps in Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai means “New City” in Thai, but the word “chang” is an elephant. Sounds the same, right? no! If a Thai person had said that, there would be a difference in sounds, and Thai is tonal language, the sounds have meaning. But, perhaps because of the similar name, or perhaps because Chiang Mai sees itself as the capital of the jungle and serves as a center for elephant treatment. Around the city there are many camps aimed at treating wounded elephants and returning them to nature.
Elephants used as pack animals or circus displays and received inappropriate treatment arrive at these camps, where they receive dedicated medical treatment, good living conditions and ultimately those who can return to nature go back.
Examples of such farms, all about 60-70 km away from Chiang Mai are: Patara Farm and Elephant National Park.
You can reach such a farm and spend a full day there, or more. At the farm you will adopt an elephant. He will allow you to take care of him, give him food, wash him in the river and oet him.
No, you will not be there alone, you will also have the “Mahout” of the elephant (ie the personal trainer). But at the end of the experience, you will get to know the elephant and make a true friend. A big friend. With a great heart and a great soul. Some argue that caring for a large animal is a great experience.
Festivals in Chiang Mai:
There are many colorful festivals in Chiang Mai, and visitors enjoy watching and participating in them. Among the most prominent festivals that can be found here:
The Loy Kratong Festival, which usually takes place in November, is attended by thousands of celebrants carrying containers made of banana leaves and covered with flowers and candles, and sending them into the water, in order to glorify the name of the water goddess.
Songkran Festival, held in mid-April, marking the new Thai year. The festival in Chiang Mai has become a major tourist attraction due to a variety of religious activities and recreational activities, including parades, friendly water battles and the festival’s beauty contest.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival in February celebrates the flowering peak. Parades, dances and colorful flotillas are an inseparable part of the city’s celebration of this magnificent festival.
Chiang Mai is the capital of northern Thailand and has many attractions for the millions of visitors who visit it every year. If you are on the way to Chiang Mai, please contact us today, and we will provide you with all the information you need and the best prices!