Chiang Mai has to be one of the most traveled places in Thailand. Backpacker heaven can be found in and around Chiang Mai with it’s laid back approach to life. There is so much to do in and around Chiang Mai that we stayed there for 3 weeks, and even after 6 months of traveling South East Asia it was one of my favorite places.
We always had something to do and were never board. Here is my top 5 things for you to do whilst in Chiang Mai. What would be your top 5? Comments are open below.
These can range from 1 night 2 day treks all the way up to the 4 night 5 day treks. We did the 5 day jungle trek and we did not regret it. It was an unbelievable experience to be dropped off in the jungle and to trek over 100 KM back towards Chiang Mai. Our 5 day trek was run from Libra Guest House on Soi 9. Toto was our main guide along with Lamo and Dr. O.
We were dropped off early Monday morning and we walked over broken bridges, up steep and muddy hills and cooled off in waterfalls. We went bamboo rafting, caving, waded through rivers and rode elephants through the river. Oh and we got tipsy a few times of the locals rice whisky!
It’s at number 1 because it is a must do, forget the spiders, snakes and poisonous caterpillars that are out to get you, it’s the experience of a lifetime. Have a read of my jungle trek diary here.
The cooking course was an amazing experience. If your like me and love to cook you can’t beat learning new techniques to take home with you. I did my cooking experience with Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre and made 7 different dishes. You get to eat everything you cook so don’t fill up on breakfast before you go! Each of the 7 courses has 3 different dishes to chose from so you can find something you will like for every course.
You will take a trip to the local food market to pick up all the ingredients before you cook. They teach you about all the different ingredients and then show you how to prepare everything. When I did my course I cooked: Fried noodles thai style, Green curry paste, Green curry with chicken, Fried cashew nuts with chicken, Spring rolls from scratch, Prawn and coconut milk soup and Fried bananas in thick coconut toffee served with vanilla ice-cream.
One of the best things we did in Chiang Mai was to hire bicycles. For only a few Bhat a day you can hire them out and explore the local area. There are lots of different temples in Chiang Mai each with there own individual features. In the south-west corner (inside the old walls) there is a small park (Buak Hat) to relax in.
We cycled up a huge hill to a lake with a view across Chiang Mai. Watching the sunset from up there over Chiang Mai was beautiful and highly recommended.
The Sunday Market is vast. It was the 1st market I went to in Asia so was blown away by the variety of things for sale. You can get art, bags, drinks, food, woodwork, crafts and souvenirs. They are just a few to get you started. Once we had our fill of food and drink we made our way up and down.
We were exhausted after a few hours and had to retreat to our guest house. The range of things you can buy off these markets is astonishing, so have a look around, you will find something you like.
This is not strictly a Chiang Mai activity but this is how we did it. We hired moto’s out of Chiang Mai and set off on our way to Pai. I had never rode a bike before in my life so we took it steady to begin with. After our confidence grew we increased the speed and were on our way to Pai.
The drive to Pai was amazing, the views were breathtaking and we stopped off at a few waterfalls on the way to break up the riding. We spent one night in Pai and then drove through the mountains to Mae Hong Son. The drive through the mountains was unbelievable! The roads, the views, the air, the twists and turns. It was what you call a perfect road. Down out of the mountains in the sunshine, hairpin after hairpin. Amazing. Just don’t crash like me! Don’t let me put you off, it was my fault.
After one night in Mae Hong Son we made our way to Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand. That day was just as eventful as the last as with fading light Ed got a puncture. We found a garage, got our bikes fixed up and had to make another stop off overnight. Onwards to Doi Inthanon and we struggled up on our 125’s, we were still faster than the cars though! Back to Chiang Mai to complete the trip. An amzing 4 days of none stop fun, even the crash did not put me off.