Thailand Travelling Series
When I visited Thailand previously on my first backpacking trip in 2014, I was only in the country for two weeks total. This meant I had to limit the amount of places I could visit as I was majorly on the clock!
My companion and I purely focused on the Gulf of Thailand, as well as Bangkok, which meant that the North was sadly out of reach. I’d always regretted this, as several different groups of people I’ve met throughout each and every backpacking stint always say that the North of Thailand is so pretty, especially Chiang Mai and Pai, and worth the trip up there! Therefore, this time around, there was no way I was going to let the opportunity slip by again! After Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi, my sister and I headed to Chiang Mai full of hope and wonder (read past blog posts in this series here, here and here).
Here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Chiang Mai.
1) Visit Tha Phae Gate…
…and walk the walls that surround the old part of the city. These walls have been in existence since 1296 so they are something to behold! The area around Tha Phae Gate is famous and always bustling with backpackers and fellow tourists due to the abundance of cafes, shops and restaurants. (There’s even a McDonalds if you’re craving a piece of home!)
2) Walk to the riverfront.
The Ping River embankment is a 30-40 minute walk from Tha Phae Gate, which can be quite a pleasant stroll if the sun is shining! We found that we managed to get decent-looking photos from Thanon Charoen Mueang Bridge; plus there’s cafes along the way if you want to stop off for a breather from the humidity.
3) Check out Chinatown.
We accidentally stumbled across Chinatown on the way back from Thanon Charoen Mueang Bridge. We didn’t look around extensively, but what we did see certainly interested us. Furthermore, as it was Chinese New Year the weekend that we visited Chiang Mai, this part of the city was decorated with Chinese lanterns which was a treat for the eyes!
4) Spend your Sunday evening at the Sunday Walking Street market.
Sunday nights come alive in Chiang Mai down the Walking Street! You’ll see sellers setting up their stalls from about 5pm onwards and there’s all sorts of goods on offer – from clothing to candles to art to food – the list is endless! You’ll be able to grab yourself a few bargains as well as enjoy the free music and atmosphere.
5) Visit Buak Hard Public Park.
This park is a bit of a trek from Tha Phae Gate and the main touristy area, however it sure is worth the journey! Unfortunately there were a few renovations occurring when we were there, but it doesn’t stop the park from being insanely stunning! It honestly doesn’t feel you’re in Thailand whilst you’re there – you’ve died and gone to heaven!
6) Have a few beers at Zoe in Yellow.
Zoe in Yellow is the main bar in an area of bars on the corner of Th Ratchaphakhinai and Th Ratwithi. It is the only bar with a dancefloor and a large, outdoor seating area where it’s nice to just chill with a drink (or two). It thrives at night and you’ll find plenty of backpackers in the vicinity wanting to dance, party and have a good time!
7) Go to Mae Rim Elephant Camp.
Anyone who’s anyone knows that Chiang Mai is famous for its awesome authentic animal experiences! My sister and I visited the Mae Rim Elephant Camp as part of a two day tour where we also got to visit Tiger Kingdom and stay overnight in Pai (the cutest village in the mountains). At the elephant camp, we had the most fun morning bathing, feeding, riding and even mucking out (!) two elephants in their natural environment. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and I loved every minute of it!
8) Visit Tiger Kingdom.
As mentioned during point seven, Tiger Kingdom is another popular excursion for tourists in Chiang Mai. Be prepared for the most bizarre system ever known to man though upon arrival; choose the size of the tiger you want to be photographed with and the price, drop off your valuables and then have a member of staff literally shove you in a cage with four tigers. Luckily there’s trained professionals keeping you safe in there as well as yourself, but still – it’s not for the faint hearted!
9) Do some temple-spotting.
In America, there’s a Starbucks on every corner. In Koh Phi Phi, there’s a tattoo shop on every corner (do you hardcore readers remember this snippet from the last post?)! In Chiang Mai, however, there’s a temple on every corner. Some of them are extremely pretty buildings with impressive shapes, colours and architecture, so keep your eyes peeled! Nic and I couldn’t help but take photos of them.
10) Go down Loi Kroh Road at night…
…which is something we personally didn’t have the time to do, as we were only in Chiang Mai for two nights. However, this road is apparently famous for its nightlife and ladyboys – so fill your boots!
All in all, we really enjoyed Chiang Mai and can certainly understand the hype around it. My three favourite personal highlights were the Tha Phae Gate area, the Sunday Walking Street market and Mae Rim Elephant Camp (especially the elephant camp)! Please learn from my previous mistake and make sure you visit Chiang Mai when you’re travelling around Thailand! It’s always lovely and sunny, everything’s so green and the vibe is truly buzzing. It’s definitely not to be missed!
Next up: a whistle stop tour around Pai.