Our first two trips of the year just so happen to have been cancelled for one reason or another, so we are finally done playing catch-up on our travels from last year and can now start sharing more tips and tricks with you guys. We are big advocates for traveling Thailand because of their big cities, paradisiac beaches, and general affordability. So if you happen to find yourself with a week off, a few hundred bucks, and a desire to experience an exotic culture on the other side of the world, consider Thailand! When it comes to choosing which city to spend the most time in, we prefer Chiang Mai over Bangkok because it feels more exotic, is more beautiful, and seems slightly safer than Bangkok. If you are flying in from the U.S., chances are you will fly into Bangkok, so if you are interested in spending any time there, you can always do a stopover. But since we have spent most of our time in Chiang Mai, here is our list of activities we think everyone should experience in the city of Chiang Mai:
1. Ride in a Tuk-Tuk. Anywhere.
2. Attend the Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center. Be prepared to participate in the show! It is considered rude to turn down an invitation onto the stage.
3. Akha Ama Coffee for a taste of home ; )
4. Royal Rajapruek Palace & Gardens is like walking into a postcard. You can rent bikes near the entrance and bike around the entire property. Be sure to respect the temple etiquette!
5. Bathe elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We are embarrassed to admit that we rode elephants during our first visit to Thailand since the group we were traveling with arranged our daily activities. We weren’t as educated on animal rights back then, so we decided to forego that activity on our most recent trip to Thailand. We haven’t gotten to bathe the elephants yet, but will next time!
6. Orchid Jade Factory sells genuine jade jewelry and souvenirs. They also sell ruby and other precious gemstones at great prices.
7. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. Walking the 300 steps to the temple is worth it once you see the view over all of Chiang Mai.
8. Visit the Night Bazaar for souvenirs, yummy food (but be careful what you eat!), cheap massages, and a cultural experience you will never be able to forget. There is a night bazaar on Sunday and Monday nights.
9. Butterfly Orchid Farm butterflies will literally land on your fingertip here, and you can even eat lunch at the restaurant here!
10. Get a massage either at the bazaar (although cleanliness conditions are questionable) or at your resort or anywhere. This will be the best massage you will ever receive and the cheapest. We once got an 1.5 hour couples massage and it cost about $12 USD each. The massages at the night bazaar are anywhere from $3-5 for thirty minutes or an hour.