Chiang Mai. A city in the north of Thailand, where you wouldn’t probably expect anything special, but it’s really great. It has mountains, it’s green, air is much fresher than in Bangkok, you can find good coffee everywhere and you can actually walk everywhere. To the market and to the store with used books in English and to 300 temples. But what’s the best in Chiang Mai? Elephants. Amazing Elephants. Caution, you’ll see a lot of elephants here.
So let’s take a look at subjective list of the best things in Chiang Mai, random order:
Wat Chian Man. A temple next to Wayside Guesthouse, where we stayed (which also should be included in the list of the best things in Chiang Mai, I have never seen a cleaner place and hosts are the kindest people on Earth), so we didn’t really have to look for it. In my opinion it’s the prettiest and most charming temple in Thailand. Stone elephants, lots of trees around, little bushes shaped as elephants, white and gold and red, simply amazing.
Markets. It’s easy to go crazy on Night Market because of all the food you can eat and all the souvenirs you can buy there. And they have good prices. My favourite one is a mug with an elephant trunk instead of a regular handle. It survived two flights in Thailand and a flight back home. What a brave mug.
The best thing in Chiang Mai’s markets was local sausage – Sai Oua, which we have found at Warorot Market. OMG, it’s sooo good. It’s a sausage with chili and lemon grass and hundreds of other herbs. Comes with complimentary plastic bag and sticks so you can it eat immediately. And it was gone in 35 seconds.
Elephants. Elephants were the most important part of our journey through Thailand, without them travelling to Thailand simply doesn’t count. Actually elephants deserve their own blog post. We have asked at Wayside Guesthouse about elephant trips and they gave us an insane amount of leaflets. I have to admit, the main factor for us was price. Elephants can get quite expensive with prices over 2000 THB (~55 USD). We chose, we paid and next morning, together with one more girl, we were picked up with a pick up and taken somewhere in the mountains. Somewhere In The Mountains was a place about 2 hours from Chiang Mai. Next to the rice field, where there was nothing but one cabin, mountains hidden in clouds and 4 elephants. Elephants’ paradise. We fed them with fruits, played with them, got hugs and kisses from them and we did Thais’ work by giving them a bath in the river. Then we were fed with a great yellow curry and we failed solving logical puzzles which one Thai gave us. It was an amazing day.
Random choice was the best choice. Happy elephants, who have huuuuge green area where they can play and knock down few trees. I’d rather support a Thai family running a small business like this, than an elephant sanctuary which is a first result in Google, where everyone will go.
Thai Coffee at Rockpresso. Even closer to Wayside Guesthouse then temple I have mentioned before. Strong coffee with condensed milk, regular milk and ice. Oh how good, oh how I miss it.
There are two reasonable ways to get to Chiang Mai: Air Asia airline and night train. I chose Air Asia, but train looked quite ok too.
From the airport to the city center you can take a bus. From the city center to the airport you can take a bus too, but only in theory. In reality, no one know where and if this bus stops, so it’s better to take a songtaew, a pick up turned into taxi. Ask for the price before you get in, to the airport it shouldn’t be more than 150 THB (~4 USD) for 2 people.
Where to sleep? Wayside Guesthouse! I highly recommend it. It’s cheap, it’s in the center of Chiang Mai and hosts will show you where to go, what to do and they will help you with everything.
We spent 2,5 days in Chiang Mai. It was ok, but if you can, you should stay there longer and see more places around the city. Or take cooking class. Or find even more elephants.
You should really visit Chiang Mai.