In addition to spending some time in Bangkok during our two-week Thailand adventure, we spent 3 action packed days in Chiang Mai. To get to Chaing Mai we took a teeny airline called Nok Air. The airline’s logo is a cute bird beak and they give you snacks even if you are taking a puddle jumper!
As soon as we landed we headed to the Four Season Resort just outside of Chiang Mai, where we would be spending the next few days.
As soon as we got to the hotel the staff took our bags to our rooms, they placed a lei around our neck and we were whisked off to the Four Seasons Cooking School where we would be spending our afternoon whipping up local Chiang Mai dishes for our lunch. The school was on the hotel’s property in a beautiful open-air kitchen.
This leads us to our first Chiang Mai Adventure.
Take a Chiang Mai Cooking Class
Like I said in my Bangkok post, I love to cook so of our course the cooking classes are going to make the top of my adventure list. Also similar to the BaiPai Cooking School in Bangkok, the Chef would demo all of the dishes first, which left room for questions and made learning and cooking the dish so much easier.
After the demo we would head back to our amazing cooking stations, where we would whip up our own version.
Over the course of the afternoon we whipped up a veggie and meat platter with a green chili dipping sauce and a Chiang Mai curry, which was the most amazing curry dish that I have ever had!
After we enjoyed our culinary creations for lunch, the cute cooking school staff awarded everyone with a cooking diploma, a packet with all of the recipes from the dishes we made and told us that we got to keep our aprons. We are basically professional Thai chefs at this point! 😉
Visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple (well that is a mouth full) is often referred to as Doi Suthep, even though this is the name of the mountain that this temple lives on. You have to take a winding car ride up the mountain and then you take the tram or the stairs up to the top of the mountain to get to the temple. It is said to have amazing views of Chiang Mai, but unfortunately the day that we were there it was a tad bit rainy, which made it too foggy to see anything beyond the temple.
We did manage to get some great rainy temple toe photos though 🙂
The temple was beautiful and I would love to go back on a sunny day so that I could enjoy the views of Chiang Mai from the mountain.
Visit the Chiang Mai Night Market!
I love shopping at any type of crafty local market, and the Chiang Mai Night Market was probably my favorite market that we went to the whole trip. It is located right in downtown Chiang Mai, it has everything that you could possibly want in regards to souvenirs and it is so so cheap. I ended up buying way to many flowy pants with elephants on them, but I could not control myself and you can never have too many elephant flowy pants.
In addition to a ton of shopping, we also took the time to oggle some mystery meats.
We got to hang out with a Thai Ronald McDonald!
We also just spent the evening strolling around enjoying the city and all of the festival decorations.
Go to Chiang Mai During the Loi Krathong Festival
The Loi Krathong Festival happens in Chiang Mai in mid to late November and the dates change yearly, so plan ahead. We just so happened to get lucky and we were in Chiang Mai during this festival. Loi Krathong means decorative floats in Thai, and the term is used for this festival only. This was my favorite thing that we did in Chiang Mai. The festival was something that was so amazing, that if I had known about it before I went to Thailand, it would have been on my bucket list. The coolest part about this festival was the two different types of lanterns you can choose to light at the festivities. Since this was our first time at the festival, we decided to do both.
The first type of lantern is a floating lantern.
You purchase your floating lantern from one of the many street vendors. They have all different types, so half of the fun is picking out your own super special lantern. Once you have your lantern you light it, make a wish or release a negative thought onto the lantern, place your lantern into the river so that it can float away with your wish or negative thought. If you look closely at the photo above you can see all of the hundreds of lanterns floating down the river behind us. The tricky part to the floating lantern is actually getting your lantern into the river. There is about a 3-foot drop from the ledge of the river, and where the river actually is. Derika had to hold onto the back of my pants and I had to use my yogi squatting skills as I placed our lanterns into the river, so that I would not fall in.
The second kind of lantern is a huge paper lantern that you light the base of. While the lantern fills with hot air you make a wish. Once it is filled with enough hot air you gently let it go right in the middle of the city and it floats away with your wish. At the beginning of the festival thousands of these floating lanterns are lit and let go. What looks like stars in the sky are actually lanterns. Here is a quick video of our friend Danielle releasing her lantern. You can get a great visual of all of the other lanterns that were in the sky.
Derika and I did not get a video of our lantern release, but we did get some great photos.
Go Visit an Elephant Camp in Mae Taman Valley
I was a little torn about this adventure, because I was not sure how the elephants were treated at the camps. However, I do have to admit that I love elephants so so much, and I was excited to see one up close. We ended up visiting the Maetaeng Elephant Park.
As soon as we got to the park we were escorted to the elephants, so that we could meet them and take a ride through the forest. It was a crazy experience and they even went in the water while we were on them!
During our trip we got to buy some sugar cane and bananas for the elephant to snack on along the way. Derika was super sweet and let me feed the elephant ALL of the things. It was all fun and games, until our elephant got too excited while I was feeding it and Derika ended up getting elephant spit in her eye. I was so excited; I didn’t even notice while it was happening…Whoops! 😉
After our ride we got to meet the elephants and one of the babies took a liking to me and got a bit frisky!
After the elephants were done getting frisky, they got to go take a bath. Sooooo, cute!
My favorite part about the elephant camp was the bamboo raft ride along the river!
Along the way we got so see happy Elephants!
All in all the elephants seemed like they were taken care of really well at the camp that we went too. I would for sure recommend the raft ride and make your own judgment call on what elephant park you choose to go to and how you choose to interact with them.
One last elephant foot selfie.
Visit the Doi Inthanon National Park and visit the Vachiratharn Waterfall
Doi Inthanon National Park is the highest point in Thailand. This is a great place to sneak in some awesome hiking into your trip. There are trails all throughout the forest. It was a bit chilly there, so I was forced to wear tennis shoes with my flowy elephant pants…not the best way to make a fashion statement in Thailand. Derika also decided to buy the most amazing hat that I have ever seen. She looks so happy in it! Scroll though photos below to see the awesomeness.
After you hike around the national park go check out the Vachiratharn Waterfall, which is also in the national park.
After all of those adventures, our three days went by in a flash! I could not believe that it was already time to leave. In addition to running all over Chiang Mai we did get a chance to enjoy the Four Seasons Resort a bit.
They had a lovely infinity pool, that if you hung out at it long enough you could see the hotel’s water buffalo strolling around just beyond the pool! Yes you read that correctly….THE HOTEL HAD WATER BUFFALO!! I got too excited and forgot to take a photo, so here is a picture of the pool. 🙂
Also while we were hanging out at the pool, we of course had to sample some of the tasty beverages that were served with some amazing spiced nut and squash chips.
I loved, loved, loved the breakfast at this hotel, because I could get noodle soup ALL of the days!
While I was slurping on my soup breakfast I got to enjoy this ‘terrible’ view.
The last morning that we were at the resort we had the opportunity to see some cute Thai women redoing one of the floating flower vases that we saw all over the hotel property. If I ever move to Thailand, this is what I want my next job to be. It seems so so relaxing and I would get to be crafty at the same time. 🙂 Look how cute they are!!!
Chiang Mai was so much more low-key than Bangkok, and it was way more my speed. For great shopping, amazing curry, super happy people and an epic lantern festival, check out Chiang Mai on your Thailand adventure.
Now let’s go check out the beaches…Off to Krabi we go!