Culture: Chiang Mai (3 days…. or a month!)
Catch one of the many night trains that leave Bangkok’s train station and tuck yourself into a bottom bunk with some snacks for the night. When you step off the train in Chiang Mai, it’ll be like a breath of fresh air from Bangkok’s hectic humidity, and you’ll feel a zen calmness sink into your bones. The cultural activities are endless here, but have a gander around the epic Night Bazaar and eat some uber cheap noodle soup at a street stall before catching an authentic Muay Thai Boxing match.
Pop into the zoo to see some Pandas and just generally wander around the greenness, but do prioritise a trip up to the magnificent hilltop temple of Doi Suthep. If you’re feeling daring, drive a scooter up the winding hill or take a Songthaew (pick-up truck taxi) with a bicycle and endure a hair-raising ride back down to town. See more of our tips for seeing Chiang Mai.
TIGER KINGDOM: I have done both Tiger Kingdom and Tiger Temple and would defiantly recommend Tiger Kingdom as the one you should do. The tigers are so well looked after, they are more lively and you can get your pictures taken with them when they are alert and playing. Tiger Kingdom has 5 types of tigers…. smallest, small1, small2, medium and big. Each type is around 500b (10 pound) or you can do them all for 1900b (Just under 40 pound) and if you want you can hire a professional photographer for 300b (6 pound) extra and I would DEFIANTLY recommend this!
FLIGHT OF THE GIBBONS: An action packed day of flying though the tree tops of Chiang Mai’s forest on zip lines and abseils. There are a couple of companies which do this however the Flight of The Gibbons takes you to see the wild gibbons (that’s a type of monkey fyi) and gives you an amazing 3 course meal with live jungle music! It really is nonstop and is ‘Thailand’s number one tourist attraction’ the costs can vary depending on where you get the tickets from but it is roughly 2800b and is pretty much a full day adventure!
Chiang Mai is called ‘the rose of the north’ and is 700km from the capital city of Bangkok. Despite being the 2nd largest city in Thailand, its population comes in at about 200,000 while Bangkok is 9 million. This makes it a very lovely and comfortable city to go to.
Made it to Chiang Mai as scheduled anyway.Chiang Mai, the place to be? It is a beautiful city but it depends on what you are looking for. They are luring in young crowds with all kinds of expensive package adventure trek tours (bungy jump, zip lines, quads, rafting, climbing, mountain biking etc.) and bars/restaurants. We feel that this place is way tourist-oriented for us although this is the low season. We will be looking for a more authentic Thai experience.Almost everything at the night bazaar is made in China and it's expensive. Next we visited the The North gate of the old ramparts. Old Chiang Mai inside the ramparts used to be the royal "playgrounds". Nowadays it is the touristy hub.Next was Wat Jetlin. We found this wat very surprising. The kids played the gongs for half an hour. Doi Suthep is a temple at the top of a mountain.
Chiang Mai has no sky-scrapers. In fact the biggest structures are the Wats (temples). The old town is still surrounded by a moat and a fully functioning protective terracotta brick city wall complete with 'gates'. Remnants of an outer wall are dotted about the river where fountains intermittently spray up mist and trees line the water and it is easy to imagine what this place may have looked like back when the wall was complete.
After a whole day's travel with minivan, ferry, minivan again, drop off at BKK, shuttle bus tour around the airport (I enjoy the scenic route) shuttle bus to the correct airport, flight and finally a taxi, I made it to Chiang Mai to meet the glorious gorgeous couple, Katia and Jon for our fourth liaison in three years, across the world. And all in time to see children kick the crap out of each other at Muay Thai.