This is one destination in Thailand which you cannot miss!! From Night Safaris to Tribal villages to beautiful Monasteries to Elephant farms - Chiang Mai has a variety to offer. It is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and a river flowing amidst with swanky restaurants and cafes built around.
My visit to Thailand could not have started at a better place than the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the most famous of all Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai. It is a 45 min drive from the city up the hill on a winding road. Climb the steps or you can take the elevator after paying a small fee. Enjoy the folk dance performance by small children and walk around the compound to see the smaller installations.
The city view during the sunset from the temple is the highlight. The temple is adorned with a golden plated Chedi (stupa) containing holy Buddha relic, making it an important pilgrimage destination for the Buddhists from all over the world.
Kantoke dinner and folk dance in Chiang Mai's premiere Kantoke venue (Khum Kantoke) is a unique way to experience the traditions of Northern Thailand. Sample northern delights as Thai pork curry, Thai fried chicken, fried cabbage, Thai sticky rice and fried bananas to name but a few.
Take a walk in the famous Night Bazaar and do some shopping of local items. It is a very lively night market even during the late hours with beautiful spas and great music.
Make a full day tour to Chiang Rai Province and The Golden Triangle, meeting point of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Take the first stop at the Maekhajan hot springs - a good spot to take a morning cup of coffee before heading up towards the stunning Wat Rong Khun, often named as 'The White Temple' due do its dazzling white colour inlaid with mirrored glass. This is a gorgeous temple and a must visit in Chiang Rai. It was quite amazing to look at the women wearing heavy neckpieces (as heavy as 3kg) in the Karen Long Neck Tribal village. It is a symbol of beauty and since childhood they start wearing them.
The Golden Triangle is quite an epic viewpoint considering the history attached to it. You stop by the roadside & look at the triangle formed by the convergence of the Maesai & Mekong River & the borders of Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia & Thailand. China is only 270km upriver! Nearby are the ruins (14th century) of Wat Phra That Pu Khao, which added to the sense of history in this place. The main attraction, however, is the Opium Museum which houses a fascinating collection of opium paraphernalia & a good history of the trade & wars. Well worth a visit.
On last day, go ahead and spend the day in proximity with nature. Numerous elephant farms, located at outskirt of the city, offer great entertainment and fun. Well trained elephants demonstrate their skill at painting, soccer and other games. You can them take ride on elephant through beautiful lush
green forest and flowing stream. Plug in Ox cart ride in between and you will be wading through the forest and local hutments. Complete your visit with bamboo rafting after sumptuous lunch at the farm.
You may head towards Tiger Kingdom next. It is an enthralling experience to be with a roaring tiger in the same frame! The white tigers were a treat to watch. This is a lifetime experience for us. Conclude the day with stopover at beautiful orchids and butterflies farm. Spend the evening leisurely on a café around the river flowing through the city and soothing Thai massage.