Thailand may be best known for its beaches, but the north is definitely worth visiting as well. Take a train or bus to Chiang Mai and use the city as a base from which to explore the nature, culture and wildlife
1. Go to an ethical elephant sanctuary
The Elephant Nature Park is very well known and as a result booked up months in advance. However, there are plenty of other great places around Chiang Mai where elephants receive ethical treatment. Look for places that advertize “no riding”. Dumbo Elephant Spa is great to spend the day playing and bathing with the elephants.
2. Take a cooking course
Thailand is famous for its food, so why not learn to cook it yourself? There are a lot of classes on offer at various prices and times. I recommend Smile Organic Farm Cooking Course. The teachers are great and the food even better!
3. Visit a temple
Like all Thai cities, Chaing Mai has temples galore. Skip the touristy Wat Phra Singh and explore the smaller, quieter side streets instead. You can also ride a scooter up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for an impressive sunset view.
4. Get a Thai massage
The best Thai massage is given at Women’s Massage Centre by Ex-prisoners. The employees are ex-prisoners of the Chiang Mai women’s prison. They get massage training to reintegrate into society and fight prejudice.
5. Explore the nightlife
Start your night at the night bazaar on the east end of the city. The night market offers food, drinks and souvenir shopping. But its biggest gem lies in the Anusan Market for 350 bath (including a drink) you can see the hilarious ladyboy cabaret. It starts at 9.30 pm, but arrive early for a good seat. After, head to Zoe In Yellow for drinks and dancing and Spicy if you want to make it a really late night.
Bonus: get a work out
Join the Thai people for a morning or evening workout in Nong Buak park to get rid of those Pad Thai pounds. Get there early to beat the heat and go for a run or try the gym equipment around the park. Or head outside of the city to stretch your legs on a trekking adventure.