We leave Bangkok, heading off to Chiang Mai! A few hours from the capital North of the island, it became one of hot tourist spot but still authentic, a rural Thailand far from beaches and other parties created for tourists. It is a Thailand proud of its origins and its culture. A very nice stay with many activities that will please young and adults.
We arrive in Chiang Mai after a slow night train from Bangkok. Not very comfortable but we are happy to finally arrive at our hotel, in the middle of the city center, calm and with a nice pool. Very well maintained, managed by women previously men (quite common in Thailand). We do a quick tour of town, bigger than it looks like at the beginning and each year spreading more and more.
A thing not to be missed is the night market. You can find plenty of different things, for tourists and local people, and you can find beautiful typical things to get back, real local made handicrafts. Walking at night time will also allow you to discover beautiful templs under another view or taste good restaurants like a French one cooking snails! Feel good to be home 🙂 Surprises when you travel!
Many different activities or visits are possible here in Chiang Mai and we are not bored by our stay there. We didn’t go to Chiang Rai as we lacked of time but we focused on Chiang Mai region. For example, we went to Lamphun riding our bicycle to get Thai cooking class. Great way to learn more about culture! If at home, we often go to Thai restaurants to have the usual Pad Thai, Pad See Ewe, or Pad Ki Mao, is also fun to learn how to cook them! And they will give you a small booklet at the end of the day so that you don’t forget the recipes. A good experience, ask your hotel as there are many proposed to tourists, and chicken rice or soy won’t have any more secrets for you!
At Chiang Mai, we decide to rent a scooter (for the first time of my life!) in order to go around and have more freedom and independence. Bingo! For example, we discover the Thai countryside and could have seen more of how Thai live in rural areas, go to an Elephant sanctuary and ride elephants (and we saw they were quite well treated, we didn’t see any negative behaviour against animals, something we are sensitive to). We believe tourism is also a way to protect the wild animals from poaching and the fact that tourists are also invited to meet with these animals in their natural environment also influence locals to treat the well. However not everything is perfect as we did not like the next activities, the tiger kingdoms as the felines were basically “sleeping” the whole time we were there just to help tourists take their photos. Only for tourists and theses tigers did not have any normal behaviours, not sure what they gave to them. We do not recommend this visit, and prefer to go away quickly. Finally we end this “animal” chapter by snakes trainers who try to tame these dangerous reptiles, always impressive!
We continue our trip driving in the middle of Thai countryside, up until the top of a “mountain” from which we have a beautiful point of view on the whole region! Rather exhausting but we were rewarded as it was also the opportunity to see a wonderful golden temple!
But it is already time to head off and take our flight to South of Thailand, towards Koh Samui and Koh Tao. The only thing we regret is not been able to go further north, notably around Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, near Lao and Myanmar. But it will be for another time! To sum up, we can say this is the part of Thailand we preferred: Touristic as everywhere in Thailand but also more authentic with a pleasant wether and a feeling of freedom with our scooter!