Arriving in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand was one of the most comforting things. It might have been partly due to the fact that my antibiotics finally kicked in and I ate a meal for the first time in 5 days and felt so much better. Cambodia was an adventure but I just loved Thailand.
Aside from one of the islands (more on that later) Chiang Mai was by far my favourite place. The food and night markets were amazing, with heaps of fresh vegetables and fruit. We were here for the longest amount of time – 5 days – but there was so much to explore that we were busy every day. Here are some things I would recommend doing in Chiang Mai…
Mae Sa Waterfall
We hired a scooter and drove about half an hour to the foothills of the mountains to a river with 10 levels of waterfalls. At the base there were stalls selling freshly cooked food, so we ordered some pad thai, rice, fried veggies, and drinks, and they packed it all up for us in a basket with cutlery and a picnic rug! We hiked up to level 7 and sunbathed and swam for the day. It was so beautiful and relaxing.
Elephant Retirement Park
We chose this place on the recommendation of another blogger and I’m so glad we did because it was such a fun day. I’m not really an animal person, but after spending the morning feeding and interacting with 5 gorgeous elephants, we found that they are such gentle and friendly creatures. We had a delicious lunch then had a mud bath with the elephants which was hilarious! Also… have you ever been kissed on the cheek by an elephant?! The main thing about Elephant Retirement Park is that the elephants are happy and well treated, not like the ones which are chained up and ridden (we saw the difference in the behaviour of those elephants in Thailand and it was so sad).
Thai Farm Cooking
We spent the whole day in the most peaceful surroundings, cooking (and eating!) absolutely delicious Thai food. From green curry and cashew chicken, to pad thai and mango sticky rice, we made and ate it all. Our teacher was completely hilarious and an amazing cook. She was even super helpful with my gluten free issues. After being taken around the farm, we spent the day pounding spices and cooking away, and it was really helpful to know what we were eating for the rest of the trip!
In terms of other recommendations on places to eat in Chiang Mai, I really liked Dash for dinner – a beautiful teak restaurant with a lovely candlelit courtyard and Thai food. For brunch, Blue Diamond was a saviour with gluten free chocolate banana pancakes (DREAM). The Saturday night market and street food were also exceptionally good.
Pai is a small hippy town in nestled in the mountains, which is reached from Chiang Mai up one very windy road. I found the town itself a bit overly-touristy (though the restaurants were amazing for veggies and healthy food) but the area itself was just stunning. We went on long scooter drives, wanderings through remote forests, wallowed in natural hot springs, and then watched the sunset over the Pai Canyon. Fluid was a cool swimming pool to go and chill out after an adventurous day with a drink. We also ended up doing a pub quiz at a little bar in Pai, and meeting some travellers who we are currently living with in Melbourne!
On the way down we hired a scooter for the three/four hour ride back down the mountain. It was a bit precarious but much nicer than sitting in a minibus surrounded by people vomming into sandwich bags like the trip on the way up (!). We took our time, exploring more hot springs on the way down. If you’re confident on a scooter, this is defo the better option!
I’m signing off for the weekend as I’m going camping tomorrow until Monday. So have a wonderful Easter weekend! x