Chiang Mai is one of the most exciting cities in Thailand. It has the buzz of Bangkok but with the relaxed elements of the islands and it is a key stop in the well travelled South East Asia route, so expect a great and sociable atmosphere everywhere you go! It is full of fun hostels, crazy bars and gorgeous temples meaning every day and night can be packed with plenty to do. Here is a short guide on how to spend a day in this memorable city:
Wake up Early and Visit the Temples
Chiang Mai can easily hit the late 30’s and early 40 degrees in the early afternoon, so it’s good to get the sightseeing done early on. The city is home to 300 amazing temples, so choosing which ones to see can be difficult – we recommend seeing Wat Chedi Luang as it’s conveniently located in the centre of The Old City, close to Wat Phra Singh and Wat Sri Suphan.
They are beautiful buildings with an incredible spiritual history, and there are a few things to do to ensure you are respecting the religion: dress conservatively (covered shoulders and knee length skirt/shorts), avoid pointing your feet at buddha images or monks, and take off your shoes.
Head Over to the Elephant Sanctuary
On our trips we always make sure our Dragons get to experience the Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary. When travelling South East Asia you have to be very careful to find the right animal sanctuaries to visit. Some, despite calling themselves sanctuaries, are tourist traps, and they prioritise money rather than the wellbeing of the animals. The Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary that The Dragon Trip visits is the most ethical sanctuary in Thailand. It focuses solely on the elephant’s wellbeing and provides a wholesome and organic experience.
Bonding with Elephants really does nurture the soul; they are gentle giants that have distinctive personalities, and they are equally as curious in us as we are in them. It is an obvious cliche when travelling but it is not to be dismissed, you will leave the experience feeling euphoric and it’ll be a day you will never forget. Take a look at our tours that visit the sanctuary here!
Get a Thai Massage from an Ex-Convict
Chiang Mai is the best place to get a Thai Massage, escape the afternoon heat by relaxing in a cool building getting a relaxing but invigorating massage! An hour long massage is completely affordable and they only offer the best of the best. It may sound slightly risky, but one of the best massages in Chiang Mai can be found at an ex-convicts rehabilitation centre.
The women’s prison has set up multiple programmes to help women learn life skills to rehabilitate them back into society and this includes a new massage parlour! It is certainly a memorable experience, but rest assured they are kind, friendly, and professional (and are observed the whole time).
Grab Some Delicious Thai Food and Shop at the Markets
Chiang Mai’s streets are transformed into vibrant markets at night selling delicious pad thai and other local dishes. Once you’ve gorged on noodles you can shop for just about anything at the endless stalls of silver, jewellery and knick-knacks. The atmosphere is always welcoming and inviting, and you’ll meet many fellow travellers browsing along with you!
Experience Chiang Mai’s Nightlife
Chiang Mai is also famous for its brilliant nightlife, bars full of locals and travellers adorn the streets and descend into full night-long parties. Grab a Chang or a Singha (tasty Thai beer) and explore the various bars. Our favourite (and a well known must-see among the travelling community) is Zoe in Yellow, A huge nightclub where drinks are served by the bucket!