We decided to cut our Bangkok trip short and take an impromptu flight to Chiang Mai because of several people we met along the way that kept raving about it. That’s the thing about traveling to different locations for a long period of time you may meet people along the way that will influence you to change your itinerary.
24 hours in Chiang Mai was not enough. After walking around and seeing this city’s charm, I wish I could have stayed here for at least 3 or 4 more days.
The main reason why we came to Chiang Mai last minute is because I wanted to go to the elephant sanctuary. Elephants make my heart melt. I know that elephant riding camps are a big part of the tourism industry in Thailand but I no longer support them after discovering that elephants don’t have the same back support as horses do. And in order for an elephant to be ridden, their spirit is broken down at a young age. Most times, they’re separated from their mother while they’re young and/or they’re beaten and starved. There are some places that don’t torture animals or subject them to cruel practices just for the sake of making revenue. If interacting with elephants is on your bucket list, I recommend researching a place before you visit.
With that being said, we chose to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary where the animals roam free and they’re looked after by volunteers and staff. We fed them and bathed in the mud with them. Look out for the baby elephants, they’re all over the place and love to play and they don’t seem to know that they’re a one-ton mammoth pushing you around as they go. I truly enjoyed this experience. It was definitely one for the books.
Here’s what to see
Chiang Mai is fairly small, so it won’t be hard to find centrally located accommodations. We stayed at Dusitd2 Chaing Mai, located right on the perimeter of the “walled” city, but only one block from the markets and a 5 minute tuk-tuk to the temples and restaurants.
Chiang Mai is home to many gorgeous temples. After spending some time in Myanmar, I thought I had my fair share of temples but now I wish I had seen a few more while in Thailand. The ones we saw in Chiang Mai were not only breathtaking but serene (unlike other popular ones in Asia): Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh. Make sure you add Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time as it is located about 25 minutes from the city center.
We visited the Night Bazaar. This market opens 7 days a week and it caters to tourists. Vendors sell clothes, accessories, fake watches, fake sunglasses and much more. If you’re looking for something different and authentic then this isn’t the market for you.
We stumbled upon Ploen Ruedee Night Market as we were wandering around Chiang Mai at night. There was live music and really cool food stalls and stands with a yummy variety. For a list of all Chiang Mai markets visit Chiang Mai Best.