One of my absolute favorite travel destinations thus far, Chiang Mai! Maybe it’s my obsession with elephants or attraction to extremely affordable travel destinations, but this place had “me” written all over it.
Travel Dates: May 24 – June 3, 2018 (Chiang Mai May 31-June 2)
During my Southeast Asian Tour, I knew that I wanted to hit Thailand and wanted to hit ALL of it, well as much as possible in 9 days. We planned for Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai, as well as stops in both Zurich, Switzerland and Narita, Japan. Chiang Mai was my absolute favorite of the different cities in Thailand and I’ll explain why below.
First things first, we stayed at the dusitD2, which was approximately $59 a night, split between two people. The hotel was fabulous and the breakfast spread was amazing!!! Five stars across the board. The hotel staff was extremely accommodating, allowing us late checkout the day of our departure. The pool was comforting and tucked away. And, we were right in the center of it all, literally walking distance from the night market, perfect for street food and souvenirs. Which, we spent just about every night touring the night market, where I scored some great gifts, mainly for myself (matching passport covers for my travel partners and I $3 USD each)!
Maybe we were doing it wrong, but the food in Bangkok and Phuket was not as cheap as we had seen on other blogs, but once we got to Chiang Mai we seen all of the hype. We were paying $100-$150 baht or $3-$4 US dollars for entire meals, and it was some of the best food I had while in Thailand.
The excursions in Chiang Mai were also my favorite, which I may be biased because again, I adore elephants (#spiritanimal). We booked all of our excursions at the airport and negotiated the heck out of our prices so I’m positive we got great deals.
1st Excursion- Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary
($1,300 Baht PP or $39 USD)
Our total price included RT transportation from our hotel, lunch and beverages and a half day tour with the elephants which included feeding them, playing in the mud and bathing them. This was my favorite excursion of any I’ve done in life lol, so I absolutely recommend it. The number one concern of mine when choosing this excursion was ensuring that the location we were going to was ethical (no elephant riding) and that they took great care/concern of the elephants in their sanctuary. This place was that and more, being locally owned, all of the proceeds went directly to the upkeep of the sanctuary.
Our tour included my group, 4 of us, and 1 solo traveler who we became instant friends with. The small group was an added plus as we had more than enough time to enjoy ourselves. We were picked up around 6:30am and dropped back to our hotel around 2:00pm.
2nd Excursion- Eagle Track Zip-Line
(1600 Baht PP or $48 US dollars)
Top 5 exhilarating moments of my life, hands down. I was definitely “talked” into this one, but I’m glad I did. We purchased the gold package but were given the bronze, as a gift, which was the top package including all of the platforms and activities.
Our total group was about 10 people, which one person got so overwhelmed, she went back after the second platform. The instructors were so fun and energetic that they provided some comedic relief for this anxiety ridden moment. The lines/cables ranged from easy to more difficult, increasing in length as we went on, with some drops straight down as we proceeded. This excursion also included RT transportation from our hotel as well as lunch, a water bottle and free t-shirt. If you’re a thrill seeker, this is a must-do. zip-lining through the beautiful forests of Chiang Mai, Thailand, no brainer!
3rd Excursion- Siam Rice 2 Thai Cookery School by Pot and Nancy
(600 Baht PP or 18 US Dollars)
My future boyfriend will have the pleasure of being with an international chef, pretty sure I could now give Gordon Ramsey a run for his money, lol. First, this excursion also had RT transportation, obvious food (we prepared it), trip to local grocery store to purchase spices/fruits etc. and, trip to garden to pick fresh ingredients and feed goats.
The cooking class had a total of about 15 people but the set up was so spacious that we each had our own section to prepare and cook our food. We completed our cooking lesson the same day that we did our zip-line excursion so we opted for the dinner option, completing 5 courses. The courses ranged as follows and you could choose between 4-5 options of what you wanted to cook per course.
- Soup. I cooked the Thom Yum Soup-Clear
- Stir Fried Noodles. I cooked the Pad Thai with glass noodles
- Thai Curry. Yellow Curry-YUM
- Thai Desert. Stick Rice w/ Mango. You won’t regret this
- Thai Salad. Green Mango.
After you devour all of the delicious food that you make, which it’s hard to mess up being you’re walked through each instruction, step-by-step, you are given a cookbook to take with you to try your new recipes once you get back home! Another must-do!
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, I would go as far to say, skip Bangkok if you have to, to include Chiang Mai. I really enjoyed it so much more than Bangkok and surprisingly more than Phuket.
Check back in for blogs on my trip to Bangkok and Phuket!
Have you been to Chiang Mai? Tell me about it below.