How I Spent Two Days in Chiang Mai, Thailand
July 21, 2014|Posted in: Thailand
If you don’t have much time on your hands whilst in Thailand, I definitely recommend Chiang Mai. This is the one place I need to go back to and explore more as 2 days was definitely not enough!
So, with an African Elephant adventure in South Africa under my belt, my elephant craze couldn’t stop there. So, whilst in Thailand, myself and another girl from the Real Gap tour took a last minute Air Asia flight up to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, as I’d heard that this was the place to go if you wanted an authentic trekking experience. After a VERY long journey to the city (an 8 hour bus/ferry journey from Koh Phangan, a 4 hour airport wait and a 2 hour flight – whilst hungover!) we headed to a cute little hotel tucked away in the centre of the old city. Chiang Mai is beautiful. It’s atmosphere is nothing like that of crazy Bangkok. The people literally go out of their way to make you feel extremely welcome. From the taxi driver that took us to our hotel to the receptionist.
We decided not to waste any time, but walked around where we were staying. We were astounded by how many beautiful temples there were in such a small area! After our small sightseeing tour, we spent the next hour or so settling into our cute little room, choosing which trek to go on the next day and then crashed out for the next few hours (not sleeping for 24 hours on a hangover is, in one word, AWFUL). We awoke around dinner time, so we caught a cab to the huge night market in search of something to eat. There were rows upon rows of cheap clothes, jewelry, shoes, and most importantly, food! After perusing the various street stalls we grabbed what I described as the most amazing chicken wrap I’ve ever tasted. And it only cost £1?! Crazy.
We headed back via Tuk-Tuk (seriously, do it!) and settled down for an early start. The next morning we awoke to be escorted to the tour office a couple of streets away from our hotel. We kind of expected to be greeted with a huge group of tourists ready to pile into a mini-van, but instead we were told to get into an estate car with a German couple and the most hilarious tour guide I have ever met. From the start, he wanted to listen to music. And not just any music. He had a soft spot for Bob Marley. So there we were, singing ‘No Woman, No Cry’ with a German couple and a Thai, driving up the most precarious looking mountain roads… It took us nearly 2 hours to get to the site, with was literally in the middle of nowhere. We were met by the mahouts, as well as a few members of the Karen family tribe that lived in the vicinity. Whilst we changed into our mahout gear and being taught some simple commands to the elephants, we then set off to wash them in the stream. Our tour guide then told me to get onto the elephant… via his trunk… Not the most dignified way of doing so, but it’s amazing to feel how powerful their trunks are!
We trekked through the jungle for nearly 2 hours, with some rather scary drops either side (note: do NOT do this if you have a thing for heights on unstable animals). There were times when even I, a small human being, would not have climbed where these huge lumbering elephants managed to get through!
So, as we came to the end of the trek, we came to a waterfall. We had a spot of lunch (good ol’ sticky rice) and went to play with the elephants in the water! Amazing fun, even in the freezing cold water! We then headed back the way we came on the back of the elephants and once we reached the base camp, said our goodbyes and were on our way down the mountain, singing more 80’s classics.
I was gutted to head back to Bangkok, not just because it meant we were also going home, but because this was the city that let me know what else I was missing not staying for longer in this beautiful country.
Chiang Mai was the place that made me regret not staying for longer. Seeing this city, meeting the people just took my breath away and I can’t wait to go back. Have you ever been to Chiang Mai? If so, what do you recommend to visit/see/do? If not, is it on your list of places to visit?
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!