Most travelers who visit Thailand have Chiang Mai on their list. It is a fascinating city located in the mountainous, northern part of Thailand. We found our way there and can see why it is so highly recommended. There is so much to see and do, it was hard to narrow down our activities to fit into the time we had allotted. After it was all said and done, we ended up having six unique and amazing days in Chiang Mai!
Day 1: Visiting Temples
We spent our first day in Chiang Mai exploring within the walls of the “Ancient City.” It seems like around every corner there is another Buddhist temple. In fact, located within that one square mile, there are over 30 temples! And Chiang Mai and surrounding areas are said to have over 300! In India we had spent some time learning about Buddhism along with the other religions common in the region. This was a great opportunity to learn more about their belief system and see a wide variety of temples.
We were fortunate to be able to stop and talk with a monk at one of the temples in a program they called “Monk Chat.” We loved the sign that said, “Drop in and chat with us about Buddhism. Monk’s life, Thai culture, and anthing. Don’t just stand looking from afar and walk away.” It was a fantastic opportunity to ask all of the questions we were wondering about as we saw the monks in their orange and brown robes walking around, but didn’t quite know how to ask. For example, brown robes are used for monks who live in the forest temples and the orange robes are used for the monks in the city temples.
Day 2: Doi Inthanon National Park
We spent one whole day exploring Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. Even though it rained on and off the whole day, we still had a great experience. We are from the Pacific Northwest after all, we can handle a little rain!
After that, we went to the highest point in Thailand at the the top of Doi Inthanon. We practically drove all of the way there, then only walked 10 minutes or so to get to the top, so this wasn’t a huge accomplishment, but it was still pretty cool to be at the highest point.
Next we went on a beautiful hike, past waterfalls, strawberry fields, and small terraced villages. At the end Luke helped grind fresh coffee for the others in our group as we rested and stayed dry, under the shelter.
Day 3: American Day
This was what I would like to call our America Day. Even though we seem to be having one amazing adventure after another, sometimes being in exotic surroundings can become tiresome. When these times occur, all you want is some familiar food, people speaking the same language as you and life to have some semblance of normalcy. We couldn’t provide that completely, but on this day, we did the best with what Chiang Mai had to offer.
We headed to the mall and were able to finally see Rogue One: A New Hope. Parker and Tyler had been begging to see it since it came out, but we just weren’t around any movie theaters that were showing it. After arriving in Chiang Mai, that was the first thing we tried to find out. It’s not as easy as just checking Fandango, but we eventually figured it out and we were all able to see the movie. It seemed to live up to every expectation the boys had (mine too, but I really didn’t have any expectation) and made this day one of Parker and Tyler’s favorites since we arrived in Thailand.
Not only that, we were able to find a real American food restaurant…with Ranch Dressing even! We all stuffed ourselves on familiar foods before the movie and then, what do we find outside the theater? An awesome arcade! Even better, they had all the fun games at Thai prices! We stayed there long enough to be hungry for dinner before we left, so we had more American food for dinner before heading back to our apartment.
Overall, it was a fun day, and nice to have a little taste of home.
Day 4: Elephant Sanctuary
We spent one day at an elephant sanctuary, and I’m not sure that I can put into words how remarkable of an experience this is! In Chiang Mai, there are tons of different companies that provide this experience of being able to help care for the elephants instead of riding them. We helped feed, bathe, and we even got to go on a walk with them! I’m not really sure that we were actually helping the elephants, but it was truly unreal to be able to be in such close proximity to them. We even got a kiss before we left!
To get out to the elephant sanctuary we booked a tour and after our time with the elephants we continued on a hike to a magnificent waterfall, had lunch, and then went on a bamboo boat ride down the river. We had almost as much fun during this half of the day as the first half. Of course, nothing can compare to elephants though.
Day 5: Church
It was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (our church we attend at home)! As any good LDS building, it even had a basketball court! Jeromy challenged the 4 of us to a game of 4-on-1 basketball. We lost unceremoniously, but looked good doing it!
Day 6: Cooking Class
We had so much fun at our all day cooking class! We were picked up from our hotel and driven out about an hour into the country. We stopped at a local market to buy some of the ingredients for our meals that day. Our guide taught us the various types of noodles and rice to use for different occasions or recipes and also described some of the fruits and vegetables we would be using.
From there we started in on the actual cooking. We cooked 5 courses and for each course, we had a choice between 4-7 things. This was great because with all of us cooking, we were able to make a large variety of items. As the instructor began teaching us the things to do, Luke said, “I feel like I’m watching a cooking show and we are in it!”
I didn’t get a picture of everything, but here are a few of our finished products…
Overall, it was a fun and educational day, but most importantly, the food was delicious! I learned my boys have some serious skills in the kitchen that I will have to put to good use when we get home.
We know there was a lot we missed in Chiang Mai, but for the time we were there, we felt like we got a pretty good taste of the city and it’s surrounding areas. Sa-wad-dee Chiang Mai!