If you want to see elephants in Thailand Chiang Mai is the place to go. Perhaps one of the most looked forward to places of our trip Chiang Mai did not disappoint. Away from the chaos and insanity of the full moon party here it felt like we were seeing the real Thailand.
The highlight of our time here was of course the elephants. Chiang Mai is surrounded by elephant sanctuary’s aplenty and here they put the elephants first. We chose to visit Maerim and it was a dream. Your activities are dictated by what the elephants want to do so you walk with them where they want to go, you bathe with them when they want to bathe and there is no riding whatsoever but plenty of feeding, in case you didn’t know elephants eat an awful lot of food! Elephants have long been my favourite animals and getting to spend time with them up close was a truly magical once in a lifetime experience.
But there is more than just elephants to Chiang Mai. If you want to see temples you’d be hard pressed to miss them here, they’re around every corner you turn, and truth be told after a while they all start to blend into one. There are some beautiful and unique temples here, Wat Chedi Luang an amazing ancient structure in the centre of the old town is definitely worth a wander around especially at night, it cuts an imposing figure. Just outside of Chiang Mai perched atop Doi Suthep Mountain is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep a sacred temple that is made even more spectacular by the view it offers of the city below. There are so many more that I could list each impressive in its own way but that list could go on forever!
The markets were another highlight of our visit. The Sunday night market that takes over the whole of central old town is truly incredible. Packed full of both tourists and locals anything you could wish to buy you could probably find here. It was here we sampled the best Thai food grazing our way through the market from one street food stall to another. A wonderful way to enjoy authentic Thai cuisine. If you’re not there on a Sunday then the night market down by the riverside is another great place to visit. Although not on quite such a large scale as the Sunday markets, the food hall is full of Thai delights to be sampled accompanied by some interesting musical entertainment!
Chiang Mai has so much to offer, as with so many places on this trip I feel like we barely scratched the surface. Alongside the elephants, temples and markets there are also massage parlours in their thousands, museums full of fascinating history, cooking classes, waterfalls, water parks, ziplines, cat cafes and so much more, some of which we were able to enjoy (especially the cat cafe) but some of which we were not, it was simply impossible to fit everything in, and it has therefore also joined my list of places to revisit in the future.
I cannot recommend Chiang Mai enough, it’s a charming city full of adventures, great food and hidden treasures. If you’re travelling through Thailand make sure you fit in a stop here!