THE DO’S OF CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – THE WRAPUP
It’s time to wrap up my trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. My wrap up posts are a collection of all of the things that I’ve covered about that particular location, in this case, Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’m doing this wrap up post so that if you ever find yourself traveling to Chiang Mai, you can easily find a collection of the do’s of Chiang Mai.
When traveling to a new location, it’s always easy to go towards what you know. In this case, that would be hotel chains. Chiang Mai has quite a few large corporate hotel chains, and they charge quite the premium for what they offer. For a corporate hotel chain in Chiang Mai, you will be paying upwards of $115+ per night; that $115 per night is going to get you a studio room with a king bed and not much space.
If you step out of your comfort zone and stay with an Airbnb, you will be spending on average $30.00 per night; you will get an entire apartment all to yourself. The Airbnb I stayed at in Chiang Mai was in a prime location, just minutes from the Chiang Mai Night Market. So, for $30, not only are you getting a place in a prime location, but you’re also getting all of that extra space. With all of the money you will be saving on your room, you can go on all sorts of adventures around Chiang Mai!
When you go to Chiang Mai, one of the best ways to get around is by way of tuk-tuk. When you let the driver know where you want to go, they will tell you a price. A standard price seems to be 100 Bhat ($2.80), regardless of where you want to go in the Chiang Mai area. I recommend that you counter back with 50-60 Bhat; more often than not, the driver will accept.
I am one of the pickiest eaters in the entire world; well, at least I thought I was. Chiang Mai was one of the first places that I actually tried the local food. Now yes, I did still eat quite a bit of McDonalds, but it is all about baby steps.
I love chicken, and chicken is one of the main meets used in a lot of Thai dishes. So, if you’re willing to eat chicken back home, step out of your comfort zone and eat some chicken in Thailand. Believe it or not, with the exception of some spices, chicken does taste the same in Thailand as it in the United States.
I never thought that I would actually enjoy going to a tourist attraction that thought me all about how they use elephant poop and turn it into all sorts of different things such as paper. You can do the entire tour of the Elephant PooPooPaper Park in just a few hours, so if you find yourself with a few hours to spare, head on over and make some elephant poop paper!
The Chiang Mai Zoo was a fantastic experience. They have lots of different animals and the detail that sets this zoo apart from others is that if you want to pet an animal, there aren’t really many people around to stop you. Now, you are liable for your own hospital bills when a hippo decides to bite your hand off because you’re trying to pet his head. I wouldn’t recommend that you try to pet the animals, like I did, but I would still check out the Chiang Mai Zoo for all types of different animals and there are even an opportunity to feed the elephants for a small fee.
If you’re looking for something to do that is indoors, creative, air-conditioned, has free Wi-Fi; and gives you free coffee, bottled water, and chips, then the Elephant Parade House in Chiang Mai is the place for you. You can escape the heat and spend some time painting your own small ceramic elephant to bring home as an awesome souvenir. This is another one of those activities that will only take you a few hours, but the experience is well worth it. My elephant looks awesome and I love the fact that I’m the one who painted him.
There are three major Chiang Mai Night Markets:
- Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
- Saturday Night Market Walking Street
- Sunday Night Market Walking Street
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar happened to be only minutes from my fantastic Airbnb, so I was there almost every night.
At all of these markets you are going to find great street food, along with awesome local made items.
You will typically find better priced items at the Saturday and Sunday markets, due to the fact that more local people are shopping there, so their starting prices on items tend to be lower. If you are comfortable negotiating, you can get some fantastic prices at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Make sure you leave a lot of room in your backpack or luggage because you will be buying a lot of souvenirs to bring home. If you don’t have much room in your luggage, you can even pick up a second piece of luggage at one of the night markets.
I did a private elephant lesson where you basically get to drag your finger on a canvas and the elephant will follow and paint a picture for you. Don’t wear your best clothes, because the elephant might get some paint on you.
This private elephant paint lesson is not a cheap activity. The cost for one person is 6,000 Bhat ($173). If you have a second person with you, they can join you for the elephant painting experience, but you will only get one elephant painting. This is one of those things that is truly a once in a lifetime experience. How many people do you know that have had a private painting lesson with an elephant? Before I did this, I didn’t know anyone who had the opportunity to do something as amazing as paint with an elephant.
Tiger Kingdom is a zoo-like attraction that allows you to (for a fee) go into a cage with different sized tigers for some once in a lifetime selfie opportunities. The prices are going to range from 900 Bhat ($26) for a picture with a medium sized tiger, all the way to 2500 Bhat ($72) for a picture with a newborn tiger.
Now, I do understand that these prices are completely outrageous, and yes, this is a tourist trap, but this is one of those things that will make your Instagram blow up, and your family members back home will love seeing these pictures. Plus, once you visit Tiger Kingdom once, you won’t have to do it again, I mean, unless you want to hug a massive soft tiger again.
One of the adventures that most people do when they come to Thailand is go on an elephant ride. There are lots of ethical concerns around the entire elephant riding industry. You can read all about ethical concerns that surround this industry in my post about Ran – Tong.
Did I have an awesome day at Ran-tong doing my elephant riding adventure? Absolutely. When you ride the elephants at Ran-tong, you ride on the back of the elephant; there is no chair or harness. This is supposed to a lot more comfortable for the elephant. Tourists from all over the world will continue to travel to Thailand to ride the giant elephants. I think it’s more important that if you’re going to go ride elephants in Thailand, you do it at a reputable elephant camp. For me, that reputable elephant camp was Ran-tong.
Because we were going to share an elephant, it was only going to cost 2,500 Baht (approx. $72) instead of the 4,500 Baht (approx. $129) for the 1-elephant 1-person package.
I had an excellent day, and I got some of the best pictures that I have ever taken on any trip. If you are looking to do an elephant-riding excursion I can’t recommend Ran-Tong highly enough. The price is great, and for all the Ran-Tong provides, you can’t beat it.
Chiang Mai is a place that I would recommend for any first time traveler going to Southeast Asia. With many western travelers visiting Chiang Mai, they have adapted to many cuisine and hospitality standards that western travelers are accustomed to. There are tons of other adventures that you could partake in besides the ones listed above. The ones I recommend are the adventures that I feel give you a well-rounded experience of Chiang Mai.
I hope you found my ‘must do’ list of Chiang Mai useful, and if you think there is something that should be added to my list, please leave a comment below and I would be glad to look it over.
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