A renowned city of ancestry – Chiang Mai
Home to tallest mountains in Thailand, Chiang Mai (meaning New City) is galore of national parks. Bestowed with pristine natural resources that consist of lush green mountains, roaring waterfalls, and tranquil rivers make it an attractive tourist destination. The treasure trove of activities ranging from cooking and massage schools to a multitude of outdoor activities, elephant camps, and the astonishing landscape is rewarding. Going through the pages of history, we learn it was the former seat of the Lanna Kingdom. King Meng Rai the Great is credited as the founder of the city. It is one of those rare places where backpackers and luxury tourists alike find what they yearn for. An exceptional feature of the city is the unruffled fusion of modern culture with its history. The city features pagodas that are centuries old alongside modern-day boutique hotels. Retaining most of the fortified wall has enhanced the mystic vibe.
Getting to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) the fourth largest airport in Thailand, is the major airport for the city of Chiang Mai. The airport is close to the city, making it convenient to commute. There are many direct flights to Chaing Mai Airport from 44 major airports in South East Asia with 29 airlines. If you are flying from Europe or the US, often you will be taking a connecting flight to one of these cities. Chiang Mai is connected to the rest of the world, through connecting flights, with Bangkok serving as the major stop-over airport in Thailand. Major airlines that fly to Chiang Mai are - EVA Airways, Cathay Pacific, United, Singapore Airlines, Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, SilkAir, Thai Airways, China Eastern Airlines.
Tip: Explore the city which is galore of temples by leisurely strolling around the back alleys.
The connecting flights to Chiang Mai stretches the travel time a little. As you are traveling eastward, and a change in the time zone might make the travel duration seem longer. Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways are the major Thai airways connecting Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) to the world.
Tip: Some countries don’t need a visa if your stay is less than 30days.Make sure to check with the local Thai Embassy for details about your visa.
Experiencing Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai offers diverse options when it comes to accommodation. Choose the area alongside the Ping river for a serene stay. Lodge in the epicenter of culture, the old city with easy access to the historical sites. Bustling with nightlife, mostly a student area - called Nimman Road is a backpacker haven. For those who are active in the night, the area around the night-bazaar will keep you engrossed. Thai cuisine offers dishes that satiate different types of palates.
1. Elephant Sancturies
Feed them, bathe them, play with them. There are many elephant sanctuaries to choose from. The zesty baby elephants are more fun to play in the water. Your money will go into the rescue and nurturing of elephants.
2. Culinary experiments with Thai cuisine
Ever wondered the secrets of those Thai curries you tasted? Experience behind-the-scenes with a Thai chef. You will have numerous options available, some may include organic farm tours as part of the classes. Pick your spices and mix it up to tease your taste buds.
3. Temple hopping
Find your inner peace by exploring hundreds of ancient wats (temples)! Be very respectful to the culture and sensitivities of these active sacred worship locations. Wear modest clothes covering your shoulders and ankles and observe silence. Don’t miss Wat Prathat Doi Suthep outside the old town, the birds-eye-view of the valley from this vantage point is rewarding.
4. See the jungle on a zipline
Unlike the usual gliding on a single zip line, here in Chiang Mai, you could enroll yourself for an entire course on ziplining. This is the best place to challenge your apprehension and go on that adrenaline ride enjoying the surrounding lush greenery as you zip through the trees and across the wilderness.
5. National Parks
Chiang Mai is surrounded by a multitude of National Parks. Lovers of nature who want to spend time watching birds and wildlife, adventure enthusiasts looking for trekking or hiking in the mountains find solace in these parks. Home to some of the highest mountain peaks of Thailand, a lot of rivers originate from a few of these National Parks. Despite the warm climate during summer in the city, a handful of these peaks are always at cooler temperatures.
6. Learn the art on silver
Those inclined towards arts are in for a treat. There are numerous workshops that one can visit and learn how silk is produced. Watch and learn how the cart work on silver is done and help the local community by purchasing some memorable, hand-crafted souvenirs.
7. Wander around the artist's village
Hosting a string of two-floor houses cum shops the village of Baan Kang Wat sells local handicraft items ranging from handmade, organic and sustainable products. Hand-stiched garments, hand-painted ceramics ware, handmade jewelry, houseware are just a few to name.
8. How can we forget Thai massage
Be assured about value for money when you get a massage done here. Don’t be surprised some of the masseurs will even massage your fingers. Ever got a massage done from a blind person? They have an enhanced tact sense which elevates the experience.
Tip: Be a sensitive person and respect the animal lover, by not riding on the elephants, as their spines are anatomically not prepared to carry people all day long on their backs.
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