We were so happy to escape the noisy, busy and touristy streets of Phuket. We didn’t know what to expect of Chiang Mai but it was definitely so much more peaceful and nicer. The city is 700 years old and still retains its natural charm and old culture. They are numerous places of interests and 1,100 Buddhist temples.
Wat Chedi Luang – Built around 1400 the grounds encompass Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin. There used to be an Emerald Buddha inside but due to earthquakes in the region, it was moved to Luang Prabang.
Wat Phra Sing – ‘Temple of the Lion Buddha’ for which the temple is named for the Buddha image it housed in 1367, the Phra Singh (Lion Buddha). It has a big monastery, housing 700 monks, who can be approached by tourists to have a conversation.
Wat Chiang Man – This was the first temple in Chiang Mai built by King Mengrai in 1296. The temple is most famous for the Crystal and Marble Buddha. At the rear of the temple is the Sacred Elephant Encircled Stupa.
There are lots of temples in Chiang Mai but the heat was just too overwhelming!!
Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders – This is actually someone’s house. Dr. Rampa Rattanarithikul and her husband Mr. Manop Rattanarithikul have spent their entire life collecting insect specimens to study. They started out as normal people with no degrees working as technicians for the United States Operations Mission (USOM) malaria control program collecting mosquitos for research purposes. However they were passionate about their research. I would say they know more about mosquitos than anyone else on this planet. They have written lots of academic papers and travelled all over the world in search of these blood suckers to understand them more. Along their travels they have collected precious gems and other insects and souvenirs that are all housed within this museum. It’s interesting reading about mosquitos, ticks etc and how much disease they can actually inflict on humans…..worrying as we are constantly getting bitten by mosquitos – you cannot get away from them! They will eventually find you!
Bua Tong Waterfalls – this is such a great day out and a must do when it is blistering hot outside. It’s really unique because you can climb the waterfall!! ‘What do you mean?’ Well there is fast flowing water gushing down the rocks but you see the locals just walking up the rocks unaided. They aren’t falling and just walking upright laughing, smiling and having a lot of fun getting wet. It was really good fun. They have 3 different levels and you can start from the bottom which is number 3 and climb you’re way to the top, rest for a bit and then climb number 2 and then number 1. The waterfalls are housed within a national park and there are strict rules – no food or drinks are allowed into the park. This is great because I didn’t see any rubbish floating around. The porous limestone secretes a chemical that makes it feel sticky – more like pumice stone. It give your feet grip and once you have a go at the smaller rocks you begin to realise how cool it is. The water is really fast so there isn’t much algae on the rocks. Rocks that do have algae are really slippery and there are some part of the waterfall that would ropes to lug yourself up. We managed to walk our way up and down 3 times. We also sat in the crevices and enjoyed the gushing water flowing down over our bodies. It’s very refreshing. We had to rent a car to do this because the no one would take us there and the tuk tuk driver that did were charging us 1000Baht each way….the car was only 800Baht for the day and we returned it at the airport the next day. We tried to bargain but started to realise that they don’t really care – the price is the price…..welcome to Thailand.
Elephant Camp – We also spent a couple of days in an isolated retreat high up in the mountains, where we slept in a hut in the middle of the elephant camp. You can read our Chai Lai Resort escape here. We did bamboo rafting down the river, went walking amongst the river paddies and up the mountain visiting the local people and their way of life and riding big ass elephants. It was so much fun.
Shopping – We stayed just outside of the square however there was a cool, artsy trendy area that we passed by with some unique places to eat, independent boutiques and cafes.
Chiang Mai was definitely a good choice for us to escape from the big city. People are a lot nicer and the chilled atmosphere really suited us both. There are lots of outdoor activities to do here. A must visit. I think one day we were return again.