One of my best friends recently saved up, quit her job, and started traveling around the world. Side note, I’m so proud of her! She started her adventures in Thailand and since I have flight benefits and she asked me to come I said why not?! Chiang Mai, Thailand was gorgeous and the people were all so welcoming. I had an amazing but quick 4 days there. We packed those days full with the lantern festival, bathing elephants, learning to cook Thai curry and visiting the local temples. I had been a bit intimidated to go to Asia since the culture is so different there but after this trip I fell in love and can’t wait to do more exploring in the future.
Know Before You Go
- Luckily I learned this from my friends who had already been in Thailand for a few weeks before me. Make sure you have tissues or toilet paper with you at all times. The majority of the bathrooms don’t have any. Also, getting used to bidets & not tossing the TP in the toilet is a struggle. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For a good laugh about using a bidet for the first time, check out my best friends blog.
- To get into the city from the Airport either download the Grab App or you can get a taxi for about 150 baht, about $5 USD. Just make sure you have cash. The city is very walkable but if you need a ride use the Grab App instead of Uber or taxis. Also most tours will pick you up in these red trucks that you’ll see all over the city.
- Don’t be afraid of the street food. It’s the best food you’ll find and it also happens to be the cheapest. Chiang Mai is known for Khao Soi, a curry egg noodle dish with crispy noodles on top. Delicious!
- The Old City is very easy to get around, just get yourself acquainted with it on the map, it’s literally a square surrounded by walls and water on each side. Once you see it just wander through and “get lost.”
Plan on having a spa day because it is insanely cheap. I got an hour long foot massage for about $9 USD. You could literally get a full body massage and facial for under $50. You won’t have to go far to find a place to go but I went to a chain called Lila because I didn’t wanna worry about going to a happy ending place. Yes, that is a very real thing there. So if you’re into that kind of thing…
If you’re going to Chiang Mai for the lantern festival it isn’t necessary to buy tickets ahead of time. The entire city celebrates and lanterns are sold literally everywhere you look the whole week. Also most hostels get groups together to go further out if you want to see them all from afar. While I’m a bit guilty about the environmental affects of the festival, it really is a gorgeous sight to see.
I’d suggest dedicating one day to visit all the temples. Most of them are within the old city and very walkable. The reason I suggest doing it all at once is because you have to be dressed appropriately. Your shoulders need to be covered and you need to be wearing pants or a long skirt. It’s very hot so I didn’t feel like being “appropriately” dressed for very long 😉 My favorite temple was Wat Chiang Man (The Elephant Temple). Wat Sri Suphan (The Silver Shrine) doesn’t allow women *insert eye roll.*
My Top 2 Experiences
Visiting the Elephant farms are a must!!! Do your research before you go and make sure you don’t go to one that treats the elephants poorly. Any place that lets you ride the elephants is a no go. Elephants are one of my favorite animals & this has been a bucket list item of mine for a long time. We got to feed them, give them a mud bath, and wash them off. It was incredible.
Thai food is probably my favorite cuisine and I knew I had to take a cooking class in Thailand. Learning how to make curry from a sweet Thai lady was one of the best experiences I’ve had. First she took us through the market showing us how to pick out our ingredients. Then she brought us back to her kitchen to show us how to make curry, hot & sour soup, egg rolls, mango sticky rice, cashew fried rice, and pad thai. She even put together a cook book of all the recipes to take home. I’ll always think of her when I make curry now.
I am so happy I decided to take off to Asia. Four days was a good start but I will go back to Thailand in a heartbeat to do more exploring and back to Chiang Mai as well.
-The Hoppy Flight Attendant
Check out my guide to the Detroit Airport! Did you know that Detroit is one of the major airports that connects the United States to Asia?
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Chiang Mai Thailand