Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most culturally significant cities in the highest mountains of the country in the north. Sitting astride the Ping river, the city has resolutely retained its Thai culture in all its attitude, aspects and atmosphere.

Chiang Mai has made it to TripAdvisor’s 2014 list of “25 Best Destinations in the World.” A picturesque city with a unique travel experience, Chiang Mai comes highly recommended.

Even though Chiang Mai is a peaceful, quiet mountain city, it has its share of adventure sports. Most of these adventure sports come with a local twist, just for you to experience how different this city is.

Some Highlights

  • Chiang Mai brings you close to nature with the Elephant Nature Park. A 200-acre habitat just for feeding, walking and swimming with calm and graceful elephants. More so, you can stay for an entire week just like the local hill tribes, feeding elephants, learning agriculture from the community and teaching local school-children. In essence, it is truly living the life of another tribe, with full cultural experiences.
  • No vacation is complete without a trek and Chiang Mai offers an irresistible lure into the jungle. The unique part is that a Chiang Mai trek is not just about hiking in a jungle or up a mountain. It involves developing relationships with the hill tribes and local communities, participating in the traditions and rituals.
  • Thailand’s original Zipline Canopy tour allows you to rappel down a tree-house constructed in dense jungles, literally surrounded by all kinds of wildlife. As you zipline down 5 kilometres from a height of 50 metres, you can spot nature blooming and living around you. In addition to this, you are accompanied by wildlife experts who will guide you through the flora and fauna of the forest. Merging adventure and wildlife, this is the ultimate jungle experience.
  • The Thai Massage School will teach you the techniques and science of a good relaxing Thai massage. They offer a comprehensive course on massage techniques that combine the full range of Thai medicine, science and spirituality.
  • Food is another important aspect of Thai culture and instead of watching cooking tutorials, head over to 137 Pillars House or Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. A hands-on, personal session that includes, not just cooking, but actually going to the markets and farms and picking out the fruits and vegetables yourselves, and a crash course in Thai cooking culture.

Chiang Mai is seeped with history of more than 800 years. Not just is its history and legacy documented in museums and artifacts, but you can sense it in the city’s deep culture as well.

Some Highlights

  • The Chiang Mai National Museum highlights the history of the Kingdom of Lanna. It shows how the city has developed over several centuries using video dioramas. An overview of the city’s trade and economic activities is particularly interesting.
  • Chiang Mai is host to a Tribal Musuem that features the ethnicities of all of Thailand’s hill tribes. There is an exhibition of tribal clothes, jewellery and artefacts accompanied by a video presentation. They have also recreated a typical tribal village, complete with huts and streams.
  • The Bank of Thailand Museum displays the history of Thai currency and the Bank of Thailand. It starts with when coins were first manufactured and mined in the 1st century. You follow the progress of coin designs and values, the signs and symbols over centuries. The Bank of Thailand Museum is a truly fasciating to know how the currency of an entire culture was shaped.

Traditional Thai dining is an entire gastronomical, visual and ole factory journey that soothes and calms the stomach and soul.

Some Highlights

  • Khantoke dinners are symbolic of Chiang Mai. A sumptuous lunch/dinner offered by a host to her/his guests at ceremonies, festivals or occasions, Chiang Mai celebrates its culture through this truly northern tradition. Khantoke dinners are available every day.
  • SP Chicken is one of the best chicken places in Chiang Mai. Each chicken is personally cooked, meticulously examined to ensure perfection. A fresh twist to the chicken is the Thai experience, local seasoning, papaya salad and special sauces. It will be chicken that you have never eaten before.
  • Farm Story House is a quaint, converted teak house that provides delicious comfort food. The place is designed to raise your spirits, from the ambience to the food and service. Moreover, the food is made from farm-fresh organic produce.
  • The most exquisitely decorated restaurant is Huen Phen. The place is filled with antiques and other historical items, from Buddha statues to plants. The place is not just decked up in appearance, but also serves honest northern Thai traditional food. The food is inexpensive and comes in small bowls, thus encouraging you to sample their extensive menu.
  • La Fourchette is a French restaurant in Chiang Mai. You might feel that French cuisine is out of place amidst the cultural centre that Chiang Mai is, but it is highly recommended to dine here. Styled in the 1920s, with jazz and bass playing as you are served Thai and French fusion food. The place is reminiscent of the bygone-French eras, yet it still lives strong in this place. The exciting blend of French and Thai food and culture, is why you should definitely visit this place.

Because of the city’s numerous sights and locations that provide an undisturbed glimpse into the past and present of Thailand, Chiang Mai is considered to be the cultural hotspot of Northern Thailand.

Some Highlights

  • Chiang Mai’s most revered temple is the Wat Phra Singh. The massive, mosiac-tiled sanctorum with its detailed work captures the origin of the temple in each miniscule multi-colored tile. The statue of the Lion Buddha, or Phra Singh, is magnificently and ornately decorated with the chapel similar with gilded gold-pattern stencilling. It’s a serene experience to be surrounded by huge monastic buildings and well-manicured grounds.
  • The Doi Suthep-Pui National Park holds the country’s two most sacred peaks – Doi Suthep and Doi Pui. Surrounded by lush forests, the 265 square-kilometer park is easily recognied by the rings of clouds surrounding it, even at tree-level. The age-old hunting and trading routes can be used for mountain biking. The Nam Tok Monthathon, a gigantic waterfall has created hundreds of natural pools that you can swim in.
  • Another sacred temple is Wat Chedi Luang. A grandiose alluring temple used to be the largest structure in Chiang Mai at 84 meters tall. Now a UNESCO project along with the Japanese government, the temple is being restored to its full glory.