For the first four days in Chiang Mai, we stayed in the Old City at a hostel. We did some sightseeing and spent Halloween at local bars with our hostel mates. Then, we went into the Jungle for an elephant and rafting excursions for 1 night- 2 days. After, we settled down at an Air BNB near the Maya Shopping center, so we could teach via our online English teaching company, get some gym time in, Netflix and chill, and even cook some normal food! Chiang Mai has a lot of activities to offer: cooking classes, boxing events, elephant riding, trekking excursions, night market/ Sunday market. Here are some of our recommendations:
Brick House Hostel- somewhat social, cheap, clean, nice pool, small workout area, and excellect breakfast. Also, the bartender at this hostel rocks! He is an adorable Thai man who wears an entire suit and makes custom cocktails, all of which are intricate and have some sort of flames coming out of them. He needs to take his talent to the states!
Check out Air Bnb -Get 35$ off here! they have some great options for longer term backpackers who need to catch up on their blogging and need good wifi. We lucked out by staying near Maya Shopping Center Area for 20$ per night we got a studio apt, with a patio, pool, and fitness center in the complex we could use for 70baht a day.
Chiang Mai is the food capital of Northern Thailand so take advantage of it!! Cooking classes: They will cost you about $20-25 and well worth it! This is a great experience that you can take back with you to the states, all classes come with a cook book. It was amazing to meet so many chefs from around the world who come to Northern Thailand to learn and get inspired by Thai cuisines. Also, try and fit in a market tour either during your cooking class day or on your own. The markets aren’t your normal supermarket. You’d be surprised to see all of the different types of fruits, the chicken heads hanging on the wall, and the fresh herbs and spices.Check out Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, we had a great experience. Your own food tour: Our friend also recommended watching Anthony Bourdain’s Chiang Mai episode and then going to some of the spots yourself: Cowboy Hat Lady Midnight Fried Chicken- doesn’t open until midnight. SP Chicken. This was my second time in Chang Mai and I knew we had to stop at SP for the Chicken and Rice. This whole in the wall in the old city has the best chicken and rice, with this incredible sauce for $1.50. Try going to hole in the wall places here. You will be pleasantly surprised! Nightllife:
Zoe in Yellow: If you want to meet backpackers and people like you go here. It is fun and social. They have a huge dance floor, but it also has a beer garden feel to it. For cheaper drinks, go to one of the bars right next to it, don’t buy drinks there, unless you get beer, they’re overpriced and way too sweet. Northgate Jazz Club: Sweet jazz spot with some incredible jam sessions. Try and make it for an open mic night. The space is small, so try and get there at around 8pm to get a solid seat. THC Rooftop- A fun place with a chill vibe. A lot of epacts and backpackers go here.
Activities: Elephant Parks: Elephants are Thailand’s National animal, and now I understand why! They’re incredible animals and if you have some extra cash (approximately 50-70$ for a elephant day excursions) then use this opportunity to learn and bond with them. Many people don’t believe in riding elephants and therefore go to Elephant Sanctuary’s where they don’t allow you to ride. Yet, I have dreamed of riding an elephant for so long, I knew I had to do it. Which is why I did thorough research before I chose which company to go through, The two I recommend are: Baan Chang Elephant Park and Blue Elephant Tours. Both companies treat the animals very well , they do not sepeartate the mother and baby elephants, both companies rescue elephants from the wild or elephants who have been abused ( i.e. logging), and they ensure guests ride the elephants bare back vs. using a seat on the elephant which hurts the elephants and digs into their skin. Get a Massage: This is a great city to get a massage in. There are so many options. If you can make it to the inmate massage institution in time to get a slot for the day (they fill up quickly) this is an interesting experience. Night Market: Worth a visit. Great change to buy fake designer stuff, if you have room in your bag.