Two years ago our good friends Josh & Julia, both artists, moved to Chiang Mai for the year. We vowed to visit them, but the year flew by and we never made it. Thanks to them we arrived equipped to kick off our own Thai Scavenger Hunt and check off the golden nuggets of their must-see list!
The BEST part of Chiang Mai, however, was a visit from my Mamma! She met us there and traveled with us for almost two weeks, such a treat! And to top it off, we met up with her friend Gao, a local, who she’d hosted in Fairbanks years ago. Gao wins the award for best host of all time, sharing all his local favorites, bringing us presents every day and literally offering Eric the (sweat)shirt off his back when he lost his! Gao super charged the Ultimate Chiang Mai Scavenger List you find below. Who’s up for a HUNT!?
Chaing Mai is temple city and we got our fix. One of my favorite moments of the trip was kneeling for a Buddhist monk’s blessing at Wat Doi Suthep, holy water being splashed generously across my face, as he chanted the blessing and then translated “Happy life, happy everything!”, and tied a white blessing thread around my right wrist. As I basked in the glow of my newly blessed self and ambled around the temple, a mantra started to form in my mind – an amalgamation of teachings slowly converging. I’m not really sure where it came from, but whoever/whatever the source, thank you!
Fact: The Thai love to dress their dogs in sweaters. Even the mangiest street dogs seem to be styled out. When I asked why, I was told it’s winter and they are cold. Fair enough, I was surprisingly chilly myself. My favorite was the temple dog in the Angry Birds hoodie (not pictured). And Catasauraus, priceless.
My favorite day of the fives months (gasp!) so far is Elephant Day. To spend an entire day feeding, riding, nuzzling, and bathing these gentle giants is an experience you never forget. Fellow Modoc lovers (if you haven’t read it, you should) can relate to my sheer giddiness all day. They are INCREDIBLE! One female got a little bold playing with Eric and I saw the flash of concern in his eyes when she wrapped her trunk around him and started to liiiifffttttt ever so slowly until her mahout gave a sharp command and you could almost feel her chuckling as she released him. I think E secretly wishes she’d picked him up and swung him up on her back to prove he was the best mahout in the group – after all he did memorize all of the commands first try 🙂
And without further ado (drumroll please..)
The Ultimate Chiang Mai Scavenger List!
- Sri Pat Guesthouse Ask for a room with a balcony. Splurge for Deluxe (1700 bhat) if you want a nicer room (wood vs tile, nicer balcony) but the Standard Room (1100 bhat) was same size and fine for us. Staff is lovely and will help you arrange tours and transfers. Location is great (Old City). Breakfasts are amazing, eat the ham/cheese/egg sandwich.
- Ginger – a little pricier but delicious! Old City. Western and Thai menu
- Mom’s Noodles next to Weena Yoga. Egg noodles, pork with dumplings in tum yum broth — Bahmi Tum Yum Muu – if you want a bigger bowl say Bahmi Tum Yum Muu Piset
- Pun Pun (see below)
- Khun Churn – vegetarian. Lunch buffet is amazing. Outside of the Old City near Chiang Mai University
- If you’re craving a salad to flush the system – Salad Concept on Nimenhamin
- Try Chinese Halal and order Khao Soi (yellow noodles in thick coconut curry milk) at Kaosoi Islam (try any of the cold teas too!)
- Venture off the grid for coffee and desert out of town in the quiet serene garden of My Secret Cafe. NOT easy to find to protect it’s secret status…
- Order chicken wings and enjoy the serene location at Baan Suan Maerim in Chiang Do
- Get a massage every day. Try every massage on the menu. The Massage place to the left of Sri Pat guesthouse if you face it is excellent.
- Spend a day with the Elephants! We went to Ran-Tong Elephant Rescue and loved it, and have also heard Elephant Nature Park is wonderful. Not to be missed! Book a few days in advance. Here’s a quick video of our day.
- Wat’s Wat’s and more Wat’s – bring a wrap to cover your arms.
- Wat Suan Dok – eat at Pun Pun next door and sign up to have a chat with a Monk.
- Wat Ton Kwen, Wat Umong, Wat Suan Dok, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh
- Rent a motorcycle (with helmet!), barter for weekly rate, and cruise town. Drive up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep. Get blessed by a monk.
- Take the blue trucks instead of tuk tuk’s – you may stop a few times to pick up other passengers and take a round a bout way but its much cheaper and a fun way to explore the city.
- Skip the Saturday night market (touristy) and go to the Sunday Walking Street Market. If you are there at 6pm prepare to feel like you’re in a time travel movie when everyone freezes for the King’s Song. Buy a pair of Thai pants and if you need a new journal they have leather and suede bound gems for $15.
- Get your downward dog on with Weena at Weena Yoga. Smile and laugh when she takes out the camera and photographs you mid pose. Tell her Josh & Julia’s friends sent you.
- Go with moto or car to Mon Cham for stunning sunset. Camping available too!
- Make a wish and send it to the stars with a kom loy (lantern hot air balloon) at River Market Restaurant
Got something to add to our Chiang Mai list? Comment away!