Northern Thailand

We spent our first week in Asia (November 18 – November 25) in two cities in Northern Thailand!! 🇹🇭

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand. The city has tons of Buddhist temples, extremely friendly locals, amazing street markets, and lots of activities to do. We never found ourselves bored or hungry in Chiang Mai!

Activities

  • Thai Massage: When in Thailand, it’s imperative to get a Thai massage. We went to Khunka Massage, where they even give you a stylish outfit!

  • Zip lining: This is a bit expensive for Thailand standards, but definitely worth it. We did our zip lining with Eagle Track. Minus Cody getting rope burn on his fingers, we had an awesome time!

  • Visit the temples: It’s nice to spend an afternoon meandering around the city and popping into the temples. Definitely make sure to go to Wat Chedi Luang.

  • Thai Cooking Class: We did our cooking class with Basil Cookery, but there are many others to choose from as well. Our class included going to the local market to get our ingredients for 6 dishes. We now definitely understand what they mean by “Thai spicy!!”

  • Bua Thong (aka the sticky waterfalls): We booked a half day tour through TakeMeTour and absolutely loved it. Our guide, Piangduan, explained the history of the falls, climbed the sticky waterfalls with us, and made us a delicious Thai lunch (inclusive of pad Thai and sesame sticky rice).

  • Wat Phra Doi Suthep: This temple is located on a hill about 15 minutes outside the city. We went at sunset to see beautiful views of Chiang Mai 😍.

  • Visit an Elephant Sanctuary: Going to visit elephants is a must when in Chiang Mai, but make sure not to go somewhere that has you ride elephants (these places do not treat the elephants well). Some of our friends recommended Elephant Nature Park, but we ended up going to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and absolutely loved it. We fed the elephants bananas and sugar cane, gave them a mud bath, and then brought them to a nearby stream to play in the water. We wish we could have stayed for longer!!

  • Night Bazaar: This night market is open all days of the week. It is huge and has unlimited Thai clothing, jewelry, and fake Ray Bans and designer bags. It was an experience, but definitely not a “must” when in Chiang Mai.

 

Food

  • Tikky’s Cafe: This is a hidden restaurant off the main road and has amazing, fresh smoothies and juices.
  • My Secret Cafe in Town: This place had amazing coffee, peanut butter and Oreo cake, and an art gallery upstairs.
  • The Barn: Go here if you want a quick bite. It’s a bit “Western,” but the food and feel are great!

 

Things we didn’t end up doing, but wanted to:

  • Monkchat Meditation Retreat
  • Muay Thai match
  • Ladyboy Show

 

 

Pai, Thailand

Pai is located about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai. Many people rent scooters and drive through the winding roads to get to Pai, but we decided to play it safe and travel via van. Pai is known as a “backpacker’s getaway,” since it’s casual, hippie atmosphere attracts young travelers. There are many sites to see outside the town during the days, and there are amazing street markets to wander through at night.

Activities

  • Night Market on Walking Street: There is no need to go out to dinner when you can wander down the streets at the night market and get all kinds of delicious food. There’s traditional, northern Thai food and also all different other types of food. We definitely recommend getting a Nutella and banana spring roll 👌🏼.

  • Kiu Lom Viewpoint: This viewpoint is on the way to Lod Cave. It’s worth stopping at, especially to ride on the crazy swing!

  • Lod Cave: This was definitely the highlight of our stay in Pai. A local woman took us on a 3 hour tour of the ginormous cave. At the end of the tour, we left the cave by taking a bamboo raft through a stream where there were tons of catfish that we fed.

  • Sai Ngam Hot Springs: The hot springs were crowded, but beautiful and worth it!

  • Mor Pang Waterfall: This is a beautiful waterfall that we got to climb.

  • Hike Pai Canyon: We went here for sunset and it was spectacular!

 

Food

  • Coffee Stains: We ended up going here twice since the food was great. Although it’s not traditional “Thai” food, it was refreshing to interrupt our Pad Thai diet and get some avocado toast and Acai bowls.
  • Charlie and Lek’s: This place has great, genuine Thai food that comes out quickly.

 

Things we didn’t end up doing, but wanted to

  • Climbing up the White Buddah (Wat Phra That Mae Yen): This is an easy hike (about 2km from the center of town) that’s supposed to have great views from the top.
  • Om Garden: Multiple people recommended this place to us, as it’s supposed to have incredible breakfast. Unfortunately it was closed while we were in Pai 😩.

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