Chiang Mai - MUST DOs for first time

Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:29 PM
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Chiang Mai - MUST DOs for first time

Can we please compile here for reference the MUST DOs of Chiang Mai (and surroundings) that will help a single traveler plan a first time trip for 3-4 days there. The assumption is that this traveler is young adult, single, sociable, with moderate budget, interested in adventure, culture, good food, and overall the experience of a life time?
(this "active" traveler has done a lot of reading here but, as usual, "he" is still confused and cannot find a comprehensive post to put it all together and make it happen!)
This is what this "energetic" traveler has compiled so far:

- Do Elephant treking, river rafting, staying a night with tribes (best/recommended tour?)
- Visit temples (Doi Suthep)
- Get a massage (at the Thai Massage School, Oasis Spa)
- Do half-day/full-day cooking course (Chiang Mai Cookery School)

Your feedback is very much appreciated by this "anxious!" traveler.
emerald4ever is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 01:45 PM
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For elephants, check out the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, about an hour south.

For cooking class, we really enjoyed Yui and her husband and son from We did a custom class with her that was outstanding. She worked for the Chiang Mai Cookery School a few years ago. We spent about 10 hours with them, and had a great time cooking, eating and talking and talking and talking.

Don't might be a good idea to leave some time free for things that just happen.

If you are in CM on a Sunday, go to the Sunday Walking really comes alive in the evening. On the main street, there is a great little bar called Bar-Ly that is a fine place to hand out and watch people with a super friendly staff and clean bathrooms! Bar-Ly is just up (away from the river direction) from the Tamarind Village hotel and on the opposite side of the street.

The Oasis spa has several sure you go to the original downtown location. They will pick you up and drop you back at your hotel for free. Very nice spa, too.

KimJapan is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 09:46 AM
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I personally would forget about the cooking lessons. I don't think you can that much in one or 1/2 day and it's more of a tourist thing.

Elephant trek and river rafting trek is's my tale that I posted on another board:

One was an elephant trek and rafting, visit to village tribe for 700 baht which included lunch and water and pickup/drop off to your hostel/hotel.

I had a really good guide for this portion, very nice lady who explained a lot of history and culture. I found the elephant trek scary (but I'm like that) it took me forever to get on the elephant and I had to hold on for dear life especially when the elephant went downhill. It was funny to see elephants eating bananas and I saw the one infront of me taking biggest and loudest shit gross!

Here's the company I went with:
T.P Travel - 99/8 Loi Khroh Rd., Maung Chiangmai 50100 - phone: 6653-8128635

If you're into buying local crafts at unbelievably cheap prices (the same stuff in the cities, 3 times cheaper) go to one the near by villages and meet the people who make this stuff. But don't bargain with them, they're pretty poor and use this money to live off of.

It's a nice friendly city, you'll find tons of massage shops and it's pretty cheap. I wish I got one almost every day I was in Thailand. In Chiang Mai I got a foot massage and in Bangkok I got a full body massage.

These massage are not for the delicate, they're deep muscle massages that are pretty intense and painful. If you want to just a relaxing massage you must let them know before they begin. The massages range in price but are pretty cheap...usually you can them for 200 baht and this if full body.

Chiang Mai has a beautiful park, sorry don't recall the name but any guide book will mention it.. You can also do day trip to Burma/Laos/Chiang Rai (Golden Triangle - were all 3 countries meet).

oceania is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:42 PM
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I personally enjoyed the cooking class more than many of the other things we did in Chiang Mai. We started off by going by truck to the local market. That was fun since I didn't know what half of the stuff was. Then we cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner. We met other people and made some new friends. My husband and I love to cook so these new ideas were fun to incorporate into our cooking at home. We have new things to cook that we never had before, and the experience was lots of fun. It just depends on what you prefer to do.
Old Feb 4th, 2006, 04:55 AM
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It isn't necessarily a "MUST DO" but I enjoyed visiting the monkey school!

I also like to go to the craft markets at Bo Sang and Hang Dong (Bantawai).
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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I agree with the postings I'm over 60 but I would recommend the same adventures for any age. Try the elephant camp at Maesa. There are rides and a show. It is a conservarion camp. Website The elephants play soccer. The elephants paint pictures which you may buy. I went with a large group of 40 and everyone bought a painting and had a great time.
Cooking school is great 9:30 to 4:30. You go to the market which is very interesting.
The day market at Yarowat is fun, a mix of tourist and locals. The night market is only tourists but nevertheless fun. I;m going back in August. Hill tribe and elephant tours are cheap and can be booked at any travel agent or some internet cafes and hotels.
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 08:00 AM
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If you're truly active, I would do a trek into the hills to visit hill tribes. We met a group of young Aussie women who did this through Chiang Dao Nest (they have huts in the hills near Chiang Dao -- 1 hour north of Chiang Mai) and run two restaurants up there. One partner is Thai. You'll get so much more out of trekking out rather than just going to tribes you can reach by car (most of the trips from Chiang Mai are to these). If you do go up there, you can do the elephant trek through them.

We did the hill tribes you could reach by car and though very interesting -- it's very commercialized. Any tribe that is harder to reach is going to be less so.

Hope this helps !! Chiang Dao Nest is on the web.
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