For the second half of our trip to Thailand we packed up our swimsuits and headed north to explore the cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Chiang Mai has definitely made it into my top five favourite cities, and is a must on any Thailand travel itinerary. It is home to several colleges and universities, which contributes to the cities energetic and cultural tone.
We spent our first full day in Chiang Mai on a walking tour from our Lonely Planet guidebook. The tour took us to five different temples, the City Arts and Cultural Centre, and a street market.
Please, a moment of silence for this glorious tan.
Jonathan and I were both a little unsure about doing the whole elephant thing in Thailand. Eco-tourism has its place, but I didn’t want to go anywhere where they forced the elephants to do tricks or kept them in poor conditions. We ended up going to Elephant Carer Home and had a great time. The staff were really knowledgeable and fun, and I felt that the elephants were well cared for and treated with respect. One of the elephants there was pregnant and we got to put our hands on her giant belly and feel the baby move. Elephants have a gestation period of two years!
On our last day in Chiang Mai we visited one of the north’s most sacred temples, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The golden temple is located at the summit of Doi Suthep, about an hours drive from the city center. To access the temple you must climb a staircase of 306 steps, which can be a pretty strenuous trek if you’re not used to the heat!
Up until this point all of our travel had been by either plane or boat. We booked flights with Bangkok Airways, all of which were really affordable and pleasant. However, Jonathan really wanted to take an overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The trip was less than pleasant and took 14 hours. Not going to lie, I was pretty grumpy and unimpressed for the duration of the journey but I stuck it out in the name of adventure. If you’re looking to save money and aren’t too fussy, train travel in Thailand is a good option. Personally I’d rather spend a little more and just fly.
We took a day trip from Bangkok to the ruins of Ayutthaya, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was so quiet and peaceful there, the perfect escape from hectic Bangkok.
By the time Jonathan and I made it to northern Thailand we had somewhat recovered from our fear of food poisoning but were still playing it safe by sticking with restaurants recommended by the guidebook. Fortunately we did not get sick again and we ended up eating at some amazing restaurants. In Chiang Mai The Whole Earth Restaurant serves mostly vegetarian food in a romantic setting. Heuan Phen restaurant serves local northern Thai cuisine which Jonathan really enjoyed. Unfortunately their vegetarian menu was quite limited, but the few things I tried were delicious! Our favourite restaurant in Bangkok was Hemlock. We went there several times and tried as much as we could from their huge menu.
So that’s it from our trip to Thailand! I’d love to know, when you travel do you stick to the guidebook recommendations or do you like to find places on your own?