Swim with the elephants at Chai Lai eco lodge
There are a number of elephant camps that call themselves “sanctuaries” in Chiang Mai, but only a few that practice responsible tourism. Chai Lai works with a neighboring elephant camp to provide their guests with bareback elephant rides. Their purpose is to show the elephant camp that profits can still be generated without the use of a chair or circus performance.
Stay above the clouds at Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. The temple is perfectly nestled on one of the peaks at Doi Suthep Mountain overlooking the city. To get there, you can either rent a scooter for 250 baht, or take a red truck (about 100 baht). You will see a long staircase that will lead you to the temple. There is a small entry fee to enter this magnificent temple, and I encourage you to do so. Remember to dress conservatively while roaming inside the temple! On the terrace, there are beautiful trees and breathtaking views of the city. Whether you are here during rainy season, or dry season this place is a must-see.
Unwind at the North Gate Jazz Café
After a long day of exploring, let your hair down and join your friends at the North Gate Jazz Café. Listen to live music while sipping on some cold drinks. You will find that this is the place to be on any given night; small but cozy. Catch-up with old friends, and make some new ones.
Zip through Chiang Mai on a motorbike
Chiang Mai is home to many first-time riders. The traffic is not chaotic, and easy to navigate through. The cost to rent a scooter or a motorbike is around 250 -1000 baht if you are looking for something simple. I recommend starting off with a scooter so you can get a feel for it. However, if you still feel uneasy then get on the back of someone that has had experience in riding and enjoy the ride!
Find something special at a night bazaar
This is truly a shopper’s paradise! There is something for everyone; whether you are in search for the perfect crepe, or handmade trinkets to bring back home, the night bazaar is fun for the whole family. The markets open in the evening and close at midnight every day, rain or shine. Make sure to do your shopping at the night bazaar, and not on the islands. Yes, you can find some of the same items on the islands, but prices will be much higher! Take your time at the markets, and brush up on your bartering skills. Local Tip- The Saturday and Sunday night markets sell all handmade items and the prices are marked.
Trek through the jungle, and stay overnight at a hill tribe village
Go on a beautiful journey through the jungle, and then chat with the locals at the Karen Village. You will be able to get a glimpse of what it truly means to live a simple life. Accommodations are basic, but the homestay family will do their best to make you feel comfortable. During your stay you will learn how the Karen hill tribes live off the land, and how kids can have fun without cable-television. This is for the true adventurers. Tip- Some of the villages have elephants living there too!
The “Grand Canyon” of Thailand
A truly picturesque sight that you should not miss! If you like swimming or jumping off cliffs, this is definitely the place for you. If you are looking for a relaxing place to read your book, this is also the place for you. Just rent a tube from one of the vendors, and get lost in a book. Getting there is quite simple, you can join a tour, or you can rent a motorbike and go on your own. The drive from Chiang Mai is nothing special, but canyon sure is. If you are planning on bringing your camera make sure that it has some kind of floatation device attached to it. I have seen, and heard of many unfortunate souls who have lost their gopro to the deep, dark water.
Release a sky lantern
Chai Lai Orchid, in Mae Wang is one of the few places that you can release a lantern outside of the normal celebration times. It is truly a magical experience, and can be shared with your entire family, or friends. They say that when you release a lantern you should make a wish, and if you watch it disappear in the sky your wish will come true.
Chiang Mai massage center by ex-prisoners
By far, one of the best massages I have ever had in my life! Many of the women were sent to jail after fighting back during a domestic violence dispute. During their time in prison, they learned skills such as nail art, and massaging. There are several Women’s massage centers in Thailand, but all of them employ ex-prisoners. Support the cause while getting one of the best massages of your life.
Doi Inthanon waterfalls
Visit waterfalls in Chiang Mai’s beautiful cloud forest. This is not for swimming, but for lots of awesome instagram pictures. The waterfall is huge, and has multiple little falls surrounding it. The gushing water sends refreshing droplets to viewers. It is truly a magnificent sight that should not be missed. While there, take some time to view the other impressive sights at the national park.