001. Next stop Chiang Mai- we walked out of the airport into a torrential downpour- literally running into a cab with ankle deep water and rising! After half an hour it stopped and the water subsided down the drains, a small taste of the South East Asia monsoons for us. Chiang Mai itself is a small peaceful city surrounded by lush mountains, countless temples, great markets and lots of cultural tours/experiences. We ended up staying in Chiang Mai for over two weeks, which all seems a blur now, but I will try my best to recount all my favourite parts.
002. During our stay in Chiang Mai we created a pretty comfortable routine- fruit from the local markets for breakfast, along with $1 fruit shakes, then dining out for lunch and dinner at vegetarian restaurants. I honestly don't think we had a meal that wasn't at a vegetarian cafe- we were spoilt for choice! My top recommendations are Aum, May Kaidee's and Taste from Heaven. Food in Thailand is so cheap- you're looking at $2-$4 for a main- but the portions can be a little small, so don't be afraid to order more! Trust me authentic Thai food is amazing and you are going to want to taste it all. We spent the rest of our time wandering around the city, doing yoga, looking at the hundreds of temples, cute street dogs and just living slowly. Markets are definitely a must do in Chiang Mai. I highly recommend the Walking Street Markets on a Sunday night- they are one of my favourite markets in all of Asia (and trust me I've seen a lot!). Lots of more unique handmade items at really good prices. If you only make it to one market in Chiang Mai make it this one.
003. Because we were on a backpacker budget our days weren't always jammed packed with expensive activities, however we did manage to squeeze a few special things in. I wanted to do a Thai cooking class so badly so we booked one with The Thai Farm Cooking School. It was an incredible day of picking produce from their organic garden, cooking, eating and nursing our food babies. Our instructor Garnet was such a character- so hilarious and made the day even better. We also caught a song-tao up to Doi Suthep one day to see the huge temple on the hill- I do not recommend. It wasn't the worst experience in the world but the temple itself was waaaaaaay too touristy for something that's meant to be peaceful, although the view was nice. Save your pennies and just visit one of the many temples in town instead.
004. Finally... my favourite experience in all of Thailand... ELEPHANTS! I have a lot to say about this particular topic so I'm going to dedicate the whole next post to them. Stay tuned.