I had never been to south East Asia, so when I began planning my first trip to the other side of the world, I wanted to make sure that Thailand was on the itinerary. I wasn’t sure where to go however I knew I wanted to see beaches, elephants and temples. After hearing amazing reviews from friends about Chiang Mai, I decided that it needed to be one of my stops on my Asian adventure.
We flew from Hong Kong to Chaing Mai on a short Bangkok Airway flight. I had never flew this airline (obviously, since I have never been to Asia before) and I have to say, my first experience was amazing! Within 45 minutes, we had taken off, had a glass of wine, eaten a full meal, had a coffee and everything was cleaned up. Super speedy- we were definitely impressed by the service- Is it weird to say that I actually enjoyed the meal as well?
We arrived in Chiang Mai around noon, lugged our bags onto a tuk tuk and headed about 15 minutes to our majestic hotel- Na Nirand Boutique Resort. All I can say about this resort is- wow! We were greeted by smiling faces and a welcome drink/cool towel. The hotel lobby smelled like roses and was so beautiful! The staff made our check in super easy and we headed to our room on the main floor, close to the river and the amazing tree that frames the pool.
As we went into the room and began walking around I thought to myself “Am I on the bachelor, because this looks like the fantasy suite!!!” The bathroom was literally the size of my condo back home in North America and the tub was in the middle of the room, filled with flowers. I did what any person would have done and took 3 videos and about 90 photos of it. You don’t get this kind of room back home (and if you do, you are filling it with roses yourself)
This hotel is situated on the Ping River about 20 minute walk from the old town and 10 minute walk to the night bazaar. We chose to walk everywhere since it felt very safe and there were places to eat and shop everywhere along the way.
After we got settled in, we began our day with a lunch at TIME restaurant at our hotel, Na Nirand. I was excited to finally try authentic Thai food! Everything was delish and the fun cocktails we had were refreshing from the HOT Thailand air! After lunch, we left our perfectly manicured hotel to explore the area. Whenever I get to a new location, I love to spend the first day wandering.
What can you do while wandering on foot through Chaing Mai? Let me tell you!
There were literally dozens of places to choose from and the prices can’t be beat. $6 Canadian for a 30 minute foot rub? Yes, I will take one or two of those each day, please.
GRAB A DRINK AT A LOCAL BAR:
When drinks are like $2-$3, why not? (I mean, even if drinks were $10, “why not” as well, but the lower price point is just that much more desirable!) There are a lot of fun themed bars and restaurants to hit up while walking within the old town or just outside where the night bazaar is located.
TRY A THAI COOKING CLASS:
This might have been one of my favorite things we did in Chaing Mai. We stumbled upon Thai Kitchen Cookery, a family owned cooking class. It was $30 per person and we learned how to make 6 different dishes and then got to eat them. It was my first time eating Panang Curry and I’m now obsessed. This was a great experience, and definitely worth every penny!
HIT UP A LOCAL TEMPLE:
There are tons of temples in Chiang Mai, it is one of the highlights! Within the town, you will stumble upon countless temples in places you wouldn’t even expect.
HOP ON A SCOOTER AND SEE CHAING MAI ON WHEELS:
I mean, I definitely didn’t do this- my driving abilities might be limited to North America, but if you have experience driving on a scooter and a bit of courage, this is a great way to see as much as you can in a day.
VISIT THE NIGHT BAZAAR:
Any souvenir you might want, including the elephant pants you see everyone wearing in their Thailand photos- you can find here. Along with street food, live singing and dancing and more foot massages! Bring cash, since most places do not accept debit or credit.
Day two, we wanted to see a few more of the temples that weren’t right within the city Centre, so the hotel hooked us up with a driver for half a day- $60 and he took us wherever we wanted to go. If you aren’t too tight on money, this is a really efficient way to see the temples on your own time.
NOTE: If you are planning to go temple hopping, you may want to opt into wearing shoes you can easily side on and off. I stupidly wore sandals that I needed to un-do every time I went in. *Insert eye roll emoji.*
WAT CHEDI LUANG
This cool wat was in the city centre close to a lot of the hotels and markets, but we took the lift here since it wasn’t that close to our hotel.
WAT PHRA THAT DOI SUTHEP
This was my favorite wat of all! It was up in the clouds (or it appeared to be, anyways) with an amazing view of Chaing Mai! It was gold and was surrounded in flowers- An instagrammers dream wat!
WAT PHRA SINGH
This one was really beautiful as well and somewhat close to Chedi Luang, so if you were planning to see the temples close to the city center, these would be good options.
WAT SUAN DOK
We actually got to see the monk’s praying in here when we visited!
WAT SRI SUPHAN
This wat really stands out because it is decked out in silvers and blues, rather than the gold, like a lot of the other Wats. I wasn’t allowed inside, *How rude!!*- but I got my photographer, aka my husband to get some snaps for me!
BACK TO THE HOTEL FOR A ROMANTIC DINNER FOR TWO:
Wat a day we had! (he he he) We were tired from all the exploring, but we were looking forward to the evening, where we had a private dinner set up on the hotel restaurants roof top for our honeymoon. Again, I felt like I was in the bachelor, the lucky girl chosen to go on a one on one date- there were candles leading up the stairs, leading up to an amazing candle-lit dinner with a pre-set menu and our own personal waiter. Everything was absolutely incredible- when we got back to the room they had dropped off a cake that said “happy honeymoon” with wine chilling. It was above and beyond! The food was amazing- for the first time on our adventure packed trip, I got to feel like a honeymooner!
DAY THREE: Elephant Nature Park
This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip! I had been doing a lot of research on which elephant sanctuary to visit, and this one by far was the most highly recommended! At Elephant Nature Park, they have rescued elephants that have been mistreated or injured and taken them to a new home where they can be safe and happy again. Rather than riding the elephants, we got to feed them, pet them and watch them play with each other- cuteness overload!!! We were supposed to wash them in the river, but unfortunately it was a rainy day, so there was no washing necessary. The only thing the rain ruined was some of my photos, but the remainder of the day was still a blast!
We booked this tour on their website about 2 months in advance- I had read many things about the tours selling out- so better safe than sorry. There are multiple tour options, some being overnight tours, since the trek from Chiang Mai is about an hour and a half, and some may want to spend a bit more time with the gentle giants! I would have chosen a longer tour if my timeline wasn’t so tight!
This was our final day in Chiang Mai and we decided to spend it enjoying our beautiful hotel for one last time. The breakfast here was amazing; it was included in our hotel price, so we made sure to make the most of it each day! Coming from North America, we generally don’t eat curry and pho for breakfast, it’s more of a bacon and eggs kinda place- but I got used to eating dinner for breakfast really quickly- it’s easy when the food is so good! We decided to relax by the AMAZING pool for the last few hours before we had to head to the airport. I felt as though I was saying goodbye to my family as we checked out of this hotel. The few days we were there, they ensured everything was perfect. I am so glad we chose to stay there rather than a chain hotel.
I can safely say this was a hard place to leave- we have never been treated so well before and felt so welcome. I may or may not have shed a few tears on my way to the airport. I will for sure be back to both Chiang Mai and Na Nirand!