Thailand’s Second City

Naphamethinidon, Naphaphonphumisiri near summit of Doi Inthanon by Lester Mathias Andersson (creative commons)

Northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai is a real darling of a city.  With some of Thailand’s most stunning mountain scenery there is something for everyone to do outside.

Pay a visit to Doi Inthanon.  This is Thailand’s highest mountain and is part of a beautiful scenic national park area.  The views from the summit are breath-taking, there is a gorgeous inviting waterfall nearby, and some fascinating ruins and pagodas dot the top.

On an adventurous jungle trek you can really be at one with nature, sleeping beneath the stars in the great outdoors, hearing all the sounds of nature and marvelling at the raw and rugged beauty.  See some pretty waterfalls, pass through tribal villages, and perhaps enjoy a spot of bamboo rafting.  There are different options of trek durations and difficulty levels.

The terrain makes mountain biking a popular activity, and bikes can be hired from several places.  Head out on one of the trails for an exhilarating experience.

For a different view of the jungle, go higher and wander along tree top canopy walks and whiz along zip wires at Flight of the Gibbon.  Adventures in the jungle have never been so much fun!  A good head for heights is needed, although it is safety checked.

Chiang Mai Zoo has some lovely gardens to stroll around, as well as an extensive selection of animals.  You will delight watching the different creatures at play, eating and sleeping.  The animals are housed in good conditions, unlike a lot of other Asian zoos.  A major attraction at the zoo is the beautiful cuddly-looking pandas.

For an alternate view of the animal kingdom, go to the large Night Safari.  A truly unique and spectacular experience, you can ride a tram through different areas, seeing animals at night-time roaming about freely in almost their natural habitats.  Take a walk around the lake to see even more wildlife.  This offers a great chance to see the activities of nocturnal animals after sundown.

Elephant at Elephant Nature Park

Spend some time at the Elephant Nature Park and learn more about Thailand’s faithful animal friend. This is the one Elephant park that protects abused elephants and as such you won’t be able to ride one but you can take part in washing the elephant in the river and feeding the elephants.

For those interested in bird watching, there are many opportunities to see a wide variety of winged and feathered creatures of all different sizes and colours.  Hearing birds tweeting and chirping, against a background noise of babbling rivers, splashing waterfalls, or the sounds of insects, is a lovely sound which is also quite relaxing.

At Dokmai Gardens, you can see a range of plants from all over the world.  At Mae Sa Orchid Farm, be amazed with the enormous selection of these pretty flowers with their vibrant colours.  There is also a butterfly sanctuary on site, where you can see various types of Thai butterfly flitting about.  It can be reached by private vehicle, taxi or tuk tuk.

Various activities are available on the river, including leisurely boat trips and more active rafting and kayaking.

Adventurous types may want to try a bungee jump amongst the mountains.  Rock climbing is also popular, with three climbing walls to practice on before heading to the wild outdoors.

Relax with a spot of fishing at one of the well stocked lakes.  Paradise Lake and Dream Lake are two particularly good spots for fishing enthusiasts.

No matter what your passions, Chiang Mai really does have something for everyone.