Here’s what we did in Chiang Mai, Thailand!
Travel Dates: 26-29 November, 2013
Great weather. 3 days is a good amount of time in Chiang Mai. If you want to take a tour to the aboriginal tribes, then maybe 4 days.
Airlines: Air Asia from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, $48/person on Expedia
Air Asia from Chiang Mai to Phuket, $139/person on Expedia
*Note: We packed very light so that we did not have to pay for any baggage. We each carried a backpack and shared 1 small carry-on bag. Look up the airline requirements and make sure you don’t go over the weight limit!
Visa: Not required.
Exchanging Money: We exchanged at the airport and at an exchange business downtown.
Hotel: Banthai Village Hotel, 4 stars, $69/night
Pretty nice, especially for the price! Great location – close walking distance to the main night market and old town. Has a rustic, outdoors feel. It’s a “village” set up with 3 main buildings. Two courtyards with small pools. Breakfast buffet included (cereals, pastries, yogurt, juice, etc.). Decent dinner offered poolside. Free computers with internet. Nice staff.
Transportation: Taxi from the airport and tuk tuk back to the airport. Walked everywhere else. Elephant Farm included free transportation and so did the cooking class.
Day 1/Arrival Day: Walk around Old Town, lunch at Preggo. Visit Night Bazaar.
Day 2: Elephant Nature Park, $80/person. It was a fun experience, but a little slow paced. I did a lot of research on Elephant Parks to try to find a top tier camp that treated the elephants nicely. This was ranked #2 by many. I tried to get into the #1 (Patara Elephant Farm), but it was booked months in advance. The main difference was that at this camp we couldn’t ride the elephants. I wish we could have experienced the #1 camp, but this was still a nice experience. You feed the elephants multiple times, walk with them, bath them, and learn about the nature camp.
Dinner at Loco Elvis. We didn’t really have a plan so we just stopped somewhere. It was okay, but you can probably find some place better.
Night bazaar – We enjoyed the night market the best in the city. Good prices and they will negotiate. Very lively. (Phuket sells similar items at the night market, but this one has more culture.)
Day 3: Walk around Old Town to all of the sights and visit 2 markets. Thai Massage. Dinner and drinks at the hotel.
Day 4/Departure Day: Orchid Cooking Class, 1,200 THB per person. It was a fun experience. Very nice family-owned business. They’ll pick you up at your hotel. We met other nice customers too. Good food. You’ll visit a food market and learn about the local foods. At the end they give you a recipe book.
Do research and book the elephant farm that’s right for you well in advance!