Well, I’m finally back from a great two week vacation overseas! This year, the south east Asian country of Thailand was the backdrop, with a day-long stop over in Dubai on the way home. Three of my girlfriends came along as well as we hit Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Railay Beach in Krabi, Maya Bay in Ko Phi Phi and Phuket.
I had a great time in all the cities (save for a rather traumatic experience in Railay which I’ll get into later). Of all the places we visited in Thailand, the city of Chiang Mai ranked top on my list. I loved the relaxed country side setting as well as the variety of activities and excursions available to us. If you ever decide to make the journey, here are four must do’s to add to your list.
Go to a humane elephant sanctuary
Spending time with elephants was something we wanted to do while we were in Thailand, but most tourist and commercial elephant parks are known to abuse these grand creatures. That was just something we refused to be a part of. Instead we set out to find a elephant abode that cared for and nurtured the elephants. No chains, no big saddles for riding that can harm the elephants…just elephants in their natural habitat enjoying life. We found this is Woody’s Elephant Trekking. We got to trek with elephants, riding on them bare back as we went; bathe them; play with them; and feed them.
Take a Thai Cooking Class at Basil Cookery School
I’m personally not much of cook, but as a lover of Thai food, learning to cook some of my favorite dishes sounded very appealing. Especially since I was traveling with my best friend and food blogger Foodie in New York. When it comes to cooking classes in Thailand, it really doesn’t get any better than Basil Cookery School in Chaing Mai. We had the wonderful pleasure of doing our five hour culinary experience with the owner of Basil Cookery, Thom. Not only was he a great teacher over the 6-courses he taught us to make, but he was such a funny, kind and knowledgeable guy as well. If you’re going to spend 5 hours in the kitchen with someone, make sure it’s Thom at Basil Cookery School in Chaing Mai. And the bonus of this Chiang Mai cooking class is that you get to eat everything you make. Mmm mmm GOOD!
Reside at Tonnam Home Stay
We skipped the traditional hotel experience in Chiang Mai and instead opted for a traditional home stay (what many in the states would call a bed & breakfast) about 10-15 minutes outside of the main city. Privately owned by married couple Cecil and Yul and set on the Ping River, Tonnam Home Stay was a great experience a little off of the beaten path. The grounds were nicely rustic and the owners made us feel right at home. Every morning Cecil prepared a delicious breakfast for us which was included the very reasonable price of our stay.
Take a ride up to the mountains
One day we hired Yul, the homestay owner, to drive us up the mountains for a half-day excursion. We visited the most famous Chaing Mai temple Wat Phra That Dat Suthep, stopped at a coffee plantation where I sampled some of the best coffee of my life and visited a Hmong hill tribe village where the nice young students in the local school took a liking to my two-strand twists I got for vacation.
Stay tuned this week and next for more insight into my travel highlights and recommendations abroad!
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