Doi Suthep Book a tour or negotiate with the driver of a red Songtieow to take you up the mountain. Try for a nice clear day – the mornings are cooler but the sunsets are spectacular. Near the peak is the Wat Pra That Doi Suthep. In life, it is rare that something or somewhere exceeds all expectations, but this golden Wat is very beautiful and the views of Chiang Mai …stunning. Please wear appropriate clothes. I will leave it to you to discover the legend concerning the White Elephant. If you are lazy like me..you can take the funicular train from the entrance up to the Wat. If you are feeling frisky..there are some 300 steps up…and down.
If you are still feeling energetic you can then venture further up the mountain to visit the Winter Palace of the Royal Family. Also there is a Hmong Hill-tribe village. It is a little touristy but relatively accessible. If you wish, you can cool off on the way down the mountain - there are a couple of waterfalls. Check with your guide as to which ones have an admission fee as at some, there may be a charge of 200 Baht, as they are classified as National Park.
Monk Chat If you go along to the Wat Suan Dok on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 1700 – 1900 you will have a chance to chat to the Novice Monks. They enjoy practising their English Language and you get a unique insight into Buddhism and Thai life. Please wear appropriate clothes. It might be that you will encounter some female Monks. As far as I know Chiang Mai has the first Wats with Lady Monks.
Elephant Show Lots of places to choose from. The two that I have visited are the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, near Lampang and the Mae Sa of from the Mae Rim Road. The Elephant Conservation Centre is a bit of a trek as its about an hour from Chiang Mai but gives you an opportunity to see how elephants work with their mahouts in a ‘natural environment’, an elephant hospital and Mahout training course days.
The Mae Sa, which is closer to Chiang Mai, has a show in which you can see the elephants playing football and painting pictures – any of which I would be happy to have on show. Now here is a conundrum…Do the elephants paint a different picture each time displaying creativity?… or Are they trained to take the paintbrush and apply the same strokes each time? At both locations – you will have the opportunity to ride the elephants. Try not to sit at the back of the gondola, as it’s a bit hard on the back when you go uphill. Despite some initial misgivings…..I came away from both shows with the impression that the elephants enjoyed them as much as the audience.
Lake or Dam Although Chiang Mai is a long way from the sea – this should not deter you from going out to swim in a natural environment. A really pleasant way to spend a Sunday is to go out to the Huay Teung Tao Lake during the day and after a wobblypop sundowner…go shopping at Walking Street Market in the evening.
The Huay Teung Tao resevoir lake is only 12 kilometres from Chiang Mai just off from the Mae Rim Road or follow highway 121. Hire a songteow to take you out and pick you up again. Turn right after the entrance and, adjacent to the car park, you will find many beach side restaurants with mini-salas with palm leaf roofs. If neither your knees nor bum is up to sitting on the mats…have a look around as there are concrete tables and seats. The food is Thai and many of the restaurants have menus printed in English. For a real surprise try the ‘Jumping Shrimp’(Gung Ten). The Tubtim fish option is also delicious. The swimming is fun and safe and there are pedallo-boats if you want to stay dry. Huay Teung Tao (close to the Sports Stadium)
Further away, also on the Mae Rim Road, maybe a 90-minute drive … is the Sri Lanna National Park and Dam/lake – where you can, if you wish, spend the night. After registering with the National Park Rangers, you walk down the slope to the beach where the long-tail boats are waiting to take you on a 15-minute boat ride to the floating restaurants and guesthouses.The girls, my daughter and I have been several times and have found the Eakachai House Boat to be one of the best. The menu is varied with both Thai and Western dishes, toilet facilities are excellent. The sleeping cabins are basic but certainly beat camping. The environment is serene and the lake cool…but do take care as it is deep and there is a strong current. Ekachai provide life-vests and large rubber rings on request. Mae Ngud Dam at Sri Lanna National Park
Thai Cookery School This is Fun!… even if you are not an enthusiastic cook. There are various options of half-day, one day or several and you make your selection according to the Thai dishes which you will be cooking on any one day.There are many schools to choose from and each student has their own wok. You get to eat what you cook…so go along Hungry! Also take your camera along to get a snap of yourself singeing your eyebrows.
Fishing Lake I can’t remember the times that I have gone out fishing and have only caught a cold. Not at The Dreamlake Fishing Adventure! I recently went along with a fairly robust friend and it took both us plus the bait man to land many of the fish…let alone hold them up for the photo in the family album. Naturally it can be fairly hard work catching a 25 kilo plus fish…so go along early morning when it’s fairly cool. All equipment and bait supplied (apart from a truss) also pick-up and drop-off at your hotel. There is a small café/restaurant at the lake.
Walking Street Market and Night Bazaar The Night Bazaar on Changkhlan Road cranks up at about 1800 each evening and goes on to around midnight. You will be shopping with tourists and sold to by either Thai’s or Hill Tribes. Lots of copies here if that is what you are after…CD’S, DVD’S, Clothes, Bags and lots more.. but beware…the laws in Thailand are the same as many other countries with regard to selling/buying copy items.. What ever else you do…Barter! In the centre is a pavilion with free Thai ‘cultural’ shows and food hall.
Late on every Sunday afternoon… Rajdumnern Road, opposite Thapae Gate, is closed off to traffic and The Walking Street Market begins and goes on until midnight. This is an entirely different proposition than the Night Bazaar – most of the folk that you see strolling up and down will be local Thai’s enjoying the evening promenade and spectacle. It does get very busy later in the evening so the best time to go along is 1830 – 1900. In addition to the many Thai artefacts, clothes, paintings etc for sale – are food vendors, street entertainers and if you manage to get up as far as the Three Kings Monument …there is usually a free show.
Trekking and White-water rafting Lots of options here..depending how far you want to go….and how far back they can carry you.If you are a bit nervous about ‘shooting-the rapids’ later on during the day on the White-water Raft…go for the Trekking day option with the tamer Bamboo Rafting (True confessions here…I do!)
Park - Nong Buak Public Park When I first came out to live in Thailand – Tack, my P/A, used to take me to this delightful little park to give me Thai language lessons. We used to sit in the sala by the fish pond and feed the enormous ‘Cat and Gold Fish’ in the pond. She would toddle off to have her fortune told by one of the ‘Morduu’s’ Fortune tellers and bring back some Thai snacks from one of the many Thai fast food vendors.
The variety of folk in the park, exercising and performing Chi Gung exercises, make it – ‘Living Entertainment’. Its located on the corner of the Old City by the Klong opposite the Suan Prung hospital
Jewellery Factory Over the years, I suppose I have spent a lot of dosh here but every time that I go – I am fascinated. The enormous display centre and factory is located several kilometres from town on the Samkampaeng Road and will arrange free pickup and delivery to your guesthouse. You will actually have the opportunity to see the craftsmen making the jewellery, before you enter the main area. On display is just about every gemstone I have ever heard of and more. Behind the display counters are raised aquariums in which are many varieties of tropical fish and sharks. See if you can spot the Stone Fish! Take the weight off of your feet for 5 minutes at the courtesy bar and on the way back into town stop off at the Umbrella Factory. Hundreds of hand-painted silk umbrellas and an assortment of unique carved wooden souvenirs.