Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lanna, meaning “the land of a million rice fields“, the exotic colorful region of Chiang Mai is renowned for its vibrant blend of cultures, vivid green rice fields, jewel-encrusted temples, jungle clad hills, mighty rivers and fascinating hilltribe villages.
The verdant oasis of Chiang Mai presents an alluring alternative to the busy streets of Thai capital, Bangkok. We combined Phuket and Krabi with Chiang Mai, fondly called the Rose of the North for its beauty. Visiting the interior of the country certainly gave us another, entirely different perspective.
There are daily flights to destinations such as Phuket and Thailand’s second largest island Koh Samui allowing you to enjoy the perfect mix of culture and beaches. Thailand’s cultural capital has a slower pace of life, exactly what we were looking for. During our fabulous stay in the old city, we relaxed, recharged and cleared our minds waking up every morning to the sounds of the jungle.
Chiang Mai’s alluring golden temples
With its more than 300 Buddhist temples—many dating back to the 13th century—, the 700-year-old city of Chiang Mai offers an enchanting cultural experience.
We hopped aboard an infamous tuk-tuk to discover some of the city´s most fascinating traditional temples. Imagine monks in flame-colored robes emerging silently from the temples, gilded pagodas, beautiful Buddha statues, golden spires, burning incense and candles. Chiang Mai,Thailand’s second-largest city, is definitely the spiritual heart of the country.
Wat Bupparam Temple
Founded by King Muang Kaew in 1497, Wat Bupparam is one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai. Located some 500 meters east of Tha Phae Gate, the highly ornate temple is built in a mixed style of the Lanna Kingdom and Burmese style.
Wat Chedi Luang temple
Built around 600 years ago, the Wat Chedi Luang in the old walled part of the city is home to Chiang Mai’s largest Buddhist pagoda.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
More than 300 steps to the summit lead to the most mystical shrines in Thailand. The sacred temple is believed to have been built over the site of where a royal white elephant carrying a magical relic on its back died.
Lotus flowers (one of the eight auspicious symbols in Buddhism) and incense are beautifully placed to pay homage to Buddha images.
A Day With Elephants
One day, we had the pleasure of interacting with rescued elephants in this lush region of jungles and wetlands. Meeting and venturing out with these intelligent and sensitive creatures was a dream come true.
We learned how to know the elephants temperament, how to feed and check their health, and also how to bathe and brush them in the river which was absolutely magical.
We also had the opportunity to play with some adorable tiger cubs…
A Unique Restaurant
Renowned for its Lanna cuisine (Northern Thai food), Huen Phen is phenomenally popular. The restaurant is filled with plants and all sorts of antiques giving you the impression that you are dining in a shop. Low lighting, intimate ambiance and wonderful dishes make Huen Phen truly romantic. I highly recommend trying some of the region´s typical dishes as Northern Thai dishes are pretty hard to find outside the region.