We just had our Chinese New Year holiday, which meant I had one month off from teaching and some time to travel! I traveled for three weeks with the other American foreign teachers from Nan Hua, and the first destination on our trip was Chiang Mai, a northern city in Thailand.

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A few facts about Thailand:

  • Currency: Baht (100 baht = roughly $3)
  • Driving: Left side of the road
  • Language: Thai

I love Chiang Mai for many reasons – it’s a great walking city, with plenty of temples to see inside the city walls for free. The food is great, the people are friendly, and if you want to plan a day trip outside the city wall, there’s plenty of things to do. We spent 5 days in Chiang Mai, from January 23 – January 28.

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Here are 5 of my favorite things we did during our 5 days in Chiang Mai:


1. Temples

It’s impossible to visit Chiang Mai and not see some temples. If you’re walking around inside the city wall you’ll see them everywhere, scattered between coffee shops and souvenir stands and hidden behind modern architecture and government buildings. It’s really interesting to see how Thai history has blended into their modern life.

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Trying to decide between making peace signs or not #chinaprobs

 

2. Grand Canyon

For just 50 baht you can visit the Grand Canyon! You didn’t know Thailand had one did you? Neither did I. It’s not quite like the Grand Canyon in the U.S., but it’s a really cool place where you can go cliff jumping and swimming.

It took about 30 minutes to drive from our hostel to the Grand Canyon and we paid a tuk tuk 800 baht to take us there, wait for us, and then drive us back to the city.

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3. Night Market

This place is packed with food – if you want Thai food they’ve got Pad Thai and spring rolls galore, but they’ve also got international food options out the wazoo – burritos, burgers, curry, BBQ, seafood, plus live music and lights to complete the ambience.

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4. Elephants

A visit to Thailand isn’t complete without seeing the elephants. Do some research and find a place that takes care of the elephants well – our hostel has a great connection with a place called Into the Wild. They rescued three elephants and don’t allow them to be ridden – instead you get to feed them, spend time with them, and give them a mud bath. It was awesome and a really unique experience!

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5. Thai Massage

THE BEST MASSAGES. For just 200 baht we got an hour long Thai massage and these Thai massage ladies are awesome. You just might have to specify that you want them to be gentle unless you want the classic hard Thai massage.

Other great things to do in Chiang Mai: take a tuk tuk (they’re everywhere so this won’t be hard to do), hang out with Aussies you meet, drink a fruit smoothie (or five),and  buy elephant pants (did you really go to Thailand if you don’t buy some).

Our hostel was called the HUG Hostel (#hugneverdies) and we really liked it! It was close to the north gate and had a restaurant inside. It was a great hostel for meeting other people and in a good location for walking around the city.

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Thai people are also so friendly and welcoming. It was an interesting time to visit Thailand because their King died last October and they are in a year of mourning for him. They speak of him in such a reverent and loving way – you can tell the people really respected their King. Our elephant guide told us he was good to the people; he would travel all over Thailand and visit the people to let them know he cared.

We met many Chinese students studying in Chiang Mai and it was fun to talk to them about their experience living abroad and their hometowns in China. We also celebrated Chinese New Year in Thailand by exploring a Chinese market and meeting with the Chinese friends we made there.

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Chiang Mai was the perfect place to go for our first destination traveling. I love China , but it’s always nice to step outside and experience a different culture with more English speakers and more international food options. And Hengyang was cold and rainy when we left while Thailand was like 85 everyday 😉

It’s hard to include all my pictures and stories, so I’ve just hit the highlights! The next destination: Phuket, Thailand