10 things to do in Chiang Mai

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One of the medical placements organised by Gap Medics is to the charming, 700 year old city of Chiang Mai. Known as the “Rose of the North’ because of its location at the extreme north of Thailand, this city has plenty to offer visitors, from vibrant markets to serene old temples and the lush countryside. Here are the top 10 things to do on your free weekend during a medical placement to Chiang Mai.

1. Visit Wat Chedi Luang

Made up of three temples, Wat Chedi Luang is a spectacular sight with its massive pagoda or chedi, which is a distinctive feature of the Chiang Mai skyline. At its peak, the chedi measures 80 metres in height and 60 metres across at the square base. It was once the home of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred religious relic of the Thais.

Exploring the jungle by elephant! 2. Make a wish at the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep 

This is Chiang Mai’s most famous shrine and well known for making wishes come true. After you make your wish, you have to walk around the golden shrine thrice while praying for your wishes to come true. You can get to the pagodas the easy way, which is by tram or the hard way, which involves climbing 309 steps to the top.

3. Eat Khao Soi

This coconut-milk based soup with egg noodles and beef or chicken is the signature dish of Chiang Mai and is often simply called “Chiang Mai noodles.”  It is topped with deep-fried, crispy noodles and served with an assorted variety of interesting condiments including chilli paste, pickled mustard, lime wedges and sliced shallots. The taste is exotic and different from any dish you would have tasted back home in the UK.

4. Spend a day at the zoo

Sprawling over 200 acres at the foothills of Doi Suthep and providing panoramic views of the city in addition to fascinating wildlife exhibits, Chiang Mai Zoo is certainly worth a visit. The zoo is home is about 400 species of animal, including the two ‘cultural ambassador’ or pandas from China. The walk-through the aviary and the freshwater aquarium are just two of the many spectacular features of the zoo. 

5. Spend half a night at the Chiang Mai Night Safari  

Chiang Mai Night Safari features three animal zones – Savannah Safari, Predator Prowl, and Jaguar Trail. You can wander around the different zones on foot or you can tour via an open-sided tram. The zoo hosts regular shows and you can even hand-feed wild animals and pet tiger cubs during your visit. 

6. Take the opportunity to learn Thai cooking

With locals capitalizing on the tourism boom, you’ll find plenty of 1 and 2-day cooking classes run out of guest houses and hotels in the city. Sign up for a cooking class and learn to cook some exotic, genuine, Thai dishes – not the imitation Thai food you get back home. 

7. Visit Mae Sa Elephant Camp

You can spend the day at the camp where you can bathe or feed the elephants, go on an elephant ride through the surrounding forest or just sit back and watch these majestic beasts as they go about doing several amazing things you’ve got to see to believe. These elephants have been trained to dance, paint and even play soccer.  

8. Reserve a weekend to visit the night market

A visit to the Walking Street Night Market is a must, especially if you want to buy lots of local souvenirs to take back home. Open only on weekends, you’ll find everything here, from handicrafts to fashion items and footwear and all types of exotic foods.

9. Spend the day at the Doi Inthanon National Park

Rising 2,565 metres above sea level, Doi Inthanon is the highest peak in Thailand and is the best place in Thailand for bird-watching with about 362 different species of birds, many of which are not found anywhere else in Thailand.

10. Visit the Bo Sang Handicraft Village

Bo Sang Village is famous around the world for the handcrafting of their hallmark umbrellas and parasols. Here, you’ll find the prettiest hand-painted umbrellas and miniature cocktail umbrellas as well as large parasols for gardens or patios.  

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