For the second leg of our trip to Thailand, we head north to Chiang Mai a Northen city very famous among backpackers and digital nomads.
On our first evening, and after dropping our bags at The Grand Napat (great value for money!), we headed to the night bazaar for some refreshing beers and tasty street food. We liked the night bazaar so much that we had dinner there every night during our stay in Chiang Mai.
The following day we woke up bright and early for a full day with elephants!
I did a lot of research as I wanted to avoid the awful touristy places where you see drugged tigers and ride on saddles attached to the back of abused elephants. After hours on the internet, I finally found Baan Chang Elephant Park, their main objective is to rescue and protect the local elephants. They also make sure that the experience they organise for tourists is authentic. No comfy seats there, you will experience the real mahout‘s life for six hours. The cost of our experience was a little less than £100 including transport, lunch and clothing, so overall it is pretty good value for money.
***Important note regarding animal welfare: since we went, back in 2014, Baan Chang Elephant Park has stopped all ridding activities to ensure even greater animal welfare for the elephants. I completely support this initiative as I am a big animal lover and am a big advocate of adopting rather than shopping (our little Buffer comes from a rescue centre himself). The ridding part of our tour was quite short and we spent the majority of the day helping the staff, hugging, petting, feeding and bathing the elephants rather than being on their back****
They came and picked us up at our hotel in the morning and it was honestly the most magical experience! We fed and rode the elephants and had the opportunity to bath them. If you’re not too squeamish they will kiss you in thanks!
The bath part was my favourite. After hours in the blazing sun, you cannot wait to jump in the water with them, and you can truly see the joy in their eyes when they are finally in the refreshing water.
Baan Chang Elephant Park offers various experiences. You will be given a set of clothes there so you only have to come with a towel and a swimsuit. Showers are available on site so you will drive back to your hotel as fresh as a daisy.
On our second day in Chiang Mai, we explored the city. We dedicated most of the day to the city centre, going from temples to temples.
Of course, a mandatory plate of mango and sticky rice was in order! (I lived on this while there! Sooooo good!)
We then headed toward the Ping River for a walk by the bank before heading back to our hotel for a quick shower and then back out for a delicious dinner at the night bazaar.
I can honestly say that Chiang Mai was the favourite part of our trip to Thailand! I know, controversial, but the city is buzzing with energy, the food is amazing, you can go on all sorts of adventures in the jungle and it is extremely good value for money!