We might not be brave enough to do the whole World Schooling Experience but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to give the kids a bit of exposure to different cultures during their school holidays. Over the Christmas holidays, we went to Chiang Mai in Thailand where we saw elephants, a 3D Art Museum, the night market, temples, and more.
We stayed at a lovely place called Rimping Village that is located just across the river from the old city. Word on the street is that the old city is where all the action was but we found some pretty good stuff within walking distance of our accommodations. Rimping Village also provides bicycles that you can borrow which makes it even easier to get around if you’re brave enough to bike alongside the other traffic. If you want to travel further out, the Tuk-Tuks can take you there for 100 Baht a ride.
When moving around the city, we either rode the bicycle, took a Tuk-Tuk, or walked. To travel further out, we hired the cab driver, Robin, who took us from the airport to our hotel on the first day. He charged us 1000 baht to take us around Chiangmai for the whole day. Our trip with Robin was largely on the fly. We did not pre-book any of the activities, which was probably more costly, but it gave us much more flexibility with the kids. We could start our day whenever we were ready, have our meals when we wanted, and go home if the boys were tired.
Places to Eat and Drink
There are two parts to this place – there is the bar which is alongside the river, and there is the restaurant which is located across the road. It was recommended to us by the staff at Rimping Village as an authentic and family-friendly place to eat. It is also an easy walking distance from Rimping Village.
They serve a large variety of food to satisfy just about anyone’s tastes preferences:
Beautiful sandwiches, juicy burgers, fresh salads, spicy salads, colorful curries, steamed or deep fried fish, tasty thai delicacies and typical northern specialities to name a few and of course a large dessert section with plenty of ice creams, home made apple pie and crunchy chocolate ectasies.
These were our personal favourites: Pandan Chicken, Tom Yum Gung, Pad Thai Noodles, and Coconut Ice Cream.
Our guide took us to try “best coffee” after our visit to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temples in the hills. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo, but this stall is located just outside the Orchid and Jade Factory that is located just across the road from the main entrance at the base of the temple.
3D museums may not be unique to Chiang Mai but we’ve never been to one before so we thought it was pretty cool.
We had a lot of fun posing for the camera but clearly, we are lacking some serious photography skills. There is an art to posing and photo taking that none of us has quite mastered the basics of. Funny how we never realise how difficult it is until we try to step into the shoes of the professional. Maybe we should look up some basic photography tips before we head off on our next holiday.
G1 has been eager to get on a zipline ever since we missed the one in Hawaii. Since this is the closest we’re going to get to a “waterfall” zipline for a while, we decided to give it a go. I must say I’m pretty impressed by how far my three boys have come. I don’t think I could have imagined that a zipline would ever be one of our tip highlights and yet, here it is.
Eagle Track offers three packages:
- Gold – 35 platforms
- Silver – 20 platforms
- Bronze – 15 platforms
We took the Silver package which was the “get your feet wet” zipline Eco adventure that included:
- 9 Ziplines
- 2 Abseils (15 and 40 meters)
- 1 Bamboo bridge
- 1 Hill tribe ladder
- 1 Kung Fu walk
- 1 Monkey bridge
- 1 Sky Bridges
- 1 Spiral staircase
- 1 Zig-zag walkway
- 1 Wooden walkway
It also comes with a buffet lunch and water. Our guides were terrific and really friendly. They even helped us take photos! With the cooler weather at this time of year, it made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable than the sweltering heat we had to endure when we went to Skytrex.
We stopped by the Thep-prasit Honey store in Chiang Mai where we had a sample of Thep-prasit honey water and tried their delicious honey ice cream (the plain honey was better than the chocolate honey). The boys were exhausted by this point of our journey and were napping so they missed out.
It might have been interesting if we could have seen the Big Bee Farm where the bees are kept. Given that we were short on time, this was pretty much the next best thing. The video above offers a few insights into the Big Bee Farm (even if it is in Russian).
At the Gems Gallery in Chiang Mai, we saw some amazing carvings from Jade, stone, and bone.
We saw how gems are converted from their dull, raw form to the highly-polished, finished products that are sold in their showroom.
At the Chiang-Dao Elephant Training Center, you learn about the daily life of the elephants living there. Activities to see and do:
- Feed the elephants bunches of bananas at 20 baht a bunch.
- Mahout giving the elephants a bath in the river.
- How the elephants work – dragging logs and stacking them.
- Elephant painting session – the elephants will paint a picture.
- Ride an elephant to a Lisu tribe village.
You can also take a ride on a bamboo raft along the Mae Ping which was long and pretty uneventful especially after your boatman catches a river snake for dinner! It also gets a bit hot under the sun.
Yes, that is our boatman holding the snake he fished out of the water.
We booked our tour through Viator. We had a wonderful guide who was incredibly knowledgeable, sharing with us information about the old city, the different tribes, the orchids and the elephants.
There are a few night markets to visit in Chiang Mai. The most popular one is the Sunday Night Market at Tha Pae Gate. It was really packed when we visited so we had to keep a firm hold on the kids as we shuffled down the street. Most of the stuff at the markets are pretty much the same thing in repeat so I didn’t think it was really necessary to fight the crowd just for the experience.
I was far happier at the much quieter Anusarn Market which was within walking distance of Rimping Village.
Chiang Mai Temples
What’s a visit to Chiang Mai if you don’t see the temples? Unfortunately, the boys were particularly keen on a half day tour of the temples so we kept it to a minimum. We visited only two. According to our sources, the number one “must-see” temple is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the temple in the mountains. It boasts some spectacular views of the city – not that we saw much of it since it was foggy. Views aside, Wat Phra That also houses an extensive collection of religious artifacts when you aren’t busy exploring their vast grounds. To get to the pagoda, you can either hike up the 309 steps to the top or take the elevator. No prizes for guessing what we ended up doing.
Wat Phra Singh is a restored 14th Century temple located within the old city of Chiang Mai and hailed as the number two “must-see” temple in Chiang Mai. Legend states that if you walk around the golden pagoda, you will be bestowed with good fortune.
We stumbled upon Wat Buppharam one evening as we were walking to the Sunday Night Market. The temple was already closed, but it sure was a pretty sight lit up in the darkness.
And that was our first experience in Chiang Mai.