After a short flight from Bangkok, we landed in Chiang Mai. We stayed at the Thannatee Boutique Hotel which was only about 40-50 euro a night and included breakfast and shuttles to the airport. Amazing. This had more of an authentic Thai feel in comparison to our Bangkok hotel.
We spent that day just wandering through the city once we landed. There are 36 temples within the 1 square kilometer of the gated old city, insane! Our hotel was right next to one.
And the city is surrounded by walls which we also explored.
We went to a restaurant called Dash! for some Thai food.
and we saw more temples.
The next day we went to Nimman Road via tuk tuk. Tuk Tuks are basically rickshaws, used in pretty much the same way taxis would be used. They weave in and out of the cars to get you to your destination. Somehow, there was a lot of traffic in Chiang Mai.
Nimman Road is the trendy area of Chiang Mai full of backpackers, cool restaurants, boutique shops, and a mall. We got lunch at Esan Cafe (but not before enjoying coffee frozen in cubes in which you pour milk over at a small cafe)
We had a few different dishes at Esan Cafe including fried chicken, fried papaya salad, bacon wrapped Chiang Mai sausage, and mango sticky rice.
The next morning we were up super early because we were going to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary! They picked us up and drove about an hour, hour and a half to where the sanctuary was. This organization is responsible for rescuing elephants from riding camps. Don’t ride elephants in Thailand! The elephants are not meant to be ridden and they live a really tough life at this tourist traps. At the sanctuary, they are free to roam around and we got to feed and play with them.
We fed them bananas and watermelons and their cute trunks would grab the food and bring it to their mouths.
The elephants ranged in age from a year old (omg that elephant was so cute) to 72 years old! They were all female as males tend to be bigger and tougher to rescue as they are highly sought after. The sanctuary has to negotiate and pay a lot of money to rescue the elephants.
After this we literally rolled around in the mud with the elephants who were just delighted to hang out with us. We gave them a mud bath then splashed around with them in the river. Then, the sanctuary fed us lunch and we headed back to Chiang Mai after that. I highly recommend visiting the Sanctuary (there are a couple of other similar organizations too), it was such a cool experience.
The next day was our cooking class which I will talk more about later!