Have you ever visited a place and thought: this was meant for me? Well I have experienced this three times. YEP, lucky enough to feel this three times. First in Hong Kong then in Thailand and again on my recent trip to Bali. Upon stepping off the plane in Chiang Mai, Thailand I instantly felt the heat and humidity cover my entire body. #AsiaThings. This was a place I dreamt of visiting for so long… for so many reasons. Mainly ELEPHANTS! My favorite animal. I didn’t spend much time in Chiang Mai but I did have the chance to explore beautiful temples, the Shan Hill mountain range, and an elephant sanctuary. Here’s the down low.
The accommodation options are endless in Chiang Mai, just do a quick Google search and you’ll see. I had the pleasure of staying at The Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai– member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Nestled on 60 acres of tropical grounds this is a true oasis. You will quickly fall in love upon entering the resort grounds. Gated off from the surrounding area, you’ll pull up to large gates and stone driveway. The stone driveway symbolizes the “Old City” of Chiang Mai, what the area used to be like.
There are 123 villas and suites on the property. This may sound like a lot but spread across 60 acres, you’ll still feel secluded in the jungles of Thailand. Not to worry, the resort will provide you with a bicycle to get you all around. My villa just so happened to be a treehouse. YEP! Complete with an outdoor shower and bathtub.
The architecture is inspired by palaces and buildings from surrounding Asian countries like Myanmar, which is easy to spot right away. You’ll notice all of the different roof styles, this is done intentionally. Different style roofs mean different things to the Thai people. I’m not complaining, they are absolutely stunning. Around every corner it felt like I was discovering another beautiful piece of art.
The dining options are endless. What are you looking for? Chinese cuisine? French? Italian? Thai? Sweet treats? Dhara Dhevi has it all covered. Speaking of sweets, Dhara Dhevi’s macarons made it to the top 5 best macarons list in all of Thailand. Yes, that’s a thing and yes they are really that delicious.
Just like the dining options, the activities are endless! Good luck at trying to leave the resort grounds! While I was here, I had the opportunity to take a traditional Thai Boxing class. Let me tell you, it is quite the workout especially in the heat and humidity. A more laid back activity? Rice planting. Well, it’s not all that laid back. It is actually A LOT of work! Again, in the heat and humidity but this time you are covered head to toe, in knee deep water, sticking your hands into the unknown that is murky water to plant rice. Now for an activity that really is relaxing: sit poolside until the sun goes down.
I love Chiang Mai because it is so different from the rest of the country. It is mountainous and filled with lush, vibrant jungles. If it’s the picturesque beach vacation you’re looking for, head to this post because you won’t find any beaches here!
What is a trip to Thailand without elephants? Not any trip to Thailand that I want to be on! Take it from me, this is something that needs to be researched prior to deciding which sanctuary to go to. As soon as you make it into the mountains of Chiang Mai, you’ll find elephants are more popular than cars. My first elephant sighting was one I will never forget. Not because they are my favorite animal but because of what the elephant was carrying. A heavy, oversized basket with two tourists and a tour guide (presumably). This is not the way to do it folks. You’ll want to find a sanctuary that both respects and cares for the elephants. Elephants are not meant to be kept in captivity- they are meant to roam free. However, there are exceptions. When the elephants have been in wrongful captivity for so long that if they were to be released into the wild they could not care for themselves. Enter Water Runner & Bobby’s Elephant Home. The elephants here have been rescued from unjust working conditions and are given a much better life. With sprawling grasslands, a river and lush forest this environment allows for the elephants to roam freely in a place that feels as close to their natural habitat as possible.
I know, you are probably wondering: can I ride the elephants? The short answer is yes. While riding elephants is a highly controversial topic, need I remind you that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But for the love people DO YOUR RESEARCH before visiting an elephant home. I would visit Water Runner & Bobby’s Elephant Home a million more times. I wholeheartedly believe in their mission and their ethical treatment of these friendly giants.
Take a trip to Doi Inthanon National Park
Chances are, if you Google Thailand this place will show up as a top search result. All the more reason to visit! Doi Inthanon is the highest peak in Thailand, making the views that much more spectacular. Temples, discovering waterfalls, and hiking through lush forests are just a few of the main attractions in the park.
Getting here from Chiang Mai is fairly easy. That is, if your driver knows where he/she is going! The drive will last anywhere from 2-3 hours depending on the amount of times you stop, weather conditions and traffic. Upon entry, it is 300 Baht for foreigners. Like I said, the drive to the top is a scenic one with many pull off points. But we were in it to win it. And by that I mean be at the temple for sunset (which we almost missed due to driver error). But we made it nonetheless!
Once you’ve made it to the top, the views of Thailand are endless. Sprawling mountains glittered with sunlight.
A must-do. The temples of Thailand are simply beautiful. When I visited, this was my first time experiencing a temple. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect wandering the grounds of the different temples would feel so fulfilling.
Wat Phra Singh
I was only in Chiang Mai for three days. I know, I know, that is not enough time! However, what I saw of this ancient location was absolutely incredible. Have you been to Chiang Mai? What spots did you visit that I missed!? I’m thinking it’s time to head back over to this side of the world!