Thai Adventure Part 2: Chiang Mai and Elephant Adventures
By Jane McLellan
Last updated: 10th April 2013
On my tour of Thailand in the footsteps of the Thai Adventurers, I also visited the charming northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. This was my second visit to this wonderful city and I love it here. It is such a beautiful city and the locals are perhaps the friendliest I’ve met – plus there’s so much to see and do, you’re spoilt for choice!
The first thing I did was to visit our great Chiang Mai guest house which is in a perfect location, close to all the action of this lively Thai city. The accommodation has a lovely swimming pool for the guests to swim in and to chill out by and soak up the sun. I got to meet some of my Thai Adventure customers, who were having such an amazing time and it was really nice to hear all the brilliant things they had seen and done. I met them on their free day in Chiang Mai, which is set aside for the Thai Adventurers to choose their own optional activities. Some of them had been zip lining for some adrenaline action and others had chosen a cultural option and had been to a Thai Cooking class. That night, our guide was going to take them off to explore the famous Chiang Mai night market and, at the group’s request, they were also going to check out the comic but legendary ladyboy show!!
One of the must-see sights in Chiang Mai is to visit the Wat Phra Thai Doi Suthep, the most famous Temple in the area, which stands near the top of Mount Suthep to the north-west of the city. I jumped in a taxi and it seemed to take forever to climb the steep but beautiful hill. The temple is set amongst the peaks of Doi Suthep and has a lovely setting with a panoramic view of Chiang Mai and the Mae Ping River valley.
Although Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the definitive symbol of Chiang Mai. The iconic site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside, and when it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and kneeled down, which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site for a temple. At the top you can take lots of photos of the temple and the stunning surrounding views. Girl travellers, please note: Make sure you cover your shoulders and legs at the temple site as a sign of respect.
The next day I travelled an hour south of Chiang Mai to our incredible Elephant Park. I met with the park manager, a friendly guy called Noom, who talked me through exactly what our customers experience at the Elephant Park. All our customers get to ride an elephant and learn basic commands to make the elephants move forwards, backwards, left and right. It was so much fun! I was given a bag of bananas but my elephant was really greedy and kept asking me for more!
The accommodation offered to our Thai Adventurers during the Elephant Park stay is in a charming rural guest house situated about 20 minutes from the Park. The guesthouse owner is a really lovely lady who becomes like a mum to our entire group during their stay here.One of the highlights for the group on the Thai Adventure is to jump into the river with the elephants and splash around with them. You can help clean them and play around in the water. The elephants absolutely love it and it makes for a great photo opportunity too. The elephants at the Park are all gorgeous and really well looked after and you soon bond with these majestic creatures in this stunning Park environment.
Our experienced staff at the Elephant Park also look after our Thai Adventure customers when they do the two-day trekking activity in a beautiful and rural area of northern Thailand. There are opportunities during the trek to take a dip in gorgeous waterfalls so it important to remember to pack your swimwear! The group stays overnight in a little bamboo hut in a Karen Hill Tribe village which offers a great way to see how the locals live and experience a different side to Thai culture. Another fun activity included in the trekking part of the Thai Adventure is some brilliant bamboo rafting down the river. Check out my pics for a full taste of the amazing Thai Adventure…