Top 5 Chiang Mai Best of the Best

During our four weeks in Chiang Mai, we discovered so many wonderful places and people both in the city and within a few hours drive. Here is our list of the top 5 experiences we had in and around Chiang Mai.

#1 Freedom Yoga

Trent came to Thailand knowing he wanted to do a lot of yoga. Me? Not so sure. I’m intimidated doing yoga back home where I threw out my back while brushing my teeth. Practicing yoga in Thailand seemed like it could be high risk! But this year is a year about conquering fear, and so I decided to give it a try. Also, our priorities on sabbatical are “us, body, and mind,” and yoga ticks all those boxes.

I’m so glad we found Adam and his studio Freedom Yoga! This was the best investment of our time, money and energy in Chiang Mai. At $4 a class (we bought punch cards for a discount) it was a real bargain. Adam and his partner Ning were excellent teachers for us newbies, and by the end I was doing a pretty decent downward dog. Most people were drop ins for a day or two, and many had never done yoga before at all.

We went about every other day for a month (easily exceeding my time doing yoga in my whole life) and combined with healthy Thai food, lots of walking and sweating, I lost about 15 pounds in Chiang Mai. Bonus! I can’t recommend this beautiful little studio enough. Usually it was the best 90 minutes of our day, and we had really good days not withstanding.

#2 Wat Chalermprakiat…Temple in the Clouds

This beautiful temple was a few hours outside of the city through some beautiful mountain valleys in Lampang province. Not only was this our favorite Wat, but it was also a wonderful adventure in driving in Thailand. What a sense of freedom hitting the open road for some fresh country air and being rewarded with these views.

More pictures and details in my full blog post from that outing.

#3 Elephant Nature Park (ENP)

After learning about the exploitation and mistreatment of elephants for the tourism industry in Thailand, we decided to forgo elephant rides and shows to support an elephant sanctuary.

ENP was one of the first such sanctuaries, and lived up to our expectations to have a meaningful experience with elephants in their natural setting, where they live happily together as a herd (75 elephants total). We fell in love with some old granny elephants and some dogs that also call the sanctuary home.

See more pictures and read my full blog post about ENP.

#4 Thai Farm Cooking School

The food in Thailand is simply delicious, and we wanted to learn how to cook some of the signature dishes while learning a little about the culture as well. We chose Thai Farm Cooking because if it’s rural setting on a little farm outside of the city. I highly recommend this activity for anyone visiting Chiang Mai. There are many Cooking schools to choose from in the city. Our second choice was Asia Scenic. I don’t think you can go wrong.

#5 Chilling Out at a Wat

There are hundreds of wats right in and around the Old City, and one of our favorite things was to enter their grounds for a little bit of sanctuary from the bustling city streets. Trent loved to meditate and I just sat in peace or took pictures, gazed at the artwork, or read the words of wisdom posted all around. Each one has its own personality and emotional qualities, and we never tired of them. You can even get a massage at some of them!

Read more about our favorite wats here.

I would love to know what your favorite Chiang Mai activities are in case we go back…

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