You’ve partied under the full moon in Koh Phangan and have treated yourself to a life time amount of coconut oil massages, but it’s time to venture off into the less trampled pockets of rural Thailand and get a real feel of what the country has to offer outside of the tourism based destinations. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t too much more that I enjoy than lounging out on a sun bed drinking strong cocktails at sundown, but there is much more to this pristine paradise if you are willing to swap your bikini’s in for a set of hiking boots.
Beginning in the home of street markets and friendly locals, Chiang Mai has earned itself an excellent reputation over the last decade. Centred in the heart of Northern Thailand, there is so much surrounding this beautiful town that you won’t ever want to leave (hence why I have been there twice) and will always have you begging for more. The best way to get around in Chiang Mai is by push or motor bikes and Songthaews which are massive red trucks that can carry up to about 12 people with luggage racks on top of the roof to hold luggage, or in some cases, people (guilty as charged, sorry Mum). Try and plan to be in Chiang Mai on a Sunday as they have excellent walking street markets which run for kilometres up the main street. Both times I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete the entire markets, but it’s a job impossible.
From here, day trips to Chiang Rai and The Golden Triangle are a must. You can even hop on over to Myanmar or Laos and check out some of the markets for a few hours. In Chiang Rai you will be exposed to some of the most exquisite temples I have ever witnessed, that being Wat Rong Khun, commonly known as the White Temple and Baan Dam, the Black temple. Both are incomparable to each other, but are so different and really must be seen to experience the true beauty. Photographs simply don’t do it justice. If you aren’t a big fan of scooters or motorbikes there are many tour agencies that do day trips to Chiang Rai for very reasonable prices, so don’t put it off because of the extra travel.
Pai. Pai. Pai. One of my favourite places in the whole world. It is such a sacred spot that isn’t spoiled by bulk selfie stick holding tourists; just good vibes, relaxed days and nights spent drinking by the river. Pai is a 3 hour drive north west of Chiang Mai. In order to get here, you either have to take on one of the craziest mini-van rides or hire out some motorbikes and get to a bit of D.I.Y. It is a lengthy uphill trip so make sure if you are doing it yourself that the bike is in good knick before starting off. Pai is the best spot to just wind down, chill out and be surrounded by genuinely great people. Hell, you can even float down the river with a beer in your hand at sunset. What more could you want? I will pop up an article about where I stayed and some great little things to do in the magical land of Pai.
But for now, it’s time for you to check out flights to Northern Thailand and get some wanderlust flowing. Don’t worry, Northern Thailand will not break the bank, it will just provide you with some of the greatest adventures that will wish you having them last a life time.