We sat and listened intently as a wise young man in an orange robe shared with us his the life philosophies of Buddhism. A loud ring abruptly broke the silence. The ring continued as the monk lifted his cell phone out from under his orange robe. The Modern Monk. This moment represented my experience in Chiang Mai in so many ways. A place where past and present co-exist. Where temples and tradition and technology melt together and all live in a present day Thailand. Every single Chiang Mai corner I turned left a lingering taste in my mouth having the opportunity to explore modern day customs and past cultural flavors. Here is a list I’d love to pass along and invite you to experience when you make it to Chiang Mai yourself.

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Spending an entire day in the home of a local is a great way to quickly understand and know local tradition. A fully interactive day, the traveler explores traditional day to day living as four generations actually live off the land together under one roof traditional roof. We spent an entire afternoon learning about their lifestyle, touring their fresh food gardens, and learning traditional Lanna Thai cooking, and of course tasting all of it over an amazing lunch. If you’re looking for a culturally immersive food experience, do not miss having a Chiang Mai Home Host Day with the Ruankaew-Yanon family.

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Prepare to sweat out the spice and burn off everything you’ve eaten on your Thai journey at KC Muay Thai Boxing. Some students come to Thailand for months to train and lose weight, others to practice honing in on the craft, and many, like us, go just for the sweaty experience of trying it out for the first time.

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A great alternative to being bussed around is taking a spin through and around Chiang Mai with Spice Road Cycle Tours where you’ll explore and see much more than just on foot. I loved the freedom and diverse city experience of zipping around as we made our way down quiet backroads stopping at temples and markets, and riding through the bustling city. Spice Road offers a variety of tours from inner city to countryside, and even overnight adventures.

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With so much wildlife in Chiang Mai, it would be a shame if you didn’t immerse yourself in it.
Patara Elephant Farm has a small conservation breading program in addition to the adult elephants they have taken in and rehabilitated. We spent time with a mother, her newborn as soon as we hopped out of the car on arrival before our interactive day began. We spent six hours with our beautiful gentle giants feeding them breakfast, hopping in the water and on top of them to give them a bath and taking them on a short trek to get exercise. The guest is essentially spending a ‘Day In The Life’ of the Mahout – the person who takes care of their elephant.

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If you do eventually feel like you’ve had too much Thai food and want to try another type of cuisine, make your way down Ninth Street, also known as ‘coffee street’, to Akyra Manor and eat at their restaurant ITALICS.

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An artisanal menu of locally grown ingredients, every single thing that we tasted on their brilliant menu during our stay was unbelievable. Once you’ve eaten too much you should just stay the night. The beautiful boutique all-suite rooms each have an open air bathtub and separate living room. The rooftop see-through infinity pool boasts great views and is a photo worthy souvenir of yourself lapping in it. After dark, the Rise Bar on the rooftop comes alive with perfectly poured cocktails.

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Night markets always make my list. Chiang Mai especially. We tried everything under the moon – do not skip the Green Mangoes & Shrimp Paste (Mamuang Nampla Wan) and Deep-Fried Sweet Potato Balls (Khanom Kai Tao). Before you leave and after you’ve eaten, add getting a cheap massage to your list. You can’t beat a 30 minutes for $8 USD.

Ahhhh Chiang Mai. I hope we meet again someday real soon.

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Thank you Thailand Insider for hosting me on this adventure.