With over 200 ancient Buddhist temples, Chiang Mai, the former seat of the Lanna kingdom in northern Thailand has managed to preserve its distinctive history and glorious architecture. It’s an invigorating escape from the bustling, well-trodden destinations in the south, perfect for taking in the overflowing sense of calmness that the city embodies.
Characterised by the lush green countryside, sleepy country villages and the warm welcome that Thai people are known for, exploring Chiang Mai is pretty simple. Even when you’re strolling down a backstreet passing by quaint eateries and charming shops, you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in the city’s unique ambience and pace of life.
One of the my favourite experiences was visiting the Elephant Nature Park. In this park, there are 44 elephants, 400 dogs, 100 cats and many water buffaloes, all who have been rescued from trekking camps and out on the streets before being relocated here. It’s an excellent way to educate locals and visitors about the importance of protecting these animals and putting an end to their exploitation.
With nearly 80% of an elephant’s day spent on eating grass, small plants and bushes, it was interesting to learn that they also eat watermelons, pumpkins and zucchinis to help aid their digestion.
At the onset of the hot dry season in February, you’ll find vibrant golden trumpet trees lining the streets.
The city is becoming an increasingly popular hotspot for digital nomads who work remotely, thanks to its mild temperatures, low cost of living and eclectic mix of cultures. We stumbled across a co-working space that was a cafe, a publishing workshop, a tiny office, a meeting space and a bookstore all at the same time.
One of the final spots on my checklist was to visit Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a sacred Buddhist temple that is surrounded by pagodas, statues and shrines. You can even rub one of the religious bells, a sign of good luck to come your way.
Chiang Mai has many connotations tied to its name. Whether you prefer ‘Rose of the North‘ or ‘New City‘, it’s a place where you can truly unwind and put your mind and well-being first.
Writer: Teresa Chen
Photographer: Teresa Chen