For my last weekend in Thailand, Matt and I ventured to Chiang Mai. It was his first time, my fourth, and I still couldn’t get enough. This is one of my most favourite places in Thailand. The air is fresh, the people are kind and there is always something new to see or do.
My favourite guest house is called Yindee Stylish Guest House, which is located in the Old City. The location is great and the owner Jazz is such a kind, helpful man. Here is the contact information: http://yindee-guesthouse-chiangmai.com/.
We spent our first day roaming around Old City (failing to follow a map and feeling lost the entire time). We wandered around the markets and used book stores, had one too many fruit smoothies, admired many of the golden temples and stopped for a few refreshing Chang beers.
Since we were tight for time, we decided to hire a driver on the second day to take us to several places outside of the city center. We went bamboo rafting, to a Long Neck village (which I strongly suggest avoiding), to Tiger Kingdom and shopping for Thai silk.
Throughout the year I traveled to Chiang Mai several times without visiting the Karen villages, in fears of it feeling like a ‘human zoo.’ With great hesitation, we were convinced to stop briefly at a village (or should I say tourist trap?) just outside of Tiger Kingdom. It was exactly as I had imagined and we immediately regretted the decision. The children were begging (and very clearly encouraged to do so) and the women were only interested in conversing with us to sell their crafts.I would say it was the farthest thing from an authentic cultural experience and would strongly encourage travelers in Thailand to skip these types of villages (especially if you aren’t informed about it).
Next we went to the Tiger Kingdom, which I was also hesitant about at first. Friends from school had been before, loved it and assured me that the tigers weren’t sedated. We read reviews on tripadvisor.com and decided to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised at how incredible the experience was! The tigers seemed to be happy, healthy, fully awake and treated well. Check it out: http://www.tigerkingdom.com/Home.htm.
Then we went shopping for silk! Who knew there would be so many choices. I think Lee liked her birthday gift from Matt!
Another incredible trip to Chiang Mai.. and I can’t wait to go back again!