What should you do if equipped with just ten days in Thailand? Instead of turning the trip into a frenzied race to see all the most important spots with what little time we had, my favorite travel companion and I decided to pick just one town in the north and south of the country to spend more time in. The result was a lot more relaxing, in-depth, and enjoyable than burning ourselves out and spending more time than we wanted on just getting to different places.
The first stop? Chiang Mai, of course!
Chiang Mai is the rich cultural city in the north of Thailand, famous for its temples.
We stayed at the cutest guesthouse just a few minutes out of the old city called Plern Plern Bed and Bike. True to its name, there are bikes that you can take for a spin around town for free!
Ms. Add, the manager of Plern Plern, was the cutest Thai lady. Every morning she rides her scooter to the market and picks up snacks for everyone to try – here we are with a breakfast of sticky rice treats and tropical fruit!
We checked out the most famous temple (or “wat”) in Chiang Mai, called Wat Chedi Luang, and were lucky to run into a monk procession! They peacefully marched around the building while singing a Buddhist chant.
Of the many food stands around the old city, Pad Thai is an obvious choice for tourists. But really, can you blame me?
You can spend hours just temple hopping in Chiang Mai.
The city is a unique blend of lush greenery, old moat ruins, historic temples, and hopping cafes and massage schools.
One of the days, we signed up for a Thai cooking class at Galangal Cooking School. It was fabulous, and we made so many dishes ranging from Pad See Ew to Tom Kha Gai (pictured) to spring rolls to fresh curry paste! One of my favorite things to do in Chiang Mai.
We spent another day visiting Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, a wonderful no-ride elephant park where we got to feed and play with some very happy elephants!
After feeding the elephants tons (literally) of bananas, we got to give them a mud spa!
After getting good and muddy, we all rinsed off in a nearby river.
We took a group photo getting showered by the elephants!
The ornate detailing of the wats was stunning.
My go-to breakfast in Chiang Mai always included a hot cup of Thai tea and fruit fresh from the market. In this case, water apples, lychee, mangosteen, and rambutan! Oreos optional.
Wat by day!
Wat by night!
If you couldn’t tell, elephants are pretty big in Thailand!
After spending several days in Chiang Mai, it was time to head south to Krabi – Railay Beach, specifically.
Krabi’s most famous beach is called Railay, and it’s known for its beautiful longtail boats that you can take to go island hopping.
The other thing Krabi is known for? Rock climbing. One of the most popular spots with really interesting rock structure was a place called Pranang Cave. Here I am at the top of a pitch!
Pranang Cave was located right next to (you guessed it) Pranang Beach.
You have to come in at low tide or the water levels will start to creep up on you!
Even though we visited during rainy season, the climbing was under some great overhanging rock which protected the wall from the weather.
Tucked into the cave was a shrine dedicated to Phra Nang, goddess of love. I found a teeny wooden painted penis the size of my pinky finger that washed up along the beach (which the water stole from the shrine when it was at high tide, no doubt) that I kept as a memento. Best souvenir ever.
Even though I was a beginner rock climber, there were some great routes to climb with amazing stalactites and stalagmites to grab onto! Highly recommend for anyone looking for an adventure.
Here’s a video with some snapshots of our time in Chiang Mai: