20 Apr Chiang Mai – Heart and Soul of Northern Thailand
After three days of intensive lifestyle in a hectic Bangkok, arrival in Chiang Mai was a real treat. As soon as we landed we understood why people say that Northern Thailand has always been a world apart. This part of a country physically and emotionally separates from the rest of Thailand, with a sense of grace and style uniquely its own. It seemed that the next four days will be more relaxed. We were looking forward to our new experiences.
From the very beginning, a very friendly atmosphere together with hospitality was following us during the whole stay. We are thankful for having an opportunity to experience a stay in De Naga hotel which added a special touch to our overall impressions of Chiang Mai.
When you have three full days in Chiang Mai as we did, and you know that you have so many possibilities to do during this time, it might be a bit tough to decide on what you will focus on. Take your time, explore all the options, and ask lots of questions before you buy an excursion. We found it very helpful talking with a receptionist in De Naga hotel who have explained to us exactly what we can expect from each excursion. Anyway, here is an overview of our easygoing and relaxing stay in Chiang Mai.
Walk and cycle around Chiang Mai
I’m sure you will agree with me when I say: if you would like to get the best impressions of any destination the best way is to go for a walk, stop from time to time, and enjoy all the sceneries on the way. Due to our hotel convenient location, during our stay, we combined walking while exploring temples and night markets and cycling to move easier around the town during hot days. In that way, we found some nice places where we could enjoy and soak the beauty around us.
We also enjoyed strolls through night markets which are not to be missed and are perfect for those who love food & shopping.
Cooking class in De Naga Hotel
One day we decided to take a cooking class within De Naga hotel and pick up some practical skills of Thai dishes. The day before we received a list of meals where we could decide what we would like to prepare, and on the day of our cooking class, a lovely chef Toi has taken us to the local market where she introduced us to different ingredients typical for Thailand.
When we came back to the hotel everything was set up in the courtyard and we could start our culinary adventure. For the starter, we’ve chosen deep-fried marinated shrimp patties with plum sauce, and for the main course, red curry roasted duck breast in coconut milk, lychees and sweet basil. The whole experience of cooking Thai food for the first time was exciting, and we were very pleased and happy to learn a new skill.
Doi Inthanon National Park
After one and a half-hour of driving through a beautiful and green landscape, we arrived in a national park on 2.500 meters and were thrilled by the temperature of 17Cº. Doi Inthanon, also known as “The Roof of Thailand” is the highest peak of Thailand. The park is a part of the Himalayan mountain range and a real relief from the heat of the lowlands. During our stay, we’ve been able to enjoy the summit of Doi Inthanon for its spectacular views, Wachirathan Waterfall, the two chedis (stupas) dedicated to the king and queens 60th birthday anniversaries, and amazing gardens.
Royal Agricultural Station was our next stop where we were delighted with all the fresh and tasty food that waited for us. Here it is not only about the food and location which is absolutely stunning, but it is also the story that stands behind a whole Royal Projects which made us thankful for an amazing opportunity we were given.
Doi Inthanon Royal Project
The Doi Inthanon Royal Project has been initiated in February 2009 under the royal command of His Majesty the King Bhumipol (Rama IX) to educate people of the hill tribe in terms of farming and land allocation. They have been encouraged to cultivate cash crops instead of opium, which is illegal, making their living condition improve significantly. In addition, support regarding agricultural careers has been given to Karen and Hmong tribal people in the community. The main agricultural products of this Royal Project are several kinds of cold-climate vegetables and fruits.
The last stop on our excursion was a small Karen hill tribe village, Ban Sop Had where we learned that Karen origins are from Mongolia and have left the country during the period of Genghis Khan as they wanted to move away from military things. Over time they had spread across Asia. Different parts of the tribe took different routes, some into Nepal or India, and others into Myanmar. This explained why the different people, although all Karen, looked different. Today Karens are part of the Royal Projects and their main products are rice, flowers and coffee.
Our stay in Chiang Mai was at the same time active, relaxing, interesting and we learned a lot of new things which we will definitely remember for a lifetime. When I think about destinations where I would like to come back and explore it much more, Northern Thailand is definitely on the top of the list as one of the destinations with the warmest people and an amazing culture.
Photo credits: magic4.club