24 Unforgettable Things to do in Thailand || Chiang Mai | Pai | Islands

1. Spend a day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

“An elephant never forgets.” Elephants are the most incredible mammals on Earth. They are exceptionally smart and their brains contain the same amount of neurons as a human brain. On this day, we were driven about an hour of Chiang Mai to one of nine sanctuary camps through a program called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. During the 8 hours I was there, we were able to feed the elephants, give them mud bathes and were even given an incredible traditional Thai meal. The guides and residents at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai, were welcoming and informational. The elephants were treated nicely and the relationship between the people and the elephants was beautiful. I went on this adventure by myself and would highly recommend taking the trip solo. I made a few foreign friends that I learned a lot about within those 8 hours. During these 8 hours, I got to experience what it was like to live among the elephants. A truly magical and humbling experience.

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2. Receive a Sak Yant at Sak Yant Chiang Mai

“A sacred geometrical design to provide powers of protection and various blessings through Buddhist psalms and magical formulas.” I received my Sak Yant at Sak Yant Chiang Mai. Sak Yant Chiang Mai offers many services including going to a temple and having your tattoo given there. However, I chose to have mine done at the shop. I walked into the tattoo shop and was given several tattoo books to chose what I wanted to receive. With a Sak Yant, you are more then welcome to tell the Ajarn or Monk your intention for receiving the Sak Yant and in return, he will changed some of the geometrical designs to match your intention. There were many spiritual rituals involved in this process. I was given offerings to give to the monk once I entered the sacred room. I bowed three times, one for monks, one for Buddhism and one for Buddha. During the process, the monk chanted in his language to bless the Sak Yant and hold its powers true. A very spiritual event that I would recommend experiencing. If you aren’t fond of the idea of a tattoo, going with a friend who is receiving a Sak Yant is still an incredible experience.

 

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3. Longtail Boat and Snorkel on Koh Phi Phi

Once you arrive at the island of Koh Phi Phi, you will be greeted by friendly smiles from the locals. There are many longtail boat owners that are around. Make sure to compare prices before choosing which boat to take. If traveling during monsoon season, get second opinions from several boat owners around the island to make sure the water is safe to swim in. The boat owners are more than happy to take you and a group of friends away from the shore to where the turquoise, clear water is calm & captivating.

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4. Climb Tonsai Tower in Koh Phi Phi

This is a once and a lifetime experience! The breathtaking views of the island, the sunset and the where the water meets the shore make this all worthwhile. Tonsai Towers is a popular climbing spot on Koh Phi Phi island. Many climbing programs

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5. Get an Air BnB for a night in Krabi

Going to Thailand with a group of friends?  Enjoy the cute little beach town for a night by renting an air bnb and throwing a party! Take a red truck down to the ocean, play in the warm waves and shop at the local markets!

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6. Stay at Circus Hostel in Pai

This hippie hostel is located right in the heart of Pai. Walking distance from night markets and cute cafes this is the perfect hostel to spend a weekend in. With tons of activities from yoga, swimming and laying around in a hammock, this hippie hostel is perfect for those looking to meet fellow travelers and relax for hours.

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7. Climb Sticky Waterfalls in Chiang Mai

Not on most travel lists, Sticky Waterfalls is a magical gem hidden away in the hills of Chiang Mai. The reason they are called sticky waterfalls is that, unlike most waterfalls, you can climb up and down the cascade without falling. Let the falls flow over you and take a moment to refresh at Sticky Waterfalls.

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8. Slide down Mo Paeng waterfalls in Pai

Just a short hike to the top, grab your swimsuits and slide down Mo Paeng waterfalls. Located in the lush green hills of Pai, these waterfalls have a breathtaking mountainous view with multiple swimming pools, hiking trails and waterfalls.

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9. Homestay at a Hilltribe

Live amongst the tribes of Thailand and learn the culture of the Thai who live amid the villages. Trek through the Maetang District and indulge in a culture completely different than your own. Being able to live in an environment without electricity, gas, or cold water for a few days was truly humbling. This trekking trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my six weeks in Thailand.

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10. Attend a Monkchat in the old city of Chiang Mai

Learn the ways and traditions of the monks in Chiang Mai by having a conversation with them. In a previous post, I wrote about the eye-opening and relatable discussions I had at Monkchat Meditation Retreat in Chiang Mai. I was able to spend the day learning about Buddhist beliefs, the wisdom of the monks and the aspirations these young minds withheld.

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11. Indulge in Thai culture at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

Take a red truck or hike up to Doi Suthep via the monk trail, this phenomenal temple, atop the hills of Chiang Mai is worth the trip. The serenity of those coming to the temple as tourists, monks, locals and Buddhists brings community and respect to all visitors at Doi Suthep.

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12. Rent a motorbike and drive to the White Buddha in Pai

The White Buddha is a signature in Pai, Thailand. Drive the windy roads to the base of the temple then walk up 353 steps to overlook the lush green city of Pai. Enjoy a breathtaking sunset or admire the serenity at the top of Wat Phra That Mae Yen.

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13. Grab a trendy breakfast at Rustic & Blue in Chiang Mai

Rustic & Blue is one of the trendiest and most appetizing cafes in Chiang Mai. Not only are the meals and drinks delicious, but the presentation of them makes your mouth water before taking the first bite. The menu has a variety of options to choose from and I can assure you that you cannot go wrong with any choice. Each item is delicately prepared and presented to match the theme of the chic Farm Shop. Rustic & Blue was one of my favorite restaurants to eat at during my trip abroad. This cafe will steal your heart and your appetite.

 

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14. Spend a Morning with Monks in Chiang Mai

Spending a morning with the monks was the greatest way to indulge in the culture of Buddhism. The day before, we were told to purchase food items and drinks to offer to the monks the following morning. We arrived at the temple early in the morning and were given a run down of the alm collecting process. It was an extraordinary experience being able to partake in a ritual that is sacred to Buddhists in Chiang Mai. I highly recommend participating in presenting alms to monks during your visit to Thailand. Make sure that you find a reliable, local place that will teach you how to respectfully give your alms.

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16. Watch a Ladyboy Show at Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar

This is one of the most entertaining ways to indulge in a little bit of Thailand’s culture! The show was hilarious, engaging and amusing for those who are looking for a burlesque vibe during a night out in Chiang Mai. The performers were talented, well costumed and energetic. This was a great experience & one I would do again.

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17. Drink a Mango Smoothie at Basecamp Chiang Mai

This friendly cafe thrives on adventure and aims to help locals conquer the world “Live Adventurously, but Coffee First” is their motto. They sell outdoor gear, sustainable items & delicious food dishes. This cute cafe is the perfect place to spend your day writing, doing homework, blogging & more. The staff is welcoming and helpful and the smoothies are to die for!

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18. Take a trip to Spirit Bar in Pai

This trippy, little bar located in Pai, Thailand is the ultimate hippies hang out where you can enjoy live music as well as some drinks at the bar. The vibe of this place is chill, warm, welcoming and pleasurable. It’s a young crowd and a great place to meet fellow travelers!

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19. Enjoy the view at I love you, Pai Cafe

This cafe has a breathtaking view at the top of a hill in Pai, Thailand. The menu offers trendy, tasty options that you can enjoy in the elevated patio chairs overlooking the lush green jungles of Pai, Thailand.

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20. Enjoy a meal at Musashi Sushi Bar in Chiang Mai

As a sushi fanatic, it was quite exciting to be able to find a delicious sushi bar in Thailand. Most American sushi is quite pricey, but the low cost and high quality of the sushi at Musashi Sushi Bar started my addiction while abroad. I ate here a few times during my stay in Chiang Mai and the staff eventually came to know me as a regular (when one of them asked me why I only ordered one miso soup when I typically order two haha). Musashi Sushi Bar had many vegan, vegetarian and regular options that all customers could enjoy.

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21. Then get some coconut ice cream at Coco Corner

Coco Corner in Chiang Mai had the comfiest atmosphere! The inside was decorated nicely and the presentation of the shop was clean and unlike any other in Chiang Mai. To top it off, the desserts offered (coconut based) were appetizing and flavorful! (vegan friendly)

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22. Listen to live music at Chao Koh Restaurant in Koh Phi Phi

Spend your nights in Koh Phi Phi listening to live music at Chao Koh Restaurant. The two singers that perform at this restaurant on the water are friendly, engaging and incredible! Their voices and musical talent will send shivers down your spine and leave you wondering why they are not signed to a record label. Their performance and knowledge of modern songs will leave you speechless.

 

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23. Have a drink at TreeHouse Bar in Koh Phi Phi

This young, hip bar located on the island of Koh Phi Phi was the greatest hangout spot for fellow travelers and locals to get to know each other. Buy some funky cigarettes or tickets to the moon, at the bar, for an enjoyable time on the island.

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24. Get a haircut at New York New York hair studio in Chiang Mai.

Feeling the need to style your hair while abroad, this hair salon had the best stylists! It may seem a little out of the ordinary to trust someone in a foreign country with your hair but I can assure you, New York New York hair studio knows what they’re doing. I got a full style & cut for around $20 USD including a pre-cut massage and hot tea. The staff is friendly, understanding and comforting through the process. One of the best haircuts I’ve ever received!

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Traveling to Thailand was the most incredible traveling experience I have ever fully indulged myself in. I hope as you embark on your journey to Thailand, that it will be as unforgettable and transformational as it was for me. Make this journey memorable & feel free to contact me with any questions through instagram @zealousmind or email: thezealousmindblog@gmail.com.

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