One of my life goals has always been to visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Elephants are widely used for tourism throughout the country but, sadly, they are not always treated properly. We saw many places throughout southern Thailand offering elephant rides but we avoided these (I learned that riding elephants can hurt their backs – despite their size, they actually cannot handle large weights on their back) and opted to visit a sanctuary instead. After driving hours through the city and then the jungle, we arrived at the sanctuary. Immediately, I was overwhelmed with love for these gentle and playful giants. The small sanctuary had four elephants (one mother and baby!) and we started off by feeding them a breakfast of pumpkin (ps found out that Thai pumpkin is totally different than American pumpkin) and sugar cane. I was totally surprised by how smart and bold they were – they used their trunks to search in my purse pouch for more food… Sneaky but adorable! After breakfast, we walked them down to the river for a bath and swim. Swimming with the elephants was such an unbelievable experience and something I will never forget!
Chiang Mai is filled with ancient temples (“wats”) – there is almost one on every corner! We visited at least ten – I was so surprised by how ornately decorated they were and how different each one was from the next.
The center of Chiang Mai is the Old City and is surrounded by a canal and sections of the old city walls.
The Sunday Night Market was one of my favorite things to do in Chiang Mai. I loved all the vendors selling handmade and unique items (jewelry, purses, you name it!). The items at this market were much better than others we had seen elsewhere in Thailand which were much more touristy.
We loved our hotel in Chiang Mai, the BB Mantra. It was a little oasis in the city and had the perfect location with restaurants, shops and sights close by.
Next stop after Chiang Mai: Bangkok and Koh Chang! Stay tuned for more from Thailand coming soon.