Head on Thailand adventure to the popular city of Chiang Mai, and you will be awarded with insight into the country's vibrant and tasty dishes, rich tradition and history, as well as peaceful and tranquil atmosphere where people still live side-by-side with nature. Visit an elephant camp and watch the gentle creatures having a bath in the river, helping people with heavy labor, and playing around with other members of the group. This culinary and culture tour is a short break you can take right now.
Throughout the holiday, you will stay in a 4-star hotel in Chiang Mai, and 3-star hotel in Chiang Rai.
On this day, you will arrive in Chiang Mai and meet a local English-speaking guide before you transfer to the hotel for your check-in. Then, you will drive through Chiang Mai town to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the famous hilltop temple, containing a holy relic of Buddha and is reached by 306 steps, flanked by mythical Nagas balustrade on either side. The panoramic views of city from the temple ground are truly spectacular on a clear day.
Tonight, you will enjoy an evening out by having a traditional khantoke dinner, the customary northern Thai style of eating food, which is served on low tables while you sit on the floor. A spectacular folk dance is performed during the meal and followed by tribal shows after dinner.
This trip takes you to see how trained elephants are used to help in logging industry. Located 56 kilometers north of Chiang Mai on the banks of Ping River, the unspoiled Chiang Dao elephant camp will provide you an opportunity to observe these gentle mammals in their natural habitat taking their daily bath in the river and performing amazing strength and skill at the command of their mahouts.
Then the trip follows with one-and-a-half hour elephant ride through the natural surrounding to the Lisu hilltribe village. After having lunch at a local restaurant, you will continue your journey with bamboo rafting to enjoy the beautiful scenery along Ping River. On the way back to Chiang Mai, a stop will be made at an orchid farm, then you will return to the hotel.
On this day, you will depart from the hotel through the picturesque mountain area with a stop at the hot spring. Then, you will proceed overland to Chiang Rai and visit the magnificent temple of Wat Rong Khun, the white temple. You will check in at the hotel and after lunch, continue your schedule with a Mae Kok boat trip to Karen Ruam Mitr hilltribe village, well-known as the village of elephant mahouts. Tonight, you will stay at the hotel in Chiang Rai.
On this day, you will depart from the hotel to visit the Black House (Bann Dum). You will drive uphill to visit the tea plantation, then, continue the trip to Doi Tung, the site of a major environmental and social - economic development project initiated by Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother of this current King with her teak villa and royal garden. You will drive further north to the bustling border town Mae Sai and have your lunch, which is served at local restaurant. Continue your trip to the Golden Triangle area, where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Burma convene. The stop will be made at the opium museum. Later, you will have a return trip to Chiangmai or transfer to Chiang Rai airport for your next destination.
The culinary and culture tour takes place in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Throughout the tour, you will enjoy local dishes, which are served in charming restaurants. You will also have the chance to have a traditional khantoke dinner, the customary northern Thai style of eating food, which is served on low tables while you sit on the floor.
When you are in Thailand, don't miss some festivals or popular events which take place in the country.
One of the most popular festivals in early November is the Loy Krathong festival. It takes place at a time when the weather is fine as the rainy season is over and there is a high water level all over the country. "Loy" means "to float" and a "krathong" is a lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves. The krathong usually contains a candle, three joss-sticks, some flowers and coins.
In fact, the festival is of Brahmin origin in which people offer thanks to the Goddess of the water. Thus, by moonlight, people light the candles and joss-sticks, make a wish and launch their krathongs on canals, rivers or even small ponds. It is believed that the krathongs carry away sins and bad luck, and the wishes that have been made for the new year due to start. Indeed, it is the time to be joyful and happy as the sufferings are floated away.
The festival starts in the evening when there is a full moon in the sky. People of all walks of life carry their krathongs to the nearby rivers. After lighting candles and joss-sticks and making a wish, they gently place the krathongs on the water and let them drift away till they go out of sight. A beauty queen contest is an important part of the festival and for this occasion it is called The Noppamas Queen contest.
Noppamas is a legendary figure from the Sukhothai period. Old documents refer to her as the chief royal consort of a Sukhothai King named Lithai. Noppamas was said to have made the first decorated krathong to float in the river on the occasion. In Bangkok, major establishments such as leading hotels and amusement parks organize their Loy Krathong festival and the krathong contest as major annual function.
For visitors to Thailand, the Loy Krathong festival is an occasion not to be missed. The festival is listed in the tourist calendar. Everyone is invited to take part and share the joy and happiness.
Songkran is the Thai traditional new year and an occasion for family reunion. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city. The festival falls on April 13 and the annual celebration is held throughout the kingdom.
In fact, songkran is a Thai word which means "move" or "change place" as it is the day when the sum changes its position in the zodiac. It is also known as the water festival as people believe that water will wash away bad luck. This Thai traditional new year begins with early morning merit-making, offering food to Buddhist monks and releasing caged birds to fly freely into the sky. During this auspicious occasion, any animals kept will be set free.
Paying homage to one's ancestors is an important part of the day. People will pay their respects to the elders by pouring scented water over the palms of their hands. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity. In the afternoon, after performing a bathing rite for Buddha images and the monks, the celebrants both young and old, joyfully splash water on each other.
The most-talked about celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang Mai, where Songkran is celebrated from April 13 to 15. During this period, people from all parts of the country flock there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss Songkran contest and the beautiful parades. In Bangkok, the Buddha image "Buddhasihing" is brought out from the National Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang, opposite the Grand Palace.
The unique martial art of Thailand is the well-known Thai boxing or Muay Thai. It is an art of self-defense developed during the Ayutthaya period. In fact, Thai boxing is considered as a sport and a means of self-defense. The contestants are allowed to use almost any part of their body. However, Thai boxing forbids biting, spitting or wrestling. They may punch, kick and shove and use bare feet, legs, knees, elbows, shoulders and fists to overcome their opponents. A vicious kick in the throat, an elbow smash to the eyes or a knee into the stomach can immediately floor the toughest opponent.
Unfortunately, with high incidence of death and physical injury, new regulations based on the international rules have been set for the Thai boxing to follow. For example, each bout is limited to five rounds of three minutes duration with a two-minute break in between. Moreover, the contestants have to wear international-style gloves and trunks and their feet are taped but no shoes are allowed.
Traditionally, before getting into the ring, the boxers will spend about five minutes paying homage to their teachers. This traditional practice is called "wai khru" in Thai. The ceremony is done through a series of gestures and body movements performed in rhythm to the ringside musical accompaniment of Thai oboe and percussion.
Besides the vibrant festivals, Chiang Mai is home to many temples.
This very old monastery in the center of Chiang Mai was built as a royal pavilion by King San Muang Ma, the ninth in direct line from King Mengrai. It is regarded as guiding the life of the city and guarding its fortunes. Every year, there is a big celebration here.
This temple is located on the highway, not very far from the museum. Before entering the Wat, you will pass between two embankments. On the left, was the scene of the cremation of King Tilokarat in 1487. On the right is a ruined Chadi on a platform, a monument to King Tilokarat constraining his ashes. This was built by his grandson and successor, King Yod Chiang Rai in about 1489. The style is that of the great Chedi at Wat Chedi Luang but on a small scale.
This is the first temple built in the city. It was constructed in 1296 by King Mengrai. It has been restored many times, but the style is essentially the same. The entrance is guarded by Burmese style lions. The Viharn contains many Burmese features along with old Thai. There is a veranda across the front with low hanging decorations between the front pillars which differs from the modern Thai style one sees in Bangkok.
The design is one of golden angels and foliage on blue. The gable is one of the old northern Thai panel type, very artistic with touches of gold and red. There also is an intricately carved three-head elephant, Erawan, surmounted by a crown.
This monastery is located outside the city walls at the north end of the Provincial Stadium. The name has two meanings. The sound of the word in the Lao language means ashes (kee tao). The word is the common word used by the town people, not scriptural word referring to ashes or relics of the Buddha. Some people understand it to mean "squash" or "gourd" because the Chedi looks like five gourds (Nam Tao) piled one on top of each other.
Wat Pra Singh is now the number one monastery in Chiang Mai and indeed in the fifth Administrative circle for religious affairs. It is called "the great temple" and it is regular meting place for all the monks for all the monks for administrative purposes.
This temple is one of the ore most shrines in Chiang Mai, if not all Thailand. Doi Sutep is about 3,500 feet above sea level. The building of the road up the mountain was inspired by a monk, Pra Sri Wichai, an abbot of Lampoon who is now venerated as a saint. It was said that his feet never touched the ground but that he walked just above it.
The road was build by the voluntary labor of devote people desiring to make mert. Members of Survey Department gave their permission to survey the road. It was literally dug out of the mountain by and was finished in May 1935, five months and twenty two days. It is now kept in excellent condition by the Roads Department.
The area of this temple was the site of a very old temple called Wat Bupparam. It is one of the most beautiful Buddhas in Thailand and one of the largest metal images in the country. The building, which has recently been repaired, is kept locked. It will be opened on request if the watchman is about.
Please book your flight to arrive at Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX).
"My wife and I have had the opportunity, on three occasions, to travel to various sites around Chiangmai, Chiangrai, and the Golden Triangle with Nong. Visitors to this part of Thailand should have no qualms about booking with Thai Access Tours. Nong speaks impeccable English (and Spanish) and is incredibly knowledgeable about Thai history and all the locations you will wish to visit. She was born, raised and educated in Northern Thailand, but also has a well-honed world view. Don’t try to stump her on football standings, David Beckam’s latest exploits, or the lyrics to your favorite pop tune. Nong is an absolute treasure and I am proud to consider her a friend. In years of travel to some of the most remote corners of the world, I have never met a tour guide that I would rate so highly, and without reservation. If you want a stress free visit to this incredible part of the world, please consider Nong. "
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"We're back in England now after a wonderful trip, and wanted to say thank you again for making our stay in Chiang Mai absolutely fantastic. The hotel Nong booked for us was utterly wonderful, and by far the best we stayed in throughout our whole trip, (so much so we wanted to book the extra night!) and the trips she organized were a real highlight as well. The cookery course was wonderful fun (and excellent value), and the trekking was a really great way to see more of Northern Thailand. What we really appreciate though, is her help in organizing our entire stay, (despite the late arrival of our flight!) and making our visit to beautiful Chiang Mai effortless and memorable. Her hospitality is something money can't buy! Many thanks and we hope to be able to visit you again soon!"
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"This trip was Lisa's first time out of the US. She had done some reading and had several things she wanted to do, an elephant ride, visiting a local food market, cooking school and not spend a huge amount of money. She and I would like to thank you for helping make her trip everything she was looking for and more. We are already thinking about making another trip and hope to work with you on it. Hope to see you soon!"
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"In over 40 years of travelling, Nong is the best tour guide we have ever met. Her planning, courtesy, knowledge, and personal attention were superb. She gave us many options of trips and experiences that permitted us to utilize our four days to the utmost. Her English is flawless. We hope to return to have her show us even more."
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"We booked a package remotely via internet, some 7 or 8 months prior to our arrival, and we were made to feel both individual and confident immediately by the various very rapid responses of Nong to our queries. We booked the four-day Charm of the North trip, and our experiences on this fully justified our expectations. Not only was the administration slick and professional, as it had been all along, we were met at precisely the right time at Chiang Mai airport, by Bam (Benito) very early, as it was the only flight time available. Since we could not book into the hotel for some time, he took us to some wonderful places to visit, and then to lunch before taking us to the hotel and ensuring that we were satisfactorily booked in. The rest of the tour was as described, but considerably exceeded our expectations, largely because of the concern, knowledge, and consideration displayed by Bam. We have had some good tour guides, but in everything he did, he ensured that we were comfortable, always knew what was happening, introduced us to the food (lunches were included and very good they were too), and made sure that everything worked successfully. Right at the end, he even took us to the check in for the flight back. And all this while missing his new year break too! Many thanks to Nong and Bam for a wonderful tour. Only one small criticism was the driver, with whom we traveled, some considerable distances was at times somewhat scary."
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