We had 4 nights in Chiang Mai at the end of March with our two daughters aged 11 and 16. We then travelled to phuket for 12 nights and all of us decided that Chiang Mai was our favourite place and we should have had more days here (as much as we love the water also). This was my husband and my second trip to Chiang Mai but a first in Thailand for the girls.
We stayed at the Baan Orapin (thanks trip advisor forums) and loved it. Opas picked us up after an epic trip from Eden, Australia. All exhausted we arrived and fell in to bed. Opas had organised a taxi for us the next morning and so we were promptly picked up by Seth (sp?) and he was fantastic. We went to The umbrella village, Silkworm and pottery places and then to the Tiger Kingdom and Doi Suthep. We all loved the whole day but the highlight for the girls was playing with the 7 month old tiger cubs. We found this place to be clean and the animals appeared to be very well cared for. That night we went for massages and dinner at the night market area. we ate at one of the little cafe places all in a row and had a fantastic meal. The girls were beside themselves with the shopping and exhausted even the best of shoppers (me!).
Following day I had booked a trip with Siphon and pretty well made my own itinerary. I was expecting for there to be just us on this trip and was suprised to find two more on the bus. This worked out Ok as they were a great couple but for the money I had paid I did expect a private tour.
Siphon was good, I wouldnt rave about him personally but the trip he took us on was brilliant. Peter and I had previously done a trip just booked in an agency for about $30 each and this was so, so much better. we paid nearly $300AUD for 4 of us so quite a difference in price.
We went to Doi Inthanon National Park, on the way we stopped at local markets, went bamboo rafting and elephant riding. The rafting was great fun, the water clear and clean ( our previous trip the water was awful, smelly and gross) ( a different part of Chiang Mai tho ) and the locals on the side of the river also enjoyed getting us wet. The elephant riding was a bit disappointing but the girls enjoyed the experience. It is such a rough ride and the area was hilly, we spent all our time trying to stay on the elephant.
On to Doi Inthanon, the twin pagodas and gardens were breathtaking, then we 'trekked' down throgh waterfalls and beautiful scenery to a village. It was an easy 1 and a half hour walk, pretty much all down hill so no whingieng from the kids.
The village was great, an authentic working village, not like the previous fake one we had been taken to,we had freshly grown and ground coffee here and chatted to the locals. With Siphons help of course. We watched the sunset over the hills here, it was lovely
Back in the bus and as it was on dark, we quickly visited another waterfall and headed home. It was a long day, but was so enjoyable. We really felt that we had seen some real Thailand. (this was my fourth trip). Skipped dinner, we were exhausted.
Our last day was spent walking around the Moat area and just joy riding in tuk tuks. The girls loved the tuk tuks. We had lunch at the Riverside restaurant, food was ok but the service was appalling.We also went to Saturday Walking markets (we were leaving Sunday morning and would miss the sunday ones) These were the best markets I have been to. The Sunday ones must be brilliant. We bought so much stuff, Peter was having heart failure.
Dinner was at the markets again, back to the same little place. Great food.
Sunday morning while Peter packed I walked over to the Woratot (sp?) markets and had a browse. This was fun but I was seriously worried about getting lost and not finding my way back in time to get to the airport. It is an ongoing maze over a couple of blocks.
Then, sadly, off to the Airport. Chiang Mai, you havn't seen the last of us.