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Authentic Chiang Mai | Hilltribe Adventure, Reminiscing The Old City

Authentic Chiang Mai

 

Why Chiang Mai?

The weather in Thailand starts to get chilly after the rainy season. The best time to experience the fresh crisp air without the scorching heat and humidity in Chiang Mai is from November to February.

Chiang Mai has always been one of our bucket list of destinations to visit. Beloved by temple spotters, coffee connoisseurs, cultural geeks and nature seekers, Authentic Chiang Mai is a rich melting pot of different cultures traced back to its early Lanna Kingdom roots when it was once independent.

So if you are seeking out authentic and adventurous travel experiences that are also children friendly – Read On!

 

Mae Taeng – Indigenous Hill Tribe Adventure

Our first stop in Chiang Mai was Mae Taeng at a traditional lodge. The lodge is a community-based learning center set to create awareness for and to preserve the cultural heritage of the indigenous tribes. Originally from Southern Tibet, they had migrated to escape turmoil from home and eventually calling Northern Thailand their new home.

The learning center’s private compound overlooks the lush green fields stretching out to the mist-shrouded mountains. Built in traditional hill-tribe style with straw thatched roofs and supported by bamboo pillars, the interiors were embellished with woven rattan floorings, teak wood windows and doors fitted with rustic latches. The entire architecture was a gleaming display of brightly hued furnishings, reflecting the traditional styles of hill tribe homes.

At the learning center, we had the opportunity to participate in an exclusive village walk curated by the learning center. We were accompanied by a local guide who personally brought us around the entire village. We got to see up-close and personal and experience the hill tribe villagers’ way of life, traditions and caught a glimpse of their beliefs in Animism.

A wide variety of adventure and cultural experience activities were also available within the vicinity. We tried out a 3 hours mountain trekking with our young kids led by a local village guide, bamboo rafting on gentle white waters and ox cart ride during our 1-week stay in Chiangmai.

The entire experience was truly an eye-opener. It was a pleasure for us and our young children to be able to see and to experience a different culture this close. The place felt out of this world to us and we were deeply inspired by their will to persevere and to preserve their indigenous identity, heritage and endured traditions. Monies paid towards activities led by the local villagers contribute as part of their livelihood. While we reminisce in the unearthly beauty and enduring traditions of the hill tribe ethnic minority, we continue to soak up the northern spirits in our next destination….

 

Chiang Mai Old City

As we bided farewell to the indigenous tribal village in Mae Taeng, we descended from the mountains in a local Songthaew, riding through the long winding road heading towards the Old City of Chiang Mai to discover more.

The history of Chiang Mai can be traced back as far as 700 years ago and is one of Thailand’s most historical city. The Kingdom of Lanna used to cover most part of northern Thailand and was a thriving state way before the rise of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai which would eventually consolidate to form part of today’s Thailand.

Hence it is no wonder that stepping into Chiang Mai old city almost evokes a feeling of nostalgic old charm. There is obviously a lot of character in this city from gorgeous traditional temples, budding local artistes and bustling local markets trading local fresh food produce. Chiang Mai, renowned for its tantalizing northern Thailand cuisine and prevalent coffee culture spanning across the entire city is definitely another compelling draw.

 

Exploring the vicinity of the Old City

The best way to explore Chiang Mai Old City is to stroll wondrously and discover the city at your own pace. From city landmarks, cultural museums, local food stalls and the numerous glittering Wats (Traditional Thai Temples) that dotted the old city. The best time to embark on a temple hunt is nearing sunset. The temperature drops, gets cooler and when the lights are lit up, everything else transforms and glimmers in togetherness with the golden plated stupas. The Buddhist chants echoing through the hallway of the temple at this time of the day makes the whole experience all the more enchanting and mesmerizing. Got tired from all the walking? Simply hop onto a local tuk-tuk, by far one of the best highlights for the little ones and us!

 

Doi Suthep/ Doi Inthanon

In contrary to what most people feel, I am relatively lukewarm about Doi Suthep. The sacred site is a 45 minutes drive away from where we were putting up, and therefore was an obvious choice to explore due to its proximity. We did what most tourists did. Ascended the 300 over stone steps graced by carved water serpents on both sides of the stairways. We witnessed the magnificent golden temples at the summit but like every other day, it was cloudy and the view did not look spectacular as what I had expected. We also missed a great trekking opportunity down the mountain as we were not aware of its existence. There were no road signs or any other indications around that point us to the trekking site.  I would like to think that perhaps Doi Inthanon might be a more interesting site to explore the next trip.

 

Local Market, Fresh Produce at Talat Warorot

One other prominent highlight for us was the local market at Talat Warorot Head there early morning like a 8am and be ready to witness the sheer abundance of exotic and tantalizing local Thai food stalls. From poultries dangling from hooks, skinned and dripping with sizzling grease to live frogs to freshly harvested strawberries! We could not resist grabbing a kilogram of fresh strawberries before heading back home. The smaller ones tend to be a lot sweeter and juicier than the bigger ones. So bear that little tip in mind if you happen to be in Chiang Mai.

 

Summary

We are glad to have seen and experienced Chiang Mai in our own unusual way with our 2 young children. The pace was comfortable and yet filled with unique local experience. It was important for us to expose our children to different culture and way of life to expand their horizons. Definitely an inspiring planned trip in which both adults and children had a great time.

 

Remark- This travel story is contributed by www.fleemeatrip.com, one-stop destination travel platform for all authentic things in Thailand
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