1. Watch a Muay Thai fight
An essential experience for any visit to Thailand is to watch the National Sport of Muay Thai in action. There are gyms and stadiums all over the country, including many in Chiang Mai, that allow visitors to watch.
Some smaller gyms will allow people to simply be onlookers as their fighters train and spar. Whereas, larger gyms and dedicated Muay Thai boxing stadiums will put on specific fight nights designed to draw a large crowd – these are usually ticketed events but rarely sell out.
2. Browse the Night Markets
One of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai is to wander around the various night markets on offer. The most famous of these is the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar – a great place to spend any and every night in the city!
Located on Changklan Road, the night bazaar is open every night from 6pm until late. Along the main street you’ll find clothes, jewellery, artwork, fashion items, technology and more. Branching out along the smaller streets are plenty of food and refreshment stalls to keep everyone happy.
3. Take a Thai cookery class
In my opinion, one of the jewels of Thailand is its food. Healthy, fragrant and flavoursome – it’s loved by many across the world. In Chiang Mai you can take a cooking class to learn how to make these delicious dishes.
Usually lasting for a full afternoon, these cookery classes teach you how to make the Thai dishes of your choice. Highlights include making your own fresh curry paste using a pestle & mortar, then searing meat in a flaming pan! After learning, you get to implement your new skills and finally sample the finished product – the more you learned, the tastier it will be!
4. Volunteer with elephants
There are heaps of different volunteering with elephant programmes across Thailand. Chiang Mai in particular is one of the best places to find ethical conservation parks; you can wash, feed and care for these magnificent creatures in the middle of the jungle.
Despite being branded as voluntary projects, you do in fact have to pay to participate in this type of project as they’re incredibly popular. You can choose to spend anywhere between half a day (fairly observation based) to a few weeks (more hands on) volunteering with elephants.
One programme that I can wholeheartedly endorse – as I visited myself – is called Elephant Nature Park (ENP). Recently they have some new conservation projects in different parts of Chiang Mai. However, the most popular remains the week-long experience where you live and volunteer at their original nature park.
Before you participate in any volunteering with elephants programme, there are some things that you should know. I wrote about these in the following article: Should I volunteer with Elephants? It also goes into more depth about what to expect at ENP.