Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Chilling in Chiang Mai

To continue our Thailand adventure we took a cheap, quick and easy flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with Air Asia and then took a really short 15 mins taxi ride to our hotel of choice Shangri La. On arrival we paid a small fee to upgrade to the club benefits, which were so worth it. There were buffet and A La Carte breakfast options including my all time favorite waffles as well as pancakes, french toast, Eggs Benedict, Full English, omelette, Thai options etc etc. Then from 5:30-7:30pm there were alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine, a cocktail of the day and also nibbles and canapes on offer, which we thoroughly made the most of each evening and barely needed a dinner.

The rooms were beautiful and clean with a large bed and a lovely bathroom with a soaking tub and separate shower. They had prepared a honeymoon welcome on the bed, rose petals in a filled bath tub and a lovely bottle of chilled white wine as a surprise. I also enjoyed the L'Occitane bathroom products! We had English movie channels, which was nice for later in the evening and a gorgeous mountain view for incredible sunsets. The only downside is most rooms do not have balconies. The pool area at this hotel is large and relaxing. You cannot smoke by the pool, which I personally think is a big win. There is also wifi throughout the hotel, which is quick and free.

On our first evening here we came out of our hotel, turned right and took a 5 mins stroll to the massive night market. The market is full of fakes and trinkets as well as street entertainment and a huge variety of food. As an FYI a freshly cooked and delicious Pad Thai was being sold for 95p! You cannot really beat a 95p meal! The market is well worth an evening visit and you could spend hours getting lost here, have a spa treatment, a fish pedicure or relax in one of the bars on offer. We bought some really cheap sunglasses for our trip to protect our more expensive ones from being ruined during some of our activities! Be prepared to negotiate for goods though and the haggling becomes part of the fun.

It was an early rise the following morning to head to The Patara Elephant Farm. We were collected in a 4x4 and driven about 45 mins to the farm. On arrival you mingle immediately with roaming elephants! It does take a little while to get used to these giants but you soon realize they are friendly and used to people! We then had an informative group discussion and lecture from one of the managers before being split into smaller groups and meeting our individual elephant. We learnt about their health and spent time feeding them and checking them over before giving them a good brush down and walking them into the waterfall where we changed into bathing suits and got stuck into giving the elephants a good scrub! You do get a chance to shower off a little upstream afterwards so get stuck in. Next up was an hour of bare back riding through the jungle topped off with a buffet lunch. Before leaving we were given the chance to meet the baby elephants including the youngest who was six weeks old. This day was the highlight of our Honeymoon and an incredible and unique experience. The elephants are well looked after and the staff are doing an amazing job. If you love elephants please take this trip, you will have no regrets and will receive a DVD of all your images from the day to take home with you.

After a relaxing evening with a very spicy room service curry we were refreshed and ready for a morning half day cooking class with Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. We were collected in a little truck and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the rest of our group. Our instructor Nancy was hilarious and after a quick market tour it was into the kitchen to start the cooking. I have to say, I think the food I made was some of the best I ate in Thailand! We made a noodle dish, I opted for Pad Thai, a curry, which I went for a red chicken curry with pineapple and a soup of which I chose a creamy coconut soup but there were 6-10 choices for each course. The full day guests continued and they made a choice of appetizer and another dish. Each cook will be sent home with a recipe book so you can wow your friends and family back home with your Thai food!

The rest of our afternoon and the following morning were spent relaxing in the bright sunshine beside our gorgeous swimming pool. We did however drag ourselves out for one final dinner in the city. We took a fun, lit up, music blaring tuk tuk to The Riverside, which was a very cute fairy lit restaurant and bar. Make sure you take a table outside by the river and load up on insect repellent. They also do dinner cruises, which looked very special. The food here is good, authentic Thai and the prices are insanely reasonable. This place is ideal in a group or as a romantic meal for two and the views are very peaceful, relaxing and pretty.

We loved our three nights in Chiang Mai and were gutted to leave. I would love to go back one day and try a jungle trek or maybe some white water rafting but I am so pleased we detoured to this area as it's fun, it's beautiful, it's fresh, the food is great and we were spoiled with our hotel and activities.