Seven More Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Here’s seven more things to do in Chiang Mai, the small city that reigns as the tourist capital of northern Thailand.

Folllowing on from my previous post Top Seven Things To Do In Chiang Mai, here’s another set of suggestions if you plan to visit the city:

1. Visit the night market

The night market is located near the river, in the area east of the moat. The large official market overflows into the surrounding blocks, with stalls lining the sidewalks and stands set up on every corner. The area is also a center for night life. Mixed in among all the imitation name brands and the cheap souvenirs are some very nice shops with interesting and well made clothing and handicrafts.

2. Get painted in Bo Sang

Bo Sang is known as the umbrella village. Paper umbrellas of all sizes and colors are hand painted in an outdoor ’factory’ while you watch. The umbrellas, constructed of bamboo and waterproofed paper, come in both Thai and Chinese styles.

The women who paint the umbrellas will also enhance any paintable item you bring along. With a few swift strokes, my small red canvas bag acquired a few flowers. Another woman had posies added to the toes of her white canvas sneakers. Guesthouses offer tours, or you can reach Bo Sang on a local bus.

3. Compare wats

With another wat always just across the street or around the corner, it‘s easy to assume they will all be the same. They aren’t. You should at least visit the major wats, and look for the things that are different. At Wat Phra Singh, you might see visitors pulling on a rope, earning merit by using a pulley arrangement to pour holy water on the top of a large chedi. Phra Singh also contains a large reclining Buddha. Wat U Mong, the forest wat, with its tunnels and sayings posted on trees, lies outside the moat, near Chiang Mai University. Wat Suan Dok, outside the city, has a different look, with a large open hall, a field of white chedis, and a host of student monks..

4. Take a massage class

When you meet someone who is staying in Chiang Mai longer than about a week, it’s frequently because they are doing a massage course. If you have the time and the interest, you can take a full certificate program. Otherwise there are short introductory courses available.

5. See the real Muay Thai (not show)

Thai boxing, or muoi Thai, is promoted all over town, generally with signs that say something like “Real Muoi Thai” and “Not Show” in an attempt to differentiate competitive Thai boxing from the demonstration shows that are staged for tourists.

You can also study muoi Thai. A few westerners have done well enough to compete professionally. If you meet one of them, you can find out where the real muoi Thai fights are held.

6. Shut up on a retreat

Have you ever spent twenty-four hours without talking at all? A silent retreat at a local temple allows you to share in the daily life of the monks while exercising the discipline of silence. While there you must follow all the temple rules, including not speaking for a full twenty-four hours. Silent retreats of varying lengths are available. The longest I heard of lasts ten days.

7. Watch traditional dancing

I found traditional dancing and various modern hybrids at all the local festivals. In addition to stage presentations, dancers take part in the parades that are a highlight of each celebration.

And if that isn’t enough, you can study the Thai language, buy orchids at the flower market, or, if you time it right, attend a festival like Loy Krathong in November.

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