Exploring Thai Culture in Chiang Mai
The sights and smells at Chiang Mai’s Warorot Market are overwhelming in the best possible way. This is where the locals come to shop for fresh food, flowers and an assortment of wares. Unlike the more tourist-oriented markets nearby, Warorot’s stalls are often filled with higher-quality items at better prices, and you could easily spend an entire day perusing the variety of local food and produce alone. (A trip to the famous Night Market yields equally delicious results.)
After filling our packs with everything from souvenirs to jewellery to handfuls of angel plums, we hopped on a rickshaw and made our way through the Old City, passing through the original gates of this once walled area and even crossing over the 13th-century moat. A number of wats (temples) stand in the Old City, signifying the importance of Buddhism in Chiang Mai both historically and currently. We stopped at the impressive Wat Phra Singh, one of the city’s most-visited temples, arriving just in time to visit with the monks and make offerings.
The next morning, we drove from Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai to the Maesa Elephant Camp. The elephants here start their day with a bath as they prepare to learn and play with their mahouts (elephant trainers). Our group spent time learning basic commands before embarking on a trek through the jungle atop these gentle giants on our way to visit the village of Karen near the Myanmar border. The residents here are members of the Akha tribe, known primarily for the brass metal coils that elongate and decorate the necks of the tribal women. A long row of stalls filled with handicrafts and textiles lines the entrance to the village, and skilled artisans work on pieces while visitors browse. You can find a number of these textiles in the Chiang Mai markets, but buying them in the village is a great way to support the artisans.
Our last stop? The famous Tiger Kingdom and a play date with some adorable tiger cubs.