Morning transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Chiang Mai – the ‘Rose of the North’ – with its laid-back northern influences and pleasant climate can feel a world away from the high rise towers and congested streets of Bangkok. The city has a surprisingly pleasant ambiance, a fine selection of restaurants (many consider Thailand’s northern cuisine to be the best in the country) and a high number of temples & sites of cultural significance. There is a popular night market in the city centre, although most agree that the Sunday market offers a more authentic experience and wider array of hill tribe goods, than the copies and fakes more commonly associated with the nightly version.
Depart with your guide on a city safari, taking in a number of the city's better known highlights as well as destinations a little bit more off the beaten track.
Much of the fun of the day is traversing the city using various modes of local transport including a songthaew, trishaw and the ubiquitous 3-wheeler tuk-tuk. This combination ensures that you get the chance to explore areas of the city that most visitors do not get to see.
Begin your exploration with a songtaew transfer to the old trader community of Wat Gatekaram for a stroll around the alleyways, before continuing on to Wiang Kum Kam. Following a massive flood, the city of Wiang Kum Kam vanished without a trace and for over 200 years became a lost civilization buried under layers of earth. Explore the main ancient ruined temples by bicycle before boarding a boat on the Mae Ping River that will bring you back to town.
Back on dry land, take a samlor (trishaw) ride along Tapae Road to Wat Chedi Luang, one of the most spectacular ruins in the old city that once housed the Emerald Buddha. Then continue by tuk tuk to Waroros Market to join the bustle of local Thais as they buy their fresh food and spices at this popular local market.
After a break for lunch, step into the secret jungle temple of Wat Phalad. Built to enshrine a piece of bone said to be from the historical Buddha, this peaceful temple is one of the most enchanting in Chiang Mai. In one of the temple’s quiet corners, receive a receive a blessing of good health and good fortune from a local monk.
Your final stop of the day is Wat Phra Thad Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain, and the most sacred in Northern Thailand. Your guide will explain the story of the temple and lead you around its impressive chedi and beautiful murals. As dusk approaches and the tourist masses have left the temple grounds you will have the magical opportunity to witness the evening chanting of the monks before heading back to your hotel.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Morning departure by road for Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, set within Chiang Mai’s rolling hills and forests. The camp has been set-up as an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project which offers a retirement home for elephants that have previously worked within tourism, entertainment or local logging industries. Throughout the day you will gain an insight into the elephants’ lives and their stories while spending time with them in a safe environment.
Upon arrival at the sanctuary, change into traditional clothing and prepare fruits to feed the elephants before having the opportunity to roam alongside them in their natural habitat. After this enjoy a delicious Pad Thai lunch, before taking part in preparing and cooking sticky rice for them and learning more about their background, health care, and common behaviors. There will also be time to help bath them before departing the sanctuary.
Return to Chiang Mai in the late afternoon where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Overnight in Chiang Mai