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5 Things to Do in Chiang Mai to Experience the City like A Local

Post Date : May 14, 2018 | Author: Admin

Things to Do in Chiang Mai to Experience the City like a Local_cover

Things to Do in Chiang Mai to Experience the City like a Local

There’re plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai besides visiting temples and landmarks. Diving into local culture gives you more profound travel experience and allows you more chances to feel local hospitality. Chiang Mai was the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom founded over 700 years ago. The long civilization yields to sophisticated culture that not only foreigners but also Thai tourists find very interesting. Of course Chiang Mai’s iconic and popular attractions are worth visits. It’s not that we don’t encourage you to see them. But if you’re more interested in ways of life and experience Chiang Mai via local people’s eyes, here are a few ideas to include in your plan.

To experience local ways of life and authentic Thai culture, let a Thai culture expert like Smiling Tuk Tuk guide you. Our tours are catered to your interests, wether you love to experience Thai village lives, eat local food or explore beautiful nature, we have all figured out for you.


#1 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Food Tours

#1 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Chiang Mai Food Tours

A traditional Khan-Tok set course

Taking a food tour is always a great way to learn about history and culture of a new city you’re in. Chiang Mai Food Tours helps you explore the local food scenes, that otherwise, are hard to discover and understand on your own. With them, you go to restaurants serving authentic local dishes and eat among local diners, be guided through street food venders, and fresh markets. You’ll get to try a variety of dishes and snacks, be it the traditional Khan-Tok (a set course served in a weaved tray), Lanna specialities like Sai Aua (sausages), or bizarre snacks like fried bugs. While you enjoy your food, the guide tells you stories, background, and fun fact of the dishes, Thai food, Thai culture, and anything you need to know about. The tours also take you to iconic attractions and temples along the way.

There are currently 2 tours to choose from, a day and a night tour. The night tour includes a ride on Roddaeng, a pick-up truck used as shared taxi by locals – a truly fun way to cruise the city.



#2 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai

Become a Volunteer

#2 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Become a Volunteer_Baan Raksa

A volunteer at Baan Raksa (Happy Healing Home)

Being a volunteer is a very dynamic way to soak into and be a part of a local culture. Chiang Mai offers plenty of volunteer opportunities from teaching English, to working with underprivileged women, orphans, and caring for animals. The most popular volunteering work and perhaps the most demanded is teaching English. Several charge the volunteers little money for housing and food. Thai Freedom House is a language and arts learning center that helps refugees from Myanmar and ethnic minority Thai kids. At Wildflower Homevolunteers can help young single mothers removed from poverty and to get steady income. Teaching English to them is one way to give them a skill to achieve this goal.

#2 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Become a Volunteer_Wildflower Home

A volunteer at Wildflower Home

If you want to care for elephants, Elephant Nature Park is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for the beast. Volunteering here costs a high fee but is well-worth the experience. However, helping recused dogs here costs nothing. Dog lovers may also join Lanna Dog Welfare to help with field sterilization, learn how to train and catch dogs. At, Baan Raksa you will learn about organic farming, permaculture, ecological forest farming and preservation, forest surviving skills and uses of medicinal plants. A founder Jim who was a monk for 16 years also gives meditation classes in their home.



#3 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai

Learn to Make Local Dishes

#3 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Learn to Make Local Dishes_The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School

Participants at The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School

Another popular thing to do in Chiang Mai is to take a cooking class. This is a good break from your outdoor plans, plus is a fun family activity! Chiang Mai offers a great number of cooking schools. You probably want to scope it down to the ones recommended by TripAdvisor. But final decision of which one to join should depend on how much time you have and the location. If you don’t have much time, consider the ones in the city center. But farm cooking schools, usually out of the city, offer magnificent views and glimpse into rural lives. You should also take a look at the dishes you’ll be making. Some will teach you typical Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Som Tam (papaya salad), others teach you regional specialities which involve lots of local ingredients you won’t find after leaving Thailand.

Most of the courses include market visits to shop for the ingredients. This is a great way to experience local ways of life with lots of photo opportunities. Half day programs’ prices range from 800 – 1,200 THB, full day from 900 to 2,000. Considering that you’ll be fully fed (with the dishes you make), it’s quite a good deal.



#4 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai

Trekking to Hill Tribe Villages

#4 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Trekking to Hill Tribe Villages

A traveller hiking with Chan, an experience trekking guide in Chiang Mai

An outdoor and ethnic culture lovers should not miss a chance to trek in Chiang Mai, where magnificent mountainous landscape is inhabited by hill tribes. Around Chiang Mai, there are Hmong, Lahu, Lisu, Akha villages. All have distinct culture and colorful clothing which they wear during traditional festivals. During a trek, you’ll appreciate wonderful nature of a tropical jungle and perhaps have an experience of a lifetime. Expect not more than a simple hut and a cushion as your bed, and cricket sounds as your lullaby. Your meals will be anything your trekking guide conjures out of the jungle while you learn survival skills such as cooking food with bamboo utensils. In villages, you might have a chance to see a ritual or religious ceremonies, some of which are supernatural as id unaware of the modern world.

Trekking is another thing to do in Chiang Mai to avoid other tourists and get off the beaten paths. 2 days with an overnight in a village is good enough but a multi-day treks will allow you to soak into the local culture and nature more. Booking a trek can easily be done as you walk into a travel agency available in Chiang Mai city center. Otherwise, Trekking with Piroon and Chan Trekking Tours have the top best reviews on TripAdvisor.



#5 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai

Chat with Monks

#5 Thing to Do in Chiang Mai_Chat with Monks

One thing to do in Chiang Mai to truly experience local culture is to have a conversation with locals themselves. And strange enough, one of the most available people to do that with you are monks! At the MCU Buddhist University, which is a Buddhist monks university, you can participate in a Monk Chat session (Monday to Friday, 5pm – 7pm) where you casually chat with monks or student monks who want to practice their English and are curious about the world. You can ask them questions about Monkshood, Buddhism, Thai culture but noted that they’re refrained from worldly topics such as sex. As a woman, you can so join this session but you won’t be allowed to sit with them alone, male’s presence is required. Another thing to keep in mind is women cannot touch monks. Both men and women should dress to visit a Buddhist temple, that is bottom-wear that cover the knees and shirts that cover your shoulders.

Other locations are a monk chat in Chiang Mai include Wat Chedi Luang. From 9am to 6pm, you can see monks sitting at the outdoor tables north of the temple ground. Simply introduce yourself and start chatting. Or if you’re planning to visit Wat Doi Suthep, daily monk chats are available from 1pm to 3pm.


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Be inspired by local experience

Smiling Tuk Tuk brings you deep into local communities, to be a part of a metropolis and villages, where you eat, sleep, travel, and cultivate meaningful intimate experiences which you want to share yet keep as secrets. Via us, you support the locals, and create positive and long-lasting impacts to the communities you visit. Our hand-picked experiences are provided by local experts and community guides.

Whether you love to try local delicacies impossible to discover on your own, to dive into insights of local culture, to pump your adrenaline with soft-adventure activities, or to spend lazy days hanging out in a floating village, we have them all designed and figured out for you.

Want to get more local experience out of your holiday in Thailand? Drop us an e-mail at [email protected] to find out the tours or design one that best fit you!

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