Christmas holidays and the end of the school semester caused me to fall behind on blogging. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing some blog posts of our fall travels. Hope you enjoy this post from our October 2018 trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand!
Where to Stay
Our family chose the Empress Hotel. Its location, facilities and the incredible service staff made our stay relaxing and simple. While the facilities are not as modern as some other options, the rooms were comfortable and updated.
The hotel also hosts a tour desk in the lobby. This tour business offers a wide array of experiences: adventures, cultural tours, and learning experiences. The staff took pains to ensure we found the best experiences for our family and remembered us each day. We booked several trips through them, including our visit to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, which I blogged about here.
The Empress is a short walk from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Our children loved visiting this market.
The Night Bazaar offers local artisan wares as well as some tourist-trap merchandise. Massages, delicious food, and local entertainment abound at reasonable prices. We visited the bazaar several nights during our stay.
*Note to Families: the Thai embrace “lady-boys” as part of their culture. These people enjoy a beloved status in the culture and are proudly showcased in the local entertainment scene. Our children encountered them for the first time at the market and had lots of questions…families should be prepared for those discussions.
Learning Thai Culture
Chris and I ensure each trip we take includes a cultural studies component…and the kids usually love it. Usually.
This trip, we traveled into the heart of Chiang Mai to discover a true wonder: The Silver Temple. The Silver Temple is a bustling Buddhist temple nestled inside the town. Strangely, it wasn’t featured on any of the tourist sites we read. Chris stumbled upon it by talking with locals and we took some free time to check it out….and we are so glad we did!
The Silver temple isn’t all silver; it is a structure overlaid with silver and silver-ish panels that have been handcrafted by the monks. Sadly, women are prohibited from entering the temple and the rule is strictly enforced. However, we secured these wonderful photos. Chris captured the interior shot.
The monks and novices are trained in an onsite silver-smithing studio.
The temple offers a class for individuals wanting to try their hand at silversmithing at an affordable price (~$10 USD/person). We leapt at the opportunity to try it out. Wisely, we were given aluminum panels instead of silver to work with, but the techniques are the same. A stencil overlays the medium. Using tapping and punching techniques, an awl or stamp presses the stencil artwork into the metal. The stencil is removed, the metal recovered from the press, trimmed, and finished with polishing tools.
When we finished, we each had a keychain to commemorate our experience. This was mine.
The artistry at the temple is worth the visit, but there is more to enjoy.
Food stands and a coffee stall dot the grounds. Of course, the temple offers prayers and monk chats as well. Women are allowed in other temple structures and we spent some time watching the observances there. We highly recommend a visit to this less-frequented tourist stop.
A Walk Around the City
Chiang Mai bustles with delicious eating options, historical points of interest and great shopping. Walking around provides ample activity for a family with any age of children. Here is a sampling of a few of our favorite stops:
A wall and a system of moats used to surround the city of Chiang Mai. You can still see remnants of these in Old Chiang Mai and they provide instagram-worthy photo opportunities. This blog offers a more detailed explanation for those interested in planning an itinerary.
Chiang Mai offers beautiful sights and flavors all around. We enjoyed people-watching, sampling foods, and the colorful expressions of Thai culture everywhere.
On one walkabout, Chris took the guys to book a trekking trip while Ariana and I searched out some mango sticky rice. We stopped at Hot Chilli…a must-visit in Chiang Mai. It rests in a little corner of shopping and eating options that captured my heart. You can find it at: 71 / A Kadklangwiang Ratchadamnoen Rd, T.Prasing A. Muang Chiangmai near the Sunday Walking Market. It was romantic, whimsical, and delicious!!
The boys rejoined us and we got some ice cream “rolls” at a cart outside Hot Chilli. This was new and fun for the kids. We think your kiddos would like this too.
Wrapping it Up
Well, this post was longer than intended despite cutting out huge sections for other posts. Chris did end up booking us an adventure: look for that in our next post. We survived…and that’s all I’m going to say for now.
If you’re planning a family trip to Chiang Mai, I hope this offered some ideas that you might enjoy. If you visit any of them, drop us a line, we’d love to hear about your experiences!