Five things to do in Chiang Mai with kids!
Friday 10th November 2017
Five things to do in Chiang Mai with kids
We decided to head up to Chiang Mai after our stay in Bangkok as we wanted to explore the north of Thailand before heading down to the islands on the south.
We stayed in an Airbnb near the Nimmanhaemin Road and within walking distance of the Maya mall, here's our top 5 things to do if you're in Chiang Mai with children!
1 Saturday Night Market
We had read about the Sunday night market on Wua Lai Road Chiang Mai and as we departed Sunday evening I was disappointed that we would miss it. However my research soon yielded the fact that an almost identical market takes place the night before in the same place, albeit with maybe less variety (not that we could tell) so we headed over early in the evening as some stall holders were still setting up.
We've been to many markets on our travels and this has been by far our favourite. The items on sale, the variety, the lack of pressure selling - so may places we've been it's been very pressured and it puts you off even looking, so you end up moving on quicker than you would like. There was great street food, massages on offer, beautiful lights strung up and so so much on offer, from clothes to art work, pottery and bags and everything else you can imagine.
We took our time to stroll through and by the time we left it was packed! It's just outside there old city walls and there was plenty to occupy the children, puppeteers and occasional toy stalls, so much fresh fruit ready to eat and even fried bugs - the girls watched horrified as nikki ate some grasshopper creatures then a SCORPION!! Check out our fb page for the video!!
2 Grand Canyon Water Park
This has some mixed reviews on trip advisor and we really weren't sure what to expect. When we arrived we knew that the former quarry was sectioned into two parts, one where you cliff jump and the other with an inflatable park. We opted for the latter and headed in.
Be warned you can't take in any food or drink, not even bottles of water and although this was annoying as we drink a lot and had taken a load with us, we collected it at the end of the day.
Fortunately it wasn't busy at all and we had a whale of a time clambering over and slipping off the obstacles. It was great fun and a good workout too!
The place has been done really well and emulates the sort of European or American water parks with restaurants and shops and a waterside bar and cafe.
The girls would have spent days there and a full day was easily spent here. We also went kayaking around the lake and the girls also enjoyed the kids area. I think it would be different in school holidays or a weekend perhaps when it would be busy with people but we were really fortunate that there were very few others around.
It was priced well at about £7 each, you could spend the whole day there (children are designated adult over a certain height which our 7 year old was) and a refundable deposit for a locker. Everyone has to wear life jackets and blue life jackets are utilised to identity non swimmers. It took about half an hour to get there from our apartment and had WiFi which meant we could get an uber home too (cheaper than a taxi!)
3 Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Bearing in mind we've spent over two weeks in India and had been in Bangkok for five days previously, trying to persuade everyone to visit another temple wasn't exactly easy. However I persisted mainly because I'd read the views were so good and I'm glad we did.
It was a really fun experience after the long and winding drive to get there. You pull up and a little town has created itself around this temple halfway up a mountain as it is a draw to locals and tourists alike.
We started the climb up the steps (all 309 of them) and delighted in the dragon body lining our way. There were children as well on the steps dressed in the traditional outfits of the local villages and you're expected to make a donation to take a picture of them. We declined as we didn't really like the idea of the children being used in this way, their little faces made up with rouge but they did make us smile as one said "hallloooooo" and another gladly took up the offer of a strawberry as we climbed (although it seemed like she did get told off for this by the older lady with them).
We got to the top and decided to walk around before venturing inside. We took in the stunning views, it really is so high and although it was hazy we watched entranced at Chiang Mai airport as a plane took off and we remained higher than it for all of its climb into the clouds.
The girls rang the Buddhist bells and we watched those buying incense or flowers as offerings and making their prayers.
We went inside and found a beautiful golden Prang and statues all around. We watched a ceremony of sorts as people kneeled in front of one of the Buddhist monks and was given a bracelet and a tap on the head.
Another custom was putting money into a box then spinning it and taking out a piece of paper (almost like our tombolas at home) and on it is a Buddhist thought or guidance specific to you.
We came out and decided to pay the extra and go to the summit of the mountain. After another long and winding drive we got out and walked the last couple of kilometers. Whilst I love a nature trek, and this was especially good with barely anyone else around the summit was a little underwhelming as there was no view whatsoever!! We took a picture with the sign and it was good to get out into the jungle, we will never forget the creepiness of the alarming screeches of the cicadas calling to each other as we walked through.
We climbed inside a songtheuw (sort of a group minibus taxi but with an open rear that is benched for passengers) and headed back down the mountain.
4 Old City Walk
The old city walls surround the town and it makes for an interesting walk about. We chatted about the history and why they built the wall, taking in the detail and structures on the corners as we past them.
We started at the Tha Phae gate and made our way through. We stopped for foot massages and wandered past more temples, it's such a relaxed city where the pace of life is unlike any other city I've encountered.
Wandering the streets is one of the best ways to find hidden treasures and get a feel for the city and there's enough tuks tuks and songtheuws around if little legs get tired of walking.
5 Catmosphere Cat Cafe
Admittedly this won't be everyone's cup of tea - indeed even Nikki sat outside as cats aren't his favourite creatures! But we love them and we could have stayed all day in this lovely little cafe a little walk past the Maya mall.
The coffee was great and so was the company! Floor cushions around low level tables and various cat entertainment items are in place at this cozy place.
Pictures of cats adorn the walls along with shelves that are bare (apart from cats) and cats roam around or snooze lazily in the beds.
We loved learning about each of the cats and identifying who was whom by the picture card on the table. The girls loved the chance to pick up and play with cats and stroke their new furry friends especially as on our travels we are so wary about letting them near any animals for fear of rabies!!
We could have done so much more in Chiang Mai but ran out of time. We would have loved to visit the quiet lake we had read about or visit the art museum where you can become part of the artworks and had we not been so fearful of heights (some of us more than others) we may have even given Flight of the Gibbon a go!!
Now it's time to head south for some beach and relaxation time!