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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Thailand > Chiang Mai

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Local time Chiang Mai

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Things to do in Chiang Mai

Be at one with the elephants

Approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Chiang Mai is the Elephant Nature Park (tel: +66 53 272 855; www.elephantnaturepark.org), a rescue and rehabilitation centre where visitors can observe the elephant preservation work being done. You can also spend up to a week volunteering, getting hands on and generally wondering how you're going to smuggle one through customs.

Empty your mind with a yoga and meditation session

Chiang Mai welcomes beginner and advanced yoga and meditation students with open arms and bended knee. Twist into shape at Namo (tel: +66 53 326 648; www.namochiangmai.org) where you can pitch up for a single class or a 12-day immersion course.

Shoot the breeze with a monk

Some of the temples in the city offer the pretty ace opportunity to take time out from your trip and get some face time with a monk. Wat Suan Dok (tel: +66 53 278 304) has ‘Monk Chat’ - its real name - between 1700-1900 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Watch some Muay Thai

Grab a drink, sit back and get ready for some intense sparring matches at an authentic traditional Muay Thai fight. Watch at the Tha Pae Stadium (www.thapaestadium.com) and you'll be close to enough to smell the blood. If you fancy a crack yourself, get ironed at Lanna Muay Thai Boxing Camp (www.lannamuaythai.com).

Whip up some Pad Thai at a Thai cookery class

Thai food is famous the world over and at Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School (tel: +66 53 206 388; www.thaicookeryschool.com) students can learn all aspects of preparation and cooking; from pastes to Pad Thais and visits to the market. Don't forget to come packing a grumbling belly.

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Riverside House

Spacious, air-conditioned and simply furnished rooms are set in three blocks, and there's a small swimming pool in the garden too. Breakfast is free, and there's also a small cafe serving meals. Set along the Ping River near Saphan Lek (Iron Bridge), the hotel is also five minutes' from the night market.

Varada Place

Set on a quiet side street, this hotel offers excellent value. The simple, spacious rooms all have balconies and are furnished with small fridges, microwaves and balconies. Breakfast isn't offered, but there are plenty of options nearby.

Galare Guest House

The riverside setting is the big draw at this long-established, family-run guesthouse. Upmarket, comfortable rooms with air conditioning and hot water overlook a shady, peaceful lawn that leads down to an appealing covered restaurant on the banks of the River Ping.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi

A few kilometres east of the city centre, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is a stunning mock-up of a traditional Lanna village, with elegant stucco and mahogany villas and pavilions dotted around a vast garden of rice fields, palm trees and pools. Additional features include a spa, a themed swimming pool and three restaurants. One of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.

Gap's House

Centred on a leafy courtyard, this comfy hotel in Chiang Mai is crammed with antiques and northern Thai bric-a-brac, and the tasteful rooms have air conditioning and hot showers. The restaurant serves a popular evening vegetarian buffet, and the owners run a Thai cooking course in their village home. No advance reservations are taken.

Julie Guesthouse

The most popular backpacker haunt in Chiang Mai, this agreeable guesthouse has a relaxing garden full of exotic plants, a roof terrace full of hammocks, a popular travel agency offering adventure tours, and a terrace restaurant that is always full of travellers swapping stories.