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.