Dawn breaks and a sea of monks swathed in orange and saffron robes make the journey to the bottom of Mount Suthep to collect their alms. Scooters whizz past gilded wats (temples), the smell of fresh laundry and burning incense wafts from back street houses and stall holders start stacking up dried spices, fresh green peppercorns and oversized melons. Outside the city, Chiang Mai holidays take you where the air is mountain fresh and the climate joyfully cooler, tracing a route of waterfalls, jungle, hill tribe villages and temples.
We’ve travelled to northern Thailand and can tell you the most amazing spots for a refreshing dip under a secluded waterfall, the finest holy temples to visit for a one-on-one chat with Buddhist monks and the quirkiest cafes if you’ve ever fancied jumping in a ball pit while sipping on a candy cotton coffee. Holidays to Chiang Mai are a captivating blend of Lanna and Burmese influences, of digital nomads building a burgeoning creative scene and of spiritual harmony in an ancient riverside city that prizes meditation, massage and complementary medicine.
There’s the much revered Thai cookery schools where you can whip up pad thai and coconut soup like a professional, legendary night markets selling handcrafted gifts and those lychee and lemongrass cocktails under a roof of white lanterns and chromatic paper parasols. You’ll find terraced rice fields in the tiny hamlets of mountains, a colourful spectacle of handmade umbrellas in the artisan village of Bor Sang and extraordinary settlements of Tibetan and Chinese hill tribes who welcome you into villages to learn about their culture.