Explore the protected green landscapes of Khao Yai National Park on a full-day guided excursion from Bangkok. Sample exotic fruits, take a ride on a traditional ox cart through rice fields, and search for tigers, black bears and leopards in Khao Yai National Park.
While the craze for visiting imprisoned foreigners in Bangkok’s notorious jail Khlong Prem has cooled off, some travellers still make the trek. Visiting details are discussed on several websites, notably www.phaseloop.com/foreignprisoners/prisoners-thailand.html and www.khaosanroad.com.
In a lovely wooded setting near the highway, this elephant camp enjoys a good reputation. It hosts educational training exhibitions in which visitors are offered a rare insight into how young elephants are taught to obey mahout commands, work with other elephants and accept mahouts on their backs.
Khun Pat is a passionate and thoughtful player in Chiang Mai's elephant-conservation tourism industry. His primary focus is to support the mother-baby bond, and combat Thailand's declining domesticated elephant population through tourism. His elephant farm is in a beautiful forested setting and offers an intimate and educational elephant encounter.
Mae Tao Clinic was established in 1989 by Dr Cynthia Maung, a Karen refugee, and provides free medical treatment to around 80,000 Burmese migrants a year. The clinic also helps pay for medical care at one of Mae Sot’s hospitals if the treatment is beyond its capabilities. If you have medical training, the clinic offers volunteer positions for a minimum of six months.
The Banyan Tree Spa at the Banyan Tree Phuket is the clear winner. The spa runs a world-renowned massage school and all specialists at the centre have completed the lengthy training. Special Indian energy treatments have been recently added to the laundry list of therapies. Try the signature three-hour Royal Banyan treatment (US$195.
The grandest spa in all of Chiang Mai is an architectural treasure, built to look like the ancient Burmese palace located at Mandalay. It is also a cheaper passport into the exclusive and stunning grounds of the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi resort than a night’s stay there would be.
On Wednesdays and Fridays Moo·ay tai (also spelt muay thai; Thai boxing) matches take place at 9pm, at the Grand Plaza . The Grand Plaza’s gym (www.huahingrandsport.com; admission 180B, moo·ay tai lessons 300B; [hrs] 9am-9pm)has a sauna, yoga instruction and coffee/protein-shake bar, and is a good place to burn off last night’s Singha beers in authentic Thai style.
Chiang Mai University offers a one-year certificate program in Thai as a foreign language through the faculty of education . The program is offered as an exchange through CMU’s sister universities as well as for interested foreigners.
The only rum distillery in Thailand produces Caribbean agricole style (distilled from fresh, fermented sugar cane juice) in a variety of all natural flavours including a delectable coconut rum obtained from soaking coconut meat in the rum for several months. There's a video about the production process, a tasting area and shop in beautiful palm-shaded surrounds.
Let the kids loose on these gigantic green, climbable, slip-off-able and all-around-fun inflatables (including a UFO, an iceberg climbing wall and trampolines) anchored to a corded-off area of Ao Chaweng. All participants are required to wear lifejackets. Meanwhile you can lounge on the beach and watch, or join them as many parents are enticed to do.