5 Things to Do in Chiang Mai: a Mini Guide to Chiang Mai

A mini-guide to Chiang Mai that covers elephants, food, massage, coffee shops and more!Sweet, gorgeous Chiang Mai. Located in northern Thailand, this city is everything Bangkok is not: it is peaceful, relaxing and blessedly less crowded.

It’s easy to just get sucked into the city when traveling and decide to stick around longer. With so many affordable hotels and guest houses in Chiang Mai (we’re talking under $10 a night, folks!), plus cheap street food to devour, this city is a travelers dream.

There seems to be a never-ending list of things to do in Chiang Mai and so many things to love about the city.

So, if you cross these major tourist attractions off of the list, what is there to do in Chiang Mai?

So. Much.

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The Story of My Thai Street Cats

Thai street cats
If you would have seen me the day I dropped of my two cats, Keeley and Jezebel, at their new home, you would have thought someone I loved had passed away.

Seriously.

I hadn’t cried like that in a long time.

There’s something exciting about starting a new life as an expat. A thrill. That ‘world is my oyster’ feeling. But, being an expat comes with sacrifices. Namely, having to part ways with people and animals you love.

Initially, I had considered bringing the cats with me to Thailand. But, everyone talked me out of it. And, thank goodness they did. Being a new expat, in a country in SE Asia with no home, no idea of what kind of resources were available, would have caused a lot of undue stress. Not to mention the stress for the animals I loved with all of my heart.

So, I left them in good hands and embarked on my journey.

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Chiang Mai health and beauty guide

Chiang Mai Health and Beauty Guide
When I first arrived in Chiang Mai, I had no idea where to start in terms of becoming a healthier person (and a well-coiffed one, too). It isn’t difficult to find places which cater to expats or western travelers in Chiang Mai, thanks to its ridiculously huge digital nomad scene, and its unending supply of english teachers.

But, the key is to find the places other expats/travelers recommend.

It took me years of living in Chiang Mai to discover all the city had to offer in terms of health and beauty.

If you’re planning a trip to Chiang Mai, or living/looking to live as an expat, here’s your Chiang Mai Health and Beauty Guide.

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The House Hunters International experience

Chiang_Mai_Fair_Lady_House_Hunters_International_Experience
If you haven’t been following along lately, I recently filmed an episode for House Hunters International — Chiang Mai Fair Lady — which airs tonight. If you’re new to d travels ’round, welcome! I hope you find this as the place to motivate you to get up, follow your dreams and see the world (or at least live vicariously), and to take a stand and help Asian elephants.

My goal with this site is to share my experiences traveling the world solo, shed light on life as an expat in various places I rest my head, highlight cool and off-the-beaten-path spots that are worth checking out, and promote responsible tourism.

Keep reading to learn more about what it was like to film House Hunters International, as well as for a look at life as an expat in Thailand, my push to make people more responsible tourists, and what’s next for me.

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Five years later

five years laterMarch 7, 2010 I boarded a flight to London. It wasn’t a city I loved, but it was where I was going to start my career break. Five years later, it is the place I sit and write this post from. Trust me when I write this: A lot can change in five years.

In these past five years, I have seen more, experienced more, loved more, hurt more and lived more than I could have imagined possible.

Why did I take the leap?

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10 signs you are a local in Chiang Mai

being local in chiang mai
After living in Thailand for more than two years, I like to consider myself a local.

Although, let’s face it: as a westerner in Thailand, I will never be a real local. Certainly, I can adapt. I can learn. But, I am not Thai and never will be.

However, I am decidedly more “Thai” than I was when I first arrived in 2012.

So much has changed, and if you’ve been following my life as an expat, you know it isn’t all easy. It isn’t all pretty. But, it is all worth it.

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Questions to ask about volunteer vacations

Questions to ask about volunteer vacations

Editor’s Note: I recently contributed to a book about volunteer vacations and how to be responsible when choosing one. Details are at the end of this post.

I remember when I first booked my volunteer “vacation” to Thailand. My friends thought I was nuts.

“Who takes time off of work to go and work in a foreign country?” they had all asked me when I announced I was spending one week of my 12-day holiday as a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park (ENP).

I’ve never been one to take conventional vacations, so while everyone else questioned what I was doing, it made sense to me. After learning about ENP and Save Elephant Foundation, and the vital role travelers play in keeping both the foundation and the park alive, I felt it was important to go and give back.

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Why I’m grateful for Chiang Mai

Why I'm grateful for Chiang Mai
Three years ago, if you would have asked me about a future in Chiang Mai, I may have gone all glassy-eyed and distant. Chiang Mai was a dream to me three years ago. The elephants were a dream to me then, too. I lived in a world where I was not satisfied with my existence. I lived in a world, three years ago, where despite my (mediocre) efforts, I had fallen unhappily back into a world I didn’t want to be in.

Nearly fresh off my career break/solo travel through Europe, there I was, sitting at my parent’s home in Maryland, waxing melancholy at my choices and desperately trying to sort out how to rearrange my life to make it one I was grateful for again. (Note: I wasn’t not grateful for my life, it just wasn’t what I wanted).

I dreamed of Thailand travel. A world exploring Chiang Mai. Bangkok. Being surrounded by elephants and fighting for their well-being.

And then, just like that, those dreams came to life with a single e-mail from Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation, the rescue organization I longed to work for.

Come to Thailand, she had written.

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Chiang Mai Moments: The moto ride

Welcome to a new series on d travels ’round, Chiang Mai Moments. This series will profile small moments in time during my life  as an expat in Chiang Mai. The moments which normally would get pushed aside for the bigger picture of life, but deserve more. There is no schedule for these posts. There is no format. These are just stories flowing when they flow and moments happening when they happen. I hope these Chiang Mai Moments give you some insight into the beauty which exists in this country and the experiences gifted to expats who choose to make this city home.

riding a moto bike in chiang mai

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