Elephants and temples.
When I think of Thailand, I think of islands, jungles, green coconut curry, temples, and elephants. When I visited Thailand in 2016, I spent my time island (and bar) hopping, sweating through jungles, and, of course, eating curry till my skin turned green. This time around, I wanted to tick the last two items off my list and complete my own “classic Thailand experience” checklist. So we ventured north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to visit some of the most exquisite temples in Southeast Asia and the elephants at the famous Elephant Nature Park. And, of course, smash down some more curry.
Elephant Nature Park has been rescuing and providing shelter to tortured and stressed elephants from entertainment shows throughout Thailand for almost thirty years. The carers provide the elephants with safety, shelter, food, water, and, most importantly, love. The park also cares for a wide range of other animals, including over three hundred dogs (I know, heaven), cats, water buffalo, and horses. It’s safe to say that there’s is no shortage of affection and happiness at this wonderful reservation!
With elephants ticked off my list, we roamed Chiang Mai and explored as many temples as we could. The most notable and visually spectacular were Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple), Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phan Tao, though each temple was beautiful in its own way, boasting unrivalled forms of architecture and finishes of silver and gold.
Unable to meet our temple quota in Chaing Mai, we went to Chaing Rai to behold Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) and Wat Rong Seur Ten (Blue Temple). The combination of these two shrines destroyed our minds; the colourless trimmings of White Temple got them to boiling temperature, and the hallucinogenic artwork on the interior walls of Blue Temple blew them out the back of our skulls.
Sometimes travelling comes down to checklists and itineraries, whether they be someone else’s or your own. After visiting some of the happiest animals in the country and losing my mind in a temple, I can sign off my own “classic Thailand experience” checklist with confidence.
How does my checklist compare to your own? Is there anything that you think I’ve missed? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Can’t write anymore. Eating curry.
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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou