As I have visited Thailand several times last year, it is becoming one of my favourite countries in the world. The Thai culture, the beauty of the country and the friendly Thai people make me want to come back over and over again. I have been to Bangkok and the Surin province before and a next desired destination was the mountainous northern city Chiang Mai. Last weekend, we visited the city and its beautiful surroundings and it did not disappoint us, to say the least.
We booked a room at the west of Chiang Mai, about 15 km away from the old city centre. While it might be convenient to book a room within the city if you want to explore the (old) city, we were mainly interested in the mountains and the nature reserves that surround Chiang Mai.
Narittaya Resort & Spa is an eco-resort in a very spacious set-up, located near the edge of the mountains. The acronym SLOW LIFE explains Narittaya’s philosophy (meaning Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences), aiming to show their guests the possibility of living life at a slower pace. And as we felt very relaxed during our stay, this might be paying off.
Narittaya has several accommodation types, varying from a cottage for two to a family pool villa with a private pool. We chose to stay at a Garden Cottage, which included a private cottage, a lot of privacy and an outdoor shower that we absolutely loved!
August is Thailand’s rainy season and therefore considered to be low season in the tourism industry. While it did rain every day, it did not bother us at all as we enjoyed spending some time at the resort to watch the rain fall from our veranda. Many birds, frogs and other small wildlife can be heard both at night and during the day.
One of the key benefits of Narittaya is their organic garden, where a wide range of vegetables and herbs are grown that are used for the outstanding kitchen.
From farm-to-fork is quite a short journey. When ordering a lemongrass tea for breakfast, the kitchen staff heads out to the garden to cut some fresh stems which is very invigorating as a wake-up drink in the morning. The restaurant is open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks like smoothies. The menus contains a wide variety of dishes with many options for vegans/vegetarians and includes the use of Narittaya’s own organic products in every dish.
From the resort it is easy to arrange excursions, including water sports, sightseeing and elephant activities. We chose to go rafting with 8 Adventures at the Mae Taeng River, which is the perfect event to do during rainy season due to the wildness of the river. In addition, it offers great views of the lush mountains and the riverbed.
Chiang Mai is also famous for the many elephant projects that are located in the area. As stated in a previous blog, not all elephant projects are as ethical as you wish it would be. However the good news is that Chiang Mai is also home to the famous Elephant Nature Park that is located in a beautiful valley near the same river, a little further from the 8 Adventures basecamp. Read more about Elephant Nature Park in my previous blog.
We also paid a visit to the old city, both during night and day. The old city is home to some historic temples, including the Wat Chedi Luang temple that origins from the 14th Century. Nearby is a little coffee-shop named Khum Kafe that is located in the gallery in the garden and is the perfect spot for a refreshment on a hot day.
Chiang Mai has many fine eateries, including several vegetarian restaurants. Some suggestions would be the House by Ginger for all kinds of eaters and Anchan as a vegetarian outlet. We had diner at the Khaomao Khaofang, which was quite an experience considering the fact that the restaurant aims to be an imaginary jungle and very well succeeds in that (vegetarian options available upon request).
I imagine this blog is just a hint of the many opportunities in Chiang Mai. The Narittaya resort in special is a reason for a return visit, as this place is one of the best eco-resorts I have been to.
Prices at Narittaya start at 61 SDG/1500 THB per night. Transport from the airport can be arranged with the resort.