This Chiang Mai post is going to be a BEAST because there are just so many photos that I love and I couldn’t narrow it down any further. If I have to pick a favorite part of our Thailand travels, it would be this trek! Emily and I had thrown around the idea of doing a short, kid-friendly trek while we were there, and after we went to the trekking office and chatted with some of the guides, we decided to go for it.
The night we flew into Chiang Mai, there was a night market going on, and we enjoyed walking around and trying fun food and seeing the fun market items. I quickly learned that if there was something that caught my eye and I thought I might want to purchase it, then I should do it then because despite my best efforts to find things “on the way back!” I actually never did. It was just too busy and crowded and some things looked the same. I said this so many times, “Oh I like that but I’ll get it on the way back!” and not once did that happen. So when Adam and I came across an artist with paintings that we loved, we decided to splurge and get two paintings. One is a fun, light-hearted colorful painting of a playful elephant, and the other is a more emotional depiction of a shoreline with a boat. This is our favorite type of souvenir to bring home, and I love pairing artwork with the photos that I take.
We stayed at the Little Bear’s Home hotel that night and we highly recommend them! It was clean, friendly, and in such a great location (especially for the night market). The next morning was day one of our trek! We were picked up in a truck by our tour guides from Chiang Mai Trekking with Piroon.
Our first stop was at a local market to pick up snacks for the long drive ahead of us. We had decided to pay a little extra for a private tour for our trek, since we had small kids with us and we didn’t want to have to coordinate our kids’ schedules (and energy levels) with other adults/groups. We were so happy with this decision! At the market, we picked out mostly some fruits (like Rose Apples, that I had never had before!), oranges, bananas, grapes. My boys still weren’t eating anything unfamiliar to them so they ate a lot of recognizable fruit 🙂
After driving for another hour and a half, we made it to our first hike: Up to a waterfall. Before jumping into the water, though, our guides led us into a small cave that was filled with bats! My kids were kind of freaked out so I had to coax Rhenner into it by telling him these were Batman’s friends. Then we were able to splash and play in the waterfall.
After getting some lunch, we had another long drive out to the beginning of our hike. This hike was pretty much a straight up-hill for 2 hours and then straight downhill for another two hours. At times it was a little brutal for our kids. However, I cannot give enough praise to our tour guides!! They were incredibly patient and kind to our young children, helping them at difficult spots and keeping them cheerful and happy. They even made us little toilet paper guns out of bamboo shoots to entertain the kids. Still, by the end of the hike Rhenner was crying and begging us to be done, and we were dragging him out of there as quick as we could. No one was happier than he was to make it to the village!
Walking into this little hillside village was absolutely surreal. Not only were we completely exhausted and just so grateful for the break, but we were so far removed from our reality and entering into someone else’s reality that was completely different from ours. They loved our kids and kept touching and loving on them. My boys weren’t sure what to do with all the attention. The village boys were absolutely thrilled to see Adam’s drone and laughed and laughed when it got close to them. They chased it and tried splashing it with water and loved when they had a chance to try flying it. The kids were also SO excited about the fruit we had brought. I shared my grapes with them and it was like they hadn’t ever had anything so delicious in their lives! So then we brought out the oranges and man, you would have thought it was Christmas. This one little girl was just clenching onto her oranges, and didn’t want anyone to come near her for fear they would take these oranges from her!
All of the food that was cooked for us on the trek was incredible. We loved it all. That night we ate dinner by candlelight, and then they built us a fire out on the balcony. They even brought us a floating lantern to decorate and send flying into the night sky. It was such a special moment! Afterwards, our tour guides taught us some fun and simple games and mind tricks by candlelight and we went to bed that night full of simple joy and pleasures. We slept on thin mats in a straw hut all huddled close together on a sagging floor. The stars were so bright that night.
In the morning we woke to breakfast served to us on this wicker platter. We watched as someone from the village added a bamboo seat to the raft that we would be floating down that day. After another quick walk through the village, it was time for us to hop on board. We loved the river. The kids even got to jump off the side of the raft and swim alongside us. There was a rope swing so that meant that of course the adults got wet too. At the end of our river tour was where we met up with our truck again, which took us to see the elephants!
After we fed the elephants, we were able to get into the river and bathe them. The kids were mostly excited about swimming in the river again, but it was fun for me and Adam who had never been this close to elephants before! That night the kids slept hard, and we had one more day in Chiang Mai. We decided to spend it at the zoo! The zoo was totally different from the zoos in America….and the best part was, it had a little water park in it. We even rented these glorious one-piece swimsuits for the boys and they all had a blast!
Chiang Mai was amazing!! We are SO glad we did the overnight trek, yes even with the kids! I would recommend it to anyone! The guides were amazing, the food was amazing, the whole experience was just so neat and unique. And of course, here is a video to prove it even more!! Edited again by the wonderful Holden Films.