French proud Mum and wife, restless explorer and doer freshly landed in Hanoi. One Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “kids friendly” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.
Travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer
Chiang Mai is a 90 mn fly away from Hanoi.
In less than 2 hours, you land in another galaxy : Forget about the pollution and the hustle and bustle of the Vietnamese capital and immerse yourself in blue skies, green mountains, golden temples, and feel how your lungs and heart feel happy to be here !
Chiang Mai has lots to offer to families and kids. We obviously skipped the lame visits to the tigers and the night safari as they didn’t resonate with our ethics, and started instead with a visit to an elephant shelter:
1. Got a full day ? Visit Elephant Nature Park (ENP)
Pick up at our hotel at 8AM and we reached the park in less than 1 hour.
Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center. It’s home not only to pachyderms but also to hundreds of cats, dogs and buffalos.
The elephants arrived to ENP from a life of trekking or circus. Some of them had stepped on landmines at the frontier with Myanmar. Our guide showed us some “before/after” pictures and it’s so heartwarming to see what dedicated volunteers could accomplish!
We started the day with a feeding the elephants (“no food, no friend” as our guide says!).
Our guide has lots of anecdotes about the elephants and the kids were mesmerized. I appreciate that she really empowered them, explaining what we can all do to protect the elephants, telling specific stories of the rescued elephants – in a nutshell making the visit very informative yet fun.
The lunch was the most delicious vegetarian buffet I have ever tasted ( and I have visited many!). After the break, the kids went to the Cats House, where they could seat with their new friends and stroke them. All the animals are free to roam in the park and beside the dogs with a red carve (we didn’t meet any) are happy to be around children – as long as they are calm I guess 😉
ENP also organise 1/2 trip but the 1 day option was not too long. We finished the tour at 3:00. Places are limited so I’d recommend to book.
2. Half a day? Cooking class!
We chose Smile Organic Farm Thai Cooking School just because it was the first leaflet my daughter picked in the travel agency. Good thing though, we all spent a great morning there.
Pick up at 8, then a super short visit to the local market and another 30 mn before we eventually reach the farm. They have a luxurious garden, where we could pick up the vegetables we would cook. The kids felt like little explorers, discovering the flavors of the keffir and tasting hibiscus, different kind of basil, learning how to grow mushrooms ..
We could choose the kind of soup we wanted to make (creamy like a tom yung or hot and spicy, not too spicy..), rice or pasta (we chose the pad thai of course and the vege fried rice), curry paste (green or red? Spicy or deadly spicy?) and we even had time to cook spring rolls. It was the first time I saw my 7 yo so focused and so happy to eat the food in his plate!
My daughter who is usually pretty picky hardly left any rice in her plate.
The half day class was really enough for us. We were so stuffed that we even skipped diner that day. If you take the full day you’ll also cook a desert (sticky rice with mango).
3. Just a couple of hours? The most impressive museum ever: Art in Paradise Chiang Mai
It’s an interactive art gallery where Imaginative 3D murals are displayed. You can litteraly enter the murals, and the trompe l’oeil are fascinating. Just make sure you have enough battery on your phone because you ll be taking pictures non stop! You need to download an app while in the museum and some paintings will even turn into little movies. We spent 2h there and wished the Museum would close later .
Our favorite museum e-ver!
Stay tuned for the next post, where we chat with monks, explore the insects world and go on a 25km bike ride !…
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