Chiang Mai Street Art – A photoblog

A photoblog of Chiang Mai’s best street art. The coolest murals in Northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai is known for its insane amount of temples. It’s also home to plenty of digital nomads.  Its laidback and easy-going vibe is enough to convince anyone to stay and enjoy their time.  It’s no surprise then, that you would want to take your time and stroll through the Old City, with plenty of sights and sounds to take in. Oh, and food. Delicious food.

While strolling around, you’ll probably notice some awesome alleyways with beautiful street art. We just love the character it gives the city, mixing in the new with the old. Here are some of the pieces we stumbled upon during our time in Chiang Mai.


We put a lot of time and effort into the content we create.  Please like, comment and share, every action on your part helps us out tremendously and is very much appreciated.

Love our blog? Sign up to get our latest posts, and help keep our dream going

You can also help us by pinning it for others to find.

Discover the beautiful street art in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Includes some tips and tricks to have the best time in the city.

The most ethical place to see elephants in Thailand

If you want to see elephants in Thailand, Elephant Nature Park is the best place to do it. Learn everything you want to know about ethical animal tourism in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.

Walk around anywhere in Thailand and you will surely see a ton of elephants.  Not necessarily the actual animals, but symbols of elephants are everywhere.  Elephant pants, elephant t-shirts and bowls, elephant statues sold as souvenirs and displayed in temples.  Basically elephant-on-elephant-on-elephant.  So it’s no surprise that elephant tourism is huge in Thailand.

The elephant on the right was injured in the logging industry, but she is getting better!

Like most things that involve animals, it’s always best to do your research before going.  Animals are often not treated well, especially in developing countries like Thailand.  As majestic and colossal as these elephants are, they are no exception to this rule.

We debated long and hard about going to an elephant park. So many pretend to be sanctuaries who treat their animals ethically, but once the tourists are gone, it’s a different story.  That’s why we’re really happy a friend told us about the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai.

Elephant tourism in Thailand and SE Asia

Always hungry!  She even gets her watermelon peeled, must be nice!

All over Thailand, you will see tons of offers to see elephants and play with them.  It’s very important to know that if they offer you to ride an elephant, to watch it paint for you or to see it do tricks for you, you should know that these are unethical elephant practices and you should find a different place to visit.  Maybe even yell at them a little for being cruel animal-torturers.  We kid, but barely!  These are all places that abuse their elephants.  With roughly only 6,000 Asian elephants left in Thailand, we all have to do our part to help save these majestic creatures.

The best way to do this is for tourists to stop going to see these abused animals.  If they do, their caretakers (known in Thailand as mahouts) will have to find ethical ways of treating them.  If you see someone sign up for this type of activity, kindly and gently remind them what they are actually supporting.  Most of the time, people just don’t know how these animals are treated, and the cycle of mistreating elephants will repeat itself.

What was hard to see during our drive to the Elephant Nature Park, was that there were other parks lining the road on the way there where many tourists were riding elephants.  Had they chosen to go a few hundred meters further, they would have participated in a much more ethical form of tourism.

Our day at Elephant Nature Park

Where they keep the male elephants (bulls) to control the population

Our day started much earlier than we’re used to.  At around 8AM, a mini van came to pick us and the rest of our group up from our respective hotels.  We all had a chance to bond a little during the ride and get some backstories.  We had the pleasure of visiting the Elephant Nature Park with couples from Spain, the US and Turkey.  One couple was on their honeymoon, another was eloping and getting married at the Elephant Nature Park!  We can’t blame them.  What a magical setting getting hitched surrounded by these gentle giants!

During our ride, we had a chance to watch a video that spoke about the Elephant Nature Park, the elephants there and their journey.  They also showed us what unethical elephant tourism practices are, such as having them perform tricks, riding them, seeing them beg for money in the streets of Bangkok.  Interesting information, but heart-breaking all at the same time.  More on that later.

Being cat lovers, this was a nice unexpected treat! Cat Kingdom!

Our arrival at the Elephant Nature Park was amazing , we spotted the kittens right away, cuddled up in their Cat Kingdom.  Yes!  We’re in heaven.  After a few cuddles with some cats and dogs, we were taken to the main seating area, where our delicious vegetarian lunch would be served later on.  As we got there, another man brought out a huge basket of bananas and watermelons.  Like clockwork, an elephant approached us.  It was time to eat!

We were then told that this elephant was working in the logging industry until she was injured and could not work anymore.  She gladly accepted all the fruit we offered her… except the peels of watermelon.  She didn’t like those too much!  It was still impressive to see her shove a bunch of 10 bananas in her mouth all at once.  She was insatiable!  We learnt that all elephants are, they eat up to 10% of their weight in food every day!  That’s about 200kgs of corn, fruit and leaves (long live the vegetarian diet).  The Elephant Nature Park grows some crops, but has to purchase a ton more because of the sheer amount of food these mammoths consume.

Feeding time again! This time on the menu, it’s corn

We then spent most of the day walking around the park, learning about their various elephants, feeding them along the way, and just showing them some love.  Something they had been lacking for most of their lives.  It was so good to see them walking around the park, free to enjoy the rest of their days living a carefree and peaceful life.

Some of the stories we heard about these elephants broke our hearts.  The pain and suffering they have been through is quite shocking.  It’s hard to believe that humans, who are usually empathetic and compassionate beings, can be capable of causing so much pain to animals.

The spots are actually sunburn

We heard about elephants that were working in the logging industry and were forced to continue even after breaking a leg.  One elephant that was blind because her mahout stabbed her in the eye after she disobeyed.  Another who was hit by a car while begging in the streets of Bangkok.  It’s hard to imagine what these elephants have been through, but one thing for sure, they finally have a life they deserve.

We loved our time at Elephant Nature Park.  It was truly one of the most magical days we have spent on our trip so far.  Surrounded by these gentle giants, we watched them play together and bathe like they didn’t have a care in the world, fed them insane amounts of food and gently pet their mud-covered skin.  There can be nothing better!  We hope that one day, you will be able to experience this, because as much as we can try to describe it, nothing quite beats the feeling of being there and connecting with these spellbinding creatures.

About Elephant Nature Park

Here a family is cooling off, and the children are misbehaving, as usual

The Elephant Nature Park was established in the 1990’s to provide a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants.  The Elephant Nature Park is part of the Save the Elephants foundation.  It is located 60km from Chiang Mai, and is home to over 70 distressed elephants that were rescued from all over Thailand.  To rescue the elephants, the Park must buy them from their previous owners.  This can cost them anywhere between USD$4,000 to $125,000 or more depending on the elephant’s gender, age and health.

The Park is also home to water buffalo, dogs, cats, monkeys and pigs.  All these beautiful animals were rescued from difficult situations – strays that lost their homes due to flooding, saved from slaughterhouses or from abusive owners.  If you choose to go to the Elephant Nature Park, you can either go for a day tour or stay and volunteer for a few days.

One of the may water buffaloes trying to keep cool

The elephants there were all rescued from a troublesome past.  Most were abused since they were calves, working either in the circus, part of night acts, working in the logging industry, abused for forced breeding or even begging in the streets.  The Park rescues one elephant at a time because 85% of the elephants they save get to the sanctuary with mental health problems caused by the abuse they have suffered.  By focusing on one rescue at a time, they allow them to recover and integrate into the herd naturally.  They usually end up herding around a female elephant.

The oldest elephant at the Park is 94 years-old.  Although she’s the leader of the pack, she’s actually a bitter old lady!  She just wants to sit in the river the whole day and hates socializing with others.  Sounds like my grandma!

Grandma relaxing in the river by herself

The oldest male is nowhere near her age.  He’s actually only 18.  Him and his 2 other vigorous male friends have to all be locked away and separated from the herd.  They are far too fertile and want to get with all the ladies.  What players!  A fun story we heard was that one of them actually managed to get one of the ladies pregnant through his gate.  Talk about having game!  Because of the cost of running the Park, they have to control the population there.  Even with their efforts, the Park has seen 8 baby elephants born in captivity.  The love is strong!

The majority of the proceeds needed to feed and rehabilitate these elephants come from tourists visiting the park as well as a smaller portion coming from private donors and companies.  The ultimate goal of the park is to release the elephants into the wild once they have been properly nurtured back to health.  If you want to help support the Elephant Nature Park, you can do so!

About elephants

The oldest male elephant, named Bad Boy!

Elephants are the largest land mammals and are highly intelligent.  Their brain weights 5kgs (or 11lbs), which is 4 times more than a human brain… our guess is that they are more intelligent than we are as well.  Seriously tough, it is often said that their intelligence is comparable to those of primates and cetaceans.  We have all heard the saying that someone has a memory like an elephant, and that is also true!  That’s why it takes so long for them to get over their abusive pasts.

They can communicate together through touch, sight, smell, and sound – they use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances.  Plus, they appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

These two are inseparable, looks like one of them just landed a killer joke!

While at the Elephant Nature Park, we were told of two elephants who had become friends and would hang out together all the time.  One day, the eldest of the two fell ill and passed away.  Her friend, heart-broken about the ordeal, would spend her days searching for the fallen elephant, crying out to her day-in and day-out… until she got over it one day and found herself a new friend!

Elephant abuse

Another family with two children aged 2 and 6.

Elephant abuse is nothing new.  Often, many tourists just don’t know about how these gentle giants are treated to be able to put on a “good show” for tourists.  To get these wild animals to interact with humans, they must first undergo a cruel breaking process called “Phajaan”.  This will ultimately render the elephant submissive to their human trainers by breaking their spirit.

The Phajaan starts at a very young age – usually baby elephants are taken from the mothers between three to six years old.  They will keep the babies in small crates with their feet tied with ropes and their limbs stretched.  They will be repeatedly beaten with sharp metal hooks with hits to their head, slashing their skin and tugging their ears, constantly being yelled at, and they will be starved of food.  That’s why most elephants you will see in captivity have shredded or torn ears.

Another way to stay cool is to throw dust on themselves, which after coming out of the water turns to mud.  This is elephant sunscreen!

Eventually, the ropes will be replaced with chains, but the abuse will not stop.  The Phajaan may last for weeks and these poor animals will have no rest from physical torture and mental domination.  The elephants must never be left alone because often, they will try to commit suicide by stepping on their trunk.  Gradually, their spirits break and their handlers achieve the control they seek.  The mahouts will not be the ones abusing the elephants, instead, they will come in and “save” them by offering them their first meal, and by taking them away from their crate and chains.  Just another form of manipulation.

We said it once, and we’ll say it again.  Research is imperative to be sure you are supporting the right type of organization.  Of the roughly 6,000 elephants left in Thailand, two thirds of those are in captivity, and as of 1986, have been considered to be endangered.

Another way to stay cool is to hang out under these elephant umbrellas.  They get crowded during peak hours

We put a lot of time and effort into the content we create.  Please like, comment and share, every action on your part helps us out tremendously and is very much appreciated.

Love our blog? Sign up to get our latest posts, and help keep our dream going

You can also help us by pinning it for others to find.

The best place to see and interact with elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. An ethical way to being with elephants. Learn more about these beautiful creatures.

The best of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Tips, tricks and recommendations to having the best time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Where to stay, what to do and where to eat in the chillest city in Northern Thailand.

Ah, Thailand!  It seems as though we just can’t enough!  Our second round here was for a very specific reason: Songkran.  We weren’t sure where to celebrate it, but since we had already seen the southern islands, we figured it was time to discover a new part of the country.

We had heard all the hype about Northern Thailand: the chill vibes of Chiang Mai, the insane temples of Chiang Rai and the hippie town of Pai.  We wanted to see for ourselves, especially since Songkran was supposed to be pretty epic in Chiang Mai.

How to get there from Bangkok

Street art around every street corner

Our journey started in Bangkok, and there are a ton of ways to get from the capital to Chiang Mai.  Keeping an eye out on flights, you can get a pretty cheap one to Chiang Mai. Ours was a little under $100USD for the two of us, including luggage. A total steal! And it’s the fastest way to get there, for sure.  And sometimes, it’s just slightly more expensive than taking the bus or train, but a hell of a lot shorter!

Just know that the buses and trains are also good options to get to Chiang Mai.  There are plenty of day and night buses and trains that go to Chiang Mai that may be a little more budget-friendly but less time-friendly.  So there is something for every type of traveler.  We hear the bus and train are great ways to see the country-side, unless you go at night, of course!

 Chiang Mai

Around another corner

Chiang Mai is your base to explore the north of Thailand.  It’s also your gateway to Laos or Myanmar as it’s the largest of the northern cities.  Most buses leave from here so it’s pretty convenient.  And the city is pretty cool too.

A little history for you – Chiang Mai was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558.  Many places still carry on the Lanna traditions and vestiges, like the Old City which still has its walls and moats.  Chiang Mai is also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples.  But more on that later.

All the temples in Chiang Mai are so beautiful!

One thing you will surely notice in Chiang Mai is that it’s a little paradise for digital nomads and expats.  They are everywhere, so it sometimes feel like you’re not really in Thailand anymore.  Still, it’s a pretty chill city, so we can understand why so many have chosen to call it home.  And you can totally understand why we spent more than 10 days here.  Just keep in mind that the north is more than just a bunch of cities and things to do.  It’s a vibe.  So just let go and enjoy your time here.  And don’t feel bad that you didn’t do and see everything on your list.  The whole philosophy here is to not have a list.

What to do

So many of the temples in Chiang Mai feature sweet dragon carvings like this one

One of the main things you will notice about Chiang Mai is the impressive number of temples. There are hundreds of them around the city. Just walk around and you will see a ton of them, one around every street corner. We kid you not! Some are worth checking out more than others, but here are the main ones.

Wat Chedi Luang

Being silly at Wat Chedi Luang

This temple is in the historic Center of Chiang Mai.  It’s one of the oldest temples in Thailand, dating back to the 14th century.  There are different parts to this temple.  One of which is the city pillar.  Somewhat upsetting is the fact that women can not enter it, because we menstruate, and will ruin the sanctity of the place.  The feminist in both of us dies a little when we read things like this!  Anyway, two other temples are still pretty cool, especially the one in ruins.

The temple is situated in the Old City, and there are signs directing you on how to get there, so it’s a fairly easy temple to visit.

Restoration is happening at this oldest of temples

Doi Suthep

15 km away from the city, Doi Suthep is situated on top of a mountain that gives you amazing views of Chiang Mai.  You can easily hire a car to take you there, or take one of the songthaews there.  We didn’t make the trek there, because we were all templed out, but from what we hear, it’s quite lovely!  There are also tons of tours that include this stop in their itinerary, if you prefer visiting places hassle free.

Sticky Waterfalls

We totally wish we could have gone here, but the trek was a bit too much for us.  These are the famous Bua Tong waterfalls near Chiang Mai that have so much calcium built up, that they have become “sticky”.  You’ll have crazy grip on them, just channel your inner SpiderMan.  The falls are over an hour away from Chiang Mai, and there are many ways to get there.

You can hire a private car or a songthaew to get there.  Just make sure you split it with a few people so you make your buck go further. We didn’t know anyone in town, so this was not a great option for us.  If not, you can always take a scooter or motorbike if you are comfortable, which we were not.  This way, you can drive up there on your own, and spend as much time there as you’d like.  This just gives us another reason to go back to Thailand (as if we needed any more!)

Elephant nature park

The biggest friend we have made so far!

This is probably going to be the highlight of your trip in Thailand!  You will see a ton of offers to see elephants and play with them.  The only thing we ask is that you do your research!  If they offer you to ride an elephant, to watch it paint for you, to see it do tricks for you, you need to refuse it.  These are all places that abuse their elephants.

We chose to go with Elephant Nature Park, for many reasons. You can read about our experience and see for yourself, if this is the type of place you want to support.  We sure hope you do!

Got to get that sunscreen on!

Tons of day tours

If you are strapped for time, and can’t visit any other cities in the North, there are a ton of tours that can take you up to Chiang Rai to see all the famous landmarks there, including the White temple, Blue Temple and Black House.  We saw some as low as THB1100 for a whole day out including transport and food.  Expect to be crammed into a bus and on a very tight schedule with little time to explore.  But if these are a must-see on your list, it may be worth it.

Just walk around and take it all in

Can’t get enough of this street art

One of our favourite things to do in any city is to just walk around.  You get such a good sense of the city by seeing what life is like on the streets.  Luckily, there are tons of shops and food stalls around to keep you entertained.  And Chiang Mai has an impressive number of street art for you to enjoy.  So take a day of two to just stroll the streets of the Old City.

Where to eat

There are a ton of places to eat in Chiang Mai. Especially in the Old City. An lucky for us, there are plenty of vegetarian options out there too! Here are a few places we really enjoyed.

Cat House: Right at the edge of the Old City, the Cat House is a great option for breakfast, lunch (even brunch) or dinner.  Their meals range from Western to Middle Eastern to Mexican.  Whatever you are in the mood for, they have it, and it’s delicious!  Our favourites were the omelette (boring Derek) and the chakshuka with hummus.  Delish!

Cooking Love:  There are 2 of these kitchens.  We went to the smaller one, that’s not attached to the hotel.  All the food is affordable and delicious!  Try the Khao Soi soup, a Chiang Mai staple, or the pineapple fried rice.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with much on the menu!

Peppermaint guesthouse: A quaint little place that serves vegetarian and vegan meals.  It’s small, but cozy, with just a few tables.  The owner, an old lady, is quite a pleasure to talk to.  We loved the massaman curry here.  The critics are split on this place, so it may be hit-or-miss for you.  We quite loved it here though!

North Gate Jazz Co-op: As the name suggests, the bar is at the North Gate of the Old City.  With bands coming out to play pretty much every night, and cheap beer, could you really ask for more?  An awesome place to grab drinks and just chill while listening to some good beats.  With seating inside and outside, on the sidewalk, try to get here early (around 9pm) as it does get quite crowded.  Some nights are open mic, so the quality of the band may not be the greatest.

Night market: A staple, a must-do and eat!  There are tons of night markets around the city.  We checked out one near Pantip plaza, and another called the Bumrung Buri Market.  Both have awesome options for vegetarians, and meat-eaters.  Take your pick of the busiest stall – those are usually the best ones anyway! Bon appétit!

They sure love their elephants

Where to stay

We didn’t stay anywhere that we would actually recommend.  But what we do suggest is finding a place with a pool.  The heat becomes pretty unbearable.

We put a lot of time and effort into the content we create.  Please like, comment and share, every action on your part helps us out tremendously and is very much appreciated.

Love our blog? Sign up to get our latest posts, and help keep our dream going

You can also help us by pinning it for others to find.

The ultimate city guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Everything you need to know about having a great time in the city. Tips, tricks, what to do, where to eat and where to stay.