Exploring the Hidden Gems of Northern Thailand – Sop Pong, Chiang Mai

Thailand has been one of the top tourist destinations for the longest time ever, but most people usually only visit the central or southern part of Thailand – Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, etc. But not many people have ventured out to the northern part of Thailand. Here’s why you should check out northern Thailand next!

1. You get to trek alongside elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai!

Imagine trekking side by side with these friendly giants, feeding them their favourite bananas and watermelon. Getting to understand these animals better and to support the organisation that rescues and rehabilitate the elephants that have been ill-treated! This alone should be a good enough reason to visit northern Thailand!! It was for us 😀 Read our full review of the Pamper a Pachyderm Tour at Elephant Nature Park.

2. Visit Thailand’s largest and most beautiful cave – Tham Nam Lod

One of the most famous and easily accessible caves in Sop Pong. It was only a 5-10 minutes walk from the lodge where we stayed at! Due to lack of time, we didn’t go for a tour inside the cave. So instead, we headed to the exit of the cave during sunset, where we knew 300,000 swifts will be flying out. Our first thought was that wow, this cave was massive! And there were so many fishes in the water!

3. Get your adrenaline fix at the caving adventure tour in Sop Pong.

There are more than 200 over limestone caves in Sop Pong and we knew we had to check out this place since we were huge fans of caving adventure tours! What we really liked about the caves in Sop Pong was how raw the caves felt, with no boardwalks, fancy light installation or whatsoever. Just us, and nature. It was darn pretty amazing. A must go for all adventurous enthusiasts!! Read our full review on the caving adventure tour in Soppong!

4. Sate your taste buds with delicious Khao Soi, a signature dish of Chiang Mai

This dish tastes a little like curry noodles. it comes with flat yellow noodles soaked in coconut based gravy topped off with some crispy noodles, lime and onions! It was DELISH! We tried it at the row of food stalls at the northern gate of the old quarters in Chiang Mai city. There were a few stalls selling this dish there.

5. You can’t miss out on visiting temples when you’re in Chiang Mai

At the Wat Chedi Luang of Chiang Mai

To be honest, the main reason why we came to Wat Chedi Luang was because we read that it was the easiest to go for the monk chat here. Apparently in Chiang Mai (not so sure about other parts of Thailand), monk chat is a popular and legit program among the tourists! It’s quite an interesting program where the monks get to practise their spoken English with you, while you get to ask your burning questions about buddhism and the way of a monk’s life.

Some questions that Gina asked:

Gina: Are you happy?
Monk: I’m not happy, and not sad. We are not supposed to feel any attachment to our feelings

Gina: Do monks ever get angry? (Cos i’ve never come across one)
Monk: We do, but we learn to catch up with our feelings and to manage it.

Gina: How do monks spend their weekend? Do you get to take part in entertainment activities like watching a movie, playing sports, go shopping, etc?
Monk: We study during the weekend, and meditate. We are not allowed to take part in any entertainment activities.

Gina chatting with a monk at Wat Chedi Luang.

Sadly, Doi Suthep was honestly a little underwhelming for us. We read that it was a must go in Chiang Mai, but when we got there, we expected the temple to be larger. Perhaps because we compared it to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, which looked similar to Doi Suthep but bigger and more impressive.

At the famous Doi Suthep of Chiang Mai.

The view at Doi Suthep was supposed to be really good, but we were there when it was most polluted. So maybe you’ll have better luck when you’re there!

Have you been to Northern Thailand before? Which other areas should we visit there?! Share with us your recommendations in the comments below!