It is possible for families to discover a new activity every day in Chiang Mai. Located 700kms north of Bangkok, the overnight train trip is a comfortable and convenient way to arrive in Thailand's adventure capital. For us, the fun began with a visit to Phutawan Elephant Sanctuary in the Mae Wang valley. Interacting with the 11 elephants at this sanctuary and giving them a "mud spa" in the river was the highlight of our stay. We were all encouraged to feed the elephants bananas by hand and even learnt some of the mahout commands such as "stop" and "kiss".
Next, we had fun ziplining through the rainforest at 1300 metres above sea level with the attentive team at Dragonflight. This was a fantastic family challenge and a unique way to experience the tropical forests surrounding the Chiang Mai. Floating down the river on a bamboo raft (or tubing) is another great eco-friendly activity on offer as are the cycle tours catering to all abilities.
Chiang Mai is also the handicrafts centre of Thailand and a visit to Bo Sang umbrella village, Baan Kang Wat artisan village, or Saa paper village are also highly recommended. It was an eye-opener to observe the villagers use traditional weaving, painting and carving techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation. For children, there are opportunities to learn one of these local handicrafts at a range of hands-on workshops at Baan Kang Wat artisan village.
Art in Paradise is a 3D art museum and gallery which is an ideal way to spend a few educational hours indoors. Here it is possible to learn about the art of optical illusion by actually standing inside the illusion. Be sure to take your phone along on this one as each room features different themes such as underwater, iconic paintings or exploring Ancient Egypt.
On a hot day, the newly opened Grand Canyon Waterpark provides the perfect spot to cool off. This outdoor water park is filled with climbing, jumping and swimming challenges which are guaranteed to create an exciting day out (life jackets are provided).