The capital of north Thailand, Chiang Mai is a popular tourist destination with many beautiful temples, tasty cuisine and a slightly overrated weekend walking market. It’s also a great base to explore the beautiful mountains around once you had enough of beaches and diving in the South. Let us present you alternative Chiang Mai.
Alternative Chiang Mai
There are many articles about what to do in Chiang Mai and where to indulge yourself with the best massage or food. But as we usually don’t go with the flow, we want to offer you some alternative (and maybe even more interesting) things to do in Chiang Mai while helping local community at the same time.
For this matter, we cooperated with travel platform Actxplorer.com which made it all possible. Their idea is to bring travellers and locals together so the both sides benefit from it.
We have chosen 3 activities to try – Coconut Shaving Workshop, Khantoke Dinner and Traditional Thai Herbs & Massage.
Coconut Shaving Workshop
Did you know you can get the whole coconut flesh still with the juice inside out of its shell in one piece? No waste at all!
I can’t say what was the best thing about this workshop. Extracting? Learning so many useful facts about coconut processing? Drinking the best coconut juice we have ever tasted? Talking to the guy who is the only one using this method in Chiang Mai?
This is not some big company who process the coconuts. Just 1 guy and his wife who do it by their own hands. One coconut by one coconut. We were brought by car to their house, which is also their workshop at the same time where we learnt the theory of coconuts, how to recognize and choose the ripe ones in the market and where the best types come from.
(The sweetest coconut is from Amphawa area, so you know the next time you buy it at the market.)
Then we got our coconuts and started to open them on our own. It is a very precise job and it requires patience. We don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, so we won’t explain it step by step. Let’s just say that it is great practise for your pyrotechnics exam.
Katya was the first person who managed to extract the whole coconut on the first try without breaking it. Impressive. But don’t worry, you have 5 tries and if you break one during the process you can quickly drink leaking (super tasty) coconut juice and start working on the next one. So you always win.
As a reward we got our results beautifully packed to take home with us.
Not so much activity with social impact, but still a great opportunity to explore the culture of Northern Thailand while indulging yourself in their traditional food. This type of social gatherings has its long history in Thailand.
Our Khantoke Dinner took place in a beautiful setting full of atmosphere under the open sky. Despite there were maybe 200 people around it still felt really cosy. As soon as we sat down the dance program started and the personel brought us the food served on the special tray. We didn’t know what to do first – watch the spectacular dance performance or taste all the amazing-looking food.
It turned out the food does not only look amazing. It also tastes amazing. So rich and full in taste. Not as spicy as we anticipated though.
Before we realized it, one hour has passed and the performance was getting to the end. For the last bit they invited audience to join them and learn some of the moves. After that we walked around the place and took few pictures before heading back to the hotel.
It was beautiful evening where all our senses were fully stimulated and satisfied.
Traditional Thai Herbs & Massage
For the last activity, we were brought to the house in the nearby village to discover local herbs, their impact on the health and use for the traditional Thai massage.
The owner is a respected person in the village for her wisdom and service to society. They call her Mae Khru (mother teacher). She passes her knowledge to the local women who don’t have many opportunities in rural areas, so they can become a masseuse and get a possibility to earn a decent living. Many people from around go to Mae Khru to get help with their health problems.
After we walked through the garden and learnt about Thai herbs, we received a 2-hour long massage. We have already experienced Thai massage before, but this one was much better.
We both felt that the masseuses don’t just do some repetitive moves. They first asked about our problems and adjusted the massage based on it. They really found the parts of the body which needed attention and worked with them. Applying steamed herbal balls to the body felt so good and helped to relieve our body pains.
We would lie if we said we left the place relaxed and painless. But this is not what Thai massage about. After a few days when the pain dissolved, we felt it really helped our computer-slouched bodies and muscles.
Everybody wants to see the most touristic sights of the visited place. And it is fine. They didn’t become that touristy for no reason. But don’t stick only to these. Explore the place from another point of view – the local point of view. Do something different, which will also have social impact and increase the prosperity of locals. Many activities of Actxplorer offer such opportunities and it will be more rewarding than you might think. For both. You and locals. Check out their site HERE!