We spent 3 days in Chiang Mai at Le Meridien Chiang Mai, just outside the old city. A convenient location across the street from the night market and close by were tons of places to eat, shop and get $5 massages. We used SPG suite night awards to upgrade to a one bedroom suite. The views were nice and they also provided a breakfast buffet in the restaurant or club lounge.
We didn’t want to ride elephants or see elephant shows because of the abuse we had heard of, but we did visit the Elephant Nature Center, where they care for and rehabilitate elephants who were previously abused. We enjoyed feeding and walking with these beautiful creatures. Although ideally they should be roaming free, the demand for elephant tourism in Southeast Asia keeps many of them in captivity in abusive situations.
We also enjoyed a Muy Thai training session Sit Thaharnaek Muay Thai Gym across the street from Le Meridien, did a lot of walking around and enjoyed some good food all over the city. I got some great suggestions from the Extra Pack of Peanuts blog – Mae Sai Khao Soi ($1 excellent Northern Thai curry noodle soup), a haircut, blow dry and mani-pedi at New York New York Hair Studio (and the cafe next to it had some yummy smoothies too), and Dash Teak Restaurant (nice ambience). I felt like 3 days was just not enough for this city and so we will be back for some more exploration one day.
Afternoon tea with a view in the Le Meridien club lounge: