Romantic Chiang Mai

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Romantic Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has a lot to offer as a romantic destination. Start your morning with a river cruise or a cooking class for two, relax with a massage or spa treatment, and end the day with a night on the town.
Photo by Henglein and Steets/age fotostock
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    Music and Dance in Chiang Mai
    Hit the dance floor with your loved one to let off steam after a day exploring temples. Upscale clubs like Infinity or Warm Up in the western Nimmanhaemin neighborhood are where the young and trendy sip gourmet cocktails while grooving to the latest hits. There is also a small but diverse live music scene, mainly concentrated around the Old City. Try the bars along Ratvithi Road for reggae and classic rock, or North Gate Jazz Co-op for classical and experimental live music. Check out Nimmanhaemin or along the eastern banks of the Ping River for emerging local indie talent.
    Photo by Henglein and Steets/age fotostock
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    Thai Massage and Relaxing Spas
    A major perk of traveling in Chiang Mai is access to its many spas and massage parlors. Thai massage benefits your health and—in its homeland, at least—is very affordable. Spa treatments range from the usual hour-long massage to full-day, luxury experiences that include facials and body wraps. Lila Massage is a favorite among travelers for its tranquil setting; it also works in partnership with the women´s prison in order to help former inmates integrate back into society. For impromptu relaxation, take a load off during one of the weekend street markets and enjoy a neck or foot massage on the sidewalk while you watch the crowd pass by.
    Photo by Susan Corlett/age fotostock
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    Cruising on the Mae Ping
    For those days when a meandering pace seems best, try a relaxing and romantic river cruise along the Mae Ping River. Set off in an old-fashioned boat similar to those formerly used by Thai royalty, and coast through the waters of the Mae Ping as a guide lays out the history of the area. Along the way you'll also enjoy a stop at a garden or an herb farm. The tours last from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours, depending on which company you choose (Mae Ping River Cruise and Scorpion-Tailed River Cruise are both popular), and are offered several times a day, every day.
    Photo by Blaine Harrington/age fotostock
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    Thai Cooking Classes
    Thai cuisine is justifiably famous around the world, and there is no better place than Chiang Mai to learn how to cook dishes like green curry or tom yum goong (spicy lemongrass soup with shrimp). There are plenty of Thai cooking schools around the city to choose from. For a learning experience with a bit of humor, sign up for a class with A Lot of Thai and let Yui, a renowned young chef, guide you through a local market and teach you to shop for fresh Thai ingredients. For cooks who prefer an organic alternative, Thai Farm Cooking School is a good option for getting out of the city for the day and learning to cook on an organic farm.
    Photo by Daniel Nahabedian
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    A City of Celebration
    Thai people love to celebrate. There are multiple festivals throughout the year in Chiang Mai and you’ll often stumble upon small parades and celebrations without even knowing what the event is about. The biggest and most popular festival in town is Loy Krathong/Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, which takes place in November. Join the throngs of locals as they release thousands of small floats onto the river and similar numbers of paper lanterns into the sky. Not for the faint of heart, Songkran (the Thai New Year) is celebrated in April, and is considered the world´s largest water fight: the official event runs for three days, but the splashing may continue for as long as a week!
    Photo by Daniel Nahabedian
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    The City of 300 Temples
    Chiang Mai is known as the City of 300 Temples, and with good reason. There are temples on almost every street corner, and monks walking around in saffron robes are a common sight. Locals will often point out that if you haven’t been to Wat Doi Suthep, the sacred temple on the mountain, you haven’t visited Chiang Mai. The temple's vista at night, with the city at your feet, is worth the winding ride to the top. You can also walk around inside the Old City and stop by Wat Chedi Luang with its giant stupa that used to host an emerald Buddha statue. Join a monk chat (where you get to converse with monks) at Wat Sri Suphan, The Silver Temple, or explore the ancient tunnels of Wat Umong.
    Photo by Cornelia Pith/age fotostock
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    Shop for That Special Someone
    Chiang Mai is the perfect place to shop for exotic souvenirs and gifts for friends and family or to pick up a present for your partner. Head to the Night Bazaar, which is open every evening on Khampangdin Road. You’ll find a vast selection of products, from art pieces to clothing, bags, shoes, and hill tribe handicrafts. Don’t forget to haggle for lower prices. You can also browse the pedestrianized weekend street bazaars for authentic products. If you’re looking for good quality silk or lacquerware, head out of town towards Bo Sang to buy directly from the factories. As a bonus, they’ll give you an inside tour and show you how the whole process works.
    Photo by Daniel Nahabedian
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    Art Galleries and Photography Exhibitions
    Chiang Mai’s art scene is growing. They might not be on the tourist trail, but art galleries and photography exhibitions are regularly featured in the city. If you’re after fine arts, explore the Nimmanhaemin area in the western part of the city to find free galleries with local artwork and to socialize with connoisseurs. Look for the Documentary Arts Asia center in the south of the city for monthly photography exhibits, documentaries, and free movie nights. Those interested in history can visit the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center to learn about the founding of the Lanna Kingdom and its capital. For something different check out the Chiang Mai Art in Paradise museum, whose paintings use optical illusions and make for great photo ops.
    Photo courtesy of Documentary Arts Asia