The Top 3 Alternative Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Alex Gunn 25 April 2010 6 comments

P1010014I won’t go through the same tired old recommendations but let you know about some things that won’t be in the guide books.

Chiang Mai is a wonderful and magical place, long regarded by those in the know as a favoured holiday destination. The food is excellent, scenery stunning, people are friendly and the prices are cheap. What more could you want……………..

 Private Food Tasting Tour.

I wish I had done this when I first arrived. There’s a small holiday company that runs individual private tours of local fresh food markets with a free al fresco lunch thrown in. There is a bewildering amount of wonderful food markets in Chiang Mai that are not easy to find, often aren’t listed on tourist maps and if stumbled upon can be intimidating places. They are often bustling with busy local people, all prices are in Thai, each market has its own specialities only known to locals and language is sometimes a problem. A private food tasting tour opens up these secret caves of edible treasure to anyone that has got a spare few hours. Try the miniature fruits and banana dumplings or for the more adventurous, deep fried chicken heads and grilled frogs.  Contact me for more details.

 Wat Ket Museum.

This must be one of the most unusual “museums” in the world. If you walk east over the footbridge over the Ping river from Worowot market the temple is across the road almost in front of you, but surprisingly easy to miss. It’s one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai and seldom visited. In the grounds of the temple is a crumbling old building with a crumbling old attendant. On your approach he will spring up, offer you a pair of slippers and throw on the lights illuminating the biggest and oddest collection of things you have ever seen in your life. It’s as though whenever anything from any time or place got lost, broken or thrown away it disappeared through a time warp and ended up here. If you are lucky enough to get here I bet you will spend most of your time wondering where on earth the good monks of Wat Ket have managed to discover these treasures.

My favourite is a cabinet in which there is an ancient leather pouch next to a collection of small objects which include a mummified chickens foot, glass beads, bits of bone, crystals and disturbingly familiar looking teeth. Next to this is a hand written sign which says “magic things”.

There is also an extensive collection of genuine old photographs spanning everyday life of Chiang Mai over the past 100 years. Rush past the ones of the old public executions or they’ll give you nightmares.       

Second Hand Flea Market.

This is one of the most unusual markets you’ll find, second only perhaps to the Barcelona Pet Market where a man with no teeth tried to sell me a baby crocodile. If you follow the train lines, on the right side, out of the lovely old station, past the store houses, and the men that are always playing Takraw (a kind of football tennis) you’ll come to a second hand market that snakes its way alongside the tracks. You literally won’t know what you’ll find there. There’s always a good stock of single shoes (can’t quite believe there are that many single legged shoppers on the lookout for cheap used single shoes), tools and Buddhist artefacts. Last time I went there was some very old interesting farming items and wooden kitchenware so ancient and clearly hand made they could easily have pre dated the advent of kitchens.

I have the feeling that one day I will find something incredibly rare and valuable. If you beat me to it do let me know.

Have fun.

Keep you up to date with all things Chiang Mai like next Monday.


Alex Gunn

Alex Gunn

Alex Gunn runs a small unusual travel company called The Life Change People People based in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. After several diverse careers as a circus performer, school teacher, psychotherapist, stunt pilot and university lecturer he can now be found poking about far flung markets, museums, restaurants and odd places in and around Chiang Mai. When not running his company or writing about the joys of life in Northern Thailand he writes about motivational psychology. He recently received a prestigious Beacon Award from the UK government for his creation and management of a new BSc degree in motivation and health behaviour change. He lives just outside Chiang Mai with his wife and 2 children.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. sai sai Says:

    Ha ha. I like the market selling single shoes. I am Thai but have never heard of it before. It’s good to have someone recommend other interesting and unusual activities in Chiang Mai. I’d love to see some pictures from you too.

  2. Alex Gunn ChrissyLCP Says:

    Glad you liked it Sai. The problem is that now I’ve started to think of all the alternative things to do in Chiang Mai I can’t stop. Must remember to take my camera though.

  3. hannah hannah Says:

    Love the sound of the private food tasting tour, could you let me know more details please? We arrive early November.Thanks

  4. PinkGecko PinkGecko Says:

    I would love some more information on the private food tasting tour … please can you let me know who I need to get in touch with? Many thanks.

  5. s205007945 s205007945 Says:

    Hi Alex,

    I’ve just arrived in Chiang Mai and will be based here for two – three weeks. I’d love to hear a little more about the private food tasting tour – Please would you let me know how to get some more information?

    Thanks and regards,

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