Buddhist ‘Wat’ Temple Tour

Hire a car and driver to cruise leisurely between one ancient pile of stones and the next. Start by heading ten miles west of Chiang Mai town, to Wat Doi Suthep, a mountaintop temple 3,500 feet above sea level that confers exceptional vistas of the surrounding Himalayan foothills. Doi Suthep Mountain was originally inhabited by the Lua people who believed the souls of their ancestors lived at the summit. The temple was built in the late 14th century when Buddhism became the dominant religion here. According to legend, King Geu Na ordered that a relic of the holy Buddha be strapped to the back of a sacred white elephant that was turned loose. The elephant stopped at the summit of Doi Suthep and the king ordered that a golden pagoda be built here to house a sacred Buddha relic. Climb 306 steps up an almost vertical staircase, or take the cable car to this magnificent Lanna style shimmering gilded chedi, or pagoda, that is today one of the most sacred in Thailand.

Built in the forested foothills of Doi Suthep Mountain, the 14th century Wat U Mong is named for its distinguishing feature, as umong (Thai for tunnel). The forested grounds beneath the gilded chedi are crisscrossed with tunnels, allegedly because this temple was built to keep one of its original monks who was highly regarded but slightly mad, from wandering off.

Back in Chiang Mai, Wat Prha Singh built in 1345 is known as the Monastery of the Lion Buddha. The exquisite gold lacquered assembly hall, Viharn Lao Kham, contains the Phra Sihing Buddha, the city's most venerated Buddha image. Built in the 14th century by King Mengrai the founder of Chiang Mai, Wat Chiang Man is believed to be Chiang Mai's oldest and is most famous for its two Buddhas: the miniature crystal White Emerald Buddha, or Phra Sae Tang Khamani and the marble Phra Sila Buddha. Nearby, Wat Chedi Luang dates to 1481 and houses a Buddhist university where visitors come from around the world for daily monk chats.

Interior View - Four Seasons Chiang Mai Cooking School, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Four Seasons Chiang Mai Cooking School

Open to both resort guests and outside visitors, the open-air kitchen is nestled among the lush tropical forest of this breathtaking resort. Classes begin with a morning trip to the local market in the city of Chiang Mai, where students are guided through the market to purchase ingredients and experience a part of the everyday routine for local residents. Then they return to the cooking school for a demonstration by the charismatic and funny chef. After each course is demonstrated, student return to their workstation to fire up a wok of their own. For multiple families, cooking competitions can be arranged. This is a memorable experience for both those who love cooking, as well as those who usually don’t set foot in the kitchen.

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Aerial view - Indagare Tours: Hot Air Ballooning, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Indagare Tours: Hot Air Ballooning

One of the best ways to embrace the beauty of Thailand’s northern countryside is to drift gracefully one thousand feet above it in a hot-air balloon. Wake early and take a flight in time to watch the red glowing sunrise over rice paddy fields and temples. You will enjoy a heightened sense of peace and tranquility as you float over the beautiful landscape of Chiang Mai before descending into the open fields for a private Champagne brunch as local farmers and their livestock awaken and begin their day. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team for more information and for assistance planning this excursion.

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Indagare Tours: Jungle Flight

Spend an exhilarating day (or half-day) flying through the emerald rainforest on this elaborate treetop obstacle course, pausing occasionally to witness stunning views over the mountainous region. With various course options, a jungle experience can include nature walking, abseils, sky bridges and memorable panoramic observation points. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team for more information and for assistance planning this excursion.

Elephants at Patara Elephant Farm in Thailand

Patara Elephant Farm

Founder Pat Trungpaken started Patara Elephant Farm with a mission of saving Thailand's elephant population. From the moment you arrive, Pat and his assistant Jack are observing your personality and body language, information they use to pair you with an elephant for a 90-minute ride through gorgeous scenery.
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Shop Nimmanhaemin Road

This convenient stretch is easily accomplished on foot and can be broken up with lunch and snack breaks. New shops and cafés open almost daily while other venues disappear in a flash. One reliable address, Nandakwang is a homespun haven of well-priced Thai hand loomed bedspreads, table linens and teddy bears. Next door, Doi Tung Lifestyle sells Issey Miyake–inspired clothes and shoes, raffia rugs and stylishly slouchy handbags to support livelihood development projects for northern Thai communities under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Downstairs, settle into the comfy seating to sip mangosteen juice and nibble macadamia nut cookies, a specialty of the house. Perhaps the most cosmopolitan stop on this itinerary, Gerard Collection lines the walls with beach chic woven bamboo and leather bags finished with buffalo horn, sterling silver or both. At Palmy, Pitiporn Batpim combines her training at the London College of Fashion with indigenous influences for a consistently stylish footwear selection in butter soft leathers. Another sweet spot, Nimmanhaemin Promenade offers kitsch in a convenient mini-mall. The street facing Chabaa (Soi 4, Nimmanhaemin Road) is a closet-size space overflowing with a kaleidoscope of cotton sundresses, Nepalese bejeweled belts and piles of shimmering Indian bangles. Cross the courtyard for more at Boho Rhapsody (Promenade Room 4, 081-167-6768) and at the back you’ll find Maneeslip (053-289-252) offering custom leather dress shoes and sandals for men and women.

Merchandise at Colour Factory, Chiang Mai, Thailand - Courtesy Joanna MacLean

Shop the Wat Gate Neighborhood

This bucolic neighborhood of Thai artisans, European architecture and in-the-know international eateries stretches along the Ping River around Wat Gate Khar Rham Temple. Start by stopping in at the Healing Family Foundation. The local charity teaches learning and physically disabled children to express themselves artistically, on seriously cute hand embroidered tees with elephant heads on the front, tails at the back as well as stylish Thai textile table mats. Nearby, Colour Factory sells kaleidoscopic elephant sculptures designed by bold face names like Mark Jacobs and Isaac Mizrahi with 20% of profits donated to support Asian elephants. Do even more good with your credit card at Sop Moei Arts, where profits from these magnificently woven baskets and stunning silk textiles support Pwo Karen villagers outside Chiang Mai. Then nip into Nussara to load up on Missoni-inspired kaleidoscopic cotton scarves, indigo dyed fisherman pants and thick day glow wool variations on traditional Thai monk bags.

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Wat Gate Khar Rham Museum

Adjacent to Wat Gate Khar Rham Temple built in 1796, this unedited collection ranges from coins dating back hundreds of years to Dinah Shore LPs. Wander along walls and shelves, which are crammed tightly with ancient farm tools and Chinese trade pottery, antique drums and piles of rare fabric. There’s also period clothing, some of which once belonged to Chiang Mai royalty, Buddhist wood carvings and an extensive gallery of old Chiang Mai photographs.

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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