In a recent blog we wrote about how we keep our trips fresh and exciting when it’s oh-so-easy to just kind of let them get… old. Lived in. Worn out. We said: Once a trip/route/itinerary is set, it’s quite easy to just keep things rolling along, coasting off of the momentum built up in its creation. But there’s a problem with that – after a spectacular beginning, even the biggest, brightest, balloon will run out of air and flop to the ground in a lifeless lump when you let it go.
We wanted to continue this line of thought with one specific trip as an example of how we are always looking for ways to fine-tune and improve the experience of our guests, even when we think the trip is working out really well.
In this case, it’s a trip that we’re very proud of and that we never get tired of tweaking – our Chiang Mai Classic Sights. Except it isn’t called that anymore! We’ve renamed it to Chiang Mai Life and Legends. See? We’ve already shaken things up a bit and we haven’t even finished our bowl of Khao Tom!
Chiang Mai is one of our favorite places in Southeast Asia, and certainly Thailand. It’s an ancient city with modern amenities, close to amazing mountains, serene temples, and endless rice fields. The food is great, the people are fun, and the stories long and varied.
So why did we change the title? Well, in large part because of those stories. Chiang Mai Life and Legends changes the focus from the classic sights of our old tour (many of which are still included) to the story of Chiang Mai and the legends that surround its long history. As you can imagine, any city founded in 1296 has some pretty amazing stories to tell.
While exploring the back alleys, temples and hidden restaurants of Chiang Mai is a great way to see the city, we wanted to add a level of depth to the trip so people could feel Chiang Mai; understand it from a more literary, narrative position.
For instance, we begin the trip by visiting Doi Suthep (the mountain top looking over Chiang Mai city) and nearby Wat Umong. The top of Doi Suthep is a great place to survey the day’s adventure spread out below, pointing out the spots we will visit and how they are connected to the city’s history. To be honest, everyone visits Doi Suthep, and Wat Umong is very popular too. They are both beautiful places with rich histories and great photo ops. But we take things a step further by explaining why they’re such revered sites. What’s the elephant legend of Doi Suthep that every schoolchild in Chiang Mai learns? Why do the 12th century paintings in Wat Umong mean so much? And how have they contributed to Chiang Mai’s DNA as the city has grown?
Bolstering these legends are memorable interactions throughout the day with locals who can provide even greater insight. There are precious few guidebooks that can tell you a story like an octogenarian who has seen their town go from thatch huts to cement towers over the course of their lifetime.
And that there is the magic sauce: personal anecdotes and inside stories from people who know the legends like they know their own family. We believe that seeing Chiang Mai from a more personal angle will enrich this already amazing city experience even further.