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Experiencing the Culture
of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Entrance to MCU Buddhist University

dishes prepared at a Thai cooking school

Thai cooking classes, and food for
the soul at Buddhist retreats, are
major highlights of Chiang Mai.

Visitors are often warned that if they stop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, they may never leave.

Chiang Mai's ex-pat population is one of the largest in the region; the holistic lifestyle, hospitable people and low cost of living draw nomads from around the world.

While it is the second largest city in Thailand, it manages to retain the slow pace of its northern neighbors. This combination - the charm of an ancient Thai town with the conveniences of a modern city - is a winning one.

While there are more than 300 temples surrounding Chiang Mai, there aren't too many traditional sights. Most visitors stay busy learning about Thai culture through classes, which are offered in abundance.

Buddhist meditation

The monks at MCU Buddhist University, on the grounds of Wat Suan Dok, recently launched a program called Monkchat as a way to educate foreigners about the tenets of Buddhism.

The highlight of the program is a two-day Meditation Retreat Workshop at the university's meditation center, located about 45 minutes outside of Chiang Mai. The workshop is run by donation, and room and board are provided. If you're not sure you can handle two days of silence, stop in for Monkchat's Buddhism and Thai Culture Chat sessions, which provide an opportunity for foreigners to chat with monks on any topic.

MCU Buddhist University Chiang Mai Campus
Wat Suan Dok Suthep Rd, Muang
Tel: (66 53) 808411 ext. 210
For more information:

Thai cooking

Thai curry dishThai cuisine is easily one of the most popular in the world, and eating out is usually one of the highlights of a vacation to Thailand. Part of what makes the dishes so delicious comes from a particular way of chopping and blending ingredients, a skill that can only be learned from Thai chefs.

I had a blast learning to cook my favorite Thai dishes, like Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), Som Tam (young papaya salad) and Green Curry at the Thai Orchid Cooking School. Another popular cooking school is Gap's House"

Thai Orchid Cooking School
One-day class: 950B, four-day class: 3600B
Tel: (66 53) 416349 , (66 80) 4998090
For more information:

Gap's House
One-day class: 900B; two-day class: 1800B
3 Rajadamnern Soi 4
Tel: (66 53) 278140, (66 53) 270143
For more information:

Martial arts - Muay Thai boxing

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is a form of martial art that involves kicking, punching and striking opponents. Chiang Mai has emerged as one of the sport's capitals, attracting aspiring boxers come from throughout Southeast Asia to its training camps. A number of the camps, like the Lanna Muay Thai Boxing Camp, welcome beginners.

Lanna Kiat Busaba Muay Thai Camp
Single session: 300B, daily: 400B, weekly: 2200B, monthly: 8000B
Training times: 6:30 a.m. to 9: 30 a.m. Monday to Saturday; 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday
161, Soi Chang Kian
Huay Kaew Road
Tel: (66 53) 892102
For more information:

About the Author... Jessica Arriola Marati

More about Chiang Mai around the Web:

Thailand Travel Guide for Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai travel guide - Wikitravel

also see in Travel -> Best Beaches in Southeast Asia

Top Thailand Tourist Attractions

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