5 Ways to Enjoy a Healthier, Happier Life in Chiang Mai

1. Food, Glorious Food

Walk down any supermarket aisle in Australia and the shelves are lined with preservative-laden items marketed as ‘food’. They may be edible, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you. I was forever scanning ingredient lists to ensure we were eating food made from natural ingredients. But it wasn’t always easy—or cheap.

Here in Chiang Mai, that isn’t a problem. Jason and I eat on the street most nights and our favourite dishes include chicken with cashews and vegetables, pineapple fried rice with prawns, cashews and raisins and khao soi—a Thai coconut curry noodle soup served everywhere in northern Thailand. All made fresh, of course, and with no artificial ingredients.

For dessert, we typically buy some fresh mango for just 30 baht ($1.20). Yum!

2. Sunshine and Warm Weather

One of the things I love about Chiang Mai is the warm weather and steady supply of sunshine. Back in Melbourne, the city was cast into darkness (and coldness) for six months every year. But in Thailand, the concept of winter simply doesn’t exist.

It means we’re always feeling lively and upbeat and much more eager to be outside, whether it’s wandering around the Sunday night market in the Old City or visiting the mountain-top temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

3. Weekend Adventures

Because Chiang Mai is nestled in the mountains of northern Thailand, there’s no shortage of greenery. One of our favourite places to visit on the weekend is Baan Kang Wat, a quaint, low-key artists’ village with cafes, a market and public workshops.

The area is filled with lush vegetation, to the point that you forget you’re only 15 minutes away from the city. The atmosphere is so tranquil and peaceful that we try to enjoy it at least once a month.

©Michelle Hammond Baan Kang Wat is one of our favourite places to visit on the weekend.

4. Keeping Fit

We’re lucky to have a gym in our building, which makes it easy to squeeze in a quick workout before dinner or a longer session on the weekend. We also walk everywhere, since we don’t have a motorbike or a car. After years of sitting in Melbourne traffic, this has been a lovely change.

There’s also no shortage of yoga studios in Chiang Mai, including Om Ganesha Yoga, which is where I go. A drop-in class is 250 baht ($10), but there are packages available that work out at a cheaper price per class. Classes are taught in English and include everything from Ashtanga Vinyasa and Hatha Flow to detox yoga and power stretching. I always feel fantastic afterwards.

5. Savouring a Slower, Gentler Pace of Life

Buddhism reigns supreme in Thailand and this is evident in the way Thai people conduct themselves and live their lives. Thai people are very gentle and easy-going, you will rarely hear a Thai person raise their voice.

As a foreigner, you feel silly and disrespectful if you lose your cool. In Chiang Mai in particular, you’re encouraged to slow down and chill out a bit. I highly recommend it.

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