Day Trips from Chiang Mai – Mon Jam (Mon Cham)
Many people visiting Chiang Mai Thailand, enjoy the temples (Wat), culture, food, nightlife and markets, all the excitement that this city has on offer. Just outside of Chiang Mai you will find attractions and areas of natural beauty. Taking day trips from Chiang Mai should be on every travellers list.
Nearby Day Trips from Chiang Mai
A group of us recently hired a mini-van out to Mon Jam. Our daughter was visiting and it was the first time our group of friends had all been together in six months.
We met up at one of our favourite restaurants, Lava Café Bar and Grill, our pre-arranged pick up point where our minivan and driver were waiting.
From there it was easy, we sat back and watched the changing landscape as the driver whisked us up the highway to the north of the city.
Destinations in the Mae Rim District
We left the city behind and eventually turned off the highway and drove on roads shaded by the lush tropical vegetation, passing small communities along the way.
We were spending the day at the Maesa Elephant Camp, stopping off at Mon Jam in the mountains for lunch and having an adventure at the Pongyang Zipline and Jungle Coaster, also referred to as the Monjam Zipline Chiang Mai in the afternoon.
Along the way we passed many tourist attractions, Tiger Kingdom, Elephant Poopoopaper Park, Bai Orchid & Butterfly Farm and the Maesa Snake Farm.
We saw turn off signs to the Siam Insect Zoo and Maesa Waterfalls and the Doi Suthep – Doi Pui National Park. It became clear we would need to plan another day trip to visit these attractions.
Soon we arrived at the first destination of the day, the Maesa Elephant Camp.
Maesa Elephant Camp
The park is in a beautiful setting, a stream cascades over rocks and the area was shaded by thick forest.
We were just in time for the Elephant show and from the time they walked into the showground, we were in love.
The elephants entertained us with a musical talent show and dancing, here we discovered their different characters, from comedian to show off they were so much fun to watch.
We watched an elephant football game, the loveable antics of the dart game and Thai massage elephant style.
My favourite part of the show was when the elephants showed their artistic side and painted colourful pictures, proving that they are one of the cleverest animals on the planet.
We got to see a more serious side when the elephants showed us how they do their job. They hauled heavy logs with such ease you would think they were matchsticks. They worked as a team loading the logs into place with their tusks. You got the feeling that they were proud of the work they were doing.
After the show, we got to meet the elephants. I got to pat the trunk of the most majestic elephant I have ever seen, his tusks were long, white and gleaming. I felt so angry that there are people in the World wanting to kill these beautiful beasts for their tusks.
We walked on to a different part of the camp where I had the opportunity to feed two elephants. Elephants are hungry creatures, they gobbled a bunch or bananas and sugar cane in two seconds flat. Then to my surprise they both hugged me with their trunks and started kissing me, it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life, I couldn’t stop laughing, an unforgettable experience.
Other activities at the camp are the Elephant Nursery, The Elephant Bathing Show, Elephant rides and the Mahout Training Course.
One thing I did notice while watching the Mahout and elephants joke and play, was the love and mutual respect they have for each other.
The Nong Hoi Royal Project
We passed Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens and the Nong Hoi Royal Project.
The Nong Hoi Royal Project was set up by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej as an alternative to the opium poppy crops that were formerly grown there.
Just one of the many Royal Projects introduced by the King, the Nong Hoi Royal Project is now one of the largest producers of vegetables for the Royal Project marketing division. Crops include vegetables, herbs, strawberries, grapes and plums.
The Royal Projects also produce a delicious Buffalo Feta and Buffalo Feta in oil and sundried tomato, I have used both at home in salads or pasta.
We followed the twists and turns of the steep mountain road up to Mon Jam lookout. Tight corners plunged down into deep fertile valleys where farmhouses dotted the landscape.
Arriving at Mon Jam, we walked up the hill passing stalls selling traditional crafts, clothing and fresh vegetables.
At the top, we looked out over spectacular views stretched out to the horizon. Terraced vegetable gardens dropped down into the valley and the air cooled as clouds drifted in and shroud the mountain in front of us.
Families and friends picnicked and relaxed in the small huts that frame the mountain rim. Children wearing colourful traditional clothing, laughed and played amongst the flowers.
Lunch with a view
Our restaurant was across the valley from Mon Jam lookout. As we took our place on the veranda we were met with sweeping views of the villages and farms.
Our restaurant was Thai and seldom frequented by foreigners, everything was written Thai so I can’t even tell you the name of the restaurant but the staff were lovely and helpful.
The food was delicious, we shared a hotpot dish called Moo Kata. Moo Kata is made by adding different vegetables and noodles to stock. A variety of meat is cooked on a barbeque plate in the middle of the stock. The juices of the meat flavour the stock which is added to small bowls of spicy sauce, it is a flavour burst which is addictive.
Our daughter enjoying the sunflowers at Mon Jam
After an enjoyable lunch, we went for a walk in the sunflower field a fitting end to an enjoyable morning. Mon Jam has camping grounds and resorts for those wanting to stay a few days to explore the surroundings.
Pongyang Zipline and Jungle Coaster
Next stop was the Pongyang zipline and jungle coaster. Pongyang is a wonderland, set high in the forest canopy of some of the tallest trees I have ever seen. This is a beautiful place with cascading waterfalls and lush greenery.
The area has 37 platforms, 2 spiral staircases, 4 sky bridges, 3 ladders and 17 ziplines. Activities include abseiling, sky skateboard, sky tricycle and jungle coaster. Our group tried out the jungle coaster, this zippy ride was a lot of fun and a fitting end to a perfect day.
Booking excursions from Chiang Mai couldn’t be easier, you can take a tour, hire a songthauw or a minivan and driver like we did. If you are going in a group, hiring a minivan and driver is a good option as the cost can be split amongst the group. Tours can be booked through most of Chiang Mai’s Hotels.
Have you done any day trips from Chiang Mai? What was your favourite attraction? If so feel free to leave a comment.