Chiang Mai’s reputation is outstanding, for tourists and travellers who spend anywhere from two days here through to finding themselves still there two months later. There’s an abundance of Chiang Mai activities to do yet there are a few ‘once in a lifetime activities’ you should think twice about doing in Chiang Mai due to ethical reasons.
Visiting Tiger Kingdom
You’ve probably seen a friend who has been to Thailand proudly displaying a new Facebook Profile of him/her holding a tiger’s tail.
Picture this: a mere human smiling with a real, living tiger’s tail in hand. Does that picture feel normal at all? Go and grab your cat’s tail and see if it’s still relaxed enough to pose for a selfie with you.
While these pictures may look cool when you’re working your nine to five or looking for your next adventure, the reality is that there’s major animal cruelty going on here.
To this day there’s no actual proof the tigers are drugged or sedated. But if you have any common sense you’ll realise sketchy animal practices are happening at these ‘Tiger Kingdoms’. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegan shouting from the rooftops or an avid game hunter, a rational mind will recognise this.
There are news reports indicating all is not well with these ‘kingdoms’ popping up more and more often.
Go On A Trek With An Elephant Ride Included
The first time I arrived in Chiang Mai I was an ignorant tourist who wanted to go trekking and of course, that was all in order to be able to ride an elephant through the jungle. While I didn’t post a profile pic of myself on top of an elephant like the tiger posers above it doesn’t make me any better or worse.
The elephants you ride on are essentially beaten until their spirit is broken. They’re so dejected they succumb to their leader who is ready to whack them with a hook if they look like they might ‘misbehave’ or realistically, follow their instincts. Watch how they break an elephant and you will NEVER consider riding one.
Sadly I didn’t realise this until a few months after I went. The marketing of the elephant ride was definitely the main reason I went trekking, sneaky!
If you want an elephant experience, head to the Elephant Nature Reserve or to an organization that cares about elephants.
In hindsight, I should have headed to one of the Elephant centres like Elephant Nature Reserve that actually care about the wellbeing of the elephants where long-term my experiences would have been much richer.
Visit The Long Neck Tribes
You’ve most likely seen photos of the long neck tribes before. The Kayans have gold rings around their neck, the illusion is the head looks to be in a floating like state.
You can actually visit Kayan villages near Chiang Mai. These villages are very interesting unfortunately, the majority of the Kayans living there have no choice in their occupation.
Originally from Burma, the only way to stay in Thailand is to work in these artificial villages. The Thai authorities don’t allow them to work outside these villages.
If you really want to visit these long neck villages ethically, do thorough research into the exact village you want to visit. Hiring a private guide is recommended rather than going along with a group as part of a day trip.
Hoon Around On A Scooter Without A Helmet
Driving around Chiang Mai on a scooter is awesome! Unfortunately, Thailand has the second most dangerous the world. While anyone can ride a scooter it’s incredible to see how many tourists ride a scooter without a helmet on, thinking they are invincible.
Don’t be an idiot, if the helmets at the rental shop don’t fit you can get one from a shop for less than $10 down the road.
You might well end up with a farang tattoo while driving around Chiang Mai no matter how good your driving is, like myself, even though I had a helmet on. Keeping your head safe will keep your parents happy who of course won’t care if you look like a dork or not while riding.
Whether you go ahead with the above Chiang Mai activities or not is totally up to you. Regardless of what you do, enjoy Chiang Mai, it’s incredible!