Lying in the northern reaches of Thailand, Chiang Mai offers tourists a completely different side of the country than what might be encountered in Bangkok.
Although it is the largest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai gives off an immediate laidback vibe not too unlike that of Chengdu on a hot summer weekend day.
The area is surrounded by lush jungles and provides lots of different options for the avid explorer.
Some of the top highlights in Chiang Mai include elephant rides, white-water rafting, overnight trekking, Paduang (long-neck) villages, and a tiger zoo where visitors can "play" with the tigers.
Getting to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is fairly easy, with lots of busses, trains, and flights heading out in that direction.
For a bus ride, the overnight option (10 to 12 hours) is most convenient, unless you are a big fan of looking out the window.