Fly to Chiang Mai on the Saturday the program starts or, if you want, you can fly a day or two before. You can fly directly into Chiang Mai or you can fly into Bangkok and then hop a quick one hour local connecting flight to Chiang Mai.
4:00 pm We will all gather at the guest house and have an orientation meeting to give you a lay of the land for the weeks ahead. After that, we will get a tasty dinner at the local market!
Explore Chiang Mai: Temples, Food, Massage, Markets, Music
This day we will get to know the old city of Chiang Mai. We will visit a few amazing temples, sample some great street food, and get a foot massage!
After dinner, you will have the evening free to relax, go to the famous Sunday walking market and continue to explore the city.
If people are up for it, we may even head over to the jazz bar in the evening for some great music.
Monday – Friday
A Week of Thai Massage Study At Pichest’s – Evenings are free
On Monday morning we will go to the market to pick up offerings for our teacher Pichest. Then, after coffee of course, we will take a small yellow bus to Pichest’s place and spend the day hanging out at his studio, listening to his dharma talk, getting a feel for the classroom, getting to know the students from around the world who are there, and of course learning and practicing Thai massage!
We are usually home by 5:30 and you will have your evenings free. By this time, you will have a good sense of the city and what you might want to experience in the evenings. We have a number of restaurants that we love and will share with you throughout the trip including a Burmese restaurant, a Northern Thai fish restaurant, and even a really great Indian and Israeli restaurant if you get tired of Thai food. There are a lot of veggie options as well for those who roll that way. In the evenings, you may want to get some massages, hang out in an herbal sauna, go to a night market, have a drink at a local bar or even see some live music. As they say in Thailand, “up to you!”.
Meet Doctor Ta for massage and herbal steam
On this fun and super relaxing day, we will head out of town to the country home of Doctor Ta (Mor Ta), a man who practices as a traditional doctor in the Thai tradition. At Mor Ta’s, we will take herbal steams, get massages Mor Ta style, eat lunch that his wife and helpers prepare, and learn about the country style Thai medicine that he practices. For the adventurous among us, we might even share in some Ya Dong (Thai medicinal whiskey!).
Chiang Dao Cave Tour – Local Herbal Market – Jungle Walk to Temple on a Hill – Hot Springs
Chiang Dao is a town north of Chiang Mai in the hills of northern Thailand. It is a special pilgrimmage site for many Thai people who believe the area has a powerful spiritual energy. In the morning we’ll visit a cave temple (don’t worry, it doesn’t flood!). Then we’ll wander through a market of Thai medicinal herbs. After that we’ll take a silent walk up over 500 steps through the jungle to the most gorgeous temple ever on a hill overlooking the rolling hills of Northern Thailand. Finally, we’ll rest in a hot spring as we watch a lazy river go by and people in a traditional village go about their daily activities.
Don’t forget about the Sunday night walking market where you can buy many of your gifts to bring home if you wish.
Study at Pichest’s – Evening is free
Tuesday – Wednesday
We ditch class for a couple days in order to head to a temple outside of town to do a sweet, monk led, 24 hour, silent meditation.
Study at Pichest’s – Evening is free
Study at Pichest’s – Celebration Dinner and Traditional Dance Performance
To celebrate the completion of our two weeks with Pichest, we go to the Cultural Center to experience an outdoor Khantoke dinner (a traditional meal where people sit on the floor and food is served on a pedistal tray used as a small dining table by the Lanna people of northern Thailand). As we eat northern Thai food, we will watch traditional Thai and hilltribe dancing performances.
Herbal Compress Class – Thai Cooking Class
We will enjoy an herbal compress class in the morning with a local healer and in the evening, we will go to school to learn to cook some traditional Thai dishes such as green curry or pad Thai. On this fun day, we will see how the herbs used in compresses are often the same ones in the food that we make. In the morning we will ingest herbs through our skin and in the evening through our stomachs! The cooking class is always a group favorite.
Doi Sutep Sunrise
For our final experience together, we will wake before sunrise and take a bus ride up the mountain to Doi Sutep, the most famous temple in northern Thailand where we will watch the sunrise over the city. We will round out the trip in this lovely setting, hanging out together as a group for the last time before everyone goes their separate ways.
If you wish to stay at the guesthouse on Sunday evening or beyond, let us know as soon as possible so that we can reserve a room for you.
Post Trip Thoughts
We suggest that if you can stay longer, do so. You will feel safe and comfortable traveling around the country by now and you will know enough Thai language to at least find a bathroom and not starve!
Perhaps you will decide to stay and continue study with Pichest or some other teacher. Or perhaps you will want to head down south to check out the islands. There is much to see and experience. If you have the time and resources to make it happen, know that we encourage and support your exploration.
Important note on potential itinerary changes
Thai people are fluid and roll with the changes. Often, as those who have traveled beyond the West may know, things do change, buses can be late, things don’t always run on time. We will do our best but we need you to be patient and understanding with changes that will inevitably take place. It is essential that those who come on the trip recognize that things flow better when you try not to impose too much of your agenda on it. What we have provided for you is a general outline. But know this. . . This itinerary is subject to change.
The nice thing about Thailand is that if something that we were expecting to happen, doesn’t happen, usually something even better takes its place! Plus, we are leaving our itinerary somewhat loose so that we can be flexible and work with the universe as it presents itself at the time. We ask that you be flexible too.
Finally, this is your trip. If you want to take a day off of Pichest’s and go to an elephant sanctuary, you are welcome to do so. If you need a day to yourself for some R and R at a fancy spa, go for it! All the itinerary items that are mentioned above are optional. You are welcome to opt out of any of them at anytime. All we ask is that you communicate with us as much in advance as possible so we can make arrangements. More than anything, we are here to support you in your journey, whatever that may look like.