Staying fit in Chiang Mai with Muay Thai and hiking.
Staying fit in Thailand
Staying fit while in Chiang Mai is not difficult and the city offers many options for whatever you fancy. My go to activities here were Muay Thai, yoga, hiking and running. I highly recommend taking a Muay Thai class which is an important aspect of Thai culture as well as a day of hiking at the easy on the eyes National Park in Doi Inthanon.
Muay Thai is a form of boxing that is a cultural and martial arts national sport in Thailand. It is technical, beautiful, invigorating and challenging (in a good way). While in Chiang Mai it is easy to witness the sport and watch professional boxers, but why watch when you can play? Taking Muay Thai classes is not only a great work out, but a way to learn more about the culture and release some serious steam...if you happen to be holding any. I took classes at R Boxing Gymtertainment in the Maya Mall. Classes are smaller sized and they even do one on one classes. They are easily trained to handle beginners and start off at a nice pace learning the movements but utilizing them on the first class. Although a very technical sport it's fairly easy to pick up fast and when does it not feel amazing to punch and kick a punching bag? Besides a surprisingly great workout even on the first class, this is a great way to learn some self defense skills which should never be underestimated.
HIKING IN DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK
Hiking is one of my favorite happy places and I almost always forget its a workout, but you do not need to be an advanced hiker to enjoy gorgeous sights of nature and that is what you will find at Doi Inthanon National Park. The park is about 1.5 hours away from Chiang Mai city center and most visitors hire a driver who will drive you to the park and include such sights at the Summit/highest point in Thailand, Giew Mae Pan Nature trail, Royal twin Pagodas and the Wachirathan Waterfalls. The highest point in Thailand at the park is nearly 2,600 feet where you will see the official sign stating that fact as well as a shrine dedicated to one of the last kings of Chiang Mai; King Inthawichayanon who believed in preserving this gorgeous natural land.
The true magic of Doi Inthanon however, starts at the Giew Mae Pan nature trail. This is a guided trail only and costs 200 baht per group (1-10 people). The guides do not speak english but its not really necessary as there are signs every so often describing what you are seeing and the beauty surrounding you is so breathtaking you will not want to do much talking anyhow. The hike with a small sized group like I did (4 people) took 2 hours. the average I've been told, is 3 hours and will depend on how often you stop for photos and breaks. This hike is doable for many levels. There are several stairs but overall it is a nice and leisurely hike through many terrains through forest, streams and open valleys with epic views. If you need a break from the city life and some fresh clean air, I can not recommend this place enough. After the hike our driver took us to the famous Royal Twin Pagodas. Google Chiang Mai and this is the image you will see blasted on your computer screen. These temples are surrounded by gorgeous gardens and gorgeous views and not a bad place for a quick pit stop for lunch where you will find some fast local food of fried rice and veggies.
Our day at Doi Inthanon ended with our driver stopping at Wachirathan Waterfalls. I was surprisingly impressed with the size of these falls and it was a great way to cap this beautiful day of hiking in some of natures best, breathing in cleaner air.
R Boxing Entertainment - Muay Thai Classes
Maxx Professional Fitness - Decent gym in Chiang Mai although I thought overpriced at $80 per month. They do offer a free day trial pass.
Yoga Ananda Yogo Studio - I went to this studio a couple of times. All were english speaking classes.
** If you are a runner, I recommend a run through the Chiang Mai University Campus. There is a short loop within trees away from the traffic and although slightly repetitive you can run as long as you want without traffic or motor bikes mistaking side "walks" for their VIP road.
Running loop near Chiang Mai University