Read what other Viator.com travelers think about the Chiang Mai Small-Group Cultural Tour. What they loved, what they liked and what they think could be improved, it's all here to help you make the most of your next trip.
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I am so glad I booked this tour! The guide, Thongbang Thotsadon, was AMAZING! She came to pick me up right on time, at which point I discovered this was going to be a private tour. She was an absolute pleasure to speak with and so knowledgable! She took the time to get to know a bit about me and answered all my questions patiently and thoroughly.
The early wake up was worth it to go through the morning market to get breakfast for the monks. I got to give alms to the monks and get their blessing to start my day. Next, I got to experience a breakfast restaurant that was nearby. We then drove to Wat Umong and I was able to see the new monks bless the gifts they received and do a bit of ritual with them. We walked through the temple grounds and she explained a lot about Thai Buddhism to me and took me to the monk meditation caves where she and I had excellent discussion about meditation and the monk lifestyle. We next went to feed catfish on the nearby bridge and met another foreigner who was doing a meditative study stay at the temple.Thongbang took me to the meditation center and explained how I could arrange a stay the next time I was in Chiang Mai.
We next went to Wat Mahachula, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary as a monk and layperson university. I was able to speak with her former teacher and find out some information about studying at the school in English. We walked around the temple and she gave me the history of the structures there and of the Thai culture. I learned so much from her.
This is one of the best tours I have ever been on. Thongbang is a superb guide and so caring. She ensured I had a great experience In Chiang Mai.
Trip Advisor Review:
What a well spent morning with Thongbang! She arrived on time to let me know I would be the only one on the tour but she still made sure I had every experience expected and more. As an avid photographer, she made sure I had the best opportunities and best positions to get some wonderful photos. She is also a great conversationalist and we had some good talks about life and our views of the world. Although I was somewhat familiar with Buddhism, she provided so much more information to help me understand this faith and philosophy better.
We started the early day at the market where we gave food to the monks, some barely teenagers and we received their blessing and I got some good photos. Just wandering through the market with a local guide to explain was a good experience in itself.
We spent a good bit of time at the Forest Temple and I even got to present the monks with food for their breakfast. They were so friendly and the place so peaceful. Although part of the city, it was an oasis of quiet and solitude. We were also fortunate to catch an ordination ceremony and we watched the young men getting their heads shaved as their families looked on with such pride. Next she took me to a more urban Temple and, again, luck was on our side as they were celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Temple with many dignitaries and much color. I even got to meet one of her old teachers who was a delightful, friendly monk. They were also having an art show with some excellent paintings by students and monks.
We ended the morning with coffee and more good conversation before I was returned to my hotel.
Many people come to Chiang Mai just to have "fun" but there's so much to learn about another culture and this tour is the perfect way to learn. Thongbang is a great teacher as well as guide and I learned much on this tour.
Visited December 2014
Very informative. Exceptional tour guide. Answered all of my questions in detail. She was very patient with me. We purchased food, then gave it to the monks and received a blessing. We went to a novices breakfast and listened to the elder state his prayers and instructions, then we were able to photograph the monks as they ate their morning meal. It was an extraordinary tour; I recommend it highly.
This was great! A brief, informative and varied tour of the city and a great sampling of the cultural goodness available. Our tour guide was lovely and knowledgeable.
This is a must do tour, great value for money. The guide was excellent and it is was great to not only learn about the culture but also to exerience a small part of it!
Enjoyable morning and friendly guide. Thai breakfast was fine. Interesting to see the monks start their day, but this tour may not be for everyone.
If you are the slightest bit interested in Thai and Buddhist culture then this is the tour for you. Very interesting to see Buddhist practices up close and take part in some of these. Very welcoming guide that helps immerse you in the Thai culture, highly recommended.