Some places in the world attract holistic, alternative or ‘new age’ communities. This includes practitioners of yoga, massage, various healing arts, meditation, Qigong and many others. Some of those places are in beautiful surroundings like Sedona, Arizona or Bali, Indonesia.
Others are in places with a long history of spirituality like Rishikesh, India. Some of them develop in beautiful beach areas like on the Big Island of Hawaii.
(Make sure to watch the video at the end of this article)
And some are in big cities that offer facilities for a large clientele of practitioners, healing arts students and health and wellness seekers in all kinds of holistic branches. Such a place is Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The city has over a million inhabitants, but at its core is the historic old town, surrounded by a moat and the old city gates. In this part of town you feel like time slowed down compared to the hustle and bustle outside of the old city.
There is not much traffic since there is a maze of small alleyways and passages. There are no high rise buildings or industrial developments.
Wherever you go, you find beautiful ornate Buddhist temples, traditional old style Thai teak houses, restaurants, massage shops, and a slow and relaxed pace of life that contrasts big city life.
Tens of thousands of visitors come to Chiang Mai every year. The city is home to dozens of Thai Massage schools and hundreds of massage shops, yoga centers, holistic spas, vegetarian restaurants and other conscious venues.
Many visitors come here to learn various healing arts at prices much lower than in western countries, and in beautiful exotic settings.
In the last few years there have been several major holistic events, like the Yoga Mala festival in a beautiful holistic spa near Chiang Mai.
It was a two day event with dozens of activities like seminars, music, sustainable agriculture, workshops, health food, massage, dance, panel discussions and many more. I caught a lot of it on camera and produced a video that highlights the spirit of the event.
The author, Shama Kern, is a long term resident of Thailand. He lives with his Thai wife in Chiang Mai. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org