Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yoga, Culture, & Adventure Retreat in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Thailand, “The Land of Smiles” is one of our favorite countries in the world, a place where spirituality and kindness are essentials in daily life. Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand, is situated in the midst of lush green mountains and rice fields. The area is home to intricate Buddhist temples and is the cultural and spiritual hub of Thailand, a perfect place to dive into your yoga practice, adventure in nature, learn more about meditation, plus eat delicious Northern Thai food! We are so excited to guide you through both inner and outer journeys of exploration here!


Why YOU should join us on our Thailand yoga, culture, & adventure retreat!

Join us for a rejuvenating week-long yoga retreat at Mala Dhara Eco Resort near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area while deepening your yoga practice and connecting with a group of like-minded yogis. In addition to daily yoga classes, our retreat includes cultural immersion opportunities like a Buddhist philosophy class with a Thai monk, a night market, visits to local temples, and an opportunity to receive traditional, sacred, Sak Yant tattoos (more on this below). Our nature activities in Thailand are hikes, cave tours, and waterfall swimming, plus an unforgettable visit to the best ethical elephant sanctuary in Asia, Elephant Nature Park. Thai massage, traditional massage, and a cooking class are optional extras.


Get ready to unwind, connect, and find inner peace on this truly unique and unforgettable retreat. As always, this will be a sober, alcohol-free retreat, with classes and activities focused towards authentic yoga philosophy and deep healing.

Mala Dhara Eco Resort:

Mala Dhara Eco Resort is a beautiful and special healing sanctuary located in the rice fields of Northern Thailand, just 30 minutes outside of the city of Chiang Mai. This peaceful oasis offers uniquely natural and sustainable accommodations, two separate yoga areas, plant-based Thai food, an eco-friendly salt water pool, a steam bath, on-site farm, and so much more! Of special note are the accommodations, which include a set of villas, each designed in creative and unique ways. One of them is even named the Hobbit Villa, for all of you Lord of the Rings fans! This will be our third retreat at this space and we couldn’t be happier to be coming back!


What is the yoga like on this Thailand retreat?

Imagine waking up in the stillness and peace of the early hours at Mala Dhara Eco Resort to the sounds of birds welcoming the new day. We begin our days with a relaxing morning meditation together, followed by an invigorating asana practice. The facility boasts two wonderful yoga spaces in which we practice asana and meditation. The outside yoga shala has an amazing view overlooking lush green mountains and rice fields, while the indoor yoga space with air conditioning is available for us to use when the weather does not permit us practicing outside. In addition to the daily morning meditation and asana practices, we also frequently offer an evening yin or restorative asana practice, after a full day of exploring and taking in the local sights. All classes are taught by Carrie, who is trained and highly-experienced in trauma-informed yoga. All classes are welcoming and accessible to all levels. Anyone and everyone, from brand new beginners to experienced yogis, are welcome here and we know you will find something of value to your own personal practice and self-care routine.

What can I expect on the excursions planned on this retreat?

Carrie and Zach once lived in Thailand and spent a lot of their time  exploring and finding off-the-beaten-path locations that the average tourist probably wouldn’t be able to find. Because of this, they have been able to carefully curate a variety of unique and meaningful cultural experiences for their retreat guests that will leave you feeling enriched and informed about the culture and spirituality of this beautiful part of the world. One adventure we have planned is an excursion into the city of Chaing Mai to meet with a Thai monk for what’s called a “Monk Chat,” where we will learn about Buddhist philosophy and meditation and how we can apply these lessons into our own lives.  Another outing, (an optional add-on for those who wish) involves a meeting with Buddhist monk who is an expert in sacred sak yant tattooing. These intuitive,mystical tattoo masters see truths inside of us that others cannot. They reach into the unknown and return with answers, guidance, and then place a blessing onto your skin, permanently protecting you. The Ajarn (Sak Yant Master,) is quick with his bamboo tattooing stick, using a traditional tattooing method that is safe and clean and involves manual application of a handmade natural ink using a tapping method that has been in use for two thousand years. This ancient technique can involve some discomfort as any tattoo experience does, yet the pain helps you to remember the messages and lessons of the tattoo that the master has designed specifically for you after your meeting with him.


These two unique, cultural excursions can provide you a little bit of insight as to what you can expect on our adventures together in Thailand. Not everyone offering a Thailand yoga retreat has actually spent time living in Thailand and learning the culture deeply!

What is Elephant Nature Park and what will we do there?

One trip that is exceptionally noteworthy and which we want to highlight is visiting the Elephant Nature Park. In Thailand, and various places around the world, the sad harsh truth is there are hundreds of elephants abused daily by being subjected to cruel practices such as street begging, elephant riding, and circus shows. These elephants endure severe physical and psychological abuse in order to fulfill these tasks. Saengduean Chailert, also known as Lek, grew up in a family that had a business exploiting and abusing these animals. When she grew up, she decided to break away from the family traditions and fight for these beloved animals by becoming an elephant rights advocate and creating Elephant Nature Park. This  rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand is the location of one of our most impactful outings. About an hour away from our home base at Mala Dhara Eco Resort, we dedicate an entire day at this park where a guide will give us a tour of the facility. We get up close and personal with the elephants and learn more about the park’s mission. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to respectfully walk alongside these beautiful and majestic animals and experience their power up close.

Although you don’t have to be sober in real life to come on our retreat, you do need to be willing to take a break from any recreational substances throughout the entire retreat experience. We believe everyone is recovering from something, whether it’s addiction, stress, trauma, eating disorders, or just the disconnection of life in our busy, high-tech world. Bigger Life Adventures strives to create a safe and open space for vulnerability and openness about each and every healing journey. Our retreats don’t include formal recovery meetings, but our guests are always sharing and learning from each other as we all work to use the tools of yoga and community to become better and live bigger lives.

Daily or twice daily yoga and meditation of various styles (Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa) guided by Carrie and Zach. A chance to deepen your practice and grow! Classes will be themed around philosophical concepts in yoga and catered to the group’s needs and interests. All levels are welcome!

Special yoga, philosophy, breathwork, Ayurveda, and meditation workshops.

“Monk Chat” Buddhist philosophy lesson with a Thai monk

Single or shared accommodation in one of Mala Dhara’s fabulous sustainably-built earth villas or dorms. Rooms include comfortable beds, mosquito nets, Wifi. If you’re coming by yourself and select shared accommodation you will be assigned a roommate of the same gender.

Delicious, local, vegan meals and desserts, coffee in the morning

Use of yoga shalas, saltwater pool, farm, all common areas at Mala Dhara

Elephant Nature Park visit

Guided “Sticky Waterfalls” excursion

Herbal steam sauna and ice bath experience

Yee Peng Thai holiday symbolic lantern release

Chiang Mai night market adventure and a chance to visit temples at night

A chance to be disconnected from technology and your day-to-day tasks. Although Wifi is available, we encourage you to be immersed in the moment!

Not Included:

A few meals which we will be eating out

Transportation to and from Chiang Mai and Mala Dhara Eco Resort. We are happy to advise and assist you with booking your flights. We encourage you to add on extra days in Thailand if possible.

Travel insurance which is recommended to protect your investment

Optional extras such as:

Thai bodywork or massage ($11 per hour to add on)

Optional cave and ridge hike ($10 to add on)

Optional Thai cooking class ($30 to add on)

Extra trips to local attractions (transport is easy and inexpensive to add on during free time)

Sak Yant sacred tattoo experience ($250 to add on) (blog about our experience)(video about our experience)

Day 1

  • 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    Check in time at Mala Dhara

  • 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

    Welcome ceremony and first yoga practice

  • 7:00 pm

    Plant-based dinner

Day 2

  • 7:30 am - 8:30 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    "Monk Chat" Buddhism and meditation class

  • 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm

    Lunch out and time to explore Chiang Mai

  • 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Afternoon yoga and meditation practice

  • 7:00 pm

    Plant-based dinner

Day 3

  • 7:00 am - 8:30 am

    Morning meditation and yoga

  • 9:00 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    Sticky waterfalls excursion and lunch out

  • 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

    Yoga philosophy discussion

  • 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    Yin Yoga

  • 7:00 pm


Day 4

  • 7:00 am - 8:30 am

    Morning meditation and yoga

  • 9:00 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

    Free time to relax or go to a Thai cooking class

  • 1:00 pm

    Plant-based lunch

  • 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

    Local caves visit and ridge hike

  • 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Yin yoga and Yoga Nidra

  • 7:00 pm

    Plant-based dinner

Day 5

  • 6:00 am

    Optional sunrise meditation

  • 7:30 am

    Early breakfast

  • 8:30 am - 5:30 pm

    Elephant Nature Park Day trip including vegan buffet lunch

  • 7:00 pm

    Plant-based dinner

  • 8:30 pm - 10:00 pm

    Herbal steam and fire body scrub ceremony

Day 6

  • 7:30 am - 9:00 am

    Morning yoga and meditation

  • 9:00 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Ayurveda workshop

  • 1:00 pm

    Plant-based lunch

  • 1:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Free afternoon to explore temples and city

  • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

    Dinner out at Chiang Mai night markets

Day 7

  • 7:30 am - 9:00 am

    Morning yoga & meditation

  • 9:00 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 11:30 am - 4:30 pm

    Optional Sak Yant tattoo experience excusions or free time

  • 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Yin yoga and meditation

  • 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    Cacao ceremony and ecstatic dance

Day 8

  • 7:30 am - 9:00 am

    Final yoga and closing ceremony

  • 9:00 am

    Plant-based breakfast

  • 10:00 am

    Check out and departures

The price per person depends on the accommodation option you choose. Mala Dhara offers luxurious, earth house bungalows or rooms to suit different budgets. Specific bungalows will be assigned on a first-requested, first-served basis, so let us know if you would prefer to live in a specific bungalow!

Shared bungalow (twin beds, shared with 1 other person of the same gender, shared detached bathroom): $1999 per person

Small queen bed bungalow for 1: $2199

Large bungalow with 1 queen and 1 twin, private bathroom: $4198 for 2 people, so $2099 apiece

These are the early bird prices which will go up on May 1, 2025. A 33% deposit is required to secure your spot. Your remaining balance will be due in 3 equal payments, spaced evenly between your booking date and the retreat date. Monthly payment plans are also available if that is better for you.


Full price bookings help fund our 2 half-price recovery scholarships for this retreat. To apply for a scholarship, fill out the form here.

Your retreats are true treasures, which is why I’m planning on booking my fourth one!!! And also why I flew halfway around the world to spend time with you guys!
-Leslie, 2023

Video testimonial from Ricky, first time yoga retreat guest 2023

Video testimonial from Terri, first time yoga retreat guest 2023

For easiest, quickest, travel you’ll want to book a flight into Chiang Mai International Airport (there will not be direct flights here from the US, you’ll have to have at least one connection). Plan to arrive by 2pm at the latest on the first day of the retreat. US citizens will automatically get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival in Thailand. You do not need to get a visa in advance. We recommend giving yourself extra days in Thailand if you are able, so arriving a few days early will make your journey more incredible and less stressful. Air Asia offers cheap and easy flights around Southeast Asia if you are interested in exploring other destinations!

We can help you arrange taxis or shuttles from the airport to the event. We don’t know the exact cost but it will be inexpensive.

Travel booking option:

Since I get a lot of requests for assistance anyway, I decided to offer a new flight booking service for all my retreat guests and friends!
You provide me with your desired travel dates and airports and I will find you the cheapest, best flights possible and book them for you, no extra charge.
I’m a pretty good “travel hacker” thanks to years of experience. We can do this together via Zoom to confirm everything or I’ll make sure to triple check everything with you before booking!
This benefits YOU if online flight searching stresses you out or you just don’t find it fun.
Full disclosure, it benefits Zach and I because I book most of our travel using our credit card points. We have a lot of travel planned this year so we need as many points as possible. You’ll reimburse me and I’ll get the frequent flyer miles to fund my own travel habit, haha.
Could be a win win for all of us?

Let me know if you would like my help with this. I know booking a long journey with multiple connections can be a little bit annoying. But there are also ways to make it more enjoyable — 1 day layover in Tokyo, anyone? For the best prices, you’ll want to book these flights at least 4-6 months before we leave. Reach out when you’re ready if you want my help.

Since all retreat deposits and payments are used to secure venues, activities, and supplies, and since canceled spots require extra time and energy to re-fill, ALL PAYMENTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. In true emergency situations, your payment *may* be able to be transferred to a future retreat or event, based on the decision of our team. We recommend travel insurance to protect your investment in the event you cannot make it.