Nestled amongst the wispy clouds and tranquil backdrop of mountains, Chiang-Mai is well-known for its relaxed, laid-back pace as compared to Bangkok and the other cities of Thailand. And although Chiang-Mai frequently witnesses travellers from around the world who are eager to discover its off-beaten beauty, it manages to retain its calm amidst the chaos and the crowd. A leisurely walk around the former-capital of the Kingdom Lan Na will acquaint you to many-a-quaint temples, verdant rainforests, cultural treasures and aromatic foods that are hidden beneath the sleepy frontage of Chiang Mai. While the name ‘Chiang Mai’ roughly translates to ‘New City’, Chiang Mai’s medieval history hides its rich fables within its ancient monasteries and stupas. Your stay in this blissful Thai city will have you wandering amidst contemporary architecture, despite an edgy, traditional vibe. If you’re someone who’s an avid explorer, Chiang Mai will surprise you with its lush landscapes, gurgling waterfalls and peaceful, countryside sceneries. Hikers and motorcyclists are in for a treat, as this city not only holds some of the most daunting roadways, but is also connected with a neat network of superhighways.
The alluring Thai city is also home to a bountiful produce all year round, which means you’re bound to discover sumptuous and authentic delicacies around its rustic vicinity. Unlike several Asian cities that have pushed behind hawker culture, Chiang-Mai proudly displays a variety of street-side food that you can relish along with swish cafes that dot the streets. You can enjoy the old-town charm amidst the city or choose a short scooter ride that takes you to densely forested outskirts, there’s a lot to explore in this city. Here, you can take a leisurely walk down the spiralling roads to be greeted by ruby-robed monks and friendly street vendors. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Chiang-Mai during your stay.
Places to Visit and Things to Do in Chiang Mai
People Also Ask About Chiang Mai Things To Do
What are the best adventure activities to do in Chiang-mai?
While the vibrant city of Chiang-Mai is often looked at as the laid-back capital of Northern Thailand, there are numerous adrenalin pumping activities one can indulge in during their stay. With towering mountains and staggering waterfalls just a stone’s throw away from the city, thrill-seekers find themselves stumbling upon an adventure every now and then. Here are a few you can engage in whilst your stay:
Trekking: Chiang-Mai’s green topography makes it a favourite amongst trekkers and hikers. Tourists find themselves engaging in short, moderate levelled day treks, but you can also look for something more challenging by setting off on an unmarked trail.
Cycling: If travelling on foot is not your style of adventure, pedal away through the soi’s (alleys) of the old city. Apart from the rustic villages located within the city, there are breathtaking rice fields and meadows situated not too far away.
Zip-lining: There’s nothing like exploring the vast jungles of Northern Thailand from a bird’s eye view. Over the years, Chiang-Mai has witnessed a considerable increase in the number of tourists wanting to experience zip-lining as an adventure sport.
River rafting: Visitors can indulge in an exuberant river rafting experience aboard Chiang-Mai’s wonderful Mae Taeng river that flows through the forested mountains, terraced rice fields and colourful village tribes.
What are the most interesting things to do in Chiang-mai?
Full of surprising experiences hidden in every nook and corner, your stay in Chiang-Mai is incomplete without these activities:
Visit the pristine Doi Suthep temple and Phuping palace to take in the surrounding panoramic views.
Spend a day learning more about elephants in their natural habitat.
Zip-line above the high treetops in the jungle.
Go on a shopping spree in Chiang-Mai’s Sunday night market.
Acquaint yourself with the cuisine by enrolling yourself in a Thai cooking class.
Try out different types of Thai massages in a local spa.
Go temple hopping at the various monasteries and stupas.
Which are some must try water sports in Chiang-mai?
Chiang Mai is blessed with a bountiful river Mae Taeng, which flows through the city as well as the verdant forests on the outskirts. The nature of this river allows you to choose an activity best suited for your level of expertise. Here are a few challenging water sports you can enjoy during your stay in Chiang-Mai:
White water rafting
Stand-up paddle boarding
Which are must try aerial activities in Chiang-mai?
Best known for the longest zip-lining cable in Asia, tourists are often spotted engaging in various zip-lining activities taking place in the forested areas of Chiang-mai. Swoop down through the foliage to experience the adrenaline rush, and admire the mesmerising views of the lush landscape down below. There are various types of zip-lining tours available according to your level of expertise.
Where can I go for a night safari in Chiang mai?
You can visit the nocturnal zoo known as ‘Chiang-mai night safari’ located within the city for an exciting experience. This is only the second night safari in the world (after the one built in Singapore) and it consists of three zones: Savannah Safari Zones, Predator Prowl Zone and Jaguar Trail Zone. You will be able to witness animals in their nocturnal habitats during the safari.
Which are the best places to go for trekking in Chiang-mai?
There are plenty of trekking opportunities within a short distance from Chiang-mai. While some are circular routes, there are several which will lead you to beautiful destinations. Courtesy Chiang-mai’s verdant topography and landscapes, hikers and trekkers are in for a treat and nature enthusiasts can get the best of the beauty along the way. Here are some of them:
Huay Tung Tao circular hike
Doi Pui to Doi Suthep hike
Doi Inthanon nature trail
Which are the pilgrimage sites which are a must visit in Chiang-mai?
Those drawn to Buddhism may find Chiang-mai a place of enlightenment, with monasteries and stupas along the way throughout the city. Chiang-mai houses as many as 30 Buddhist temples where you can find traces of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lan Na Thai styles. Decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases and umbrellas, these stupas and pagodas make a vital part of the culture in Chiang-mai. Here are a few you should add onto your itinerary:
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Suan Dok
Wat Phra That Doi Kham
What are the most romantic things to do on a honeymoon in Chiang-mai?
The picture-perfect city of Chiang-mai makes an ideal honeymoon destination for the newly weds, with its untouched river banks, charming city-life and tropical jungles. The luminous city has a lot in store for honeymooners wanting to spend some quality time in the lap of nature.
Rediscover history at the graceful white temple (Wat Rong Khun) of Chiang-mai.
Witness a panoramic view of Chiang-mai from the highest peak in Thailand at Doi Inthanon National Park.
Zip-line through the lush forests and landscapes outside the city.
Wander together and explore the magnificent Pha Chor Canyon.
Go cliff-jumping at The Grand Canyon of Chiang-Mai.
See the mesmerising limestones of the Chiang Dao Caves.
Witness thousands of floating lanterns at the romantic Yi Peng festival.
Which are the best locations for zip lining in Chiang-mai? How much does it cost?
There are several zip-lining operators in Chiang-mai for those wishing to take the leap into nature. You can go zip-lining in the outskirts of the city or near the banks of river Mae Taeng. The price range may vary from 4143 Thai Baht (roughly $125).
Which are some best cycling trails in Chiang-mai?
Whether you’re an adventurous biker, or just someone who prefers a relaxing pedal once in a while, Chiang-mai has several cycling routes that will fit your bill:
Doi Suthep: A moderately difficult ride, Doi Suthep is a 13 kilometre ride upto the temple from the city. Not too taxing, tourists can embark on this hour long journey that comes with a slight slope on the way.
The Samoeng Ring Road: A 70 kilometer loop around Doi-poi national park, this route requires eight to ten hours of time and is best fit for experienced riders who can take on a treacherous challenge.
The River Ping: Follow a peaceful cycling route alongside the banks of river Ping. While the roads tend to stray away from the river every once in a while, they remain at the side of the river and makes an easy ride for beginners.
Which are the best places to have the art and cultural experience in Chiang-mai?
Art lovers wishing to get a glimpse into Chiang-mai’s rich culture can visit Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre. Celebrated for Lan Na arts and well-preserved heritage, the centre comprises of plenty of souvenir shops, hill tribes and fabric museums. Tourists can check out as many as 6,000 archaic textiles at the fabric museum as well as the story from every hill tribe at this centre. Tourists can also look out for cultural performances and other interactive activities that take place during the night time. Each tribe has its distinctive performance which definitely should not be missed out on!
Which are some famous nature parks in Chiang-mai?
Chiang-mai is often visited by tourists around the world for its flourishing landscapes and thriving wildlife. As the pristine surroundings of the city comprise of towering mountains and a lush thicket, tourists are bound to spot rare animals in their natural habitat during their visit. Here are a few nature parks to add onto your itinerary for an experience to remember:
Ob Luang National Park
Si Lan Na national park
Doi-Suthep-Pui National Park
Doi Ithanon National Park
Which are the best places to snack on tasty insects in Chiang mai?
Apart from the aromatic Thai cuisine that is available almost everywhere within the city, snacking on insects is also considered a delicacy in Thailand. You may find an assortment of spiced insects being sold as street-side food almost everywhere in Chiang-mai. Apart from that, you can even visit a night market, where you will find several carts and vendors selling a pile of insects. Here are a few varieties that are available throughout the city:
Giant water bug
Where can I bathe an elephant in Chiang mai?
There are numerous elephant camps scattered across Thailand and Chiang-mai for those who wish to learn more and spend some time with the gentle giant. A typical day in an elephant camp will include feeding them, washing them and bonding with them. This life changing experience is recommended by many, and can be practiced at one of these destinations in Chiang mai:
Patara Elephant camp
Four seasons Golden Triangle tented camp
Elephant nature park
Where can I tour the Umbrella Factory in Chiang mai?
Fondly referred to as the ‘umbrella village’ of Chiang mai, Bo Sang is located at the west of San Kamphaeng and is home to an array of souvenir shops, showrooms as well as workshops dedicated to the production of paper and bamboo umbrellas. However, if you wish to shop for these, it is recommended that you buy them at the night market instead as the prices here are considered slightly steep.
Which are the best nightlife experiences in Chiang mai?
While Chiang Mai boasts of tranquil vibes during the day, don’t be surprised to see the city come alive at night with its hip pubs and one too many live music venues. Riverside drinking is observed as a popular pastime and youth are seen spending time alongside the river Ping. You may even walk down the popular Nimmanheimin Road where most of the clubs are located at. Chiang Mai’s nightlife can range from cheap to exquisite depending mostly on your budget. You can enjoy a laid-back evening almost everywhere after the sun goes down in Chiang Mai.
Where are the best places for boating in Chiang mai?
Apart from navigating the city by foot, the best way to acquaint yourself with Chiang Mai’s old-world charm is to wade in relaxing boat ride. There are ferries and tour cruises running to and fro down the Ping river that you can opt for. The serene river also allows you to book a dinner cruise for yourself whilst enjoying the sights and sounds during your trip.
Where can I visit tribals in Chiang Mai?
North Thailand is home to some of the most vibrant ethnic minorities — also referred to as the hill tribes. Each tribe has its own set of customs, language, dress and spiritual beliefs that make them unique in their own way. You can distinguish a hill tribal by their distinctly colourful attire. You may visit hill tribes in the following areas of Chiang Mai:
Karen village - Karen tribe
Lisu village - Lisu tribe
Palong village - Palong tribe
Akha village - Akha tribe
Lahu village - Lahu tribe
The Padaung long neck hill tribe village
Is riding in a Songthaew a good choice for touring the Chiang Mai city?
Yes. The popular red vans run through Chiang Mai city as a cheap mode of transport. The name translates to ‘two benches’, after the passengers that sit on the back of the truck. You can accommodate a group of eight people in a Songthaew, and during peak hours, you may also observe people crowding into the vehicle for a ride. You can direct your driver to take you where you want to go. In case of a shared ride, the driver decides which route to take as per convenience. A ride in a Songthaew will cost you around 20 baht, which is cheaper compared to a tuk-tuk or an air-conditioned cab that is generally priced around 150 baht.
Which are the best areas for shopping in Chiang Mai?
The rustic streets of Chiang Mai are filled with attractive shops and boutiques for you to grab on to a sweet deal. Apart from brands and labels, Chiang Mai also has several bazaars and flea markets that sell souvenirs and other knick-knacks on a reduced fare. The shopping experience here is unlike any other, and you may witness colourful street-side shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques and junk jewellery everywhere you go. Here are a few places you can begin your shopping excursion at:
Wualai walking street, Old city
Sunday walking street, Old city
Herb basics, Old city
Warorot Market, Old city
Where can I visit Hot springs in Chiang Mai?
Those who wish to spend some time rejuvenating with natural treatment can spend time soaking themselves in the famous hot springs of Chiang Mai. The waters in these area contain sulphur, magnesium and other elements that have been proven good for blood circulation, relief of aching muscles and stress. Apart from that, a simple hot water bath is also considered best for glowing skin. Here are a few locations where you can experience a steaming, hot water bath in Chiang Mai:
San Khamphaeng hot spring
Mae khachan hot spring
Pong Dued Hot Spring
Fang Hot Spring