Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second city and the largest in the north. Tourists flock here by the thousands year after year. There are so many things to see and do here, this video only scratches the surface. Use this as a starting guide to visiting this beautiful, mountainous town.
1. Visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep
Perched atop Doi (mount) Suthep is the temple Wat Prathat that boasts the iconic gold-plated chedi that can be seen from the city on a clear day. Rent a scooter (if you’re able) and drive yourself up to over 1,000 meters above sea level. Hopefully it will be a clear day and you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city and surrounding areas.
2. Rent Some Wheels
Renting a scooter is easy in Chiang Mai as there are rental shops on every corner. It’s also pretty reasonably priced. There are many beautiful places worth your time just outside the city. Huay Tung Tao is one such example. A man-made lake where you can swim, relax and eat some tasty Thai dishes paired with a cold Chang beer.
3. Go Temple Hopping
Temples are in abundance all around the city. You could easily spend an entire morning wandering in and out of all the temples inside the old city. Be sure and check the Buddhist calendar as you may be lucky enough to catch a special ceremony. We were there on Makha Bucha Day, a day to honor Buddha and his teachings. Being able to see the processions and watch monks bless people was quite a cultural experience.
4. Learn How to be a Mahout
Take a day to visit one of the elephant camps, but be sure to do your research and choose wisely. Many of the elephants have been abused and mistreated. There are several camps that have rescued elephants and are dedicated to their rehabilitation. A quick Google search can help you choose which camps you wish to support.
5. Visit Some Museums
As a way to get out of the mid-day heat, you can purchase a museum combo ticket. For 180 Baht you can visit three museums – the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center, Lanna Folk Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Center.
6. Go on a Jungle Trek
There are mountains all around Chiang Mai Province. You don’t have to go very far to find beautiful scenery and hill tribe villages. Join a 1-3 day trek for a chance to see remote temples, swim in waterfalls and spend the night in these remote villages far from the city lights.
7. Eat in the Streets
With all the amazing street food on offer in Chiang Mai, why not try some? Don’t worry, it’s mostly safe. Sure there are lots of delicious restaurants severing everything from Italian to Indian, but why not try the cuisine of Thailand and eat like the locals? Our favorite was a bowl of khao soi with a fresh young coconut to sip on.
8. Go Zip Lining Through the Jungle
One of my all time favorite experiences in Thailand was going zip lining with Jungle Flight on the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Thrill seekers take note – you will not be disappointed with this day trip!
9. Stroll Through the Night Bazaar
The Nigh Bazaar is a nightly occurrence in Chiang Mai. You can get a massage, a cheap dinner, watch a cultural performance as well as shop for souvenirs.
10. Experience a Thai Festival
Being a Buddhist majority country, there are many holidays throughout the year. Check the calendar and try to plan your trip around one of these festivals.
Hopefully this will help you get started on planning your trip to “The Rose of the North.” While you’re in Northern Thailand, consider tackling the 1,864 curves of the Mae Hong Son Loop and spending some time in the chilled out hippie town of Pai. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Let us know in the comments!