Home Thailand Travel GuideTop Things to Do in Chiang Mai

Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a land full of adventure, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital. It has got a relaxed atmosphere, super-friendly residents, great food, an artsy shopping scene, and lots of other shopping. And if that's not enough, just outside the city are some of the region's most stunning mountains.

Three days is the perfect time to spend to explore the highlights of Chiang Mai, in order to experience the nature of northern Thailand and to see the beauty of the city. The Chiang Mai area is one big adventure playground for those who like nature.

Highlights

  • Chiang Mai has three distinct seasons: hot, rainy and cool. Each of them differs from the others in temperatures and sunshine hours during the day, but that doesn’t change the fact that the weather in Chiang Mai can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
  • Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand and the main base for activities in the North for most travelers.
  • Chiang Mai is home to Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand which is about 2,500 meter high.
  • Whether you love shopping, food, or nature, Chiang Mai offers something for everyone.

Discover the Old City Temples

Recommended length of time to visit: Half a day

There are many magnificent and very famous temples within the walled old city of Chiang Mai, with the Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang being the most attractive temples in Chiang Mai. The temples are a "must see" not only because of their importance as pilgrimage temples, but also because of their outstanding beauty.

When visiting Chiang Mai, make sure to spend half a day visiting some of the temples. You can reach each of the temples easily, since they are located inside the walls of the old city and close to other major attractions, and all are within easy walking distance.

The temple complex is quite large; there is lots to see and it is worth taking your camera along. The main attraction is the massive chedi that dominates the area. You will also find viharns (prayer halls) in the complex, and some impressive Buddha statues.

Shop at a Local Market

Recommended length of time: Half a day

After you’ve spent some of the day exploring the temples, rest up, refresh and then hit the town at sundown to explore one of the night markets. Talat Warorot market is one of the markets where lots of locals do their own shopping. There is also a big flower market in central Chiang Mai, filled with locals browsing for flowers.

Local markets offer the best shopping options in Chiang Mai. The range and diversity is excellent, with stalls selling locally made handicrafts, one-off clothing items, and plenty of northern delicacies that are hard to find anywhere else.

Alongside the same old tourist souvenirs you’ll find anywhere else in the country, many of Chiang Mai’s markets offer a much more interesting shopping experience, ranging from ready to eat food, to souvenirs and flowers. They are well worth a visit while you are in Chiang Mai.

Street food tour at the Night Bazaar

Recommended length of time: 3-4 hours

The Night Bazaar is probably the city’s best known market and one of its main nighttime attractions. This market is famous not only for the items that are offered but also for the amazing street food. For those who are in Chiang Mai only for a few days – the Night Bazaar is open every evening of the week.

Begin your journey by strolling around the market and follow a route that will take you to two evening markets, where you’ll try a wide variety of dishes, from traditional Thai food, noodles, coconut, to skewers and dumplings.

Explore Chiang Mai’s colorful night markets with a local guide on a 2.5-hour evening food tour of the city, on foot and by songthaew, with pick-up and drop-off at your hotel. Asia Highlights will guide you during the tour so you can enjoy your experience hassle free.

Volunteer Program at Elephant Nature Park

Recommended length of time: One day

Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants in Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai. It is also a natural home for buffalo, dogs, cats, birds and many other rescued animals. The park is impressive, with its herd of rescued elephants, and you will have the chance to take numerous pictures and keep lifelong memories.

Your visit starts with a picturesque drive through rural countryside to Elephant Nature Park. You will hear the personal stories of rescued and orphaned elephants. See how they became a proud herd and free from abuse.

There are many shorter programs available for those who have limited time, but it is recommended to stay a night at the park, to learn more about elephants and to experience unforgettable moments with them.

Cooking class with Pantawan Cooking

Recommended length of time: 3-4 hours

If you love cooking, here is the perfect place to learn about Thai cuisine. You can see various kinds of herbs grow and use some of them for your cooking lesson. The menu will be different each day, but all the dishes are common in Thailand.

You will be guided by an experienced instructor throughout the class, and to start with, you will have tour of the local fresh market. There, the instructor will teach you the techniques of how to choose the perfect ingredients for your Thai cooking lesson.

This Thai cooking school is like no other. It is located in the South of the city, only a 20-minute drive from Chiang Mai old city – a sweet escape from the crowded touristy spot. Asia Highlights will provide a comfortable private car with a driver if you use our service.

Wildlife Watching at Doi Inthanon National Park

Recommended length of time: One day

Doi Inthanon has so many highlights it is almost impossible to mention them all, without giving the entire checklist for the National Park. This mountain contains a number of habitats and the birds associated with them. The summit area, which is higher than any other in Thailand, provides the most memorable bird watching of the mountain, perhaps even of the whole country.

The long road to the summit provides many places to stop and access the forest which is magnificent in places, particularly at higher altitude. Birds seem to be in greater densities here than in many other locations in Thailand, meaning that this is an ideal place to see a large number of species.

Getting there using public transport is really hard if you are not familiar with the city and with the Thai language. The easiest way to get there will be by private car. Asia Highlights will provide you with a comfortable car with a driver so that you can enjoy your trip.

Trekking from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son

Recommended length of time: One day

Surrounded by mountains, lush jungle and rustic farmland, Chiang Mai is the perfect starting point for a trek in northern Thailand. It is therefore a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature lover.

Often referred to as “the land of three mists”, because it is shrouded in mist most of the year, Mae Hong Son province is home to numerous hill-tribe villages. The province is located in the remote west of northern Thailand, bordering Myanmar to the north and all along the west.

Discover the bamboo and rain forest, and also caves in the jungle. Hike up to a waterfall and have a swim to cool down after a long hike. Spend a night at a cave and learn about the many uses of bamboo to create cooking utensils. You will also have a chance to meet people of the local tribes along the way in this remote area of Thailand.

Explore Chiang Mai with Asia Highlights

Looking for a memorable vacation? Asia Highlights will assist you in selecting destinations, activities, and transport to suit every client’s demand. Send us an inquiry, and our professional staff will help you make your vacation hassle free!

13-Day Essence of Thailand Tour: Far More beyond Temples

14-Day Myanmar and Thailand Essence Tour: Travel in Smiles

15-Day Myanmar, Thailand and Bali Honeymoon: Creating Memories Together

You might like to read

How to Get in and around Chiang Mai

Local Markets in Chiang Mai

Nightlife in Chiang Mai

Shopping in Chiang Mai