I always want to visit a place where I can experience everything in one go. The laid back vibe, friendly people, value-for-money food and shopping are the things I wish for when travelling to a new place. One such destination I have come across recently is Chiang Mai in Southeast Asian country of Thailand. Considered as the spiritual capital of Thailand, Chiang Mai opens door for the travellers of all genres and offers a whole new set of opportunities that would give the best travel experience. So, if want to take a break from the humdrum of daily life and experience a 180° turn, then head to this one of the best destinations in Thailand. To help you where to go and what to do, I have picked the best places to visit and things to do in Chiang Mai that you can experience during your trip to the most popular destinations in Thailand. Each one of them is absolutely unique and soul-satisfying. So, here we go-
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2. Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai
A great place to go with your family, Chiang Mai will introduce you to a number of Buddhist shrines which are the prime attractions in Thailand. Wat Phra Singh is one of the oldest temples in the country and of course one of the top tourist attractions that you shouldn’t skip visiting when holidaying in this one of the best Asian destinations, on visiting the temple, you would come across the gold-plated Pagoda which is right beneath the temple. What offers a splendid sight to the tourists is the beautiful architecture which comprises of Thai Lanna style antique golden motifs.
Where: Junction of Singhaclai & Tha Luang Roads
Timings: Tourists can make a visit to the temple between 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM on all the days of the week
How about a relaxing day under the shade of colourful umbrellas? You can have this experience in Bo Sang Umbrella Village, which is yet another point of tourist interest in Chiang Mai. On visiting this destination, you will find yourself under a wide variety of umbrellas and parasols that will leave you awestruck. Also, if you are interested in learning about the culture and traditions when holidaying in Thailand, the Umbrella Village is the best place to visit. Shop from a string of souvenir shops and showrooms where you will find wonderful handcrafted products that you can take back home for your loved ones. You can even attend a workshop here to learn how these umbrellas are created using different materials. Also, if you happen to visit Chiang Mai in the third week of January, you can attend the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival.
Where: Approx 14 km Southeast to Chiang Mai
If you are a nature lover and explorer, then a visit to the Doi Inthanon National Park is a must when you are on your trip to Chiang Mai. Being a part of the Doi Inthanon Mountain Range (highest peak in Thailand), the park also offers a great opportunity for a sightseeing tour and try exciting adventure activities in Chiang Mai. As you indulge in hiking and walking tour, you will come across many small and big peaks where you can enjoy the warmth of sunrise and sunset along with hearing the sound of the sparkling waterfalls. In addition to this, if you happen to visit Chiang Mai in the months of December and January, don’t miss out on witnessing the Siamese Sakura flowers blooming at the fullest.
Where: Chom Thong District
Entry Fees: For locals: 50 THB per person and 20 THB per child and for foreigners 300 THB and 150 THB per child
Featuring beautiful crystal formation, Chiang Dao Cave truly deserves a visit. The spectacular stalagmite and stalactite formations are created due to dripping water. Also, Chiang Dao Cave is connected to the other two caves named Tham Seua Dao and Tham Phra Nawn which you can freely explore by either hiring a gas lantern or a local travel guide. On entering the caves, you will come across numerous sacred Buddha statuary that are common to caves in Thailand.
Where: At Chiang Dao, approx 87 km away from Chiang Mai
Entry Fees: Only 40 THB, but if you want to hire a guide with a gas lamp it would cost you 150 THB more
If you are up for witnessing ruins in Chiang Mai, then heading to Wat Chedi Luang which is yet another popular tourism place of Chiang Mai would be an ideal choice. The imposing structure was damaged during an earthquake in the year 1545. But it remains remarkable today with being beautiful and offering an eerie feeling at the same time. As you stroll around Wat Chedi Luang, you will witness the massive elephant carvings.
Where: 103 Prapokklao Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai
When to Visit: Even though the temple can be visited at any time of the day but to get the best sight, try visiting during the night
One of the most unique and beautiful places to visit in Chiang Mai is Bua Tong Waterfalls which is also known as Sticky Waterfalls. The waterfall is not only impressive and gorgeous, but offers an opportunity for rock climbing as well. The surrounding forest area that is covered with moss and colourful flowers is no less than a treat to the eyes. The beauty of the place is surely going to make your goodbye to Bua Tong Waterfalls a hard one.
Where: An hour and a half drive north of Chiang Mai Old City
Being a budget luxury getaway, Chiang Mai is also a preferred honeymoon destination as it offers the couples a number of things to do. If you and your partner are looking for a place where you can simply laze under the Thai sun, surrounded by hills, then it has to be Huay Tung Tao. On visiting Huay Tung Tao, you will witness plenty of great restaurants and luxury resorts but the one where you should visit is the floating restaurant which is made from bamboo and is safely anchored to the shore. Other than eating and relaxing, you can indulge in other activities like swimming or renting a pedalo if you want to try out some water activity. Also, if water is not your thing, you can rent a bike and ride along the shore. Ah.. don’t miss out the captivating view of the sunset that is soothing to eyes mind and soul.
Where: Mae Rim District, approx 31 km away from Chiang Mai
A visit to Mae Ping Elephant Village which is a kids-friendly attraction will let you and your kids witness a number of elephants. On visiting Mae Ping Elephant Village, you will witness multiple elephant camps and training schools that are spread all across the location. You can indulge in having a good interaction with the elephants under the guidance of the trainers. Enjoy the activities like feeding and giving bath to the elephants.
Location: 60 km north of Chiang Mai
If you are interested in learning about the culture, history, and the lives of the Lanna People, then head to Lanna Folklife Museum. The museum gives the appeal of a white colonial building and is a perfect attraction that will treat the culture vulture in you. You will get to explore the 18 different exhibitions which display the lifestyle of the Lanna People in the past. There aren’t many artefacts but you will have the opportunity to know about their routines of everyday life.
Where: Prapokklao Road, Chiang Mai Old City
Timings: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fees: 90 THB for adults and 40 THB for children
If wildlife safari at night is what you want to experience, then Chiang Mai Night Safari which is world’s third nocturnal zoo and government nature theme park is the place to be. The park is divided into two sections – the Savanna Night Safari and the Predator Prowl. The Savanna Night Safari is home to over 300 animals including Water Buffalos, Kangaroos and White Rhinos. Here you will get to enjoy the safari in an open top tram which takes about an hour. Heading to the Predator Prowl Zone will get the opportunity to witness approx 200 animals including African Hunting Dogs, Tigers, Crocodiles, Lions and Wolves. As you travel around the park the tram driver will stop and point out the various animals with his spotlight. In addition to this, every night there is a light show along with music which is worth watching.
Where: Amphoe Hang Dong, Chang Wat Chiang Mai
One thing that all of us might love doing is shopping and when in Chiang Mai, a visit to Kat Rin Kham Night Bazaar will let you come across a variety of fascinating stuff. The market is more popular among students and visiting here you will find a perfect mix of everything including food, entertainment, home décor stores, salons, tattoo studios that will let you experience all at one place. Also, grab some souvenirs at cheap prices for your loved ones. In addition to this, there are a few craft stores as well.
Where: Chiang Mai University, Huay Kaew Road, Chiang Mai
Timings: Plan to visit You can visit the market between 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM
If you love coffee, then Chiang Mai will provide you with the best coffee hopping opportunity at some of its quirkiest cafes. Amazing coffee, a comfortable setting, funky music are some of the key elements that you are going to find in the coffee shops here. So, right when you are done with seeking out all the attractions of the city in the morning, head to these cafes to taste the best ever coffee. Out of all the popular ones that you must visit include are Good Morning Chiang Mai and Bird’s Nest Cafe, Graph Cafe, Akha Ama Coffee – La Fattoria and more. One thing is sure, on visiting Chiang Mai you can spend weeks here hopping from one cafe to another without getting bored.
Dotted with waterfalls and mountains, the forests of Chiang Mai province are no less than a trekker’s paradise that welcome all the adventure buffs with open arms. Right from easy nature walks to the tough trekking trails, Chiang Mai will offer one or the other experience for you. So, if adventure is your sort of thing, head to these popular trekking trails including Muang Kurt to Huay Kukap, Baan Pha Dang to Huay Kukap, Huay Kukap to Doi Sam Liam, Huay Kukap to & Tadmok Waterfall, Mae Taeng River and more.
If street food is what you want to try out in Chiang Mai, then you should head to the Gate Market, a famous tourist spot in Thailand that offer the best street food. Right from Pad Kra Pow which is a meat and basil dish to the perfect dessert which is made of fresh mango, sticky rice topped with coconut milk, you are going to find every taste here. Ah.. yes, don’t forget to taste the smoothie at Mrs Pa. Even though the market is held seven nights a week but I would suggest you to visit during the weekdays as there are fewer vendors on the weekends.
Tha Pae Walking Street is yet another best places to travel in Chiang Mai which is sure to give you the ultimate shopping experience. The market is set up only on Sundays and opens in the early evening and closes late at night. On visiting this sprawling street market, you will get the opportunity to explore food, handicrafts, clothes, art, souvenirs, musicians, massages and more. The market is a hit between the locals and foreign tourists alike. As you stroll around, you can enjoy hearing the sound of the bustling market, snacking on tasty treats, relaxing with a foot massage and a lot more. In a nutshell, this place is a vibrant spectrum of art, crafts, music and food and handmade goods and souvenirs that is sure to get you along with the spirit of Northern Thailand.
We all know how Thailand; the popular Southeast Asian country holds a spiritual vibe. And Chiang Mai is one of those places in this country that will give an opportunity to get in touch with your inner self in its meditation centres. Out of the most popular one that you should visit is the Doi Suthep Vipassana Meditation Centre which is nestled in Suthep Mountain. The temple is visited by thousands of people every single day for seeking blessings or making the most of the mediation course, which is believed to be a life-changing experience which ranges from 3-28 days.
Cliff Diving is yet another adventure activity that you can try when holidaying in Chiang Mai. If jumping into the water is your idea of fun, then I am sure you are going to enjoy cliff diving at Hang Dong Rock Quarry. Initially, the place was used as mine to clear out limestone but now the area has turned out to be filled with vibrant turquoise green water used for cliff diving. Even if you aren’t up for cliff diving, you can indulge in plenty of other water sport or simply enjoy swimming.
Note: Getting to Hang Dong Rock Quarry is a little difficult, so make sure you hire a scooter or songthaew to get there in the best possible way.
How about a boat ride experience in the mesmerising water of Mae Ping River. Taking a boat ride here is an ideal choice as you can spend an excellent afternoon watching the scenery all around the Mae Ping River. Also, you will also get to see many beautiful traditional teak houses that are a treat to the eyes. You can also stop at a local farmer’s house and witness the cultivation of jasmine, rice, and herbs that are used for both cooking and medicinal purpose.
You can visit the Bai Orchid which is another top-rated attraction in Chiang Mai at any time of the year and witness the exotic blooms or indulge in buying seedlings. There is a souvenir shop where you can buy fresh orchids that have been dipped in gold to make jewelleries out of it. Other than this, there is a Butterfly Farm next to the Bai Orchid which is home to thousands of butterflies which when visited will be pleasing to the eyes.
One of the reasons to visit Thailand, is the relaxing Thai massage that is going to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. When in Chiang Mai, you can head to Fah Lanna Spa. Right when you are done with exploring the best tourist spots and trying out all the other activities, a soothing Thai massage will give you a never before experience. So, make sure you don’t leave Chiang Mai without getting a rejuvenating massage.
Well, the list of best places to visit and things to do doesn’t end here. There is still so much to do in this popular destination in Thailand, and I have mentioned only the top ones here. Hope, I have been helpful.
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