Top things to do in Chiang Mai
There is so much to see and do
Chiang Mai is a smaller and more relaxed answer to the bustled madness of Bangkok. Many travellers who come here
return again and again whether they were seeking a trekking adventure or a cultural and spiritual experience when
visiting the many temples within walking distance to each other. The city offers a lot of things to do: cooking
classes, temple visits, delicious street food, and lots of culture and beyond its boundaries, you'll find some of
mother natures finest natural perfection and unique communities deep into the mountains.
Chiang Mai is a special city with much to offer, and the following are a few recommendations what to do and see in and around this wonderful city.
The most prominent and famous temple of Chiang Mai at 1,685 meters above the city is a "must see" on your trip to Chiang Mai. We will drive you up the winding road "with a view" and towards the base of the temple where you can conquer the 306 steps of the Naga up to the temple or, if you are less good afoot, you can take a tram. Even if your are not too much into temples: the spectacular views across the city and beyond are worth the trip alone.
Highest mountain in ThailandFull day tour
Set foot on the highest mountain of Thailand at 2,565 meters, visit the Twin Chedis as well as several beautiful waterfalls like Mae Klang, Wachirathan or Sirithan on your way to the top of Thailand and when the sun rolls the mists and clouds away, the view from the top is simply spectacular. With our tour you will also visit the outlying Mae Ya waterfall - one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Thailand.
Several hours tour
Mon Cham (also Mon Chaem or Mon Jam) is located 38 km northwest of Chiang Mai on a ridge in the Mong Nong Hoi area of Mae Rim and is beautifully adorned with many beautiful blooming flowers - a small farming community in a quiet mountain landscape, on whose mountain slopes all kinds of organic products are grown in the cooler temperatures. If you are looking for a destination for a quiet getaway, you should put Mon Cham on your wish list. With a small restaurant (with a very good coffee) and plenty of seating, offering spectacular views of the colorful panorama of the northern Thai mountain landscape amidst a sea of green, Mon Cham is a truly worthwhile destination.
Ancient Lost City
If you are interested in history and archeology, you should visit this ancient underground city, which is located about 5 km south of the old town of Chiang Mai. In 1986/87, the first excavations began, after previously some old panels were found, which led to the discovery of other hidden ruins of the city Wiang Kum Kam. Meanwhile, the remains of about 30 temples have been uncovered. The restored Wat Chedi Liam and Wat Kan Thom are still active temples today. If you like ancient sites, Wiang Kum Kam is definitely worth a visit.
The forest temple
Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham is located on the mountains of Doi Suthep, outside the center of Chiang Mai and is often referred to as the "Forest Temple".
Wat Umong is unique and famous for its ancient tunnels dating back to the 13th century, all of which can easily be explored under the big chedi.
On the extensive grounds, in addition to numerous statues of Buddha, you can also feed fish, turtles and ducks in a large pond and "Speaking Trees" offer
words of wisdom in Thai and English to the visitors.
Note: There is a temple in the old town with a similar name
In the heart of Chiang Mai
Located right in the center of Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Luang is one of the city's most important and most visited wats due to its central location. The complex also captivates with its many attractions, notably the Viharn Luong, the monastery building of the Wats, which houses the most important Buddha statue made entirely of jade. In the north and east of the Viharn there are two over ten meters high chedis, which have been in place since the beginning of the temple complex, and opposite the Chedi Luang, a statue of the reclining Buddha, decorated with gold leaf, attracts the attention of the visitors.
Several hours activity
Huay Kaew is located just after the Chiang Mai Zoo, making it the easiest and quickest accessible waterfall from downtown Chiang Mai - although the falls here are not as high and majestic as, say Mae Ya, shade trees over the path and the waterfall itself do make it a relaxing spot to enjoy a picnic or a little splashing. Just remember that Huay Kaew is actually a wet-weather fall meaning that flow can be extremely low to completely dry during dry season and - being that close to the city, it is likely that there will be quite some people there.
Rotee (or: roti) is originally savory flatbread in South Asia - but the Thai version is typically sweet and consists of a crepes-like dough that is fried with a little oil on an open flat grill. There is a variety of possible fillings, from chocolate syrup to nutella, banana, a mixture of egg and banana and much more. When the Rotee has been stuffed and fried, it is cut into bite sized pieces and drizzled with condensed milk if desired. Reds are best when they are almost too hot to eat - the sweet red and your chosen fillings just melt in your mouth. Delicious.
1-2 hours activity
Southwest of the Old City, not very far from the Chiang Mai Gate, you can find Nong Buak Haad Public Park - a green oasis spread across approx. 8.000 square meters amid the city with three ponds, numerous benches and several large green lawns - a great place to relax. You can borrow a bamboo mat for 20 baht and sit somewhere on the lawns and just enjoy watching the goings-on around you. Many locals like to come here to relax, for a picnic, for nice photos or early in the morning for Tai Chi or to do some jogging. The park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. Vendors sell small snacks or drinks in the park and on particularly hot days ice vendors also find their way into the park from time to time.
Home of Phra Phutta Sihing
Wat Phra Singh is a First Class Royal Temple located at the end of the road that leads from Tha Phae Gate into the Old City - perhaps the busiest street in all of Chiang Mai. A unique Buddha statue also contributes to its fame: Phra Phutta Sihing, with its eventful history, became one of the city's most important figures and every year for the Songkran Festival the statue is carried through the streets of the city in a magificient procession and the faithful honor the statue by sprinkling water over it. The Viharn of Wat Phra Sing also captivates visitors with its incredibly detailed ornaments and golden paintings.
Buy true-to-live elephant wood carvingsSeveral hours activity
If you like elephants or crafts, you should take the time to visit Baan Jang Nak. Baan Jang Nak can be found around 20 km southeast from Chiang Mai near San Kamphaeng an is a little bit hidden - but it is well worth the journey. Once there, you can take a look over the shoulder of the artists who have gathered around Thailand's "Elephant Man" Phet Wiriya, and marvel at how both smaller and lifelike elephants emerge - one thinks every moment that they come to life. The museum contains many hundreds of these incredible works of art and most of them are carved out of wood - a really great gift for taking home. Great art! The excursion to Baan Jang Nak can be very well combined with a visit to Bo Sang (paper umbrellas) and further on the 1006 to the southeast one of the better Porcelain manufactories around Chiang Mai (Siam Celadon) can be found and from there it is only about 8 km to Baan Jang Nak.
1-2 hours activity
Warorot Market (or Kad Luang) is one of Chiang Mai's oldest and most popular markets and is definitely an important destination for all foodies as it offers a wide range of ready meals, local snacks, fresh products and all sorts of other delicacies. On the upper floors are inexpensive goods such as clothing, fashion accessories and personal care products, while the food stalls are mainly located on the ground floor. The Warorot market is particularly popular with the local population and offers an authentic insight into the Thai lifestyle in addition to food and shopping.
Unprecedented LocationFull day tour
Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn (what a long name) is also known by the names Wat Phabatpuphadang, Wat Phrabuddhabat or Wat Doi and these absolutely spectacular
temples and pagodas dotting the mountain peaks are most likely the most breathtaking in all of Thailand and were each carried up piece by piece by a local monk and a team
of nearly 50 workers just over a decade ago and are since then clinging to the jagged cliff face at the top of a mountain, overlooking a sheer drop close to 1,000 meters below.
Wat Chaloem might not be super popular with foreigners yet as it is not near the tourist hot spots, but it is well loved by Thais so on weekends or holidays it is a good idea
to stay one night to be able to go early in the morning. You will not be disappointed and the 2,5 hour drive from Chiang Mai is well worth it.
Note: there is a guesthouse approx. 15 minutes near the Wat (Santisuk Hotel, approx. 700 THB, nice & clean, Link) if you want to stay overnight. No online booking - give them a call, the owners speak some English
1-2 hours activity
Enrich the amazing experience of exploring the wonderful Wats of Chiang Mai: some of the temples in the city offer a "Monk Chat" program, where anyone can speak freely to the monks and learn about
their beliefs or talk about the mundane aspects of their lifestyle and in exchange, the monks get to practice their English.
Chatting with a monk will most likely make you think about your own life compared to the very different life of your interlocutor and it can be a very enriching experience for anyone.
The most popular places for this in Chiang Mai are:
Wat Chedi Luang: daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (look for the tables under the shady trees)
Wat Suan Dok: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (there is a room dedicated for the monk chat)
Wat Sri Suphan: daily from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Flower Garden Temple
About 1 km west of the old city, not far from the airport, is Wat Suan Dok ("Field of Flowers" - the Wat was built on a former flower garden), with its 48-meter-high chedi, behind which rises Doi Suthep and with the large prayer hall Sala Kan Parian, the showpiece of Wat where there are two large Buddha statues. The outdoor area also offers visitors a variety of things: the many white chedis containing the remains of former members of the royal family, or the Ubosot, which houses another 5-meter bronze Buddha statue.
The oldest temple in Chiang Mai
Wat Chiang Man was built a year after the city was founded at the end of the 13th century on the site where King Mangrai had set up camp to coordinate the construction of the city from there. Next to the chedi are many ornate elephant statues that stand out for their sheer size and exceptional craftsmanship, and the fully wooded and worth seeing library, or the Ubosot, the most important place for ceremonies in almost every wat, draws visitors into its spell. Wat Chiang Man is located in the historic old town of Chiang Mai and is therefore very easily accessible from anywhere and worth a visit.
Glide through town1-2 hours activity
A guided Segway tour is a fun and modern way to explore the old town of Chiang Mai without getting your feet sore. Driving a Segway can be learned in just a few minutes, and the two-hour tours in small groups are accompanied by two guides, including Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. If you are looking for a cool way to see something of Chiang Mai, then a Segway tour is just what you are looking for.
A fabulous mix of colours, smells, and soundsEvening program
This Chiang Mai institution takes place on every Sunday, starting about 4:00 PM and continuing until about midnight. One of the main streets of Chiang Mai is shut, with several tributary streets also closed, so the entire event is pedestrian only, where both locals and tourists come to shop and enjoy the fun. Immerse into the creativity of the local people and their products and make lots of bargains.
Visit the pachydermsFull day
The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center a short trip north of Chiang Mai. The park provides a natural environment for elephants, dogs, cats, buffaloes and many other animals under their care. Enjoy their freedom and happiness: they walk, they scratch, they swim, they eat, they dust bathe... all at their own pace. It is a very inspiring experience. The park offers single day visits, overnight visits and also volunteer stays for a week or more.
Full day tour
The Sri Lanna National Park about 1 hour north of Chiang Mai has it all: jungle waterfalls, dam, reservoir, trekking, wildlife, and much more. You can choose from an abundance of activities that will occupy every adventurous traveller like visiing the 9-tier waterfall Mon Hin Lai in the Mae Ngat forest (N/E of the reservoir close to the Mae Phaeng lake, near the 1001 heading north) or if you are up for it, the Mae Ngat Sombun Chon Dam is also famous for white-water rafting. There are quite a few other waterfalls to be found and caves to explore or trails to wander. You can do kayaking on the tranquil waters, ride a mountain bike through the rugged terrain or arrange fishing trips and boat tours and if you get hungry there are restaurants and similar facilities inside the park as well.
Several hours activity
The Mae Sa waterfall is located approximately 25 km north of Chiang Mai and is relatively easy to find. This multi-level waterfall consists of 10 levels that you carefully also can try to climb or you use the narrow path next to the waterfall, which leads the approximately 1.2 km length of all levels up the mountain - on warm days a bit sweaty. This waterfall is a popular weekend spot, so try to be here in the morning or during the week to avoid the biggest crowds. Mae Sa is also great as part of a full day tour to Mon Cham.
The Malin Market can be found at Malin Plaza, opposite Chiang Mai University and is open every evening after 6 PM and very popular among students and locals while not being as crowded and with a lot less tourists than the popular night markets. Like almost at any night market in Thailand, food plays a central role at the Malin Market and there are several dozen Thai, Japanese and Korean vendors to choose from. If you already had dinner you can wander through the maze of clothing stalls making a bargain or get your nails done, have a massage and even get a tattoo.
Several hours tour
Yes, you read that right. This small eco-park about 17 km north of Chiang Mai makes paper products using the fibrous droppings of elephant dung.
What you can learn on eight different stations that are explaining each stage of this fascinatiing process is more interesting than you might think and
the resulting products are quite beautiful.
The Park is appropriate for all age groups and is extremely kid-friendly and just think about all the poop jokes you will come up with!
A visit to PooPooPaper Park is one of the most unique things to do around Chiang Mai.
Note: There are no real elephants in the PooPooPaper Park
Several hours activity
Want to impress your family and friends at your next party? How about fruit carving? It's surprisingly easy to learn and that makes it perfect for anyone - even if you're a beginner with knives, in three hours you'll learn how to carve multiple fruits and vegetables into different types of flowers, leaves and butterflies. If that is not enough for you, you can also take a full-day course.
Several hours activity
Chiang Mai's Art in Paradise Museum is one of the largest 3D museums in the world and spans four floors with over 130 different illusion images that create a 3D image giving you the feeling of really being in the middle of the picture. Art in Paradise is great fun for adults and children alike and it takes at least two hours to visit all the zones - most visitors spend much more time here. A very fun way to spend an afternoon and a great place for family selfies.
Shop until you drop1/2 day tour
Want to bring home some of the finest Thai handicrafts? Chiang Mai is the major centre for quality handicrafts in Thailand with hundreds of shops all over town selling hilltribe and Northern Thai handicrafts. We will bring you to the best spots for a shopping hunt and make sure you will not get bamboozled. Let us know what you are looking for: finest silk textiles, awesome pottery, wonderful wood carvings, the famous paper umbrellas? Let us know - we get you there.
The Silver Tempel
Wat Sri Suphan is often referred to as the "Silver Temple" and although the temple itself is not very large, it is still one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai.
The Wat is located in the "Silver District" of Chiang Mai and lives up to its nickname: one is greeted by a sea of silver - everywhere glitters and shines.
Next to the wat, the silver ornaments of the temple are made next to other objects and the workers let visitors on request like watching the individual elements in great craftsmanship.
Note: Unfortunately, women are not allowed to enter the interior of the temple building
A Lanna Thai traditionEvening program
Enjoy a mixture of great food in the traditional northern Thai style of serving food on a raised tray known as a "khan tok" and get entertained with a taste of traditional Lanna Thai culture with several spectacular and fabulous classical dances from Northern Thailand and around the nation. You can choose between being served sitting on the floor on typical Thai pillows and mats or western style and let the food and show bewitch you.
Temple with scenic view
Also referred to as "Wat Doi Kham" or "Golden Temple", Wat Phra That Doi Kham is located south west of Chiang Mai at the top of a hill. The views from the top of Wat
Doi Kham are very nice, especially on clear days: you can see the city of Chiang Mai as well as the rolling mountains of Doi Pui Mountain. This temple is mainly visited by Thai’s who come
to visit the 17 meters high statue of the Sitting Buddha which can be spotted from the bottom of the hill. Its gold lending decoration has given the temple its nickname "The Golden Temple".
There are different ways to get up to Wat Phra That Doi Kham but if you want the true experience, take the staircase with 300 steps and decorated ith a serpent on each side, winding up from the bottom
to the temple.
The grounds of Wat Phra That Doi Kham are usually quiet, altough there can be times when bus loads of tourists arrive at the temple making it quite busy. The setting of the temple on top of a hill contributes a lot to the serene and peaceful atmosphere and from the viewpoints you will have a great view of the surrounding area including nearby Royal Park Ratchaphruek.
Taste the "cut rice"
Kaho Soi (or: Khao Soy) is a soup-like dish and is so iconic for Northern Thailand that you may also find it as "Chiang Mai Noodles" in some places. It comes in different versions, mostly it is a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, fried ground chilis in a curry-like sauce with coconut milk. You can usually choose chicken or beef to be served with it. Try Khao Soi Samer Jai (391 Charoenraj Road, Tambon Fahham) - it is one of the most famous Khao Soi in Chiang Mai.
Several hours activity
The Monthathan Waterfall can be found approx. 16 km west of Chiang Mai and about 3 km past Huay Kaew waterfall and is part of the Doi Suthep - Doi Pui National Park. It can be reached on a good road and from the park office it is a pleasant and short walk through nature to this nine-tiered waterfall floweing over a cliff - keep in mind, that during the dry season the water running down this waterfall might be very low to none. Being so close to the city this waterfall attracts many tourists and travellers who come here to relax, so do not expect to be there all by yourself.
Bargaining and shoppingEvening program
One of the main attractions in Chiang Mai, especially if you want to do some souvenir shopping. The night bazaar is a must do of your Chiang Mai experience and located at the intersection of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Khro Road spreading out for two blocks in both directions. Set up time is around sunset (usually about 6:00 PM) and the nightly shopping goes on until about 10:30 PM with some vendors still remaining open even later than that.
Get a paper umbrella1/2 day tour
The mid-sized craft village Bo Sang has specialized in the crafting of paper umbrellas and is well known throughout the country and abroad for outstanding quality as well as amazing floral designs. Choose from plenty of hand-painted umbrellas reaching from tiny cocktail umbrellas to large parasols for gardens or patios and other handmade products as well – all made with Sa paper (from the bark of the mulberry tree) and in uncounted different designs. This is a great gift to bring back home.
Several hours tour
The Buatong Waterfall is located about 60 km north of Chiang Mai near the Sri Lanna National Park and is much better known by the nickname "Sticky Waterfall": it is completely covered with limestone and other minerals and this coating is very non-slip which makes it pretty easy to climb the waterfall (in particularly steep places with the help of ropes). You can climb five different levels and feel a bit like Spiderman. There are also ordinary steps on the side for all those who do not want to get wet.
The hidden temple
Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem of Chiang Mai, located just a few miles below Doi Suthep in the forest. This Buddhist temple is probably the most peaceful one can find in Chiang Mai.
The temple site is unique and blends harmoniously into the natural environment on a cliff and borders a waterfall.
The only way to reach Wat Pha Lat is the "Monk's Trail", marked by trees wrapped in the usual orange cloth used by the monks to get dressed, and leading moderately uphill
for about 45 minutes.
Once you've reached the temple, you'll realize that a 45-minute hike is a breeze, measured at the first sight of the staircase, which is decorated with two dragons and ending abruptly
at the edge of the waterfall. It is simply amazing.
Note: we recommend wearing good shoes and bring some pieces of clothing to cover your shoulders and/or thighs in the temple
Stunning Sunsets1-2 hours activity
This viewpoint is located at approximately 1,600 meters altitude in Doi Suthep National Park and about 8 km behind Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. On a clear day you have a really breathtaking view of the mountain landscape and, especially at sunset, this infinite expanse of mountain landscape unfolds a truly fascinating effect. The view up here is so beautiful that you do not want to look away. Doi Pui combines very well with a previous visit to Wat Phalat and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Several hours activity
Looking for some adrenaline? Then the X-Centre is your place to stop by. With a wide range of thrilling activities it will keep visitors of all ages entertained all day long: Bungee Jumping, Off-Road ATV Tours, Indoor Drift Carts, Trail Bike Tours, Paintball or Moto Park for adults and lots of fun for kids as well. Wether you come alone or in a group, the X-Centre staff will take care of you and ensure that everyone has a lot of fun.
Cook delicious Thai foodHalf or full day
Thai food comes with an incredible balance of tangy, spicy, sweet and salty flavors and many Thai dishes can be easily prepared even if you are not a master of cooking and it is something completely different from the usual touring activities and a great chance to give yourself a break and find out how you can prepare tasty Thai food at home for your friends. Although there are dozens of Thai cooking schools in Chiang Mai we recommend
You will fall in love with Chiang Mai
The best promotion: what our guests say about us
2022-07-27, 3:55 AM
1 day trekking tour
What a great experience! The walk was magnificent ( but kind of tough!), thé lunch unbelievable, the bamboo rafting very funny ( especially after a few days of rain) and the elephants quite funny. Our guide was really nice and helpful, explaining many things about Thailand. We did this tour with Our ... [More...]
2022-06-30, 2:18 PM
Wonderful and exciting experience
I?ve booked a trekking tour with a group, quite spontaneously. Without any problems I joined a nice group with our guide Dat at the wished date. Dat was very hilarious, entertaining and also professional at the same time. He was always courteous and safety was his first priority.
2022-02-03, 6:37 AM
Départ de chiang mai, pour un trek de 3 jours et 2 nuits avec un groupe de 4 personnes accompagnées par Piroon notre super guide, nous avons vécu des journées et nuits extraordinaires inimaginables. Traversé de la jungle, descente en bambou rafting sur la rivière , repas et nuit chez les villageois ... [More...]
2022-01-21, 6:33 AM
An amazing travel agency in Chiang Mai
Sanja Knezevic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
We booked a day trip to Phu Chee Fah mountain/viewpoint, a one-day trekking tour with the rafting and the elephant camp visit, a day trip to see the Floating Pagodas and Wat Chaloem and half-a-day trip around Chiang Mai, to see Doi Suthep and check out a silk factory. Everything was perfect and I can ... [More...]
2020-12-16, 4:59 AM
The perfect day with Kae
Jayne Mellor, Thailand
3 of us on the day trek during December 2020. The company were very understanding when we had to delay the trip by one day, even though they had already purchased provisions for the trip. Kae made it very relaxed, interesting and fun. As it was during the Covid time we didn't meet any other tourists ... [More...]