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Chiang Mai Sightseeing: Top 20 Attractions and Activities
You plan, during your trip to Thailand, Chiang Mai, to visit?
To help you plan your stay I have this travel guide with the 20 best must-see attractions in Chiang Mai and the surrounding area, compiled.
I'll give you a list of the best things to see and do here as well Itineraries to visit Chiang Mai in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more days!
In this travel guide you will find out everything about the most beautiful templesNight markets, the Doi Suthep National Parkand much more.
Of course I'll tell you more about it too the best elephant sanctuary as well as about the places to visit in the vicinity of Chiang Mai, such as Chiang Rai and the Mae Hong Son Province say!
And as always, I'll give you too my best tips as well as a list of the best accommodations in Chiang Mai, depending on your budget.
What can you so on best things to do in Chiang Mai? Where is the best place to stay?
Let's find out!
Things to do in Chiang Mai: Top 20 must-see attractions
1. Chiang Mai old town
The most of Chiang Mai's attractions and landmarks are located in the old Town.
There you will be the most important temple (see below for more details), street markets and museums. There are also several bars and restaurants as well as many agencies that offer day trips and various activities!
The old town is surrounded by trenches and old city walls surround. One can through 4 differentMain gates get to the old town, which are located in each of the four cardinal directions.
Inside the old town you can get one take a peaceful stroll and admire the traditional buildings.
2. Temple in Chiang Mai
As I mentioned in the introduction to this article, the temples are without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Chiang Mai.
There are so many in the old town that you can see. Most of them are free, others charge a very low entrance fee. It would be a shame to miss these visits!
Here are my favorite temples in Chiang Mai:
- Wat Phra Sing, one of the most famous and revered by the Thai people. Thousands come to worship the Buddha Phra Sing statue every year. Admission is free.
- Wat Chedi Luang (40 Baht), it once housed the famous Emerald Buddha, which is now in the Grand Palace of Bangkok. Even though it was partially damaged by an earthquake, the temple is still impressive.
- Wat Inthakhin Saduemang, a small teak temple not far from the Epiphany monument. Right next to it, you should visit the free temple museum.
- Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple built by the city's founder in the 13th century. It houses two Buddha statues, one made of marble and one made of crystal.
- Wat Saen Fang, is very pretty, ancient and unique at the same time. I really liked the two snake guardian statues.
- Wat Bupparam (20 baht), one of my favorites in Chiang Mai!
- Wat Mahawan, a temple that combines the Lanna and Birman styles, with several sculptures of different creatures.
- Wat Si Suphan, also called "the silver temple" because it was largely made of silver and symbolizes purity.
When visiting temples, be it in Chiang Mai or anywhere else in Thailand, you have to cover your shoulders and legs.
Always plan on wearing baggy pants or a long skirt before entering the temples. This applies to both men and women!
3. Doi Suthep National Park
During your stay in Chiang Mai, you definitely should visit Doi Suthep National Park, which is just outside the city.
In the park itself, there is a road that allows you to easily get from one attraction to another visit the park in one day.
The most visited site in the park is for sure the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a temple built on a hill. From there you have a 360 ° view of the city of Chiang Mai and its surroundings.
To get there you have to about 300 steps climb up or take an elevator (for an additional fee).
The stairs are not very steep so if you are in shape you will have no problem climbing them. You might sweat a bit as the climate in Thailand is quite hot, but you have surely prepared for that!
The entrance fee to the temple is 30 baht.
At the foot of the temple there are lots of souvenir shops and restaurants.
Here are the other attractions of Doi Suthep National Park:
- Bhubing Palace (50 Baht): the winter residence of the Thai royal family when they come to the north of the country. Only the gardens (well-tended and in bloom) are open to visitors. Don't miss the rose gardens and giant bamboo plants! Pay attention to the opening and closing times: the palace usually closes at 3:30 p.m. Plan to wear long pants here too (without holes and not too tight!). The dress code is taken very seriously.
- The village of Hmong Doi Pui has a small waterfall and a pleasant garden (entrance fee is 10 baht). In the village itself there are almost only souvenir shops.
- Mon Tha Than waterfall (100 Baht + 30 Baht for a car): To get to the falls, you first have to drive 3 km on a narrow road and then walk five minutes from the parking lot to the first waterfall. A small path (on the left side of the first waterfall) leads to a second waterfall and then to a third (Sai Yoi waterfall), but it was closed when we were there.
- Huay Kaew waterfall: If you are coming from Chiang Mai this is the first stop in the park. Park your car in the designated parking lot and walk 5 minutes to reach the waterfall.
The best solution, in order to be able to discover the park optimally, is Rent a car or a scooter in Chiang Mai.
If you don't have your own vehicle, you can too one of the red shared taxis (called “Songthaew” or “sorng-taa-ou” in Thailand), which will take you from place to place in the park.
If you don't want to organize this trip yourself, should you book a half-day tour from Chiang Mai.
This excursion includes the Pick up from the hotel, transportation by minibus (only 10 places), a tour guide and the Entrance fees to the temple and the Hmong village.
If you don't have a lot of time or if you don't have a car this is certainly the best solution to visit Doi Suthep National Park!
You can yours Book a tour by clicking the button below:
4. Thai cooking class
If you fancy the Thai gastronomy in Chiang Mai to discover then take part in a cooking class!
In the last few years this city has become the leading travel destination in the north of the country developedif you want to learn to cook. This activity is attracting more and more tourists! You can too in this activity take part, during your road trip in Thailand!
There are numerous cooking schools here: You will learn how onedelicious curries, tasty pad thai and Khao Soy, a specialty of the north, prepared: Curry soup with fried noodles and chicken.
Classes usually last half a day. First will you go to the market with the cooking group, to discover (and buy) the different spices, herbs and vegetables used in traditional dishes. Then it's back to school to prepare a Thai dish with all these ingredients, which is then eaten with the group.
At the end of the course you will even receive a free recipe bookto impress your friends when you get back from vacation!
If you take a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai it is very simple: Simply book your activity by clicking on the link below:
5. Huay Tung Tao Lake
Would you like to leave the city for a bit and enjoy some peace and quiet near Chiang Mai?
Then you should drive to Huay Tung Tao Lake, the about 15 Minutes by car from the city center lies. Here the Thais meet on the weekendsto spend some time with her family by the water.
There are many on the shores of the lake small wooden hutswhere to eat fresh fish and a relaxing afternoon can spend.
You can also get one here Pedal boat rent or in one of the designated areas swim. You can even fish!
The lake is really very big: you can ride around him by car, scooter or bike.
Don't miss out either the designated areas with huge gorillas, elephants, lions or buffalo made of straw. It's the perfect place to take fun photos!
Entry to the lake costs 50 baht per person. You have to pay at the little hut at the entrance.
6. Markets in Chiang Mai
A visit to Chiang Mai should also be one Stroll through the city's many markets include.
Whether you want to buy souvenirs or stock up on fruits and spices, it doesn't matter, you are sure to find what you are looking for in these markets.
During the day should you go through the alleys of the Talat Warorot Market, the largest in town, stroll.
There is everything from food stalls to clothes. This market is located east of the old town and close to Chinatown and is very popular with the locals.
You can also use the nearby Flower market at the River bank visit. Florists make beautiful arrangements of offerings and flower garlands to hang in cars (they are very popular in Thailand!).
In the evening I recommend you to Night bazaar (Night market) to go to that is open daily from 6 p.m.. It is located at the Chang Klan Street.
There will be handmade goods sold that are made by local hill tribes. But since it is super touristy, the prices are higher than in the other markets. It's also a great place to go Enjoy delicious dishes at one of the many street stalls.
Don't forget on the weekends either, to the Saturday or Sunday Night Market to go.
There is a huge selection of handicrafts, souvenirs, clothes, figurines (statuettes), and the prices are reasonable (cheaper than e.g. at the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok).
In Chiang Mai you can do a little too Cultural tourism enjoy:
Here is the list of the city's main local museums:
- The National Museum of Chiang Mai, to learn all about the history of the Kingdom of Lanna.
- The Lanna Folk Art Museum (Lanna Folklife Museum), to find out about this unique culture of northern Thailand.
- The Chiang Mai Culture and Art Center, to learn all about the history of Chiang Mai.
- The Art in Paradise Museum, a place where you can take photos with 3D optical illusions in the background. This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Chiang Mai. It's very realistic and fun! Buy your tickets here!
- The Chiang Mai History Center
- The museum of insects from all over the worldand the natural wonder and his collection of hundreds of insects.
- The currency museum
8. Elephants in Chiang Mai
During your stay you can also spend a day in an elephant sanctuary Spend near Chiang Mai.
Take elephant sanctuaries abused or abandoned elephants on to take care of them.
You will have the opportunity the staff feeding and bathing the elephants in the river to help. Elephant riding is not allowed here! Most of these accommodations nowadays adhere to certain ethical standards and try to restore a natural environment as much as possible.
One of the most famous protected areas is the Elephant Nature Park. He was one of the first parksthat protect elephants were created.
Several agencies offer this Half day or full day tours from Chiang Mai to visit a sanctuary and learn about the Animals take care of. The offers are all similar, only the location of the protected area differs depending on the agency.
Prices start at around 1800 baht for half a day and can go up to 2500 baht for a full day be.
You can book your day trip to the best elephant reserveby clicking the link below.
9. Zipline in Chiang Mai
If you Combine nature and adventure want, it's an excellent ideato zipline in Chiang Mai.
And if you are in Chiang Mai with your kids, this activity is ideal! It really is a nice change for your children! Not just temple tours or city visits!
I recommend the Flight of the Gibbon Parkwhich is about an hour's drive from Chiang Mai.
He meets all security requirements (which is not always the case with this type of activity in Thailand), the organizers are super nice and the cable car leads through the jungle. Maybe you will even be lucky some gibbons to see!
If you don't have a car, it's good to know from Chiang Mai day trips get organized.
The tour includes the Transport to and from your hotel, 3 hours stay in the park, Lunch and a walk in the woods to discover a waterfall. It's a great excursion that is really worth it!
Just click the link below to book:
10. Other sports activities in Chiang Mai
When you are done with visiting the main attractions in the city and not should know what else you could do in Chiang Mai, I recommend you one of the many sports activities which are offered here to try out.
You have the choice between:
- Mountain bike in Doi Suthep National Park: 3 hiking trails are available to you. The price starts at 1,650 Baht for 4 hours of cycling.
- Climb on the limestone cliffs of the Crazy Horse Buttress.
- Rafting: 10 km for 3,000 baht per person.
- Driving quad through the Thai countryside. Prices start at 2,200 baht for 3 hours.
- Kayakingon the Mae Ping River. The price starts at 1,750 baht for 4 hours.
- buggy in the jungle: 1 hour for 2,000 baht per person.
Most agencies also offer a combination of activities on the same day, such as, Quad biking and rafting or Cycling and kayaking. These tours start at 3,000 Baht (somethingcheaperas two separate activities).
Never book an activity blindlinked in Thailand. Inquire first to make sure the agency is reliable and that all safety precautions during activities to be hit. Every year, many accidents occur in Thailand due to poor compliance with safety standards.
To make sure you choose a safe agency, book your activities in advance. It's not more expensive, and you'll be so sure to find a reliable agency: click the link below to find a reliable agency for your activity in Chiang Mai to find:
11. Trekking in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is also a popular destination for Walks in the wild.
You can a day hike or a multi-day adventurein the jungle of northern ThailandCompanies.The best areas for hiking around Chiang Mai are Chiang Dao, Mae Tang, Mae Wang or Doi Inthanon.
Trekking tours organized by agencies usually include an overnight stay with a hill tribe (Karen, Akha or Lahu) and a ride on a bamboo raft down the river.
Some also offer one Visit to an elephant camp to (reject those who offer a ride on elephant back).
The prices for a 2 day tour start at 3,500 baht per person.
The best season for a trekking tour, during your visit to northern Thailand, is from November to February.
12. Chiang Mai Zoo
If you want to learn more about the animals of Thailand, you can Chiang Mai Zoo visit, the largest in the country.
He is at the foot of Doi Suthep, at the exit of the city.
You can do more than a hundred species (Crocodiles, monkeys, hippos ...) on one Area of 80 hectares observe. Who does not want to go on foot, can explore the zoo with a shuttle buswithout getting tired.
And if you are traveling with your children in Chiang Mai, they will surely be happyYou can feed some animals here!
The zoo also has special areas like an aquarium, a snow dome and the panda house.
The pair of pandas living there is the zoo's biggest star and one of the most popular animals! To visit these 3 attractions however, there is a surcharge towards the price of admission numbers.
Small disadvantage : Don't expect a beautiful, well-kept park like in Europe or North America.
The standards are not the same, and some parts of the zoo may seem a little neglected. In addition, of course, it remains just a zoo, so that the animals do not always have enough space.
You can find more information such as opening times and admission prices at the official website.
13. Festivals and celebrations in Chiang Mai
If you visit Chiang Mai, you might be lucky enough to be at one of the festivals to take part, that take place in this city.
There are 3 main festivals - All three attract a lot of Thai people and tourists:
- The Songkran takes place in April every year and symbolizes the Thai New Year celebrations. The tradition is to splash water on everyone to celebrate the new year. Bottles, buckets, cans or water pistols, you have to choose your weapon! It takes a full week, so if you visit the city at this time of year, you will struggle to stay dry!
- The Loi Krathong, also known as the "Lantern Festival," where thousands of lanterns float in the sky and on the rivers. Takes place in November.
- The Chiang Mai Flower Festival takes place every year on the first weekend in February. Dance performances, decorated boat parades and open-air concerts are organized for this event.
14. Muay Thai boxing matches
This activity is becoming increasingly popular in Chiang Mai.
Muay Thai fights are really impressive! This fighting technique has its origins in a military training method used by Thai soldiers and is today the national sport of Thailand.
The experience is worth it, even if you are not a big fan of violent sports. The atmosphere of the fighting is amazing with musicians and simulated combat demonstrations during the warm up.
There are 3 places where you can have a muay thai boxing match in Chiang Mai can view: Kalare Stadium, Thapae Boxing Stadium and Loi Kroh Stadium.
The entrance fee is between 400 and 600 baht.
Do not hesitate to ask your hotel staff for advice: They know where and when which fights take place, depending on the day of the week.
15. Traditional Thai massage
After a long day of sightseeing walking through Chiang Mai, nothing goes over a traditional Thai massageto relax a little!
There are Massage parlors all over town, near the temples and in the streets of the old town. Most hotels also offer massage services, and some of them have really nice spas.
An hour-long foot massage Costs approximately 250 baht and a full body massage, 500 baht. It really is a very special experience!
Your limbs will be stretched in all directions! You will probably feel a little stiff or even have some sore muscles afterwards.
But do not worry, later you will feel the positive effects and feel great benefit!
The 5 best must-see attractions around Chiang Mai
If you have been in Chiang Mai for several days and have already visited all of the above-mentioned attractions, you should now explore the surroundings of this city.
There are some worth seeingPlaces nearby that can be discovered thanks to day trips or short 2-day tours.
16. Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon National Park lies 80 km from Chiang Mai.
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand and reaches a height of 2,565 meters. Easy to get there by car and then take a short walk to reach the top.
In the park you can too Nam Tok Mae Klang and Nam Tok Wachirathan waterfalls admire.
You should yourself too the twin stupas which were built in honor of the king and queen and their terraces offer a very nice view.
When you don't have a carthe easiest way is a day trip from Chiang Mai to book to get to Doi Inthanon. Hotel pickup, transportation, tour guide, entrance fees and lunch are included included!
You can book this excursion here by clicking the link below:
17. Hot springs
The best addition to a Thai massage is one of the hot springs around Chiang Mai to try out.
The most well-known are the hot springs of San Kamphaeng, about 40 km east of Chiang Mai.
In the middle of a beautifully landscaped garden, you will your feet in a 40 ° warm water basin let it dangle!
The most popular activity here is that Cooking ofEggs, right at the water source where the water gushing out 100° reached. Small baskets of 3 eggs sell for around 20 baht. You will also be able to watch how the Thai people dunk the eggs in the water before they are eaten!
Entry to the springs is 100 baht, and you have to an additional 50 baht pay if you can bathe in the mineral water pool would like to.
This is an enjoyable and fun activityto do near Chiang Mai!
If you need some relaxation, you should go to the sources during the week. On the weekends the site is overcrowded with Thai families.
If you don't have a car around from Chiang Mai drive to San Kamphaeng, you can go to the Warorot market the songthaew (yellow shared taxi) to take. The journey takes 1 hour and costs 50 baht
18. Bua Thong Waterfall
The Bua Thong waterfall is another beautiful natural setting near Chiang Mai.
It is located 70 km north of the city.
This waterfall is pretty unique: The rock on which the water flows is stickyso that one can climb it barefoot! He is therefore also "sticky waterfall" called. A series of ropes will help you climb the 3 steps of the waterfall.
Your children will also have fun here! This attraction near Chiang Mai is really suitable for oneFamily outing! Try to be able to enjoy this waterfall in peace, rather to go there during the week, ifis not so busy.
If you don't have a car to get there you can, at Chiang Mai bus station, take a collective van. This minibus will drop you off about 3 km from the waterfall.
19. Mae Hong Son Province
From Chiang Mai you can also go on a road trip to Mae Hong Son Province, the 145 km away.
The landscapes are breathtaking: manyWaterfalls, hot springs and numerous temples can be discovered here!
The most famous city in the province is Pai. There is one here Hippie and bohemian atmosphere used by the tourists is very much appreciated. The night life is very lively too!
20. Chiang Rai
There is another city you should check out near Chiang Mai: Chiang Rai.
To be honest, this city is located not in the immediate vicinity from Chiang Mai.
Two hundred kilometers (200 km) separate the two cities and it takes about 3 hours to reach Chiang Rai.
But it would be a shame the main tourist attraction there to miss:the famous White Temple. It is definitely one of the most beautiful buildingsthat I toured during my stay in Northern Thailand!
Even though I had seen pictures of it before, it was very impressive to see the White Temple with my own eyes. The fine workmanship, the sculptures and the white paint that is used everywhere create a wonderful overall effect.
If you plan to spend a few days in Chiang Rai, you can too visit the Blue Temple, Black Houses Museum and Khun Korn Waterfall,
If you don't shy away from the long journey, so can you a day tripto the white temple from Chiang Maibook. You will at your hotel Picked up in a minivan and then we continue to Chiang Rai to visit the temple.
This day trip also includes a detour to the hot springs, a museum visit and a ride on a longtail boat on the river!
Sure, it's going to be a long day, but it's the best solution if you don't want to drive yourself or if you want to use your time efficiently.
You can book your day trip to the White Temple by clicking the link below:
This excursion to Chiang Rai can also be booked in the form of a private 2-day tourwhich is the best option if you have enough time. This tour is just amazing! You need to click here for more information and to book this tour:
To get more information about the city of Chiang Rai, I recommend you read my following in-depth article: Top 17 sights in Chiang Rai.
Top 8 Must-See Attractions in Chiang Mai That Are Also Suitable for Children
So what's the best thing to do in Chiang Mai when traveling with kids?
To enable you to have a wonderful (and unforgettable) stay with your family, I am giving you a list of the best travel destinations and activities to visit with kids in Chiang Mai can.
- Have a picnic at Huay Tung Tao Lake. Don't forget to take photos with the giant straw animals! Children and adults love it! (see picture below 😋)
- Take a family stroll through the Saturday or Sunday night market, to stock up on souvenirs and enjoy Thai street food at the food stalls.
- Visit the Art In Paradise Museum and its 3D decorations
- Spend a day in an elephant sanctuary
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