Things to do in Chiang Mai - Thailand's exotic beauty

Things to do in Chiang Mai

Thailand is blessed with numerous natural beauty. Thailand has been a tourism hub for many years. Among many stunning cities of Thailand, Chaing Mai is the most beautiful place visited by millions of tourists. The clean-aired Chiang Mai is the second-largest city, locked between the northern hills of Thailand, and from all sides, the city is bounded by jungle. Nature, adventure, culture, food, history, and modern comforts are some combinations that you experience in the diversified city of Chiang Mai.

In the 13th century, Chiang Mai was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Originally, Chiang Mai was a walled city and was renowned for its monasteries, temples, and markets. No, in today’s world, the modern city of Chiang Mai has expanded beyond the walls, but still, Chiang Mai can preserve the true essence of its history that can be witnessed through thriving markets, street sellers, and monks.


Chiang Mai


Quick Facts About Chiang Mai

Below are given the facts that are useful to get yourself familiar with Chiang Mai.

  • The City Center of Chiang Mai is bounded by a walled channel, which is why the City Center is also known as the Old City.
  • There are almost three hundred Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai that make Chiang Mai a home to Buddhism.
  • The highest mountain in Thailand is located in Chiang Mai. That is Doi Inthanon. It is about 2,500-meter above sea level.
  • Chiang Mai, after Bangkok, is the second-largest city in Thailand.
  • Chiang Mai is the most prominent tourist hub in Thailand and the Asian continent.

Exploring Chiang Mai on Foot

The Chiang Mai walled city or Old City was first founded in 1296. The armed neighbors made these walls for defense. Some original parts of the walls are still visible. Tourists can enter through four different gates into the Old City of Chiang Mai to experience the historical area of almost 914-acre.

The perfect place to initiate touring the Chiang Mai Old City is from the Three Kings Monument, surrounded by three museums. These museums include the Chiang Mai Historical Center, Lanna Folklife Museum, and Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center. Every museum is devoted to representing the different aspects of life and historical facts in the Lanna Dynasty.

At the south of these museums, there is a temple called Wat Chedi Luang that is a temple of great significance. Wat Chedi Luang is famous for its ancient crumbling stupa that relates to the 15th century. The Old City of Chiang Mai is home to more than forty temples. Each has its history and importance. Moreover, the nightlife, weekend nights, and weekend night markets on Saturday and Sunday are a total dose of fun and entertainment for every visitor.


Wat Chedi Luang


Things to Do in Chiang Mai


Temples to Visit in Chiang Mai

Temples, without any doubt, are the symbolic representatives of Thailand. Any city in Thailand looks incomplete without a temple. A trip to Chiang Mai will be incomplete if you have not mentioned some attractive temples in your list of visiting places.

Although Chiang Mai is home to almost 300 temples, some temples are very famous and have become the centers of attraction for visitors. In comparison, some temples are very renowned and seldom visited by tourists. These temples are important in both the historical and cultural aspects. They are listed below:

Let’s reveal some interesting facts and informative details about the temples mentioned above.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most stunning temples of Chiang Mai. Besides, it is the most popular spot for tourism as it attracts a considerable number of visitors.

Without any doubt, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most iconic, impressive, and historical place in Chiang Mai. Due to its architecture and popularity, this temple always stands tall. If you have time to visit only one temple in Chiang Mai, it should be Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.


Wat Phra That Doi Suthep


Wat Suan Dok Temple

Wat Suna Dok is located only 1 kilometer west of Chiang Mai Old City’s West Gate. The temple contains a stunning mausoleum garden described as the resting area for many past leaders. Also, this temple is a very good place to have Monk Chat.

Wat Pha Lat

Wat Pha Lat is not only a temple but a hidden gem of Chiang Mai. Situated in the lush green exotic jungle, Wat Pha Lat is a great place for peace of mind and soul. The best way to get to this temple is through hiking the Pilgrim’s Trail.

Wat Chedi Luang

If there is a must behold sight in Chiang Mai’s Old City, then no doubt there will only be the temple of Wat Chedi Luang. Among many temples, Wat Chedi Luang is also another famous temple of Chiang Mai that lies within the Old City walls.


Wat Chedi Luang


Wat Sri Suphan

The Wat Sri Suphan, in other words, is more than a temple. It is unique and artistic, especially because of its silver exterior located beside the night market on Saturday. After picking up a few souvenirs, Wat Sri Suphan is a nice place to visit.

Wat Phra Singh

The temple of Wat Phra Singh is very famous for its golden exterior that contributes a lot to the temple’s beauty and decoration. The temple sight is worth it, and every tourist should visit this temple because of its striking art of beauty.


Wat Phra Singh Temple


Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham

Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham is another temple in Chiang Mai that lies outside the Old City’s walls. The temple is originally located in a forestry area. This area is pretty renowned for its underground tunnels and channels.

Wat Phan Tao

Wat Phan Tao is a temple made from teak wood, and that is what makes it so special for tourists to visit this temple. The temple lies next to the Wat Chedi Luang. The temple of Wat Phan Tao is a place from where the young monks release lanterns on the I Peng festival.

Wat Chet Yot Phra Aram Luang

It is another temple located outside the walled city of Chiang Mai. Wat Chet Yot Phra Aram Luang is one of the few temples that tourists less visit. The temple itself is placed near the Super Highway.

Wat Phra That Doi Kham

Wat Phra That Doi Kham temple of Chiang Mai is a famous temple that has a 17-meter tall statue of Buddha. The temple is balanced on a hilltop. The Wat Phra That Doi Kham is visited by local Thai travelers rather than foreign visitors.


Wat Phra That Doi Kham


Get Conversation with a Monk

Everywhere in Thailand, you will see a lot of iconic saffron robes. But, in Chiang Mai, you will get rare opportunities to meet and chat with a monk. However, there are five places where you can get personal with a monk. The temples that offer you a great opportunity in Chiang Mai are Wat Sri Suphan, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pha Khao, and Wat Suan Dok.

You can discuss with monks about life in temples, Buddhism, and meditation. Moreover, you could chat with them on casual topics. The monks in Chiang Mai are friendly, and they go together with their teachers. “Monk Chat” is a very informative and purposeful program that provides the tourists an opportunity to learn about temple life and the monks to practice their English.

What Can You Talk About?

You can introduce yourself to the monks and fill the sheet, which contains several questions that the monks will answer later. Speaking in another language is a bit challenging for the monks, and they take a while to build their confidence. You can learn about the daily life affairs with the monks, the rituals that they perform, and how they spend their lives in the monastery. You will find that the monks are talkative, friendly, sophisticated, and open-minded.


Monk Chat in Chiang Mai


How to Do a Chat with Monk

Doing a Monk Chat is very easy. For example, at the temple of Wat Suan Dok, you appear around 5 to 7 pm on days such as Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. Afterward, you will fill a document that asks about your name and nationality, and then you will be assigned to a monk for a chat.

Things Not to Do

There are few things that you need to keep in mind before going for a Monk Chat. First, you need to be dressed modestly. It will help if you cover your shoulders and knees. In addition, women are advised not to touch the monks or establish any physical interaction with them. Also, women should remember not to touch the belongings of the monks or pass anything to them directly.

Chiang Mai’s Cabaret Show

Chiang Mai is a sleepless city where entertainment can be found day and night easily. Such a lively place for entertainment is the Cabaret Show which starts a little before midnight. The show is a pack of impressive performances where dancers show off their super talent. The show usually lasts for 1.5 hours, and it is always better to arrive early because the place gets filled up quickly. Amazingly, the show is free to watch; thus, it is worth it to experience the Cabaret Show at least once.


Chiang Mai Cabaret Show


Visit the Chiang Mai Night Safari

The Night Safari Park of Chiang Mai provides visitors with a thrilling experience to enjoy the wildlife at night. This safari park, despite its name, opens at 11 a.m. However, the true action begins as the sun sets and all three animal zones are open to the public. The main area of the park starts from the Jaguar Trail that surrounds the zoo’s lake. The Jaguar Trail opens at 11 a.m., while Savanna Safari and Predator Prowl open at 6 p.m. The park is modeled similar to that of Singapore Night Safari. However, Chiang Mai Night Safari Park is a must-visit place in Thailand with a few modifications and developments.

You can take a tram (open-sided) or enjoy the natural beauty on foot. Throughout the safari, many interactive things keep you focused and entertained. You find almost all types of animals at the night safari, such as Bengal tigers, wild deer, giraffes, wallabies, and flamingoes. Some animals are hand-fed. The night laser light show is a must-see show that should not be missed.

Doi Inthanon – The Highest Peak of Thailand

With a height of 2565-meter, Doi Inthanon is the highest peak of Thailand that is precisely situated in the historical and cultural-rich city of Chiang Mai. Doi Inthanon national park is a true gem of natural beauty.

Barking Deer, Chinese Flying Squirrels, and Asiatic Black Bears can be seen easily in this National park of Chiang Mai. In addition, Doi Inthanon is home to Macaques, Leaf Monkeys, Gibbons, and more than 30 species of bats.

To witness a wide variety of birds in Thailand, Doi Inthanon is the perfect place for bird watching. The national park of Chiang Mai is a dwelling of up to 300 bird species, and most of these birds cannot be seen in the whole country.

The park is also the best option for hiking and trekking. Well-maintained trails in the park invite tourists and trekking-lovers to spend hours on the breathtaking trails. These natural trails are great for experiencing the fantastic scenery of Doi Inthanon. The tracks last about for a few hours. Trails maps and guides are also provided for assistance and for those who come for the first time to Doi Inthanon.


Doi Inthanon


The Thing to Do in Doi Inthanon

- Go to Twin Pagodas

The most iconic sight in the Doi Inthanon National Park is the two pagodas. They are also known as the King and the Queen Pagodas. It is a must-see place that you should not neglect if you are touring the National Park.

- Eat a Local Meal

There are many restaurants near the Kew Mae Pan trail that serve delicious, cheap, and local dishes of Chiang Mai for eating. Crispy fried chicken, noodle soup, and sticky rice.

- Go, Waterfall Hopping

The national park of Doi Inthanon is a complete package of waterfalls. If you have leisure time, then you should visit as many waterfalls as you can. The most eye-catching waterfall is the Mae Ya Waterfall, an impressive sight for photos.

- Hike Kew Mae Pan Trail

The trail of Kew Mae Pan is quite easy and not so steep or difficult. It offers sweeping views that include mountains and landscapes. It is useful to hire a guide, which is also a source of jobs for the locals. It almost costs 200 baht for a group of 10 people, and 2 hours are consumed to complete the striking natural trail.

Doi Inthanon is the real beauty of nature composed of a rugged mountainous landscape covered with wild forests and majestic waterfalls and rivers. The Doi Inthanon National Park of Chiang Mai contains various animals and birds. Most of the birds in Thailand are observed in the National Park.

Enjoy Encountering an Ethical Elephant

The elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai are indeed the best places in Thailand. The famous ethical encounter with the elephants is full of nature experience. These elephants are not for riding as the animals are cared to live in their natural habitat. Almost 30 elephants are residing in the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary of Chiang Mai. These elephants are former Thai logging workers, and after retirement, they are looked after with sufficient measures for the rest of their lives.


Elephant in Chiang Mai


Songkran Celebrations in Chiang Mai

There is no better event than to enjoy the local festivals of Chiang Mai to get the pure essence of the city’s cultural heritage. That is why Songkran is the perfect time frame to get soaked in Thai’s New Year celebrations. The Thai New Year starts in April, and as it follows the lunar calendar, there is no exact date for the beginning.

If you plan to visit Chiang Mai, try to select the dates that fall around the Songkran beginning. Songkran celebrations last for three days, and you can’t forget the experience of enjoying these celebrations as the whole city is soaked in it and every street is decorated vibrantly.


Songkran Celebrations


The Dui Suthep of Chiang Mai

Dui Suthep is regarded as a part of Chiang Mai's life that cannot be ignored. As per a Thai saying, “If you don’t take a view from Dui Suthep or taste Khao Soi, then you have not visited Chiang Mai.” The royal mountain is the best place to look at the city from the top. Located northwest of Chiang Mai, Dui Suthep offers commanding aerial views. Despite its dominance in the region, Dui Suthep is the symbolic representation in the Kingdom.

Cook The Thai Cuisine

The dishes of Chiang Mai are one of a kind and famous all around the country due to their taste and decoration. There are various cooking institutes in Chiang Mai where professional chefs are kind enough to turn you into an expert chef of Thai food. You could buy all the ingredients from the authentic markets of Chiang Mai. The teachers help you in cooking your favorite Thai dishes, step by step, easily. You can also pick fresh and organic ingredients to form some of the best Chiang Mai cooking institutes.


Cooking Class in Chiang Mai


Khao Soi – The Must-Eat Chiang Mai Noodles

Khao Soi is the most renowned food in Chiang Mai. Thousands of people widely eat it in northern Thailand. In Chiang Mai, Khao Soi has its distinction as it is served in a bowl that contains noodles covered with curry. The curry is made up of coconut cream and is produced from pure coconut milk. The bowl of Khao Soi is filled with shallots, fresh herbs, chili, and chicken.

Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is also familiar with Chiang Mai noodles. From a random street stall to a five-star restaurant Khao Soi is available at every inch of Chiang Mai.

In addition, there are many famous Chiang Mai dishes that you should try while visiting the vibrant city. These dishes are Sai Oua (a grilled pork sausage), Khanom Jeen (a dish made up of rice noodles), and Laab (a spicy salad).


Chiang Mai Noodle - Khao Soi


Do Zip-Lining through the Jungle

Another must-do activity in Chiang Mai is the Zip-Line. This physical activity is highly recommended for active travelers, teenagers, adventurous people, and families. The most popular high-flying adventure for Chiang Mai travelers is the Flight of the Gibbon. This flight takes you to the virgin land of the forest where you could see many forest animals and particularly gibbons for sure.

Souvenirs at Warorot Market

Warorot Market is one of the most interactive, lively, and famous places in Chiang Mai. Many Thai locals and foreign visitors come to this market for groceries, and the market itself is a diverse place where you can buy clothes, personal care products, and fashion accessories.

A market is also a good place in terms of local food. A wide list of ready-to-eat food is available at various food stalls and small restaurants. Overall, Warorot Market is a good place that you should visit if you are not running out of time.

Enjoy Cold Shower of Bua Thong Falls

As mentioned earlier, Chiang Mai is a city full of natural waterfalls. But, Bua Thong is the most beautiful waterfall among all the waterfalls where you can get a cold shower from natural water resources. Thus, the place is a combination of nature and beauty. Interestingly, due to limestone, the walls and stones in and around the waterfall are not slippery, so you could step on the rocks without fear of slipping.

Meet the Karen Hill Tribe’s People

Karen people of the Karen hill tribe are the people whose earlier generations migrated from Myanmar to Thailand's northern area due to uncertain conditions in the country. They live in the village of Mae Rim, which is only a few kilometers away from Chiang Mai.

Culturally, historically, and traditionally, Karen people are very significant. They contributed a lot to the cultural diversity of Thailand and successfully preserved their traditions even in the era of modernism.

Getting in touch with Karen Hill Tribe allows visitors to enjoy a different experience as the women wear brass rings around their necks. These brass rings are considered the symbol of beauty. Karen women are very creative as they make handicrafts and sell them too. You can take a tour guide for a chat with them.


Karen Hill-tribe in Chiang Mai


Celebrate Chiang Mai Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is a famous festival in Chiang Mai. Thousands of lanterns are flown up to the sky in this festival, and thousands of lotus shaped-flower lights are released to float over the river.

In Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong is celebrated in its truest sense than any other city in Thailand. There is no exact date of Loy Krathong as it is followed according to the lunar calendar. However, most of the time, it is celebrated in mid-November.


Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai


Enjoy the Thai Massage

Thai massage is famous all over the world. Traveling to Thailand and not getting the Thai Massage sounds crazy. An hour-long massage costs almost 6 USD, which is nothing to the quality service that you get.