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The Jewel Of Northern Thailand: Top 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

The Jewel Of Northern Thailand: Top 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Give up on the hectic Bangkok and escape to the peaceful capital of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the point where all excitement is about to begin. The authenticity of ancient Thai culture can be sensed through the Lana Kingdom’s relics and the well-preserved brick temples, highlighting the surrounding bustling modernizations. The preserved mountainous countryside and thick tropical jungle have captivated curious global wanderers, encouraging them to visit. Chiang Mai has many things to offer to every type of traveler.

1. See a view of Chiang Mai’s from Doi Suthep and visit the temple

Phra That Doi Suthep 01
Source: Photo by user

Located around 15 km (9.3 mi) from downtown, Doi Suthep hill is a must-see attraction because of its amazing sacred temple at the peak, and panoramic views. To reach this Buddhist holy site, you must challenge yourself to climb the long paved stairs. The stunning huge gold chedi (stupa) with an umbrella is the highlight of the temple, which is surrounded by small shrines, statues, and a museum.

Wat Doi Suthep

Address: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Road Srivijaya Suthep Mueang Chiang Mai District Chiang Mai, Thailand

Price: 0.86 USD/~30 THB (entrance ticket for foreigner)

Opening Hours: 6 am - 5 pm

Contact: +66 53 295 002

2. Visit the ancient temple Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang
Source: Rofiq

You can discover the historic part of Chang Mai by making a stop at the ruins of Lana Kingdom, Wat Chedi Luang. This ancient, towering, square temple has a wrecked top, probably from an attack by Burmese troops. It is delightfully ornamented with four standing naga (dragon snake creatures) stairways, and several elephant statues. The city pillar, Lak Meuang, which is an old chapel with a spired roof, can be spotted when you enter via the main entrance of Phra Pokklao.

Wat Chedi Luang

Address: 103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Muang District, Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand

Price: free

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm

Contact: +66 53 276 140

3. Ride an elephant at Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Maesa Elephant Camp - Ride 2
Source: Photo by user Kevin Shorter used under CC BY 2.0

If you want to have a deep interaction with elephants, don’t overlook a precious moment at Mae Sa Elephant Camp. The site, situated in thick, lush jungle, is a leading center for conserving domesticated elephants in Thailand. Riding a charming elephant would be a extraordinary and memorable experience when discovering Chiang Mai in different way. Aside from that, watching the elephants bathing in the river, or feeding the gigantic creatures with fresh grass are also memorable ways to interact with these beautiful creatures.

Maesa Elephant Camp

Address: Tapae Road, 119/9 1096 Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 3.30 pm

Website: Maesa Elephant Camp

Editor's Note

We at Trip101 support cruelty free tourism, thus we suggest that before visiting the Maesa Elephant Camp, visitors look into how these beautiful animals are treated, as we have read reports of the animals being required to do tricks. We believe that the best place to see animals is in the wild in their territory that we help protect through national or regional parks. If you want to help elephants, the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai provides rehabilitation to injured animals and promotes volunteer tourism.

4. Meet the women of the Karen Long Neck hill tribe

The long neck lady of Karen
Source: rofiq

Spread across the mountainous countryside in northern Thailand, the hill tribes including Hmong and Karen, keep surviving with their own distinctive ways of life. The typical tradition of northern inhabitants can be seen in how Karen women wear brass rings on their neck, uniquely creating a different standard on beauty. These friendly ladies are the best weavers, producing numerous multicolored, graceful northern Thai patterned fabrics.

Karen Long Neck Camp

Address: Mae Rim District

Price: 14.29 USD/~495 THB

Opening Hours: 6 am to 5 pm

5. Go shopping at a night bazaar

Kalare Night Bazaar - Chiang Mai, Thailand
Source: Photo by user AG Gilmore used under CC BY-ND 2.0

The greatest thing about Chiang Mai is the night bazaar, where bargaining for all the good bits and pieces might be a tricky and tactical strategy to get low-priced goods. There is a must-visit spot to satisfy your shopping lust like Chang Khlan road near Tha Pai Gate. You can shop any night since the vibrant street market is always open no matter the weather. A vast array of items from apparel, accessory, CDs and DVDs to delectable Thai cuisine are displayed to attract people to buy.

Chiang Mai Night Market

Address: 41 ถนน ช้างคลาน Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening Hours: 7 pm to midnight

Contact: +66 53 283 250

6. Enjoy a Thai massage

Classical Thai Massage
Source: Photo by user Tara Angkor Hotel used under CC BY 2.0

Weary travelers need to treat themselves with a Thai massage in Chiang Mai. The method used is based on stretching the body laid on a mattress on the floor along with deep massage. If other Asian treatments apply oils or lotions, traditional Thai massage only uses the masseuse’s hands. You don’t need to take off your clothes during the massage. There are many spa spots to get the massage across Chiang Mai, and you can choose from affordable to pricey.

Zabai Thai Massage & Spa Chiang Mai

Address: Thapae Rd Lane 1, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Price: From 11.5 USD/~399 THB

Opening Hours: 10 am to 10 pm

Contact: +66 86 921 9149

7. Observe the production of umbrella crafts in Bor Sang Village

Schirm rot mit Aufschrift Bo Sang Ching Mai Thailand
Source: Photo by user Grossbildjaeger used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are curious about how the colorful sa paper Thai umbrellas are made, you had better check them out in the umbrella factory in Bong Sang Village. This is where local craftsmen and women skillfully assemble one piece to another piece to create a plain umbrella. Then, you will see how the plain item passes drawing and decoration processes until the umbrella is ready to be displayed in the nearby craft shop. There are many lovely designs on the umbrellas you can select from. Additionally, don’t miss a chance to see the annual Bor Sang Umbrella Festival.

Bor Sang Umbrella Village

Address: Bor Sang Umbrella Village, San Kamphaeng, Thailand

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm

8. Snack on fried insects at the Sunday night market

Fried Crickets - Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Source: Photo by user Alpha used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Having a hot pot of tom yum and a plate of som tum for Thai dinner sounds normal while wandering Chiang Mai’s sparkling night. Try fried insects at the Sunday night market for your anti-mainstream experience. The edible grasshoppers, mealworms, crickets, and beetles are nicely displayed for unusual dining pleasure. Don’t freak out at the first try, just munch on the salty and crunchy legs and the next thing you know, you’re hooked on insects!

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market

Address: Rachadamnoen Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Chiang Mai

Price: From 0.57 USD/~20 THB per bag

Opening Hours: 5 pm to 10 pm

9. Observe wild animals at Chiang Mai Night Safari

Chiang Mai Night Safari Rhinoceros
Source: Photo by user KungDekZa used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Having a thrilling sensation at night in the wilderness would be your most memorable experience in discovering Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai Night Safari offers that experience and more. You can hand-feeding animals and petting endearing tiger cubs. There are three sorts of journeys you can opt to enjoy including Savanna Safari, Predator Prowl, and Jaguar Trail. Savanna Safari offers a journey through African savanna to see zebras, antelopes, and more. Predator Prowl is the right way to see the fiercest animals in the world, while Jaguar Trail is a journey to observe flamingos and tortoises.

Chiang Mai Night Safari

Address: 33 Moo 12, Tambon Nong Kwai, Amphoe Hang Dong, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand

Price: From approximately 22.86 USD/100 THB (Adult), 11.43 USD/50 THB (Child) for Day and Safari Night; 2.86 USD/800 THB (Adult), 1.43 USD/400 THB (Child) for Jaguar Trail Zone

Opening Hours: 11 am to 10 pm

Contact: +66 (0) 53-999-000

Website: Chiang Mai Night Safari

10. Take a Thai cooking class

Source: Photo by user Thai Secret Cooki... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Thailand has a very rich culinary tradition and flavorful cuisine, so learning how Thai people create incredible, tasty dishes would be a fun way to spend time in Chiang Mai. There are several cooking schools that offer classes such as a half or full day course with various costs depending on your budget. You will be taught how to shop in the traditional market, select fresh ingredients, become acquainted with Thai spices, and cook a variety of Thai food.

Thai Farm Cooking School

Address: Moon Muang Rd Soi 9, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai

Price: Approximately 43 USD/1,500 THB per day

Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm

Contact: +66 81 288 5989

Website: Thai Farm Cooking School

Chiang Mai is another exciting escape to avoid the bustling Bangkok

Chiang Mai is truly the magnet of northern Thailand, which is an active city 24 hours a day. This charming city is the perfect destination for those who hunger for culture, food, nature, spiritual, and recreational experiences. It offers plentiful attractions for deeper exploration that never ends. The ancient temples, the elephant center, the hill tribes, the night market, and the villages are breathtaking. Chiang Mai is a real escape from your daily routine.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am Rofiq from East Java, Indonesia. I am passionate about exploring new places, meeting new people, learning new languages and cultures. I always do solo traveling and backpacking since they are...Read more

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