The Jewel Of Northern Thailand: Top 25 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

The Jewel Of Northern Thailand: Top 25 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Looking forward to a fantastic trip, a little away from the tourist hubs? Give up on the hectic Bangkok and escape to the peaceful capital of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the point where all excitement is, the perfect destination to find off-beat attractions. The authenticity of the 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 the thick tropical jungle have captivated curious global wanderers and encouraging them to visit time and again. 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

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

11. Explore the beauty of Namtok Huay Kaew

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Safe for all members of the family, Namtok Huay Kaew is a scenic waterfall near downtown Chiang Mai that you can visit all year round. It is situated in Doi Suthep – Pui National Park, where you can also find a Buddhist temple. While you are here, you can admire the lush trees found within the area. With several dining options at the entrance, you can enjoy a quick meal before you begin your exciting journey.

Namtok Huay Kaew

Address: 99 Huay Kaew Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Opening hours: 8am - 4:30pm (daily)

12. Unwind at The Castle - Ghost House

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by The Castle on Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Offering a ghost house and a bar, the Castle - Ghost House is a great place to visit with your friends. With a haunted house-themed escape room, this attraction can offer a thrilling adventure. Up to four people can play at a time, and the activity lasts for about half an hour. The place also has a rage room where you can release your stress. Afterward, you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail at the horror-themed bar.

The Castle - Ghost House

Address: Chang, 90-88, Tambon Chang Khlan, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Website: The Castle - Ghost House

Opening hours: 5pm - 12am (daily)

13. Enjoy a Chiang Mai Cabaret show

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

โชว์คาบาเร่ต์ที่แรกในเชียงใหม่ ต้องที่ มิราเคิลคาบาเร่ต์ เชียงใหม่ โชว์สุดอลังการ ตื่นตาตื่นใจ...

Posted by Miracle Cabaret Chiangmai on Thursday, October 10, 2019

If you are a fan of live entertainment, consider catching a cabaret show while you are in Chiang Mai. Enjoy watching an interactive show featuring talented performers with creative costumes. While watching, you can also enjoy delicious and refreshing alcoholic beverages to make your night more interesting. The entertainers showcase different routines every night, so you can definitely enjoy a unique experience each time.

Miracle Cabaret Chiang Mai

Address: 177 Changhuak Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Miracle Cabaret Chiang Mai

14. Immerse yourself in nature at Royal Park Rajapruek

Royal Park Rajapruek

If you want to be closer to nature, you can visit Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai which boasts beautifully landscaped gardens and a magnificent temple. Bike rentals are available at the park for those who want to explore the area at their own pace. You can also take the electric bus to make exploring more convenient. This is a great attraction for travelers who want to enjoy some peace and quiet; you can walk around while you admire the gorgeous, bright-colored flowers surrounding the place.

Royal Park Rajapruek

Address: 334 Mae Hia, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Website: Royal Park Rajapruek

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

15. Admire gorgeous views at Monk Lookout Viewpoint

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

For those who’ve come to Chiang Mai to appreciate its wonderful sights, Monk Lookout Viewpoint is definitely a must-visit. You can find plenty of shops that sell local goods on your way to the viewpoint. This place can be your sanctuary after exploring the palace nearby. While walking to the vantage point, you can admire the tranquil views of lush trees, and there are even small seating areas for relaxing. Parking spaces are available within the vicinity for your convenience.

Monk Lookout Viewpoint

Address: Suthep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand

Website: Monk Lookout Viewpoint

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

16. Experience the culture of Thailand at Three Kings Monument

Three Kings Monument
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pixabay user iTenz used under CC0

Found in Chiang Mai Old City, Three Kings Monument is a historical attraction that features a monument of the city’s founders. Well-respected even by the locals, Three Kings Monument is often visited by tourists who are interested in the culture of the place. Nearby, there is a large square where you can find plenty of dining options. The iconic destination is also where some festivals are held.

Three Kings Monument

Address: Prapokkloa Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

17. Plan a visit to Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders on Sunday, November 11, 2012

If you are curious about insects, this museum in Chiang Mai is certainly worth a visit. While it may be considered small, Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders boasts a large collection of mosquitoes and other different types of insects. The attraction also features exhibits of beautiful rocks and artworks. Offering a fascinating and educational experience, the museum is the perfect place for you and your family to discover the beauty of natural wonders.

Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

Address: 72 Siri Mangkalajarn Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 10am - 3pm (closed on Wed)

18. Snap some shots at Chinese Welcome Gate

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Before entering the iconic Chinatown in Chiang Mai, you can find Chinese Welcome Gate, boasting traditional colors of red and gold as well as Chinese lanterns. You can snap some shots with the welcome gate while you are here. Within the area, you can find several interesting shops that sell a wide range of products, from fabrics to Chinese delicacies. You can even shop for fresh seafood during your visit. If you are here with a special someone, you can purchase different kinds of flowers or enjoy some ready-to-eat food together.

Chinese Welcome Gate

Address: Chang Moi Rd, Tambon Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

19. Enjoy an educational experience at Chiang Mai Zoo

Chiang Mai Zoo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Papa November used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Animal lovers can surely enjoy a visit to Chiang Mai Zoo that boasts almost 400 different animal species. If you are traveling with the little ones and want them to have an educational experience, this zoo has a kids’ zone where children can enjoy creating art and learning about several plants and animals. Group activities are also available for an interactive experience. Learn all about the history of pandas while you are here. Afterward, you can head to the aquarium to discover marine species which you can also feed.

Chiang Mai Zoo

Address: Huay Kaew Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Chiang Mai Zoo

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

20. Discover the city's history at Chiang Mai Historical Centre

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Chiang Mai Historical Centre is a wonderful destination for those who want to dive deeper into the history of the city. Here, you can find exhibits that show the prehistoric setting of Chiang Mai. Though it has been recently renovated, the place has retained its Lanna-style decors and ruins of a traditional temple which you can find in the basement. There is also a lush garden as well as a spacious courtyard within the premises.

Chiang Mai Historical Centre

Address: Prapokkloa Rd, Si Phum Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 8:30am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 90 THB (2.9 USD)

21. Take in the beauty of Bhubing Palace

Bhubing Palace
Source: Photo by Flickr user whyyan used under CC BY 2.0

Serving as the home of the royal family whenever they visit the city, Bhubing Palace is a culturally significant attraction that is situated on a mountain in Chiang Mai. It features a gorgeous garden called “Suan Suwaree” that boasts beautiful roses and other unique plants. Free parking is available on the premises for the convenience of visitors. Note that there is a strict dress code when visiting the place, and only clothing that covers the knees and shoulders are allowed.

Bhubing Palace

Address: 1223 Sriwichai Alley, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: 50 THB (1.6 USD)

22. Get inspired at Wat Umong

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Also known as Tunnel Temple, Wat Umong is a Buddhist temple situated less than 30 minutes away from Doi Suthep. This is a great place to visit if you are curious about the rich history of Chiang Mai. Originally built for a monk by a king, Wat Umong is a place used for meditation as well. Here, you can also find a replica of the Ashoka Pillar that features four lions and plays a great role in Buddhism. If you came here looking for inspiration, there are some words of wisdom hung on a tree.

Wat Umong

Address: 135 Moo 10 Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Wat Umong

Opening hours: 5am - 8pm (daily)

23. Relish Thai delicacies at Pratu Chiang Mai

Pratu Chiang Mai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Hartmann Linge used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you want to know more about the local way of life in this city, consider visiting Pratu Chiang Mai. Foodies can certainly enjoy exploring the stalls that specialize in ready-to-eat meals. The market features local delicacies that can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists, such as grilled offal and sticky rice. It is often visited at night, but you can also explore the place in the morning if you are looking for cheap eats for breakfast.

Pratu Chiang Mai

Address: Mun Mueang Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

24. Appreciate Lanna's culture at Lanna Folklife Museum

Lanna Folklife Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Christophe95 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Discover the Lanna people’s past and culture by visiting Lanna Folklife Museum. History enthusiasts can definitely have a great time here as the museum features exhibits that show how the city was built. You can also find several pieces of evidence that the area was inhabited by people thousands of years ago. Certain events have been held at the museum, such as Chiang Mai Design Week and other art exhibits.

Lanna Folklife Museum

Address: Prapokkloa Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Lanna Folklife Museum

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 8:30am - 4:30pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: 90 THB (2.9 USD)

25. Have a quick run at Huay Kaew Arboretum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you are looking to enjoy a tranquil time while in Chiang Mai, you can head to Huay Kaew Arboretum that boasts beautiful native plant species. It is also a great spot for going for a quick run while admiring the views of the lush trees surrounding the place. After your productive sweat session, you can sit under a tree and just enjoy the fresh air or visit one of the cafes within the vicinity to enjoy some local coffee. There are several other attractions nearby, so you can easily explore the area.

Huay Kaew Arboretum

Address: Huay Kaew Rd, Suthep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Huay Kaew Arboretum

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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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