BEST THINGS TO DO IN CHIANG MAI!
Chiang Mai is a culturally rich ancient city located in the mountains of Northern Thailand. I have put together this complete guide of 10 Best Things To Do In Chiang Mai including panoramic viewpoints, buzzing night markets, historic temples, best places to eat and much more!
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10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN CHIANG MAI
#1 GET LOST IN CHIANG MAI OLD TOWN
Getting lost deep inside the walls of Chiang Mai Old Town is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai.
You could spend an entire day walking the streets of the Old Town, with so many different things to see and do, it is near impossible to get bored.
See All ∼ Hostels, Hotels & Resorts in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Old Town – Things to do in Chiang Mai
#2 VISIT THA PHAE GATE
Tha Phae Gate is one of the most popular attractions in Chiang Mai. The Thapae Gate is part of the crumbling city wall which used to be the boundary of the Old Town Fortress. It acts as the tourism epicenter of Chiang Mai boasting bars, restaurants, massage parlors and more.
There is a large public square at Tha Phae Gate which plays host to many events throughout the year such as the New Years Eve lantern-lighting celebrations, the Songkran (water fight) festival, various live music events and cultural shows.
Must Read → 3 Week Thailand Itinerary
Thapae Gate – What to do in Chiang Mai in 3 days
New Years Eve Festivities at Tha Phae Gate
#3 RIDE IN A SONGTHAEW
A songthaew is a unique passenger vehicle in Chiang Mai that zips around the old town doing swift pick-ups and drop-offs for as little as 30 Baht per ride.
They can be found driving down almost every street in Chiang Mai Old Town and all you need to do is hail one down, tell them where you want to go and jump in the back. It is the cheapest and most convenient way to get around the Old Town if you’re legs are painted on.
Hailing a songthaew in Chiang Mai Old Town
#4 VISIT WAT CHEDI LUANG TEMPLE
Chiang Mai is home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples with the most popular one being the Wat Chedi Luang temple which resides smack bang in the middle of Chiang Mai Old Town. It’s one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai and not to be missed!
Wat Chedi Luang was built in the late 1300s and stood an impressive 80-meters tall before it was later damaged during an earthquake in the 1500s and is now only half of its original height.
Wat Chedi Temple attracts many tourists and monks throughout the day so it can get quite busy. If you want to get some good photos of the temple, it is best to head in early when the gates open at 6am. Entry fee is 50 Baht.
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Wat Chedi Temple – Things to do in Chiang Mai
#5 EXPLORE THE HIPSTER DISTRICT
Nimmanhaemin Road is where you can find Chiang Mai’s hipster district, a short 10-minute drive from the Old Town. The quirky streets around the Nimman district are filled with creative cafes, rooftop bars, unique shopping malls and of course hipsters – young and old!
One of the most reputable places to eat in the hipster district is the Rustic and Blue Cafe. This cozy little cafe has some of the best tasting western food in Chiang Mai located on Nimman Soi 7 Street.
There is a small courtyard seating area covered by shady trees and drooping vines, a couple of hammocks are hung up in the outdoor terrace and a sunroom lounge area located right down the back. The perfect spot to hang out for lunch or some evening cocktails, making it one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai!
Hipster district – Best things to do in Chiang Mai
#6 SHOP TILL YOU DROP AT THE SUNDAY MARKET
If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on a weekend, you definitely don’t want to miss the famous Sunday Market. The market begins at 4 pm until Midnight, starting at Thapae Gate and continues down Rachadamnoen Rd (The Walking Street) for 1km.
The road is blocked off to cars and motorbikes during this time, making it easier and safer for people to walk up and down the street while browsing for goods.
There are hundreds of small stall vendors that line the street selling almost everything under the sun including handicrafts, jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, food, beers, coconuts, coffee and other nick nacks alike!
The whole street comes to life at the Sunday Market with a very festive vibe and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai!
Sunday Market – Things to do in Chiang MaiColourful streets at the Sunday Market Chiang Mai
#7 DAY TRIP TO DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand with an elevation of 2565 meters above sea level. Doi Inthanon is located in the Chom Thong District, approximately 2.5-hours drive from Chiang Mai.
The Doi Inthanon National Park is filled with temples, gardens, nature walks, waterfalls and summit views, making it one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai.
My favorite location inside the Doi Inthanon National Park is The Great Holy Relics Pagoda, a temple complex positioned in the mountains with panoramic views of the region and beautiful garden surrounds.
I rented a motorbike in Chiang Mai for 150 Baht per day and the ride took me around 2.5-hours. There is a ticket office on the side of the road at the beginning of the national park and the entrance fee is 300 Baht per person.
The other option is to book a day tour from Chiang Mai which costs 1200 Baht – includes return transport and entrance fees.
Dress warmly as the temperatures in the Doi Inthanon National Park can drop to 5 degrees Celsius. The park is open 7 days a week from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm.
Doi Inthanon National Park – Things to do in Chiang Mai
#8 LISTEN TO STREET BUSKERS
Throughout Chiang Mai Old Town there are dozens of buskers dotted around the streets on a daily basis, jamming away on their guitars, drums, keyboards or anything that can make a sound.
Don’t rush past the street buskers as the majority of them are very talented, entertaining and definitely worth a listen.
See All ∼ Hostels, Hotels & Resorts in Chiang Mai
Listening to street buskers – Things to do in Chiang Mai
#9 VISIT THE DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Buddhist temple and a sacred site to many Thai people, located high in the hills just 20-minutes drive from Chiang Mai Old Town. The entrance fee to visit Doi Suthep is 20 Baht.
People often say “If you haven’t seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven’t been to Chiang Mai.” Well, these people are not wrong, because the viewpoint at Doi Suthep overlooks the entire city and surrounds and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai.
Asides from the panoramic viewpoint, there is a golden monument that stands 24-meters high in the centre of the temple grounds atop Doi Suthep Mountain.
The golden monument – What to do in Chiang Mai in 3 days
Panoramic viewpoint – Things to do in Chiang Mai
#10 GRAND CANYON WATERPARK IN CHIANG MAI
A Grand Canyon Waterpark adventure is a MUST on your list of things to do in Chiang Mai!
Located 30-minutes drive from Old Town Chiang Mai, is this awesome waterpark with an inflatable obstacle course, waterslides, a zip line, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, cliff jumping and wakeboarding!
The entrance ticket to the Grand Canyon Chiang Mai costs 50 Baht.
Grand Canyon Chiang Mai – Photo: Jennys Travel Photography
WHERE TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI
Chiang Mai has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
LUXURY: SHANGRI-LA HOTEL
MID RANGE: LE CHARCOA HOTEL
BUDGET: CHIANG MAI TREE HOSTEL
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHIANG MAI
The best time to visit Chiang Mai, weather-wise, is between November and February when temperatures are quite cool during the dry season. However, this is also the peak holiday season in Chiang Mai so you can expect there to be a lot of tourists.
Alternatively, if you visit Chiang Mai between March and October, accommodation prices tend to drop and there are far fewer tourists during this time.
HOW TO GET TO CHIANG MAI
There are a few options for getting to Chiang Mai and they are either by bus, taxi, train or plane.
Use the 12Go Asia search form below to search for all transport services to Chiang Mai and book online ahead of time:
GET YOUR PLANE TICKETS:
I search and book all of my flights on Skyscanner.com which is the best online flight directory to find the cheapest and most convenient flights in Thailand.
Search All → Flights to Chiang Mai on Skyscanner.com
LONELY PLANET – THAILAND
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide!
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MORE THAILAND TRAVEL GUIDES
Thailand Travel Guide: 3 Week Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok Travel Guide: 5 Things To Do In Bangkok
Koh Tao Travel Guide: 15 Things To Do In Koh Tao
Chiang Mai Travel Guide: 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai
Pai Travel Guide: 10 Things To Do In Pai
Krabi Travel Guide: 5 Best Beaches in Krabi
AIRBNB CHIANG MAI
Another option for accommodation is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals in Chiang Mai.
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JOIN MY FACEBOOK TRAVEL TRIBE
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WHAT TO PACK FOR CHIANG MAI
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING
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Teaching English online is one of the easiest and most flexible jobs out there! Become a Digital Nomad, choose your own hours and work remotely from anywhere in the world by teaching English online. All you need is a laptop, good WiFi connection, a TEFL certificate and you’re good to go!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!
I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!
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FINAL THOUGHTS OF THINGS TO DO IN CHIANG MAI
I hope you enjoyed this guide and if you have any questions at all about Things To Do In Chiang Mai, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!