The northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a top tourist destination for people looking to experience authentic Thai culture without the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. In this article, we’ll take a look the six greatest things to do and see in this storied city. Whether you’re into architecture, adventure, or colorful festivals, you’re sure to find something that’ll tickle your fancy on this list. By the time you finish reading this article, we guarantee that you’ll want to book a flight to Chiang Mai International Airport.
Natural Wonders Near Chiang Mai
First off, Chiang Mai is an awesome destination for people who love nature, stunning views, and hiking adventures. Once you get here, you must take a hike up the immense Doi Ang Khang. Located along the Thailand-Burmese border, Doi Ang Khang is a mountainous region that has plenty of waterfalls, caves, exotic animals, and gardens to explore. The best ways to get to Doi Ang Khang are either by car on Highway 107 or by a passenger vehicle known as a songthaew. Most people recommend visiting Doi Ang Khang in the morning just to take in the magnificent sunrise.
Another beautiful area near Chiang Mai is called Baan Khun Chang Khian. Officially designated as an agricultural research center, the Baan Khun Chang Khian is the best place in all of Thailand to see cherry blossom trees. It’s recommended to visit Khun Chang Khian between January and February to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. You can get to Baan Khun Chang Khian by taking a taxi from Chiang Mai to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or you could drive there yourself in a rented car. If you don’t like those travel options, you could get free Uber credit from your friends and call an Uber in Chiang Mai. Indeed, nowadays when people ask locals how to get around Chiang Mai, Thais often respond “just call Uber!”
Visit The Saturday and Sunday Markets
Looking to experience an authentic Thai marketplace? Then look no further than Tha Phae Gate. Tons of tourists flock to Tha Phae Gate every day, but especially on Sundays during the Walking Street Market. You’ll find numerous tourist services dotted all along this ancient street. Plus, Tha Phae Gate isn’t that far from the Night Bazaar. Strolling through the congested outdoor and indoor markets in the Night Bazaar is considered by many to be one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai at night. You’ll find all the touristy gifts you need as you move your way through this tourist-friendly area.
Chiang Mai: The Capital City For Digital Nomads
Believe it or not, Chiang Mai is sometimes referred to as the un-official capital of digital nomads. People who work only using their laptops love living here due to large community of fellow expats, networking opportunities, and the cheap cost of living Chiang Mai. Amazingly, foreigners say you can get by in Chiang Mai on only 15,000 Thai Baht per month (or around 440USD). Chiang Mai has made it easier for digital nomads by setting up numerous co-working spaces and cafés with free Wi-Fi. If you’re thinking about living the digital nomad lifestyle, you owe it to yourself to at least travel to this beautiful city and see what all the hubbub is about.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― LAO TZU
The Most Popular Chiang Mai Festivals
Many tour guides say the best time to visit Chiang Mai is during festival occasions. It’s only during festivals that you’ll see Thai citizens show their true colors. Chiang Mai hosts numerous fun festivals throughout the year. One major ChiangMai festival is called Songkran Day, also known as the Thai New Year. This festival is celebrated nationwide April 13th – 15th every year. Thai people have a tradition of spraying anyone passing the streets of Chiang Mai with water guns, so watch out as you’re walking around during Songkran Day.
Another popular festival is called the Loy Krathong Festival. Sometimes referred to as Thailand’s “Festival of Lights,” this beautiful festival takes place every year on the full moon day of the 12th month (usually in November). After chanting at Buddhist temples, thousands of Thais send floating lanterns with their wishes out into the river. As you could imagine, this is a particularly romantic sight to behold, especially if you send out your own lantern with a loved one. If you’re in Chiang Mai during this festival, be sure to participate and send your own wishes out into the Thai rivers.
Adventure Sports and Elephant Rides in Chiang Mai
People who love adventure sports will find tons of things to do in and around Chiang Mai. Whether you want to go ziplining, hiking, kayaking, or biking, you’ll find plenty of opportunities in nearby rainforests and mountains. There are plenty of professional tour groups that offer adventure tours in Chiang Mai, so be sure to check online to find tour packages that suit your preferences. Also, Chiang Mai has tons of elephant farms and sanctuaries to check out. If you’ve ever wanted to take a ride on an elephant around Thailand, look no further than the elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai.
Two Stunning Chiang Mai Temples
You can’t say you’ve been to Chiang Mai without touring the over 30 temples here. The most important temple inside the city walls is without a doubt Wat Chedi Luang. Built way back in 1401, this temple was mostly destroyed by a 1545 earthquake. However, the Thai government has since invented a ton of money restoring this central temple to its former glory.
The most popular temple in all of Chiang Mai, however, is located outside the city walls in a hilly area. This temple is called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The temple dates back to 1383 and is easy to spot on a clear day thanks to its golden dome. Just be sure to wear your hiking shoes when you travel here. You’ll have to climb over 200 steep steps to get to the top of this temple and enjoy the amazing views of Chiang Mai.
Well, that’s it for this article on the top 6 things to do in Chiang Mai. All that’s left now is for you to book your flight and hotel room. Since Chiang Mai is such a hot tourist destination, you’d better believe there are tons of hotels to choose from. So, what hotel should you stay in? Of course, that depends upon your budget and what exactly you want out of your vacation experience. Just type in Chiang Mai Tripadvisor into Google and scroll through various customer reviewed hotels. This is the perfect way to discover the best place to stay in Chiang Mai.