Top 10 things to do in Chiang Mai
TROVE travelers, time to pack your bags because our next adventure is here!
We are jet-setting to Chiang Mai, a beautiful city in northern Thailand with incredible sights, culture and cuisine. To help us orient ourselves in this new city, we compiled a list of our top 10 things to do in Chiang Mai!
Take a stroll down San Kamphaeng Road
San Kampaeng Road, also known as the ‘Handicraft Highway’, is a ten kilometer stretch of road that is home to some of the most talented craftsmen in Thailand. Vendors known for their pottery, silverware, lacquerware, sculpting, wood carving and silk products line the street, so there’s a little something for everyone!
A jade-colored type of pottery called Celadon is one of the most popular items for sale. Chiang Mai is also known for some of the best silverware in Thailand, so if you’re lucky you might get to watch some incredibly skilled silversmiths at work.
The Loi Krathong Festival
On the twelfth lunar month, Chiang Mai celebrates the Loi Krathong Festival (also known as the Thai Festival of Lights). The Thais see this as a time to say goodbye to misfortune, wash away sins of the past year, and make wishes for the coming year. The festival is celebrated through the whole kingdom of Thailand, but Chiang Mai is known for their larger-scale celebration.
A krathong is a lotus-shaped basket (traditionally made with banana leaves) with a candle in the center that is placed in the water of a moat surrounding part of Chiang Mai. The krathongs are then left to float away. This is done at the same time as thousands of lanterns are released into the sky, creating a once-in-a-lifetime sight. If you can time it right, this is a truly must-see celebration.
Climb the Sticky Waterfalls
Bua Tong Waterfalls, also known as the “Sticky Waterfalls”, is the perfect activity for adventure lovers. Mineral deposits on the limestones make them super grippy, so you can easily climb up and down.
Once you reach the top, relax in the natural pools and enjoy the nature around you.
Meet a monk
If you’ve ever wondered about the life of a monk, this is your chance to learn! Monk chats are becoming increasingly popular, and visitors are allowed to ask a monk anything they’d like about their life, Buddhism or Thailand in general.
Wat Chedi Luang Temple and Wat Suan Dok are both temples that have multiple opportunities for travelers to visit each week. What would you ask during your visit?
Explore beautiful temples
If you visit Chiang Mai, you HAVE to explore the many temples throughout the city. Their beautiful architecture and deep cultural significance make this an important experience when visiting Thailand.
You can visit Wat Chian Man, the oldest temple in the city. Built in 1306, the building is home to beautiful Buddha statues and meditation halls. You could also visit Wat Sri Suphan, the only temple in Thailand made entirely of silver.
There’s plenty more, too. But just remember: you must be very respectful when entering a temple, as they are a place of worship.
Eat lunch at a floating restaurant
Photo credit: Mad Monkeys hostel
In this unique experience, eat lunch at one of the many “floating restaurants” around Huay Tung Tao Lake. Visitors describe this as a peaceful way to sit, relax and reflect, all while enjoying delicious food.
During your meal, you’ll be seated in a bamboo huts along the lake. All the restaurants serve a similar menu, with papaya salad, sticky rich, grilled fish, fried rice and noodles. Yum!
Take a day trip to Thailand’s highest mountain
Just an hour and a half drive away from Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon Natural Park is home to the highest peak in Thailand. Doi Inthanon towers at 2,565 meters, but the rest of the park is also worth exploring. Trails, remote villages, farms and waterfalls are just a few more of the sights worth seeing.
Don’t miss the Wachirathan Waterfall, one of the most popular at the park and about 40 meters tall.
Ride in a Songthaew
Photo credit: The Blond Travels
It’s hard to miss these bright red buses in Chiang Mai. Songthaews (or red trucks) act as taxis through the city. Songthaew translates to “two rows”, referring to the two bench seats in the back where multiple groups can sit on their ride.
Songthaew’s are inexpensive and as easy to hail as a cab. A bell in the passenger area will serve to let the driver know where you’re planning on getting off.
Visit Elephant Parade Land
Photo credit: Elephant Parade Land
Elephants represent strength, honor, and longevity in Buddhism. They are also Thailand’s national animal, so a trip there is not complete without learning a bit about these incredible animals.
Elephant Parade Land is a museum dedicated to educating people and raising money to put towards elephant conservation efforts. They hope to protect these endangered animals by raising awareness.
Don’t miss the life-size, vibrantly colored baby elephant statues in the garden!
Cruise the Mae Ping River
A cruise on the Mae Ping River will take you on a trip through beautiful views of the Chiang Mai’s countryside. Take the time to chill out, take in the views and unwind with a day outside the city.
We hope you enjoyed this roundup of must-see places in Chiang Mai. It’s definitely a vibrant city that deserves a spot on your bucket list!