Decked with mountains and valleys, the old and new in Chiang Mai get together to form a formidable combination to whisk any and every traveller off their feet. Here are the top things to do in Chiang Mai that will send you packing immediately:
#1 Doi Suthep
Overlooking the city from the northwest, this mountain is an irresistible mix of coniferous and evergreen forests spilling with ethereal waterfalls at intervals. Apart from the cool temperate climate of this region, Doi Suthep also pulls crowds towards the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand.
#2 Chiang Mai Old City
With moats of its own, Chiang Mai reads like a polaroid. However, step into the Old City and be prepared to be blown away by the charm of antique shops, handicraft stalls, cafes, massage parlours and restaurants. Like a slice of history coming alive, the Old City is an essential ingredient to your Chiang Mai holiday.
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#3 Wiang Kum Kam
Another ancient city of Chiang Mai, Wiang Kum Kam dates back to the eighth century. Located by the Ping river, this site is a treasure trove of Buddhist sculptures, Mon stone inscriptions, earthenware, architecture and pottery of an era gone by.
Explore this city on cycle, foot or even a horse-drawn carriage.
#4 Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Providing rehabilitation and retirement to elephants who have worked away under strenuous conditions, this is a place to interact with the jungle’s gentle giants. Activities include everything from feeding and playing with the elephants to taking a mud spa and giving them a bath in the river.
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#5 Doi Inthanon National Park
At an altitude of 2565 metres, the National Park is located on Thailand’s highest peak. Blanketed with dense tropical forests, magical waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers; the Doi Inthanon remains cool and even dips to freezing temperature between October & February.
With rugged terrain and lush foliage all around, Doi Inthanon is one of the top things to see in Chiang Mai especially if you love nature.
#6 Bor Sang Village
Have an insatiable thirst for handicrafts and local artistry? Bor Sang is your true calling while in Chiang Mai. About 9 km from the Old City, Bor Sang specialises in mulberry tree sourced sa paper handicrafts. Known specifically for its colourful range of umbrellas, there is an array of hand-painted and cocktail umbrellas for you to gawk at here.
#7 Gorge on Khao Niaow Ma Muang
While in Chiang Mai and you’re on a local cuisine tasting spree, definitely try some Khao Niaow Ma Muang or sticky rice with mango. A delicious dessert, this flavour burst experience you absolutely must try on your Chiang Mai vacation.
#8 Move over tuk-tuks
The first time you rode the tuk-tuk seemed pleasant enough so you aren’t too keen on another ride? We got your back. Ride a Songthaew instead. A shared taxi-truck, you typically wave one aside and state the place you are headed.
Aside from getting to interact with the locals, you get to make a huge saving on transport!
#9 Wat Chedi Luang
Built back in the 1300s, Wat Chedi Luang is a Buddhist temple that is eye-catching at the very first glance. Naga dragons and a flight of stairs, lead you to its sermon hall or viharan and a pavilion with the statue of a reclining Buddha on the other side of the chedi.
#10 Sunday Night Market
On Sundays, you laze way and sleep. What about Chiang Mai, you ask? The entirely city transforms into a huge market. Starting at the Chiang Mai’s main street, Rachadamnoen and extending after, the Sunday Night Market offers everything from souvenirs to massages.
Interesting read: An incredible itinerary for the best Thailand vacation
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