35 of the Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Written By: The Planet D

Chiang Mai, Thailand is magical. The former capital of the Lanna Kingdom is a breezy escape from the muggy heat of Bangkok where hundreds of temples are scattered throughout the historic city. There are so many amazing things to do in Chiang Mai that visitors go back again and again. Ourselves included! We have had the opportunity to visit Chiang Mai four times.

First-timers must check out the popular activities, like going on a waterfall expedition in Doi Inthanon National Park, learning to cook Thai food, or watching the sunrise from Doi Suthep. If you are a return visitor or want to get off the beaten track, there are plenty of ideas in this Chiang Mai travel guide that will help you make the most of your stay.

Top Things to do in Chiang Mai

Top things to do in Chiang Mai

Anyone who is planning a visit to Thailand will most certainly have Chiang Mai on their itinerary. By combining our experiences with suggestions from Latina Abroad, Tiki Touring Kiwi, and Together Wherever we’ve created the ultimate guide to Chiang Mai.

Things to do in Chiang Mai City Center

1. Tha Pae Gate (Old City Gate)

Things to do in Chiang Mai Pae Gate
Visiting the Pae Gate in Chiang Mai

When you visit Chiang Mai there is no doubt you will visit the old city to explore its temples. The Old City Wall is the gateway to the Old City and the Tha Pae Gate is the most popular landmark in Chiang Mai. This is the hub of Chain Mai being the entrance to the old city where you can explore temples, the night market, and plenty of restaurants.

Old city gate in Chiang Mai

Surrounded by a moat, a brick wall surrounds the old city that is filled with an astounding concentration of temples. Chiang Mai is the top place in Thailand to visit temples. Monks go about their daily business. Don’t be afraid to wander into a temple. The entire fun of visiting the Chiang Mai old city is to explore on foot and get lost.

2. Chiang Mai Night Markets

Visiting the Chiang Mai Night Market

Chiang Mai is famous for its Night Bazaar. When the sun goes down, the markets open up. Chang Klan Road is where the Night Bazaar is open every evening. But on Sundays, things really heat up with the spectacular Sunday Night Bazaar.

Every Sunday night in Chiang Mai, the streets by Tha Pae Gate and on Ratchadamnoen Road close to traffic and turn into a walking street, and night market filled with vendors selling everything you can think of. If you want to do some shopping this is the place.

What to do in Chiang Mai Visit the Night Market

This highly rated Night Market Tour takes you through safely the night market in search of Thai crafts, knock of handbags, watches and really anything under the sun. It is a 1km stretch of stalls lining the streets along the East Side of the walled city. It’s open 7 nights a week.

You have to be in the right mood to hit the night markets, it is very busy, crowded and you need to have sharp bargaining skills. Dave and I get warmed up and work on our smiles and bartering skills during dinner. After psyching ourselves up, we are ready to weave our way through the crowds and the streets. We end up making an event of it and having fun haggling over cheap knock-off items like handbags and watches.

3. Wat Chedi Luang

Visit Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang is the most beautiful temples

Wat Chedi Luang is one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai. This Buddhist temple in the historic center of Chiang Mai stands 82 meters high and is the largest of temples in the Lanna Kingdom. It once housed the famous Emerald Buddha that is now at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok’s Golden Palace. Something that you must not miss seeing at Wat Chedi Luang sitting in on the daily monk chat.

4. Wat Suan Dok

Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai
Golden Buddha statue in wat Suan Dok Temple

Wat Suan Dok is another one of my favorite attractions in Chiang Mai. Not only is its 14th-century architecture beautifully unique, but members of the late Lanna Royal family are buried around the temple. Take a guided tour to see Chiang Mai’s most popular temples including Wat Suan Dok.

Better yet? The grounds serve as a monk university, holding daily monk chats and weekly meditation retreats–all open to the general public. What could be more unique than hearing about North Thailand’s culture and religion firsthand from a young monk, all he gets to practice his English with you?!

5. Temple Hopping

Things to do in Chiang Mai Visiting Temples
Visiting multiple temples in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is filled with temples and it would take months to see them all. With 300 temples to visit, you will have plenty to choose from. Outside of Doi Suthep, most of them are located within the Old City so you can easily wander through the streets in search of them on your own. We suggest taking a tour to really explore and understand the temples of Chiang Mai.

Suggest Temple Tours

  • For a full list of Chiang Mai Temple Tours check out get Your Guide Day Tours. They offer last minute bookings and easy cancellations with full refund if cancelled withint 24 hours of the tour.
  • Chiang Mai Temples and Culture Tour – Visit the 3 Major Temples including Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man and Wat Phra Singh before moving on to the Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural Centre.
  • Chiang Mai Temples and Handicraft Centre –  Visit the 4 most sacred ancient temples in the old city area including a traditional Thai lunch before visiting the Phra That Doi Suthep.

6. Top Temples to Visit in Chiang Mai

Best Temples in Chiang Mai to visit
Wat Pan Tao Buddha sitting under Bodhi Treek
  • Wat Phra Singh – The most celebrated wat after Doi Duthep. Lai Kam assembly hall and its restored murals depicting the lives of locals hundreds of years ago.
  • Wat Sri Suphan – Known as the silver temple, Wat Sri Suphan is covered in silver.
  • Wat Umong – This 700 year old Buddhist temple is the only forest temple in Chiang Mai.
  • Wat Chiang Man – Chiang Mai’s oldest temple houses the Crystal Buddha.
  • Wat Pan Tao – Located beside Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pan Tao is a beautiful dark teak wood temple.

7. Monk Chats

Many temples in Chiang Mai offer monk chats, so feel free to visit them all for different perspectives! Monk chats take place Monday through Friday, 5-7 PM; while meditation retreats start every Tuesday at 1 PM and conclude Wednesday by 3 PM. Visit MonkChat.net for more details, up-to-date schedules, and other special events.  

8. Celebrate Songkran Festival

Things to do in Chiang Mai Celebrate Songkran Water Festival

Songkran is the water festival ringing in the Thai New Year. Songkran is celebrated all over the country but celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai is the best place in the country. The old city is surrounded by a moat, providing easy access to water and making the chaotic nature of the festival somewhat organized. When planning to visit Chiang Mai, try to book it around the Songkran Festival.

The Thai New Year is usually celebrated in April and the festival goes for several days and is exhausting. If you think you’ll need a break one day, be prepared to spend the day inside as no one is immune from getting splashed, a form of blessing. Read more: About Songkran Festival

9. Lantern Festivals of Loi Krathong and Yi Peng

Yi Peng Latern Festival in Chiang Mai what to do

Chiang Mai is famous for its Lantern Festivals.  Loi Krathong and the Yi Peng festivals happen in tandem in Chiang Mai and it is a magical time to be in the city. Held each November, the festivals of Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are religious lantern festivals that have turned into a tourism spectacle.

In Chiang Mai, people release thousand of lighted lanterns in the sky while making a wish during the Yi Peng Festival. If you want to book a place in the stadium to let lanterns off with the masses, you need to book several weeks, months or even years in advance. We give a full breakdown here: Loy Krathong and Yi Peng – A Guide to The Lantern Festivals

Lighting lanterns at the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai Thailand

If you don’t book a ticket to the stadium, make your way to the Mae Ping River to see the floating lanterns of the Loi Krathong festival. You can purchase your own floating lanterns from vendors in the streets and along the shore. For Yi Peng, the lantern releases are at specific locations particularly the stadium, but lanterns are also released by the public at the Mae Ping River.

  • Note: We noticed the lanterns were put together with metal. Be sure to use bamboo lanterns that are environmentally friendly.

10. Thai Cooking Class

Things to do in Chiang Mai Thai Cooking Class

Chiang Mai is famous for its food and northern Thai cuisine. We loved taking a Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai. It is the original and best place in Thailand to take cooking classes. This Thai Cooking Class teaches you how to cook Northern Thailand’s most famous dish khao soi. Read more: Best Thai Food – Traditional Thai Dishes to Eat in Thailand or at Home.

Also known as Lanna food, regional dishes in this part of Thailand are quite a contrast from those found in the South. Learn how to make Chiang Mai’s most popular dish khao soi. Not only are dishes around Chiang Mai typically the least spicy in the country, but also commonly rich in dried spices and/or bitterness. Book this cooking class to learn how to make the unique food of Northern Thailand. Thai Farm Cooking School has become one of the premier places to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai.

11. Chiang Mai Food Tour

Chiang Mai Food Tour

If you don’t want to take a cooking class, but do want to learn more about Chiang Mai cuisine, join an Old Town foodie crawl where you’ll visit one of Chiang Mai’s night markets. The night markets of Chiang Mai are the most vibrant in the country. Northern Thai cuisine is different from the south so even if you are familiar with Thai food, your senses will be ignited in Chiang Mai.

Some must-tries Chiang Mai Dishes include:

  • Khao soi – khao soi is a rich Burmese-influenced coconut curry soup, sprinkled with crunchy noodles.
  • fried laab, minced meat rubbed with local dried spices
  • sticky rice with nam prik ong (spicy minced pork tomato dip)
  • nam ngiao, a tangy tomato noodle soup with pork
  • Don’t worry you’ll also get to sample favorite Thai foods like Pad Thai and savory curry made with coconut milk.

12.  Meditation Retreat

Unique things to do in Chiang Mai Meditation Retreat

When Dave and I first traveled to Thailand, we took a meditation course in Chiang Mai. The course lasted three days and we had a cooking class included with it. It was a wonderful experience. Chiang Mai is the premier place in Thailand to do a meditation retreat as Chiang Mai is the spiritual center of the country. You can ask about meditation retreats at your guesthouse or at a travel agency in Chiang Mai.

We booked through our guest house which is very easy to do in Chiang Mai. You can also book tours at travel agents around town. They are all very easy to find lining the streets. There are countless meditation retreats in Chiang Mai, you can book and read reviews on TripAdvisor. 

13. Thai Massage

Geeting a Thia Massage in Chiang Mai
A Thai Massage is cheap and heavenly

Being the spiritual center for well-being, a Thai Massage is a must when visiting Chiang Mai. In fact, it’s a must for the best things to do in all of Thailand. Traditional Thai massages can be booked anywhere in the city and they are cheap. It is one of the few places in the world where you can be pampered on a shoestring.

A Thai massage is a whole-body workout where the massage therapist stretches and bends your body as he/she gently applies pressure. It is an ancient technique that dates back 2500 years!

14. Muay Thai Boxing Match

Another one of the top attractions in Chiang Mai is to attend a Muay Thai. This is Thailand’s national sport and it is a spectacle to see. We saw the world championships in Chiang Mai several years ago and the energy was contagious. This is a great cultural experience. You don’t need to watch a match at the stadium, you can also catch a Muay Thai boxing match in the small outdoor area at Tha Pae Gate.

If you want to try Muay yourself, there are several places that offer Muay Thai training all around Thailand. Read more: Everything You Need to Know About a Muay Thai Holiday in Thailand

Best Chiang Mai Day Trips

15. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

Things to do in Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary
Elephant enjoying freedom in its natural habitat

Going to an elephant sanctuary is one of the top attractions in Chiang Mai. Whatever you do, do not ride an elephant in Thailand. Instead, visit an elephant nature park. Elephants used for tourism are abused and tortured as babies to break them into submission. Today, sanctuaries have stopped putting elephants through torture and torment and giving elephants a place to live out the rest of their lives in peace.

The Elephant Nature Park is one of the first sanctuaries for rescued elephants. Because it is so popular, be sure to book well in advance if you are planning on traveling to Chiang Mai.

Choosing an Elephant Sanctuary to Visit

elephant sanctuary Chiang Mai
Watch our Elephant Sanctuary Visit

Be cautious of parks or agencies that claim to be elephant sanctuaries. If they still allow you to ride elephants, they’re not doing their best to protect them. Why? Their spines are actually frail, not built to withstand the weight of an average human being.

Elphants at an Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai Thailand

When doing your research, ensure elephants roam freely around the grounds. Bathing and playing with them side-by-side should be okay if they have been rescued or retired from riding (they’ve already been “broken”). Otherwise, it is best to let the elephants roam free and watch from afar. Remember: the performance of any unnatural “tricks for treats” are red flags.

16. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Doi Suthep Temple)

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep  in Chiang Mai

Located just 15 km from the city center, Wat Phra Doi Sutep offers gorgeous views of Chiang Mai and an amazing cultural experience. Legend has it that the Doi Suthep temple was built to house a bone from Buddha’s shoulder.

Doi Suthep temple has one of the best views of Chiang Mai. Located at an elevation of 1073 meters (3520 feet) on Doi Suthep mountain, you can see the city of Chiang Mai, the valley below, and the entire area. The entrance begins with 309 steps to the temple. We spent about two hours exploring the complex and its golden beauty. Make sure to get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds where you will explore the temples and views in solitude.

Chiang Mai Day Trip Doi Sithep Temple

Like all temples in Thailand, be sure to respect the culture and cover your legs and shoulders before entering. Leave your shoes at the entrance (or carry them in your bag) as you’ll be walking the grounds with bare feet.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Doi Sutep Temple) is one of the best places to visit in Chiang Mai. We caught an early morning GrabTaxi (Thailand’s answer to Uber) to the mountain located outside of Chiang Mai to watch the sunrise over the hills.

17. Doi Inthanon National Park

Day Trip from Chiang Mai Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park is a popular day trip from Chiang Mai and is a must-visit destination. We suggest spending the night camping in the park in accommodations near Doi Inthanon because to really explore it you need two days. Known as the roof of Thailand, Doi Inthanon National Park houses the country’s highest peak Doi Inthanon. You can climb to the 2564 meters (8,415 feet) summit of Doi Inthanon. There are two routes you can take up, Ang Ka Luang and Kew Mae Pan. We suggest taking the Kew Mae Pan that is more rugged and lets you hire local Hmong Tribes People.

Do Inthanon also has several waterfalls to explore, with the Vachiratharn Waterfall being one of the most beautiful and easiest to see. There is some great trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park, and one of our favorite experiences was hiking through rice terraces. This Waterfall Expedition takes you to Doi Inthanon National Park where you can play in the Vachiratharn Waterfall.

18. Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai Day Trip Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai is a good day trip from Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai is a popular day trip from Chiang Mai. In my opinion, Chiang Rai requires more than one day to see, but if you only have a day, the most popular attraction to see in Chiang Rai is the White Temple. This popular Chiang Mai Day trip includes a trip to the White Temple and Golden Triangle. For an in-depth tour of Chiang Rai, book this two-day trip to explore all its highlights including,  White Temple, Black House Museum, Golden Triangle, Tea Plantation, and more. The tour is all-inclusive of fees and meals.

This popular excursion to Chiang Rai includes a visit to the White Temple, Golden Triangle, and Wat Phra That Chedi Luang in Chiang Saen Ancient City. Duration 13 Hours from $78

19. Samoeng Loop Motorbike Ride

Samoeng Loop Motorbike ride near Chiang Mai

This is a recommendation only for those who feel comfortable riding a motorbike in Thailand. It goes without saying that you should always wear your helmet, but also, it would be smart to make sure you have an international drivers’ license if you plan on renting a motorbike in general. We did this tour as part of our 3-day motorcycle trip with Smiling Albino.

This adventurous and scenic route around and through the hills of Chiang Mai is a beautiful ride. The loop starts at the northern part of the Chiang Mai Old City and drops you off at the western side with a total distance of about 100 kilometers. It can take you anywhere from a couple of hours to half a day to complete, depending on how often you stop and how long those stops last. You’ll see Doi Suthep and the Buddhist temple of Wat Phra That, Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens, a snake farm, and many activities like zip-lining, go-karting, and ATVing.

20. Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens

Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens Chiang Mai

You can spend about an hour at Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens just walking through the different buildings housing some of the most beautiful flowers and plants from around the globe. There is a fee of 100 THB to get into the park, but riding the Samoeng Loop just costs you a bit of gas money for the motorbike/motorcycle.

21. Hmong People

Things to do in chiang Mai visit the Hmong People

Visiting the Hmong People of Northern Thailand is a special experience, but it needs to be done ethically. Often the hill tribes are exploited or they are tourist traps. Look for an authentic tour that takes you off the beaten path to immerse in the culture of the Northern Thailand Hill tribes.

We did a tour with Smiling Albino which brought us to a working farm where the locals were happy to see us and welcomed us into their homes. It is a fascinating tour to see what rural local life is like. This highly rated tour takes you to Doi Suthep to visit a Hmong hill tribe village at Baan Doi Pui

Things to do on the Water in Chiang Mai

Thailand’s beaches in the south are gorgeous, there’s no denying that. But there are a lot of Chiang Mai Activities that take place on the water. With a little bit of digging, you’ll find Chiang Mai has some awesome water-related activities. The Tiki Touring Kiwi shares his favorite water attractions in Chiang Mai.

22. Swim in the Hang Dong Quarry

Things to do in Chiang Mai Hang Dong Quarry

Located just 20 minutes from Chiang Mai, the Hang Dong Quarry, also known as the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon is a picturesque swimming spot. Initially, it was visited by a few locals and expats but has now been converted into a tourist attraction with an entrance fee.

The main drawcard is the cliff jumping, where you can plunge into the calm blue waters below. Even if you don’t want to jump it’s a great spot to hang out with friends, swim and enjoy exploring the quarries nooks and crannies.

  • Note: The water looks harmless, but nevertheless make sure you follow basic water safety practices as tragic accidents can happen.
  • Hire a driver to take you out for sunset as the Grand Canyon is one of the best places in Chaiang Mai for Thailand.

23. Mae Ping River’s Fake Beach

The Mae Ping River runs through the city center and naturally becomes a great spot for restaurants and bars. So you don’t want to be swimming in the river near the city.

But if you hire a driver to take you 44 minutes outside the city, you can do some river tubing Vang Vieng style with Chiang Mai Tubing. Once you are on the river in the comfiest of tubes, you’ll have an incredibly peaceful 60 – 90 minutes floating back to the Beach Club.

The Beach Club feels like a tropical island with a whole beach cabana set including a fake beach. Don’t be in a rush to get back to Chiang Mai, at the beach club you can chill out in the hammocks, play volleyball, football, badminton…all your typical beach games.

24. Sticky Waterfall

Best Things to do in chiang Mai Sticky Waterfall

Thailand has hundreds of waterfalls near Chiang Mai but a very cool one not to miss is the Sticky Waterfall an hour outside the city. While physics doesn’t make running up a waterfall practical the limestone rocks forming the sticky waterfall make the impossible, possible.

It’s hard to explain but once you step onto the pumice-like rocks, any doubts go out the window as you bounce up and down the cascading waterfall.

25. Huay Kaew Waterfall

The closest waterfall to the city is the Huay Kaew Waterfall and allows the perfect escape just minutes away from Chiang Mai University with some short hikes available riverside. To get to the Huay Kaew Waterfall, start walking from the entrance of the old Chiang Mai Zoo. The waterfall is just a 5-minute walk from the car park. The Mon Tha Than Waterfall is further up the road and can be visited as well. Check out TripAdvisor for waterfalls and day tours from Chiang Mai Reviews

26. Floating Houses of Mae Ngat Dam

Raft floating home in Mae Ngat Dam, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

If you head to the Sticky Waterfall, consider making a night of it by staying at Mae Ngat Dam just down the road. Nothing feels more authentic than staying in a floating house. You can relax on the house decks working on your tan, eat great food, have a beer and of course take a dip in the water.

If Thailand has felt overwhelming to you thus far, heading to Mae Ngat Dam can be a great way to relax. And it’s not every day you can sleep in a floating house! It’s one of several hidden gems in Northern Thailand.

27. San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

Chiang Mai is located in the north of Thailand, so the weather actually does get quite cool at times. A visit to the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs is a great way to relax your aching traveling muscles.

The natural hot springs reach a temperature of 105 degrees Celcius. One of the more unique things you can do at these hot springs is to buy a basket of eggs and boil them!

28. Best Sunset Spot in Chiang Mai

Best Sunset Spots in Chiang Mai

There are many places to watch the sunset in Chiang Mai. One of the most popular places is the Doi Pui Viewpoint. Doi Pui is one of the top attractions in Chiang Mai located 17km outside the city. Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is a beautiful day trip from Chiang Mai.

Another beautiful sunset spot, consider heading to Mae Kwong Reservoir. The reservoir is just far enough out from the city to avoid pollution.

And a good option is the Hang Dong Quarry, aka the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon. While not even close to the actual Grand Canyon in looks, it is a nice place to get outside the city.

Unique Things to do in Chiang Mai

For those who may have already done a lot of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, or who are looking for something a bit different, this section shows the more underrated Chiang Mai things to do that are fun, unique, and fit for most budgets.

29. See Chiang Mai From Above

Before you leave this magical region of Thailand, fulfill a bucket list dream and take a microlight flight tour. Rise with the sun one morning and see Chiang Mai, Mae Kueng Dam, and vicinity from a different perspective. Micro flights can be booked all year long (always dependent on weather conditions).

Sky Adventures offers two types of aerial experiences: micro flights and hot air balloon rides. (Hot air balloon rides are only offered between November and March.) I took part of the former and let me tell you: it was absolutely breathtaking and exhilarating! It is so open, you almost feel like you’re flying yourself.

Pickup times and trip schedules vary by experience and season but expect to be ready by 5:45-6:30 AM.

30. Mountain Biking

Things to do in Chiang Mai Mountain Biking

We cycled out to the countryside to explore the rice paddy fields in rural Thailand. The most fun was when we turned onto a dirt road to climb a steep hill and then whiz down some wicked fun hills through villages and rural communities. You can then take a longtail boat back to town to relax and enjoy the scenery. You can book an 8-hour bike tour to the countryside – Easy cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

31. Stay In A Tree House

This place made that fantasy come true. For a true Bucket List experience, stay in a treehouse. Travel couple “Together to Wherever,” said their experience on this two-night stay was romantic, adventurous, and relaxing all in one package. The treehouses are fully equipped with some nice creature comforts, including a bed, electricity, toilet, sink, and shower.

The Tamarind House is the most sought-after treehouse, so booking in advance is a MUST! If you pick the Tamarind House, beware that it is the tallest, and you will definitely feel it sway in the wind (especially at night when you are in bed!).

32. Infinity Pools

bali infinity pools

The number of infinity pools has increased massively in Chiang Mai in the last decade and it would be remiss of me not to mention the best Chiang Mai infinity pool at Veranda Hotel.

With views over a valley mixed with the hot Chiang Mai weather, you can’t not like the idea of taking a dip. There might be a swimming pool at your accommodation, but the whole Veranda experience is memorable.

To enjoy an infinity pool in Chiang Mai, you don’t necessarily need to splurge on pricy accommodation, you can visit certain pools as a guest.

33. Nong Buad Haad Park

This tiny little oasis known as Nong Buak Haad Park is located on the south-western corner of the Old City and is very easy to get to by motorbike, tuk-tuk, or even bicycle. Though not very big in size, this park has lots to offer.

There are a couple of large, beautiful ponds with fountains that are connected by bridges, creating a peaceful atmosphere that can be enjoyed by laying on the grass or renting a straw mat. Get a coconut or snack from one of the vendors in the park and just enjoy your time (make sure you don’t go in your bathing suit). You can even buy bags of food for the birds and fish! There’s even a small track that runs around the ponds for those who prefer to get a jog in or go for a walk with some nice scenery. Use one of the manual exercise machines on the outer edge of the park.

34. Huay Tung Tao Lake

Things to do in Chiang Mai Huay Tung Tao Lake

The Touring Kiwi Says: Spending an afternoon at Huay Tung Thao is one of his favorite things to do in Chiang Mai. The entrance cost is 50 THB per person (less than $2 USD) and you can enjoy bamboo huts dotting the outline of the lake. There are restaurants serving family-style Thai dishes. Make sure to try the grilled or fried whole fish.

On the weekends, you can even hire pedal boats, with the classic swan boat one of several choices. Relax in your private bungalow on the lake with a cold beverage in your hand, a platter of grilled fish, and some sticky rice with papaya salad.

Getting to Huay Tao Lake: It’s about 25 minutes outside the city and very easy to reach by motorbike or Songthaew, making it a perfect, quick getaway from the city and crowds

35. North Gate Jazz Co-Op

A very chill and laid-back spot for locals and travelers alike, the North Gate Jazz Club provides a great end to any fun-filled day in Chiang Mai. Spend the evening hours at this well-loved hangout, located on the north side of the Old City moat. Directly on the other side of the moat, separated by Chang Phuak Gate, are the nightly food stalls of the North Gate.

Here, you’ll find some of the best street food in Chiang Mai. Be sure to grab some dinner here before heading over to the jazz bar. This jazz bar may not look like a popular joint, but looks can be deceiving. They have open jam night on Tuesday nights and different events nightly so be sure to “Like” their Facebook page to get updates on what they offer.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

Where to stay in Chiang Mai Thailand
Where to stay in Chiang Mai

If you are looking for where to stay in Chiang Mai, we have tried many places. From staying along the Ping River to the Old City, these are the top places that we suggest staying in Chiang Mai.

Ratilanna Riverside Spa Resort – We loved this luxury hotel overlooking the river. Complete with Infinity pool, traditional rooms and superb breakfast Check out Availability & Prices – TripAdvisor / Booking.com

The Legend Resort & Spa – We had another amazing stay at The Legend Resort. Boutique hotel with gardens, flower ponds, a minimalist smart design on the Mae Kok River. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor / Booking.com

Shangri-La Hotel – You can never go wrong with the Shangri-la and in Chiang Mai, it is your chance to stay in this luxury chain for a reasonable price. Check out Availability & Prices on TripAdvisor / Booking.com

How to Get to Chiang Mai

How to get to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the gateway to Northern Thailand and is a major transportation hub in the country. International Flights come into Chiang Mai International Airport, so you can fly directly to Chiang Mai from your hub. We flew direct from Hong Kong on our last visit. Read more: Start Your Vacation in Hong Kong – Asia’s Best Travel Hub

We have also traveled to Chiang Mai by overnight bus, train, and internal flights within Thailand. It is very easy to book and to travel to. Overnight sleeper trains leave regularly from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station. This is a fun way to travel to Chiang Mai. The trains of Thailand are not to be missed. They are affordable and a fun way to see the country. Read more: Exploring Thailand by Train

Overnight Buses are cheap and convenient. They are actually quite comfortable with reclining seats, air conditioning and movies.

Chiang Mai Facts

  • Chiang Mai is the Northern Capital of Thailand
  • The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from October to February.
  • But any time of year is a good time to visit. Just be prepared for hot temperatures in March and April.
  • Chiang Mai can be reached by overnight train, overnight VIP Bus or flights from Bangkok.
  • Thailand power voltage is: 220 V; Plugs A & C
  • Currency is the Thai Baht and is around 30 baht to 1 USD
  • Chiang Mai is
  • ATMs can be found everywhere but take out large sums at a time as Thailand banks charge a 150 baht ($5 USD) fee above and beyond your bank’s service charges.
  • Read more: 23 Fun Facts About Thailand – The Land of Smiles

No matter where we are in the world, Chiang Mai will always hold a special place in our hearts and I’m sure once you visit you will appreciate the beauty of the city too.

Enjoy all these amazing things to do in Chiang Mai? Be sure to pin it for your future reference.

Things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO. 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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15 thoughts on “35 of the Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand”

  1. Chiang Mai is a province that is an ancient city that has been around for more than 700 years and is older than the Thai capital is Bangkok.
    Chiang Mai’s tradition has a unique identity that has been maintained for a long time. People are kind. Chiang Mai has a local language called Northern Language. The topography and climate of Chiang Mai consists of mountains and forests. There is good weather especially in the cold season Will be a season that attracts many tourists all over the country And foreigners to visit every year. It is the charm of Chiang Mai.

  2. Super love the tree house! If you really want to be connected with your loved ones and also with the nature, that is the perfect place to do it. ­čÖé

  3. Hello
    Your article is amazing i like the way you organise it in a very interesting and simple way in same time and how a few talented lines with few photos make us know a lot about Changi Mai in thailand its great that in one article we can know too much about things to do, places to visit, best city attractions, culture and food. The great thing about your article that while you are reporting information about Chang Mai you can draw full picture to this destination starting from photos and simple description to places and highlighting on touristic attraction so that the writer can make much more travel blog as he takes your mind and soul to the destination.
    Keep on am waiting your next precious lines.

  4. Hi there mates, its great article on the topic of teachingand fully defined, keep
    it up all the time.

  5. View of the mountain from Thiag Tug boat lake is mind blowing .My kid will love the tree houses . Looking forward for my much awaited trip to Chiang Mai.

  6. Great write! I love that you included the Lake!!! So many people have never heard of it, and its definitely worth a stop! And North Gate was one of my favorite night hangout spots, although I would definitely recommend putting to get there relatively early because by 8/830 the crowd is spilling across the street and theres def. no where to sit!

  7. The treehouse sounds like a kid’s dream come true! It’ll be on my list for Thailand. I’d love to take a trip someday!

  8. Really cool tips! The last time I was in Chiang Mai I did most of the really touristy stuff- cooking class, 3-day trek through the jungle…the usuals. It would be nice to go out and see a few more things off the beaten path ­čÖé

  9. Yes! You are so correct! It also just really allows you to use all of your senses and experience a place differently!