44 super cool things to do in Chiang Mai

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There’s something about Chiang Mai‘s easygoing appeal that gets travelers to this town passionately hooked. Away from the chaotic craziness of Bangkok and sophisticated styling of Koh Samui, it provides a calming respite surrounded by forests and mountains paired with a thriving arts and culture scene. As Thailand’s second largest city, it’s never lacking in super cool things to do. Cheapflights.com.ph can get you there, and once you’re on the ground, here are 44 things you shouldn’t miss.

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See the view from Doi Suthep–Pui

Soak in the views of the city from a viewpoint in Doi Suthep–Pui National Park. It’s very accessible to tourists and can be reached by a motorbike, car, or the town’s local public transportation.

See the waterfalls

En route to Doi Suthep–Pui, don’t miss catching one or more of three waterfalls on the way: Huey Kaew, Mon Tha Than and Dtaat Mook.

Admire the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Also overlooking the city of Chiang Mai is one of its most beautiful temples, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Built in 1383, the Buddhist Monastery features pagodas, shrines, museums and beautiful views.

Experience the Chiang Mai Night Safari

Take an open-air tram around the nocturnal zoo and catch a glimpse of the animals up close.

…and catch the shows

Aside from the night safari, the zoo also offers numerous shows and other attractions such as a cabaret show and animal performances.

Watch a Muai Thai Boxing match

Ole.Pophal, DSCF2661, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Ole.Pophal, DSCF2661, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

There are a number of places to catch a match, including Thapae Stadium, Kalare Boxing Stadium and more.

Stop by the Chiang Dao Cave

Situated a few kilometers from Chiang Dao, this beautiful cave features interesting formations that will leave any spectator in awe.

Try the Khao Soi

Thai cuisine is famous throughout the world, and when in Chiang Mai, one shouldn’t miss the opportunity to sample authentic northern Thai dishes. The specialty, of course, is the rice noodle soup called Khao Soi.

Enroll in a Thai cooking class

While in Chiang Mai, take the opportunity to learn how to cook some of their most famous dishes, so you’ll be able to whip one up at home when craving strikes.

Eat a Century Egg

Also known as “Thousand-Year-Old Egg,” the Century Egg is either a chicken, duck or quail egg preserved for several weeks or months using a blend of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. You can find it in most markets, and it is something one should try while in town.

Ride the “red car”

Called the songthaew, it’s Thailand’s version of the Philippines’ jeepney or, closer, the FX. In Chiang Mai, you can take it pretty much anywhere and a ride costs around 20 baht per person.

Watch a Cabaret

John Shedrick, Chiang_Mai_Cabaret-17, via Flickr CC BY 2.0
John Shedrick, Chiang_Mai_Cabaret-17, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Chiang Mai Cabaret Show at Anusan Night Market offers two shows each night. It’s smart to buy your tickets in advance given the popularity of the show, especially during peak season.

Get a Thai massage

Pamper yourself and splurge on an authentic Thai massage in any one of Chiang Mai’s notable spa and wellness centers such as Makkha Health & Spa or Fah Lanna Spa.

Shop at San Kamphaeng Road

If you’re looking to bring home some Thai pottery, silverware, stoneware, wood handicrafts or silk products, a walk along San Kamphaeng Road is definitely a must.

…or the Warorot Market

Another market you need to check out in Chiang Mai is the Warorot Market. It’s the perfect place to purchase souvenirs as it has everything from fruits and vegetables to household appliances –and at good prices.

Be wowed by the quarry

See the Hang Dong quarry, also known as the “Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai,” and be amazed by the beautiful scenery.

Go to the butterfly farm

Chiang Mai is all about slow travel and what better way to experience the city’s calmness than by admiring the beautiful orchids and butterflies at Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm.

Meet people from the Karen Long Neck Tribe

Take an afternoon trip to Mae Rim, 45 minutes from Chiang Mai, where you can visit a craft village inhabited by the Karen Long Neck Tribe (Burmese ethnic minority known for wearing neck brass coils). To enter the village, you have to pay 500 baht.

Go to the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum

Don’t miss the chance to see inspiring exhibits of contemporary artists at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. Admission costs 150 baht.

Discover the Thai Lanna culture

Be introduced to the northern Thai Lanna culture by visiting the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center, where Hill Tribe shows, exhibitions and Khantoke performances are regular offerings.

Have your curiosity piqued by the Museum of World Insects

Bernard DUPONT, Jewel Beetle (Belionota coomani), CC BY-SA 2.0
Bernard DUPONT, Jewel Beetle (Belionota coomani), via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

This quirky and interesting museum is a great place to visit for a respite from the heat.

Party at Tha Pae Gate

Aside from being the gate to the old city, Tha Pae is also a place to catch interesting events or the place to grab drinks during the weekend.

Celebrate Loi Krathong

Chiang Mai is one of the best places to celebrate the nationwide festival, Loi Krathong, which takes place in the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar (typically in or around November). Celebrating the Goddess of Water, boat races on the Mae Ping River, the Yipeng lantern procession and Krathong parades are just some of the exciting happenings you can expect.

Pamper yourself with a spa treatment

Aside from massages, there are also a lot of amazing spas in Chiang Mai for that much-needed pampering session.

Go vegetarian at the Pun Pun Restaurant

Pun Pun Restaurant is the best place to try out some Thai vegetarian fare. Aside from fresh ingredients sourced from local farms, the dishes are also reasonably priced.

Do some bird watching at Doi Inthanon National Park

If you’re in Chiang Mai between February and April, bird watchers can catch the migration to Thailand, which happens around this period and offers a unique and exciting opportunity.

Stay up for the Sunday night market

Open from 4 p.m. until midnight, the Sunday night market is a kilometer-long bazaar on Ratchadamnoen Road, which offers street food, clothes, souvenirs and even massages.

Bathe in the hot springs

Rent a motorcycle or car and drive up to San Kamphaeng to experience some of its hot springs.

See Chiang Mai from above

Nick Hewson, Nick Hewson Follow IMG_1136, via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Nick HewsonIMG_1136, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Get a different perspective of Chiang Mai by seeing the city via mircrolight or hot air balloon at Chiang Mai Sky Adventure.

Visit a cat cafe

Cat lovers will be happy to know that Chiang Mai is also home to a cat cafe aptly named Catmosphere.

Tour an umbrella factory

Curious how Chiang Mai’s traditional umbrellas are made? Tour the Bo Sang umbrella factory or, if you happen to visit during the third week in January, attend the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival.

Take photos at the Art in Paradise

Enjoy taking pictures right next to the 3D art displayed at the Art in Paradise museum, which is among the biggest interactive museums in the world.

Zipline through the jungle

Feeling adventurous? There are many notable companies offering ziplining amidst the beautiful forests of Chiang Mai such as Dragon Flight Zipline and Flying Squirrels.

Volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park

Christian Haugen, Elephant Nature Park, via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Christian Haugen, Elephant Nature Park, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center where you can volunteer and learn about the animals.

Uncover the city’s cool cafe scene

The city is overflowing with cool cafes where you can enjoy afternoon drinks. Among our favorites are Bird’s Nest, Good Morning Chiang Mai and Librarista.

Do yoga

The city is one of the best places to take part in a yoga and meditation retreat because, not only are there a lot of options, but many of the world’s best yoga instructors have made Chiang Mai their home.

Bike around the moat

Rent a bike and cycle around the moat that circles Chiang Mai’s old city for a charming and relaxing afternoon.

Hang out at Nimmanhaemin Road

Head over to Nimmanhaemin Road, which is lined with the trendiest cafes and shops.

Explore the Mae Ping River

One of the best ways to see and get to know Chiang Mai is by taking a two-hour cruise of the Mae Ping river.

Chill at Buak Hard Public Park

If you’re looking to slow down, Chiang Mai’s Buak Hard Public Park is a good place to hang out, especially if you are traveling with children.

Go the the Tribal Museum

Learn more about the history and lives of northern Thailand’s minority hill tribe by visiting this museum in the Mueang Chiang Mai District. Do note it’s only open on weekdays.

Explore Wat Chedi Luang

The Wat Chedi Luang is a 15th century temple. Legend has it that it’s the city’s protector.

Take photos by the Three Kings monument

James Preston, Three Kings Monument, Chiang Mai, via Flickr CC BY 2.0
James Preston, Three Kings Monument, Chiang Mai, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Put your selfie skills to the test with a photo op at the Three Kings monument, which features Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng and Ngam Muang.

Cross the border

Have more time? Consider adding a second destination to your trip — neighboring Myanmar. Here are 48 things to do while you’re there.

What would you do first in Chiang Mai? Share with us in the comments and start searching for flights on Cheapflights.com.ph.

Feature image: istockphoto/fotoglee

44 super cool things to do in Chiang Mai was last modified: June 27th, 2019 by L. Bautista
Author: L. Bautista (46 posts)

A self-confessed breakfast-skipper, who likes to spend her time exploring new places and cultures.