When compared to Bangkok, Chiang mai is more relaxed and less crowded – although you will surely find a lot of people during the holiday season. If you are looking for a place that isn’t too much packed with people, Chiang mai would be your best spot to explore. Despite its relaxed and laid-out atmosphere, there are tons of activities to do. Want to take part in a Thai cooking course? Are you interested in having a Thai massage? Do you want to bond more with your kids while doing fun activities together? You have made the right choice if you decide to travel to Chiang mai.
Tourist Destinations in Chiang mai
You can find tons of fun entertainments while staying in Chiang mai. Want to find entertainments for kids? How about tourist destinations for families? What about the entertainment for adults? No need to worry, you can find all of them in this place.
1. Chiang mai Grand Canyon
If you are looking for a place to spend quality time with your loved ones, this water park will be the perfect option. Just like the other water parks, you can engage in the fun slides, obstacles course, and so much more. The cool thing about this water park is its location, which was the abandoned limestone quarry. Want to stay all day long there? Feel free to do so because there won’t be any time limit. It is only 20 minutes away from the city. You can easily reach it by scooter or taxi. The ticket is 450 baht and 350 baht for kids. Be sure to wear the provided lifejackets all the time. You can also enjoy kayaks and other inflatable toys to increase the fun factor. The place has several coffee shops and restaurants so you won’t have to worry about getting hungry.
2. Chiang mai Sunday Walking Street
If you enjoy shopping and eating (especially if you can do them together), come to this market. It is located behind the Thapae Gate, located in Rachadamnoen Road. At that location alone, you can find a lot of vendors selling clothes, handcrafted items, local handicrafts, soaps, and souvenirs. If you move further to the first block, you should see two temples whose courtyards are packed with food stalls. What kinds of foods are sold there? Dumplings, samosa, Japanese curry, pad Thai, fried bananas, and tons of more dishes. This is a fun place to explore, but you need to be patient.
3. Chiang mai Saturday Walking Street
If you don’t really like the packed and crowded situation, you should go to this market. It is the less crowded market located on Wualai Road. It is easy to find behind Chiang mai Gate. You can also shop and eat and window shopping while going there. Expect to find wallets, pillow covers, purses, and hand-woven clothes there. You can go both markets if you have the energy.
4. Natural Wonders and World Insects Museum
If you are into insects so much, this museum should be in your must-visit list. This museum was founded in 2002 by Manop Rattanarithikul and Rampa, his wife. The place has 422 collections of Thai mosquitoes and other species. If you want to, Manop will guide you through the entire exhibition. The museum is situated on Srimankalajam Road and you have to pay 300 baht to enter. If you want to take pictures, you will have to pay the extra 100 baht.
5. Chiang Dao Cave
If you are into nature and you want to explore the internal part of the cave, you should come to Chiang Dao Cave to see the stalagmite and stalactite. But if you want to explore the cave, it is advisable that you hire a professional guide. You wouldn’t like it if you get lost in the depth of the cave, which can be super dangerous. You can reach the place by car or bus. The cave is 72 kilometres from Chiang mai, on the northern side.
6. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Elephants are considered holy in Thailand, so it isn’t surprising to have such a safe home for these gentle giants. In this place, interactions between the elephants and visitors are allowed – in the gentlest way possible. There won’t be any circus tricks and visitors aren’t allowed to ride the elephants. It is nice to see how elephants very gently and respectfully by people. Right now, the sanctuary has 30 elephants in their care and protection. It is definitely great when you want to educate your kids. They can touch the elephants directly and care for them.
7. Chiang mai Old City
The area is mostly known for the drink, eat, and shop. There is a nice mix of the modern world and the old time atmosphere. It stretches between Huay Kaew and Nimmanhaemin Roads. The latter one is popular as the trendiest spot in Chiang mai. You can find galleries, boutiques, and a lot of interesting dining spots. If you are looking for souvenirs, clothes, accessories, or handicraft items, you should go to Nimmanhaemin Road. If you are rather low on the budgets, and yet you love to shop so much, spend your time at night market on Huay Kaew Road – you should be able to find branded and fashionable items in such a low price. Expect to find lines of bars, cool cafes, and restaurants too. The area is also packed with good and yet inexpensive lodgings and hotels.
Natural Tourist Destinations
Chiang mai still has some of the green parts because some natural areas have been preserved quite well. If you like exploring National Park or simply admiring the flowers, there are some great options to explore.
1. Chiang mai Canopy Walkway
This elevated walkway is made from glass, steel, and fibreglass which makes the entire setting look unique. When you are up there (which is around 20 meters from the ground), you will be pampered with the beautiful view of Botanic Garden Queen Sirikit. This location is pretty new, just opened in 2015. If you want to enjoy the fresh air while marvelling the sights, you should come to this place.
2. Huay Tung Tao Lake
Looking for a place to enjoy the warm sun, lazy around feasting on the green hills, and have a relaxing swim? Come to this place and rent a lake’s hut. There are local kitchens that will satiate your hunger – no need to pack any meal. The area is only 10 kilometres from the main city, so you have a flexible arrangement to go there. You can hire a driver and bargain for the rate. It’s a perfect place to have a relaxed vacation time alone or with your families.
3. Sticky Bua Thong Waterfall
Looking for a peaceful area outside the city? You will definitely enjoy the serene and quiet setting. Not only this cool waterfall is surrounded by the natural wood, but you can actually walk up the falls. The term ‘sticky’ refers to the limestone, which creates a safe place on the waterfall. Even with the water running on it, it isn’t slippery at all. Visit this place on weekdays and you won’t have to deal with the crowd. You can hire a tuk-tuk to get you there, as long as you don’t mind spending extra.
Read Also: Huay Kaew Waterfall, Free but Impressive
Historical and Cultural Tourist Destinations
The area of Chiang mai is rich with its own historical journey and value. Not to mention that they have their own unique cultural aspects. If you are into history and culture, it would be great to visit some of the places so you can learn more about Chiang mai in general.
1. Museum Lanna Folklife
This museum is located in the Old City, containing exhibitions of Lanna people’s culture, history, and lives. Also called as Lanna Heritage Center, this museum is located within Chiang mai’s old municipal court. The building has undergone an impressive renovation work, currently looking like the white colonial building. The information about the history and exhibition is presented in Thai, Chinese, and English. The ticket is 90 baht (adults) and 40 baht (kids).
2. Wiang Kum Kam
Also known as the Underground Ancient City, this spot is only 5 kilometres away on the southern side of Chiang mai, pretty close to Ping River. The ancient city was built during the Haripunchai Kingdom in the 8th century. You should be able to find interesting structures and items, like Buddhist architecture and sculptures, ancient pottery and earthenware, and also Mon inscriptions on stone tablets. If you want to explore the city, take the horse carriage – it will give you a unique experience.
Religious Tourist Destinations
Thailand is the home of the Buddhist community, so finding temples and anything related to Buddhist influence is quite common here. If you want to explore some of the religious spots, there are some promising places to go to.
1. Doi Suthep Wat Phra That
Doi Suthep means the majestic mountain overlooking the city, and you can find Wat Phra That there. Your trip to Chiang mai won’t complete without coming to this place. Not only this place is known for its spiritual value, but it is also known for the historical aspect. It is the representative of Lanna culture and it has existed for almost 700 years. The air and atmosphere are somewhat magical and it has its own religious flair. While enjoying the view, most people are also coming for the spiritual reason.
2. Wat Prasingh
The temple is located right in the Old City. You can marvel the beauty while exploring the end of Rachadamnoen Road, accompanied by the noise and bustling crowds. The structure has an impressive look and there is something sacred about it. If you come to the area in the afternoon (pretty early, if possible), you can take a good picture of the wat while having a nice window shopping time. You will find tasty teas and fresh juices around the area.
Read Also: Visit Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai
You can find a lot of interesting items in Chiang mai. And the options of the shopping location are various, adding excitement to your trip.
1. Night Bazaar
Located on Chang Klan Road, this place will pamper you with tons of options. Be aware of the price – if you don’t know the standard price, the sellers will rip you off. You can find a lot of interesting items with affordable prices – provided that you are ready to haggle.
2. Bor Sang Village
If you want to buy paper parasol and umbrella, this is the place to go. You will find limitless types of paper umbrellas and parasols – perfect for inexpensive souvenirs. If you want to, you can also visit the umbrella factory to see the production process.
3. Ginger and The House Shop
Located on Moonmuang Road, this store will pamper your shopping needs. It is the location of The House, a store displaying Ginger brand, focusing on colourful kitchenware and also Thai-inspired clothing and furniture. The store has a nice mixture of Asian and Danish design.
Transportation to Chiang mai
Reaching Chiang mai is quite easy because there are different accesses for every mean of transportation. If you fly to Chiang mai, there is Chiang mai International Airport catering to international and also domestic flights. The airport is located 3 kilometres away from the city centre, and you can use buses and also taxis to travel between the airport and the city centre. If you prefer the bus, Arcade Bus Station and Northern Bus Terminal will provide your needs. Buses from other places will end up at Arcade Bus Station. If you want to travel from Chiang mai to other areas, go to the Northern Bus Terminal.
Train service is pretty good too. If you are travelling from Bangkok, you can take the train from Hualamphong Train Station to Chiang mai Station, taking around 15 hours, max. The train itself is pretty comfy – that’s why it is a pretty popular option for travelling. You should book the tickets if you want to make sure that you get a spot. And last, you can always rent a car and drive around by yourself. However, be sure to have an international driving license if you want to operate the car by yourself.
As you can see, Chiang mai has plenty of options and alternatives for your travelling exploration. Besides the many tourist destinations and attractive spots, Chiang mai is fairly easy to reach. You can consider this spot for your next travelling destination – you will have a blast, for sure.