Looking for things to do in Chiang Mai? Chiang Mai is a lovely city filled with historical places, delicious food, lively markets, and fun activities for the whole family.
Talking to munks, visiting beautiful temples, and meeting saved elephants in the famous Elephant Nature Park are just few of the things that awaits in Chiang Mai. Here are my best tips of things to do in Chiang Mai as a tourist:
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Talk to monks
One of my favorite things to do in Chiang Mai is to visit one of the temples to talk to the monks.
It is known as “Monk Chat” and is a great experience where you can learn more about the Buddhism by asking questions, and at the same time help the monks to improve their English.
During Monk Chat you can ask all different kinds of questions, so it does not have to be formal and only about Buddhism.
When we asked questions to one of the monks we learned that he loved football, especially the Manchester United team. He also planned not to stay in the temple all his life, because he wanted to raise a family in the future.
It’s really interesting and a must to do in Chiang Mai if you are curious about the Buddhism and monks. In Chiang Mai there are several temples that you can visit to talk to the local monks.
- Wat Chedi Luang: Every day from 09.00-18.00
- Doi Suthep Temple: Every day from 13.00-15.00
- Wat Suan Dok: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 17.00-19.00
- Wat Umong: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 17.30-19.30
Visit Wat Sri Suphan
Wat Sri Suphan is one of the most famous temples in Chiang Mai. It’s also known as the silver temple and is covered in silver from top to bottom with many impressive details.
Unfortunately women is not allowed inside the temple, but I still recommend a visit to see it from the outside.
Go to Elephant Nature Park
If you’re an animal friend you have to add Elephant Nature Park to your bucket list of things to do in Chiang Mai. This is a rehabilitation center for elephants that have been subjected to violence, torture and other types of harm from humans.
Many of the elephants have suffered from severe psychological and physical problems from horrible conditions in captivity. Elephant Nature Park helps the elephants to get back up on their feet to live a happy life again.
In this park you are not allowed to ride on them since it’s extremely bad for their backs, and require horrible methods to make them obey humans. Instead, you can get close to them, feed them, and go for walks in the jungle with the elephants.
This is no doubt one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. The money you pay to go here goes to the center to take care of the elephants and to save more elephants in the future.
Stroll around at the Sunday market
The Sunday Walking Street Market is a big market that’s located in the heart of old town. At this market you can shop both clothing, beautiful paintings, jewelry, and various souvenirs.
You’ll also find a good selection of street food with local fruits and smoothies to vegetables & meat on skewers and fried bugs.
This market is held every Sunday from 16.00 to midnight on Ratchadamnoen Road.
Visit Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang was built 600 years ago and is today one of the most important buildings in the city. The temple is known for its big stupa that was home to the famous emerald buddha back in the days.
Around the stupa you can view some beautiful temples with nice architecture and details. It’s also at this temple where you can go talking to the monks, which is one of the top things to do i Chiang Mai if you’re interested in Buddhism.
Participate in the festivities during Loy Krathong
One of the most colorful and popular festivals in Thailand is Loy Krathong, also known as Yee Peng Festival and Lantern Festival. The festival is held every year when it’s full moon in November.
It’s during this festival that they let out thousands of lanterns up in the sky for good luck. This is a tradition that I personally don’t like. It might look pretty up in the sky, but sooner or later the lanterns will fall down and littering in nature. There are also many people who burn themselves on the lanterns, and lanters that blows into trees which starts fires.
However, during this event you can also watch parades, concerts, and stroll around at markets. You can also visit the temple Wat Phan Tao where you can see the young monks meditate in a beautiful environment of thousands of lights – which is a magical sight.
Have fun at the Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar market is held at the street Thanon Chang Khlan on the east side of the old city walls. This market is held every night regardless of the weather.
Here you can go shopping for clothes, accessories, local handicrafts and various Thai souvenirs. In the beginning of the market you can also fill up your stomach with lots of delicious street food.
Go shopping at Nimmanhaemin Road
Nimmanhaemin Road is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Chiang Mai and here you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, and also a shopping mall.
Inside the shopping mall there’s several designer stores, restaurants and a cinema where you can watch movies.
Visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is one of the biggest temple complexes in Thailand. You’ll find it 15 kilometers outside Chiang Mai on top of the mountain Doi Suthep – 5400 meters above the sea.
A visit to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai among tourists. It’s such a beautiful and important site in Thailand.
Go to Doi Inthanon – The highest point in Thailand
At Doi Inthanon National Park you’ll find the highest point in Thailand – 2,565 meters above the sea.
The park is 485 square kilometers in size and here you can visit tropical forests, beautiful rivers, and waterfalls. This national park is also known to be home to several bird species, which makes it a popular destination among bird-watchers.
Eat local food
One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is to eat local food. There are so many delicious things to eat and new interesting flavors to discover.
North Thailand is famous for its dish Khao Soi, which is a curry with coconut, egg noodles, chicken, and crispy noodles on the top. It’s a local dish that you have to taste while you’re in Chiang Mai.
Visit Wat Chiang Man
One of my favorite temples in Chiang Mai is the Wat Chiang Man temple. It’s such a beautiful temple that goes back to year 1296 and features some beautiful details.
The oldest part of the complex is the stupa, also known as Chang Lom Chedi. It’s made in stone with 15 protective elephants around the building. Inside the stupa is a chamber containing hair from buddha.
Things to do in Chiang Mai with kids
Chiang Mai is a great destination in Thailand for those who travel with their kids. There’s plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai with the little ones that varies from fun museums and boat rides to ziplining and cooking classes.
- Go ziplining
- Visit Elephant Nature Park
- Have fun at Chiang Mai X Centre
- Book a biking tour
- Take fun pictures at Art in Paradise Chiang Mai
- Visit the Canopy Walkway
- Take a cooking class
- Go on a boat ride along the Mae Ping river
Things to do in Chiang Mai when it rains
If you’re traveling to Thailand and have bad luck with the weather, do not worry, there are plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai when it rains.
Shopping in malls, spa treatments, and cooking classes are just a few of the things to do in Chiang Mai when it’s bad weather.
- Stroll around in shopping malls
- Go to the spa
- Take a cooking class
- Visit museums
- Sit down at a cozy café
- Go bowling
- Buy an umbrella and explore the city in the rain
What are you favorite things to do in Chiang Mai? Leave a comment below!