20 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Nestled in the mountainous terrain of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a city that blends its rich history with vibrant contemporary culture, making it a fascinating destination for travelers from all around the world. Known as the cultural capital of the north, it offers an array of experiences that cater to every interest and age group. From awe-inspiring temples and lush nature reserves to engaging cultural workshops and vibrant night markets, Chiang Mai promises a plethora of enriching activities. In this blog post, we explore the top things to do in Chiang Mai, providing you with a guide to the must-visit spots and unique local experiences that you won’t want to miss.

Things To Do In Chiang Mai

  1. Explore the Old City Temples

Chiang Mai’s Old City is an enchanting area full of history and spirituality, encircled by ancient walls and moats. Here, you can explore over 30 temples, each showcasing unique Lanna architecture. The most famous temple, Wat Phra Singh, dates back to the 14th century and houses a revered Buddha image. Take your time to admire the intricate carvings, beautiful murals, and serene atmosphere. Visiting these temples offers a peaceful glimpse into the city’s spiritual heritage and is a perfect starting point for first-time visitors.

  1. Visit the Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park provides a sanctuary for rescued elephants from all over Thailand. A visit here is not only about seeing elephants but also learning about the challenges they face. You can spend the day feeding, bathing, and walking with these gentle giants through the park’s vast landscape. This experience is heartwarming and gives you a deeper understanding of elephant conservation efforts. It’s a truly impactful way to connect with nature and contribute to animal welfare.

  1. Take a Thai Cooking Class

Thai cuisine is known worldwide for its flavors and variety. In Chiang Mai, numerous cooking schools offer the chance to learn how to prepare authentic Thai dishes. Classes usually begin with a visit to a local market to select fresh ingredients, followed by a hands-on lesson where you cook several dishes. It’s a fun and educational way to dive into Thai culture—and you get to eat your creations afterward!

  1. Shop at the Sunday Walking Street Market

Every Sunday, the heart of the Old City transforms into the vibrant Sunday Walking Street Market. This market is a shopper’s paradise, with stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to street food. As you stroll through the market, you can pick up unique souvenirs, such as hand-painted umbrellas and locally made jewelry. Don’t forget to try some street food delicacies like khao soi (curry noodles) and mango sticky rice.

  1. Hike to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

One of Chiang Mai’s iconic landmarks is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, perched high on a mountain overlooking the city. Getting there involves a hike up a Naga-guarded staircase, or you can take a funicular for a small fee. At the top, aside from the stunning temple, you’ll find panoramic views of Chiang Mai and its surroundings. The temple’s golden structures glow especially beautifully at sunset, making it a perfect time for photography enthusiasts.

  1. Wander Through the Night Bazaar

Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is a must-visit for evening entertainment and shopping. Located along Chang Klan Road, this bustling market comes alive as the sun sets, offering a variety of goods such as Thai handicrafts, art, clothing, and accessories. It’s also a great place to sample local cuisine and watch street performers. The Night Bazaar is the perfect spot to practice your bargaining skills and pick up some unique gifts and souvenirs.

  1. Relax at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

Located about 35 kilometers from the city center, the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs offer a soothing retreat in a beautifully landscaped park. Here, you can soak in mineral-rich waters that are said to have healing properties. For a unique experience, try boiling eggs in the hotter springs, which locals believe are a delicious way to enjoy the natural heat. Surrounded by lush greenery, it’s a relaxing way to spend a day reconnecting with nature.

  1. Attend a Traditional Thai Festival

Participating in a local festival can provide deep insights into the culture and traditions of Chiang Mai. One of the most spectacular festivals is Yi Peng, usually held in November. During Yi Peng, thousands of paper lanterns are released into the night sky, creating a mesmerizing sight. It’s a festival that celebrates the Lanna culture and includes parades, fireworks, and traditional dances. Attending this event offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience and incredible photo opportunities.

  1. Cycle Around Chiang Mai’s Countryside

Renting a bicycle and exploring the outskirts of Chiang Mai can be an exhilarating adventure. The countryside offers scenic rice paddies, traditional villages, and quiet temples that are off the beaten path. Cycling allows you to move at your own pace and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful landscapes. It’s also a great way to interact with local people and see aspects of Thai life that are not apparent in the city.

  1. Visit the Art in Paradise Museum

For a change of pace, head to Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai’s 3D art museum. It’s a fun interactive experience where you can take photos with three-dimensional paintings that create optical illusions. This museum is not only entertaining but also a great place for families and friends to share some laughs and capture fun memories.

  1. Tour the Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Mae Sa Elephant Camp is located in the lush countryside just outside Chiang Mai and offers a more intimate experience with elephants. Visitors can see elephants bathing in the river, painting with their trunks, and performing in shows. The camp emphasizes education about elephant conservation and allows for interactive experiences like elephant rides through the jungle. It’s a unique opportunity to learn more about these magnificent creatures in a natural setting.

  1. Explore the Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park, known as “the roof of Thailand,” features the highest mountain in the country. The park is renowned for its rich biodiversity, beautiful waterfalls, and stunning viewpoints. Hiking trails range from easy walks to more challenging treks leading to hill tribe villages. Visiting the park also gives you the chance to see the famous twin pagodas, which were built to honor the King and Queen’s 60th birthday anniversaries.

  1. Experience a Muay Thai Fight

For those interested in sports, attending a Muay Thai fight is a thrilling cultural experience. Chiang Mai has several stadiums offering nightly matches. These events are not only about the fights but also include a festive atmosphere with music, food, and local fans cheering on their favorite fighters. It’s a dynamic way to experience an important part of Thai culture.

  1. Take a Lanna Folk Dance Class

Lanna culture is rich and expressive, particularly in its traditional dance forms. In Chiang Mai, several cultural centers and schools offer classes where you can learn the graceful movements of Lanna folk dance. This is a fun and active way to immerse yourself in Northern Thai culture and also a great activity for families and groups.

  1. Discover the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center

For a deeper understanding of Northern Thailand’s history and culture, visit the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center. Located in an old building near the Three Kings Monument, this museum offers extensive exhibits on the region’s history, from its origins to the present day. It’s a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about the local heritage and traditions.

  1. Stroll Through the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden

Take a peaceful walk through the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, which showcases an extensive collection of native and exotic plants. The garden’s well-maintained paths lead you through different areas, including a canopy walkway that offers a unique perspective of the forest from above. It’s a beautiful place to learn about flora and relax in nature.

  1. Join a Lantern-Making Workshop

In Chiang Mai, lantern making is a traditional craft, especially prominent during the Yi Peng festival. Joining a workshop teaches you how to make these beautiful paper lanterns while providing insight into their cultural significance. This hands-on activity is ideal for families and provides a wonderful souvenir you can take home.

  1. Visit the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium

Located at the base of Doi Suthep mountain, the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium is home to a wide range of animals, including pandas, which are a major attraction. The zoo also features an aquarium where visitors can see various species of fish and other aquatic creatures. It’s a fun day out, particularly if you’re traveling with children.

  1. Take a Scenic River Cruise

A river cruise on the Ping River offers a different view of Chiang Mai. These cruises often include dinner and live music, making for a romantic or relaxing evening. It’s a serene way to see the city from a new perspective and enjoy some local cuisine and entertainment.

  1. Participate in a Meditation Retreat

Chiang Mai is a center for spiritual learning and wellness, with several temples and centers offering meditation retreats. These can vary from a few hours to several days and are a fantastic way to delve into mindfulness and Buddhist teachings. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, a meditation retreat can be a rejuvenating experience.


Chiang Mai is a city that never ceases to amaze, with its splendid mix of tradition and modernity, serenity and festivity. Whether you are hiking through the serene landscapes of Doi Inthanon, learning the delicate art of Thai cooking, or making a lantern by hand, each activity offers a deep connection to the heritage and heart of Northern Thailand. The list of things to do in Chiang Mai we’ve explored here barely scratches the surface of what this charming city has to offer. Each visit can unveil new secrets and adventures, making Chiang Mai a destination worth returning to time and again. Plan your journey with these activities in mind, and immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit and tranquil soul of Chiang Mai.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *