Top 10 things to do and see in Chiang Mai, Thailand
You are planning to go to Chiang Mai and are looking for things to do and see, but where to start? So many options to choose from! After living for 3 years in Chiang Mai I have seen a lot of the province and made a short list of my Top 10 places to visit here in Chiang Mai Province.
This is my favorite town in Chiang Mai province. Chiang Dao means city of stars and is located 60 km north of Chiang Mai city. The Chiang Dao Mountain is visible from everywhere in the town and it is the 3rd highest mountain in Thailand. It is a very quiet town and most resorts, hotels and guesthouses are located outside the town near the Chiang Dao cave.
Rent a motorbike and drive up to Doi Luang for some amazing views of the mountains and fresh mountain air. This is the spot to visit if you like to do hiking, trekking and exploring on your own, but make sure to bring some warm clothing because in the winter it will be quite cold here!
Our multiple-day Off the beaten trek programs will also visit this area and depart from Chiang Mai every day.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand and a very popular destination for locals because of the cooler climate. Only a 2-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai city. On the summit the temperature will be between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit Doi Inthanon is during winter time (November – February), because the sky will be clear and the views will be amazing. Popular spots in Doi Inthanon national park are the Wachirathan waterfall, the King and Queen Pagoda’s, White Karen Hill-tribes and their coffee plantations and rice fields.
I also recommend doing the Kew Mae Pan Trail when visiting Doi Inthanon. This 3 hour hike will take you through forest and spectacular views.
Book your Doi Inthanon tour including Kew Mae Pan Trail now here.
Mae Ngat dam lake
This giant fresh water reservoir located about 55 kilometers from Chiang Mai in Sri Lanna National park was formed when a dam was built across the Mae Ngat River and flooded the valley. It’s a great place for swimming, fishing and kayaking or to have lunch and relax at one of the house boats. You can even spend the night here but accommodation is very basic. It’s one of my favorite spots to bring my friends for a day of swimming, eating and some beers. If you go here during week days you will have the whole lake for yourself but try to avoid weekends as it gets very busy with locals on the lake.
We offer organized kayaking tours on the Mae Ngat dam lake leaving daily from Chiang Mai city.
Samoeng loop by motorbike
This 100 kilometer loop around Doi Suthep and Doi Pui mountain is one of the best motorbike routes in Northern Thailand. Starting at the northern Chang Phuak gate in the old city, you will drive up to Mae Rim and follow the winding road to Samoeng. You will drive past many interesting things like the Mae Sa waterfall, Queen Sirikit Botanical garden, Orchid farms and the X-center where you can go bungee jumping and do many other adventure sports. Have a delicious Thai lunch at one of the river side restaurants and drink coffee at little coffee shops with amazing mountain views. You can end your day at the Grand Canyon in Hang Dong, were you can swim and jump off the cliffs.
For more information, routes and motorbike rental please visit PM Guesthouse or contact us here.
The most popular thing to do in Chiang Mai is to visit one of the elephant sanctuaries. Elephants and humans have been living and working together for centuries in Chiang Mai province but since a few years people start to realize that elephants need to be treated better. Many lucky elephants now live easy lives with enough food, social time and space to do what they want. You are able to visit them in parks like Elephant Nature Park, Happy Elephant Home, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and Chiangmai Elephant Land.
For more information or booking of ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai please contact us here.
Rent a bicycle and explore the old city
Chiang Mai is the second biggest city of Thailand, but don’t expect anything like Bangkok. Chiang Mai feels more like a little town with its old buildings, temples, markets and moat around the old city. The city is great for exploring on a bicycle. Visit old temples like Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh and my favorite temple, Wat Lok Molee. Have lunch and shop for bargains at the busy Warorot market next to the Ping River in China town or have a coffee at one of the many small coffee shops around town. Want to learn more about Buddhism? Go to Wat Suan Dok outside of the west gate and talk with the monks during the Monk chat every day at 4pm. After this you can cycle to the popular Nimman road to have dinner and explore the night life.
Bicycles are available for 50 Baht per day at PM Guesthouse.
The Thai cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. Famous for its curry’s, spicy salads like papaya salad, Phad Thai and stir fried dishes. Learn the basics of Thai cooking in Chiang Mai at one of the many cooking schools and surprise your friends and family at home with your new skills. Our cooking classes are available for half day courses and full day courses and come with a handy Thai cookbook!
Chiang Mai is surrounded by national parks, mountains and jungles. The province offers some of the best trekking and hiking in Thailand. For beginners, intermediate and advanced hikers, there is something to do for everybody. Go explore on your own and do the pilgrims trail to Doi Suthep temple, this is a 2 hour trail starting behind the Chiang Mai zoo or sign up for one of the guided multiple day treks. Our favorite area to go trekking is North of Mae Teang. In this jungle area with hill tribes, rolling hills, waterfalls and rice fields you can do multiple days trekking with overnight stays in local hill tribe villages. Want to combine this with rafting or a visit to an elephant sanctuary? Please have a look at the many options that we offer.
Huay Tung Tao Lake
This lake is just a 20 minute drive from the old city. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with your friends. Get in one of the little huts on the water and order some food and drinks and spend the afternoon chilling by the water. You can even order a massage. If you want more action you can walk around the lake, do an ATV trip or even a zipline crossing the lake! It’s also a perfect place for running, because there is no traffic and you can follow the track around the lake. The best way to get here is by motorbike or bicycle.
Our down-hill mountain bike trips will end at the Huay Tung Tao Lake for lunch, swimming and relaxing.
Chiangmai Boxing stadium
This is the best boxing stadium in Chiang Mai. There are fights Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night starting at 9pm until midnight. The evening starts with talents and slowly builds up to the main fights. Fight 4 and 5 are usually the best professional fighters, so don’t walk out disappointed after the 3rd fight. You can try your luck betting on the fights with the Thai guys in the crowd. Tickets for the evening start at 600 Baht for normal seats, 1000 Baht for ring-side and 1500 Baht for VIP including free drinks. You can book the tickets, including free hotel pick up and drop off, at PM Guesthouse or contact me here for more information.