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Chiang Mai is a city in Thailand’s northern mountains. It is very lush with nature and you are never far from a Buddhist temple – there are over 300 in this small city. One of the main reasons travellers visit Chiang Mai is to get out, the city is a hotspot for activities on the outskirts. Thailand was our final country of this five-week South East Asia backpacking holiday. Let’s check out what to see in Chiang Mai.
» » Don’t miss our jam-packed Thailand itinerary « «
1. The Night Market Bazaar
Busy Chiang Mai’s Night Market Bazaar is streets of stalls selling a whole manner of tat. Get your souvenirs, presents, genuine fakes and replenish those clothes here.
Budget visitors can enjoy affordable meals and drinks too. Check out my good friend, Emily’s article which details what things cost in Chiang Mai.
- Address: Tha Phae Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand
2. Chiang Mai Cooking Classes
There are several Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai so choosing can be difficult!
Most commonly, schools will collect you from your accommodation and stuff you full of seven courses, which you make of course!
Our class, Basic Cooking School, took us on a market tour first to discuss the ingredients important for Thai meals.
Meals included spring roll type starter, two curry/soup mains and my favourite, mango and sticky coconut rice.
I was ready to burst!
The class takes place in a house and after each meal is cooked you dine with the other chefs at a sit-down meal.
Delicious! I’m salivating at the thought of it.
3. Elephant Nature Park – Elephant Sanctuary
Take an hour drive trip out of Chiang Mai to the home of The Elephant Whisperer, Lek, or “Tiny” Sangduen Chailert, and her herd of elephants.
On the way there you will see tourists sit on top of elephants for a trek, you may (like us) think this is pretty normal behaviour.
However, on the drive home, you will be very disappointed in them. During the day you feed the elephants, feed yourself and also wash the beautiful beasts.
There are lots of dogs at the sanctuary, one of which put an entertaining display on during the documentary feature. It’s a day well spent – turns out you don’t feed elephants by putting fruit up their trunks, who knew?…
It is really difficult to find acceptable elephant parks. Kavey Eats reviews ethical Elephant Hills here.
- Address: Elephant Nature Park Office, Tambon Kuet Chang, Amphoe Mae Taeng, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
4. Massage by Thai Prisoners
Lila Thai Massage is a professionally run beauty therapy house, the beauty therapists just happen to be prisoners who are near the end of their term and have been trained in the art of massage.
It’s a dry massage so no need to get naked, appropriate clothing is provided.
- Address: 37 Rachadamnoen Rd Soi 7, พระสิงห์ เมือง Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
5. Temples in Chiang Mai
There are over 300 temples in the city and some you will discover by chance on foot. Others you have to visit via scooter or by tour. Remember to cover up where possible.
Here are some of the more popular temples:
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
- Wat Chedi Luang
- Wat Chiang Man
- Wat Suan Dok
- Wat Chet Yot
- Wat Rong Khun
» » You might also like our Thailand packing list guide « «
6. Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai 3D Museum
Breathe fire, jump into sinkholes and fight giant cats! Welcome to Chiang Mai’s interactive art gallery. The jury is out if it is worth the money but an option for a rainy day? Download the AR app for an enhanced experience. I’m just scratching the surface here, check out more even more activities to do in Chiang Mai!
- Address: 199/9 Chang khlan Rd
7. Leave Chiang Mai!
Head to the hills on a day trip or extended stay in experience the hot springs and see the waterfalls at Pai. Read our guide of the best things to do here.
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Where We Stayed
We stayed at MD House which was affordable but very basic.
We end up regrettably staying for five nights, by day four they hadn’t bothered cleaning the bathroom but it had Wi-Fi, breakfast, and two pools.
Chiang Mai is like a hub for going places anyway so you’re never there that long.
There are heaps of things to do in Chiang Mai, it really is a decent base for the lots of activities around the area.
Planning a trip to Thailand? Check out this article on where to go in Thailand. Check out Bookaway for public transport options in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
Have you been to Chiang Mai?