The city of Chiang Mai is a popular destination in Thailand among tourists and expats. Less congested and more tranquil than Bangkok, this city is a great place to relax and unwind. Chiang Mai is famous for its food, markets, temples, adventurous activities, and beautiful countryside.
The weather in Chiang Mai is a relatively cooler than Bangkok, and it actually witnesses three seasons (a lot by Thai standards). The city’s unique culture and cuisine are closely influenced by Myanmar and Laos due to its proximity to these countries.
Things to do and see in Chiang Mai:
Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand, and Chiang Mai city is full of stunning Buddhist temples (called Wats in Thai). There are over 200 temples in and around the city and no visit is complete without discovering the uniquely beautiful temples of Chiang Mai. Many popular ones are located within the walls of the old city. Some of the oldest and most appealing temples are Wat Chiang Man, Wat Luang and Wat Phra Singh. You can also hop on a bike and explore various temples in and around the greater city. In the jungle outside Chiang Mai, there is the famous temple of Wat Umong, which is known for its numerous Buddha head statues. If you want to enjoy sunrise or sunset in Chiang Mai, then you can visit the temple of Phra That Doi Suthep, located on a mountaintop looking over the entire city. You can also enjoy chatting with a monk and explore the Buddhist way of life.
Thai Food Markets:
This is probably a favourite for almost every visitor. Chiang Mai is full of amazing food markets. You might be shopping for other things, but the aroma of food in almost every market will entice you and draw you in. On the weekend you can explore the not-to-be-missed Saturday Night Walking Street. It has lots of local products, foods, and handicrafts, and you can savour all the delicious dishes at very cheap prices. Another market you’ll want to explore is the old town’s Sunday night market, where many temple grounds are turned into food courts. Some popular dishes to try here are Pad Thai, Tom Yam, mango rice, chicken skewers and the delicious Khao Soi, which is a unique Burmese curry soup dish highly popular in the Northern Thai region.
Among other favoured markets are the Night Bazaar, a shopper’s paradise, and the Big Food Court, known for BBQ buffet and yummy sushi.
Chiang Mai is surrounded by forests, national parks, mountains, caves, and waterfalls. Most of them are easily accessible and can be discovered on a day trip. Some amazing adventure activities include trekking in the mountains, jungle zip-lines, river rafting, and mountain biking.
Take a jungle trek and discover tribal villages on an exciting walk through the lush jungle, enjoy swimming in a crystalline waterfall, and spend a night at a jungle camp. Bat Cave is another amazing attraction to explore on this trek.
Begin a cycling adventure as you hit the streets of Chiang Mai. Follow your guide through this enchanting city along the Ping River, travelling south through green landscapes. Visit a former leper colony on the way and go off the beaten track to immerse yourself in the rural Thai countryside. Also, explore the ruins of Lanna, Wiang, and Kum Kam.
Hiking & Water Rafting
Drive north towards the Mae Taeng area to begin your hiking and rafting adventure towards Huay Sathan Waterfall. Enjoy hiking through the fresh mountain air and dense jungle for around 2 hours. Afterwards, you can take a thrilling white water rafting trip. Pass through 14 gorges as you tackle the challenges and excitement of rapids.
There are multiple national parks to explore here, but Doi Inthanon National Park is the most famous of all. Located on the highest mountain of Thailand, it is home to around 300 bird species and many species of animal. Go on a nature trail and visit the Royal Agricultural Project station. Wachiratharn and Siritharan waterfalls and Karen Hill Tribe village are nice attractions to explore.