From excellent shopping for international brands and local handicrafts, to jungle trekking, white water rafting and the incredible temples, there is plenty to keep you occupied in Chiang Mai and the rest of Northern Thailand
We also have a handy guide of things not to do in Bangkok and Thailand.
Wat Phra Singh
Founded in the 14th century this Buddhist Temple is also known as the Temple of the Lion Buddha. Centrally located in the Old City it is easily accessible and is included on all day tours.
There are a number of temples on site but please remember that this is a temple and to dress and act accordingly.
There are a number of market stalls nearby and it is easily reached at the north end of the island.
Wat Chedi Luang
Not far from Wat Phra Singh are the ruins of the Temple of the Big Stupa the former home of the Emerald Buddha, the holiest object in Thailand. Severely damaged in an earthquake in 1545 it was left to ruin. Another active place of worship.
Visit the Sunday Market
Located in Old City from Thapae Gate along Ratchadamnoen Road this large and busy market is a must if in town on a Sunday night.
A wide range of food, souvenirs and handicrafts are available along the length of the street. Don’t forget to bargain.
Around 12km outside of Chiang Mai is this must see journey. Situated on a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai, with outstanding views of the city and beyond as well as the 13th century temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Visit Doi Ithananon National Park
Incredible scenery, the journey alone is breathtaking but once you reach the summit it is incredible. It’s high, so temperatures will be noticeably much cooler than in town so beware.
If you are not planning on staying a night or two in Chiang Rai then you are missing out. At four hours it is a little far for a day trip but the magnificent temples, trekking and waterfalls make for an enjoyable few days.
There is some excellent Chiang Rai information from Scott at Global Treats.
White Water Rafting
Get your adrenaline fix with a white-water rafting trip either as part of a day trip or as a stand alone activity.
For a more relaxing ride there are also bamboo rafting trips which are much more sedate way of experiencing the mountain rivers.
Get a Massage
The major towns in the area will all have a multitude of places to indulge in an excellent relaxing or invigorating massage.
The Chiang Mai Province is mountainous and so well suited to many adventurous sports and activities.
There are a number of very safe zip lining centres in the area all of which combine incredible views as well as an adrenaline rush.
Elephant Nature Park
Usually I would be advising you to stay well clear of Elephant sanctuaries as most of them are sanctuaries in name only and behind the scenes are far from ethical.
Elephant Nature Park is an exception, a home for rescued elephants from the logging and tourist industries, you can help to walk, feed and bathe the elephants. Remember anywhere that offers Elephant rides or shows is a place to avoid.
Around 90 minutes from Chiang Mai, perched in a tree (of course) above a gorge and only reachable by rope bridges, this is a unique coffee shop that offers unparalled views. You can opt to use the zip line or even stay overnight nearby.
Visit a Hillside Tribe
Be careful to ensure that your tour is ethical and is not exploiting the indigenous tribes scattered around Northern Thailand. The locals should benefit from the experience. Fascinating insights into traditional Northern Thailand life with incredible scenery on the way.
The White Temple
Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple is designed to symbolise the purity of Buddha and features no colour whatsoever. Easily accessible from Chiang Rai
The Black House
Baan dam was created by Thai artist Thawan Duchanee and contains an amazing collection of skin, bones, teeth and taxidermy of a wide range of animals all arranged in such a way as to emphasise the artists portrayal of hell. They say that all the animals died of natural causes and even if true this is still a creepy place.
Chiang Mai has a number of excellent markets, many that spring up every night as well as those that are more permanent.
Take a wander around the Night Bazaar area and you will find a number of great areas to shop, drink and eat.
Sample Thai Food
Fine restaurants to street food, Chiang Mai has wonderful food some you will recognise and others that are Northern Thailand specialities.
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