Top 16 Things To Do In Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand

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Chiang Mai Temple

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.

Wat Chedi Luang
Street Food in Chiang Mai

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.

Doi Suthep

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

Doi Suthep
Doi Ithanon

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.

Take a full day tour from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park from £154.51 per person.

Chiang Rai

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.

The Black House in Chiang Rai

Take a full day tour from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle from £67.79 per person.

Whitw-water rafting near Chiang Mai

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.

Whitewater rafting adventure from £75.32 per person.

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.

Thai massages and more in Ko Samui
Zip lining through the jungle canopy.

Zip Lining

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.

Treehouse near Chiang Mai

Giant Treehouse

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.

Hillside tribal woman
The White Temple, Chiang Rai

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.

The Black House near Chaing Rai
Chiang Mai markets


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.

Thai food

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