Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand – A Local Guide
Chiang Mai is a place of natural beauty, with lush green landscapes, cool riverside temples, and waterfalls tucked away in the hills. It’s also a thriving city that offers plenty of activities and things to do. From exploring historical sites and natural wonders to sampling local cuisine and taking part in cultural events, there are many opportunities to make the most of your time here.
Check out this list for ideas about where to go, what to see, and what to do when you visit Chiang Mai.
Get Active with some adventurous things to do in Chiang Mai!
- Shopping – Chiang Mai is a great place to shop for arts, crafts, and souvenirs. You can find beautiful handmade items at local markets and craft shops, or you can visit one of the city’s larger shopping centers.
- Golf – Golf lovers will find plenty of courses in Chiang Mai, with several designed by world-renowned architects.
- Horseback riding – Chiang Mai has several stables and riding clubs that offer trail rides through the nearby hills and mountains.
- Water sports – The rivers flowing through Chiang Mai are great for rafting and kayaking, and there are several places to take part in canoeing, jet-boating, and other water sports.
- Cycling – You can ride bicycles around the city, or take them on trips to nearby attractions.
- Cooking classes – Several cooking schools and specialty restaurants offer hands-on and demonstration classes showing you how to make Thai cuisine.
- Cooking classes – You can learn how to make many Thai dishes, including pad thai, curry, and tom yum soup.
- Local food tours – There are many food tours in Chiang Mai, giving you the chance to sample a variety of local specialties.
- Farm tours – You can visit local farms and learn how tropical fruits such as mangos and durians are grown and harvested.
- Street food tours – You can take a guided tour of the city’s best street food vendors and sample a variety of Thai snacks.
Shopping in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a shopper’s paradise, and you’ll find many places to buy souvenirs, as well as a few boutiques and art galleries.
- Local markets – The Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai Flower Market, and the Sunday Walking Market are all great places to pick up local crafts and souvenirs.
- Malls – Central Plaza and Central Airport Plaza have many shops selling a variety of products.
- Outlet malls – Lifestyle Outlet and Blow Out Outlet sell discounted items from well-known brands.
- Art galleries – You’ll find many galleries in and around Chiang Mai, including the Chiang Mai University Art Gallery.
Chiang Mai is home to a number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
- Loy Krathong – In November, the city celebrates Loi Krathong, an annual festival dedicated to the water and the harvest.
- The Ping River Festival – The Ping River Festival is held in February and is a celebration of life, love, and the arts.
- The Royal Floral Expo – The Royal Floral Expo is held every year in October, and is one of the largest flower festivals in the world.
Visiting a Sacred Temple
There are many beautiful temples in and around Chiang Mai, and many of them are free to visit, but please be respectful of the rules and customs surrounding them. Wear modest clothing and avoid wearing shoes inside the temples.
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most popular temples in Chiang Mai, due to its location atop a mountain. It houses a large Buddha image and offers beautiful views of the city.
- Wat Phra Singh – Wat Phra Singh is a large temple that has been around since the 14th century. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the city, with its ornate wooden architecture.
Chiang Mai has several historical sites dating back hundreds of years. You can visit these places and learn about the history of the city, as well as the culture of the people who have lived there.
- Wat Phra That Chiang Mai – Wat Phra That Chiang Mai is an ornate temple in the center of the old city. It is one of the most important Buddhist temples in the city and is the most popular place to visit in Chiang Mai.
- Wat Suwan Dararam – Wat Suwan Dararam is a royal temple built in the 19th century. It features a beautiful collection of Lanna-style architecture.
If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai has a few museums that showcase the natural and cultural history of the area. You can visit the museums and learn about everything from local wildlife to the cultures and customs of the hill tribes who live nearby.
- Chiang Mai National Museum – The Chiang Mai National Museum houses a collection of artifacts and historical items related to the region. It also has a natural history section that houses a large collection of insects and butterflies.
- Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center – The Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center is an impressive museum built in the architectural style of northern Thailand.
- Chiang Mai Butterfly House – The Chiang Mai Butterfly House is a large museum dedicated to the preservation and study of butterflies. It is also home to a butterfly garden and insect zoo.
Go hiking and see the natural beauty of Chiang Mai
There are several great places to hike around Chiang Mai, including the Doi Inthanon National Park. This park is home to the city’s famous mountain, Doi Inthanon, and you can hike to the top of the mountain and see the beautiful scenery.
Kuang Si Waterfall is another great place to hike, with a picturesque waterfall at the end of the trail. For more fun things to do in Chiang Mai, you can also visit the nearby hot springs, which are known as excellent places to relax and rejuvenate.
See Elephants at The Bush Camp Chiang Mai
For things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, The Bush Camp is a brand new overnight glamping experience in Chiang Mai. There are 10 luxury tents – all built by local artisans, to help support the local community. You’ll experience nature in comfort with a hot shower, Wi-Fi, and stunning views of temples and mountains from your own private balcony.
During the day, you can take part in the popular chain-free, hands-off elephant experience at the on-site Elephant Park. Relax in the infinity pool and enjoy a refreshing drink while soaking in the scenery. Then enjoy a sumptuous evening dinner of Thai and Western food in the restaurant next to the pool.
Our tours are all-inclusive so you don’t have to worry about anything, even the transport is included. We are looking forward to welcoming you to Northern Thailand soon!
Things to do in Chiang Mai: Conclusion
Chiang Mai is a great place to visit. Whether you’re interested in culture and history, or you want to explore the natural beauty of the area, there is something for everyone. From relaxing visits and cultural attractions to exciting outdoor adventures and ethical elephant experiences, there are many things to do in Chiang Mai. Come and visit us now!
If you have additional time in Thailand before or after your visit to Chiang Mai why not consider a visit to Elephant Hills in South Thailand?