Last updated on April 9th, 2024 at 06:03 am

Nestled in the enchanting embrace of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai beckons with its captivating blend of ancient heritage and modern charisma. This comprehensive Chiang Mai travel guide is your key to unlocking the city’s treasures, offering a curated collection of experiences that resonate with the spirit of exploration. From iconic Chiang Mai attractions to culinary delights that awaken the senses, and from serene Chiang Mai temples to engaging activities that define the essence of the city, we invite you to embark on a journey that captures the heart and soul of this cultural gem.

How To Get To Chaing Mai

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To get to Chiang Mai, you have a few options:

  1. By Air: The most common way is to fly into Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) which has direct flights from major cities in Thailand and various international destinations.
  2. By Bus: There are long-distance buses connecting Chiang Mai to other cities in Thailand. Buses are comfortable and offer different levels of service.
  3. By Train: Chiang Mai is connected to Bangkok by train, offering an overnight sleeper service. The journey can be scenic and a unique experience.
  4. By Car: You can rent a car and drive to Chiang Mai. The journey allows you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes along the way.
  5. By Motorcycle: Some adventurous travelers opt for motorcycle trips from other cities in Thailand. It’s a thrilling way to explore, but make sure you’re experienced and follow safety precautions.

Choose the mode of transportation that suits your preferences, budget, and travel style.

Best Time To Visit Chiang Mai

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is during its cooler and drier months, which generally fall between November and February. This period offers pleasant weather with comfortable temperatures and clear skies, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the city. Keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, so popular attractions might be more crowded.

Another good time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of March to April and September to October. March to April is when the city celebrates the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) with lively water festivities. September to October sees fewer crowds and slightly lower prices.

However, if you don’t mind warmer temperatures, the off-peak months from May to August can be a good option. Just be prepared for occasional rain showers during this period.

Avoid visiting during the rainy season from June to October, as heavy rainfall can disrupt outdoor plans and some activities might be limited.

How To Get Around In Chaing Mai

Chiang Mai Transportation

Navigating Chiang Mai is an adventure in itself, with a multitude of transportation options that cater to every traveler’s preferences. From the vibrant chaos of tuk-tuks and the convenience of Grab rides to the leisurely exploration on rented bicycles, the city offers a diverse array of ways to get around. Whether you’re drawn to the traditional charm of songthaews or the freedom of two-wheeled exploration, this guide will walk you through the various transportation choices available in Chiang Mai. Get ready to uncover the best ways to traverse the city’s enchanting streets and embark on your own Chiang Mai journey.

  1. Tuk-tuks and Red Trucks: These are small vehicles and trucks that serve as shared taxis. Negotiate the fare before getting in.
  2. Songthaews: These are modified trucks with benches in the back. They follow specific routes and can be a budget-friendly way to get around:
    • White Songthaews: Venture effortlessly to Mae Tang and San Kampaeng with the white songthaews, whisking you away to these inviting locales.
    • Yellow Songthaews: Embrace a spectrum of destinations – Mae Rim, Doi Saket, San Pa Tong, and Chom Thong – aboard the yellow songthaews. Locate them at strategic hubs like Warorot Market, Chiang Mai Gate, and Chang Phuak Bus Station.
    • Orange Songthaews: Embark on a remarkable odyssey with the orange songthaews as they transport you to the enchanting realms of Fang.
    • Blue Songthaews: Traverse towards the historic charm of Lamphun guided by the blue songthaews, promising a voyage of cultural discovery.
    • Green Songthaews: Embolden your senses on a tranquil journey to Mae Joe, guided by the soothing green songthaews.
    • Red Songthaews: Uniquely adaptable, the red songthaews navigate side streets, ensuring a tailored experience that leads right to your hotel. Their intricate network criss-crosses the town with dexterity.
  3. Motorbike Rental: Renting a motorbike or scooter is a popular option for independent travel. Make sure you’re experienced in riding one and wear a helmet.
  4. Grab and Taxis: The Grab app (similar to Uber) operates in Chiang Mai, offering convenient and reliable rides. Taxis are also available.
  5. Renting a Car: If you prefer more privacy and flexibility, renting a car is an option, especially if you plan to explore beyond the city.

Choose the mode of transportation that suits your preferences and the areas you plan to explore. Just be sure to plan ahead and take necessary precautions for safety.

Where To Stay In Chaing Mai

The ideal area to stay in Chiang Mai depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you’re seeking:

  1. Old City: If you want to immerse yourself in Chiang Mai’s rich history, stay in the Old City. It’s home to ancient temples, markets, and a vibrant atmosphere. Recommended hotels are De Lanna Hotel Or Thapae Loft
  2. Nimmanhaemin: Commonly referred to as “Nimman,” this trendy area is perfect if you enjoy boutique shops, cafes, and a more modern vibe. Recommended hotels are Nimman Mai Design Hotel or The Artel Nimman Hotel
  3. Riverside: Staying along the Ping River provides a serene environment, often with beautiful views and easy access to local markets and attractions. Recommended hotels are Rainforest Boutique Hotel or Viang Thapae Resort
  4. Night Bazaar: If shopping and lively night markets are your thing, the Night Bazaar area is a bustling hub with numerous entertainment options. Recommended hotels are Maninarakorn Hotel or Royal Panerai Hotel
  5. Mae Rim: For a more relaxed stay, consider Mae Rim. It’s a bit outside the city and offers lush surroundings and upscale resorts. Recommended hotel is Panviman Chiangmai Spa Resort
  6. Hang Dong: This area is known for its peaceful countryside and proximity to attractions like the Grand Canyon Water Park. Recommended hotel is Hyde Park Chiangmai

Each area has its unique charm and advantages, so choose based on your interests and the kind of experience you want to have in Chiang Mai. A famous expat spot is Smith Apartments.

Top 5 Things To Do In Chaing Mai

Things to do in Chiang Mai

  1. Explore Doi Inthanon National Park:
    Enhance your Chiang Mai travel guide by embarking on a journey to Explore Doi Inthanon National Park. Uncover the magnificence of Thailand’s highest peak, be awed by the grace of cascading waterfalls, and immerse yourself in the intricate tapestry of diverse ecosystems that make this destination an integral part of your Chiang Mai experience.
  2. San Kamphaeng Hot Springs:
    Immerse yourself in the allure of Chiang Mai attractions like the renowned San Kamphaeng Hot Springs. Situated approximately 36 kilometers (22 miles) northeast of the city, these springs beckon with their rejuvenating embrace. They offer a variety of pools for both public relaxation and private indulgence, and you’ll also have the chance to witness the intriguing spectacle of “boiled eggs in hot spring water” – a testament to nature’s unique wonders.
  3. Visit Bua Thong Waterfall:
    Amidst your quest for captivating things to do in Chiang Mai, make sure to Visit Bua Thong Waterfall, also known as the “Sticky Waterfall.” This distinctive natural wonder invites you to explore its intricate limestone terrain, granting you the exhilarating opportunity to ascend its surfaces like a gecko. Delight in the refreshing embrace of its crystalline waters as you swim, making this experience an unforgettable addition to your Chiang Mai adventure.
  4. Experience a Night Bazaar:
    Embark on an unforgettable journey of exploration and delight your senses with the vibrant experience of a Night Bazaar. Among the myriad of things to do in Chiang Mai, this bustling marketplace beckons with the allure of local handicrafts, an array of delectable Chiang Mai food, and the lively ambiance that comes alive as the sun sets. It’s a paramount aspect of your journey to immerse yourself in the heart of Chiang Mai’s bustling culture.
  5. Elephant Sanctuary Visit:
    Align your ethical values with a visit to an Elephant Sanctuary, a pivotal component of responsible Chiang Mai travel. Here, you can foster meaningful connections with these majestic creatures while supporting their well-being and conservation efforts. Immerse yourself in a sanctuary where respect for these animals and their natural habitat takes precedence, allowing you to create cherished memories in harmony with nature. Elephant Nature Park
Chiang Mai temples
  1. Wat Phra Singh:
    Among the multitude of things to do in Chiang Mai, visiting Wat Phra Singh is a must. Known as one of the city’s captivating attractions, this temple seamlessly blends spirituality with architecture. Its sacred halls house a revered Buddha image, inviting you to immerse yourself in both its beauty and reverence.
  2. Wat Chedi Luang:
    In the realm of things to do in Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Luang holds historical significance. The towering pagoda, once the home of the Emerald Buddha, echoes with the past. Exploring its premises, you stand amidst echoes that define Chiang Mai’s attractions.
  3. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep:
    Your journey through Chiang Mai’s attractions reaches a pinnacle at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple atop Doi Suthep hill is a marvel of architecture and spirituality. Amidst the many things to do in Chiang Mai, ascending to this sacred site offers panoramic views. Its golden spire and sacred aura epitomize the city’s essence.
  4. Wat Umong:
    Amidst Chiang Mai’s attractions, Wat Umong offers serenity. Seeking meaningful things to do in Chiang Mai, its unique tunnels and forest surroundings create a tranquil haven. Navigate its paths and engage with the city’s spiritual heritage.
  5. Wat Suan Dok:
    Amidst Chiang Mai attractions, Wat Suan Dok emanates grace and history. The elegant white chedis resonate with your quest for meaningful things to do in Chiang Mai. Amidst the city, this temple lets you connect with its heart.
  6. Wat Chiang Man:
    Within Chiang Mai attractions, Wat Chiang Man tells the city’s story. As the oldest temple, it carries history through architecture and revered Buddha images. Amidst things to do in Chiang Mai, transcend time and immerse in its legacy.
  7. Wat Lok Molee:
    Amidst Chiang Mai’s vibrancy, Wat Lok Molee offers tranquility. Its ancient stupas and ambiance create contemplative moments. Among things to do in Chiang Mai, find introspection and the city’s spiritual heart.
  8. Wat Ram Poeng (Wat Ta Pae):
    Amidst Chiang Mai’s offerings, Wat Ram Poeng is a sanctuary for mindfulness. Its association with Thai massage and meditation provides a unique avenue. Engage with Chiang Mai’s commitment to well-being, nurturing not only your body but soul.
  9. Wat Sri Suphan:
    Among Chiang Mai attractions, Wat Sri Suphan, the Silver Temple, shines as a testament to creativity and devotion. Its intricate silverwork is a masterpiece. This temple reflects the city’s dedication to cultural treasures, enveloping you in spirituality and craftsmanship.
  10. Wat Jed Yod:
    Exploring Chiang Mai attractions leads to Wat Jed Yod, the Temple of the Seven Spires. Its architectural style becomes a canvas where history and creativity converge. Amidst its ambiance, you bear witness to the city’s diversity, leaving a lasting impression.

Delight in Chiang Mai’s Culinary Treasures

Chiang Mai food

Chiang Mai is renowned for its vibrant and diverse food scene, offering a variety of dishes that showcase the region’s unique flavors and culinary traditions. Some of the famous foods you should try in Chiang Mai include:

  1. Khao Soi: This is a signature Chiang Mai dish that consists of a flavorful curry broth with tender braised meat (usually chicken or beef), served over egg noodles. It’s often garnished with crispy fried noodles, shallots, lime, and fresh herbs.
  2. Som Tum: A spicy green papaya salad that’s a favorite throughout Thailand. It’s made with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and chilies, all mixed together in a tangy and spicy dressing.
  3. Northern Thai Sausage (Sai Ua): These grilled sausages are bursting with aromatic flavors from ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and chili paste. They’re often enjoyed with sticky rice and fresh vegetables.
  4. Kaeng Hang Le: Also known as “Burmese-Style Pork Curry,” this dish features tender chunks of pork simmered in a fragrant curry made with turmeric, ginger, and tamarind. It’s a unique and flavorful curry that’s popular in the region.
  5. Nam Prik Ong: A savory dip made from ground pork, tomatoes, and chili peppers. It’s typically served with an array of fresh vegetables and herbs for dipping.
  6. Kanom Jeen: These are fresh rice noodles served with a variety of flavorful curries and sauces. They’re a staple for breakfast in Chiang Mai and can be found in many local eateries.
  7. Mango Sticky Rice: A delicious dessert made with glutinous rice, ripe mango slices, and sweet coconut milk. It’s a refreshing and indulgent way to end a meal.
  8. Kao Kha Moo: Slow-cooked pork leg served with rice and a flavorful broth. The meat is tender and infused with aromatic spices.

These are just a few examples of the delicious Chiang Mai food. Exploring the local markets, street stalls, and traditional restaurants will provide you with a delightful culinary adventure.

Chiang Mai Nightlife

Chiang Mai Nightlife

Chiang Mai does have a vibrant nightlife scene, albeit more laid-back compared to larger cities like Bangkok. While it might not be as bustling, there are still several options for those seeking nighttime entertainment. Here are some things you can enjoy in Chiang Mai’s nightlife:

  1. Night Bazaar: Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar comes alive in the evenings. You can shop for souvenirs, clothing, handicrafts, and artwork from local vendors. It’s also a great place to try local street food and enjoy live music.
  2. Riverside Bars and Restaurants: Enjoying a leisurely evening by the Ping River is a popular activity. Many riverside restaurants and bars offer scenic views, often accompanied by live music and a relaxed atmosphere.
  3. Tha Pae Walking Street: This bustling walking street comes alive on Sunday evenings with vendors selling a variety of goods, from clothing to artwork and handicrafts. It’s a great place to soak in the local culture and enjoy street food.
  4. Rooftop Bars: While Chiang Mai might not have as many rooftop bars as Bangkok, there are still a few options that offer panoramic views of the city. These spots are perfect for enjoying a drink and taking in the cityscape.

Chiang Mai’s nightlife might not be as extensive as some other cities, but it still offers a variety of options for those looking to enjoy the evenings after a day of exploring temples and attractions. Just keep in mind that Chiang Mai tends to have a more relaxed and quieter vibe in the evenings compared to some other Thai destinations.

Chiang Mai 2 Day Itinerary

Chiang Mai attractions

Day 1: Exploring Chiang Mai’s Heritage and Culture


  1. Explore Doi Inthanon National Park: Start your day early by heading to Doi Inthanon National Park. Marvel at the stunning landscapes, visit the highest peak, and enjoy the refreshing waterfalls. Take a leisurely stroll through the park’s natural beauty.


  1. Chiang Mai Old City Exploration: Return to Chiang Mai and spend your afternoon exploring the charming streets of the Old City. Visit historic Chiang Mai temples such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. Take your time to appreciate the intricate architecture and serene ambiance.


  1. Experience a Night Bazaar: As the sun sets, head to the Night Bazaar. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere, shop for local handicrafts, and sample delectable Chiang Mai food from the street stalls.

Day 2: Nature and Ethical Interactions


  1. San Kamphaeng Hot Springs: Start your day with a visit to San Kamphaeng Hot Springs. Soak in the healing waters and experience the local “boiled eggs in hot spring water” activity. Relax and rejuvenate in this natural setting.


  1. Elephant Sanctuary Visit: In the afternoon, head to an ethical elephant sanctuary. Engage ethically with these magnificent creatures, learn about their conservation, and participate in responsible activities. Experience the joy of being close to these gentle giants.

Wrap up your 2-day Chiang Mai itinerary adventure by reflecting on your experiences and savoring the memories you’ve created. Consider enjoying a quiet dinner at a local restaurant, savoring the diverse Chiang Mai food, or finding a peaceful spot to watch the sunset.

Chiang Mai Hospitals 

Conclusion of Chiang Mai Attractions

As your journey through Chiang Mai unfolds, you’ll find yourself enchanted by the seamless fusion of tradition and modernity, authenticity and innovation. From savoring delectable Chiang Mai food to marveling at the intricate architecture of its temples, each moment spent exploring this city leaves an indelible mark. With our Chiang Mai travel guide as your companion, you’ll unearth a tapestry of experiences that redefine the essence of travel. Whether you’re drawn to the serenity of Chiang Mai temples or the bustling energy of its markets, your adventure in this captivating city promises memories that will linger long after your departure.
From our Chiang Mai travel guide you can visit the historic town of Lampang.

What are the must-visit attractions in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai offers a plethora of attractions. Explore historic temples like Wat Phra Singh, savor the local flavors at a Night Bazaar, and venture up Doi Suthep for panoramic views at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

What is Chiang Mai known for in terms of food?

Chiang Mai food is renowned for its culinary delights. Don’t miss out on tasting Khao Soi, a signature curry dish, and Som Tum, a spicy green papaya salad. These dishes capture the unique flavors of Northern Thai cuisine.

How many temples are there in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai is dotted with numerous temples. The exact count can vary, but there are around 300 temples in the city. Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are some of the most prominent.

What are some popular activities to do in Chiang Mai?

Engage in a variety of activities like exploring the vibrant Night Bazaar, visiting elephant sanctuaries, taking a Thai cooking class, and embarking on trekking adventures to hill tribes and lush landscapes.

How do I get around Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai has various transportation options. Tuk-tuks, songthaews (shared red trucks), and taxis are common for short distances. Motorbike rentals are popular for exploring independently, while Grab (ride-hailing service) and public buses offer convenience.

What’s the best time to visit Chiang Mai?

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is during the cool, dry season from November to February. This period offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities, exploring temples, and enjoying local festivals.


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