10 Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai

Experience the best of Chiang Mai, Thailand! Visit these top tourist attractions in Chiang Mai and have fun in one of the country’s top tourist destinations. Featured photo of Chiang Mai sunset by Soonthorn/stock.adobe.com.

The mountainous city of Chiang Mai is a haven for tourists who are seeking either an out-of-this-world adventure or spiritual healing. The region is famous for its mountainous landscape attracting thousands of travelers and backpackers from different parts of the world. Chiang Mai’s rich history and culture allow it to offer a different flavor of tourism that more and more people are starting to love! 

Chiang Mai was founded in the year 1296 when it was hailed as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom that made a significant contribution to the rich history of Thailand. Up to this date, some of the ancient buildings and temples still stand and attract countless tourists around the world. Diving deeper into the unique culture and tradition of Thailand is what makes Chiang Mai different. From temple visits, pottery classes, cooking classes, Old City tours, nature encounters, food adventures, I could go on and on! 

So, if you’re looking for a place where you can disconnect from the rest of the world and immerse yourself in Thailand’s rich culture and breathtaking natural wonders, then visiting Chiang Mai could be one of the best decisions you’ll make in your life. With that being said, let me help you get started! Here are the 10 Best Things to do in Chiang Mai!

Explore Doi Inthanon 

First on the list and something you definitely shouldn’t miss is hiking atop the highest peak of Thailand itself, Doi Inthanon. With an elevation of 2,565 meters above sea level, the cold weather is expected to last all year round, especially on the higher elevations. 

A visit to Doi Inthanon National Park is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Doi Inthanon National Park

The mountain is recognized as one of the most popular national parks in Vietnam where hikers are guaranteed to be in for an amazing adventure! Be closer to nature as you explore Doi Inthanon’s famous waterfalls, hiking trails, numerous viewpoints, remote villages, and mesmerizing views of the sunrise and sunset. Bird watching is also a popular attraction in this mountain so better check it out!

Visit Wat Phra Singh

One of the most venerated temples and important pieces of Lanna Kingdom Architecture is the iconic Wat Phra Singh. Originally built in 1345, the temple served as an icon of Vietnam’s promising culture and tourism. The exterior of the temple features wing-shaped roofs and spectacular wood carvings that easily capture the eyes of visitors. 

Wat Phra Singh is one of the top tourist spots in Chiang Mai
Wat Phra Singh | Photo by Southtownboy Studio/stock.adobe.com

The iconic and highly revered image of the Lion Buddha called the Phra Singh is stored within the temple. There are also wall murals inside the famous assembly hall that depict the ancient way of life of people from the Lanna Kingdom. The temple is always full-packed all year round from international tourists and worshippers. 

Wander Along the Wualai Walking Street 

Aside from exploring ancient structures and visiting national parks, another thing you should definitely try in Chiang Mai is to appreciate its rich culture and tradition. And how do you do that? It’s simple, just Walk Along Wualai Walking Street! 

Night Market Along Wualai Walking Street
Night Market Along Wualai Walking Street | Photo by chootrong/Wikimedia under creative commons

This street is the famous location of the city’s night markets where you can score great deals from countless street vendors offering anything and everything under the sun. You can choose from handicrafts, souvenirs, clothes, house decorations, and Vietnam’s traditional treats and delights!

Visit the Doi Pui Viewpoint

This scenic spot in Chiang Mai is another premier tourist destination thanks to the breathtaking sights and sceneries you can enjoy at an elevation of 1,685 meters above sea level. With clouds and mists enshrouding the mountain, you’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world whenever you visit Doi Pui Viewpoint! 

Doi Pui Viewpoint | Photo by ol’pete/Flickr under creative commons

Doi Pui is surrounded by lush forests that are inhabited by several species of birds and small mammals. Oh, and the park also consists of countless species of flora and fauna that are both satisfying and relaxing in the eyes. Visiting Doi Pui Viewpoint gives you a chance to be closer to nature and appreciate its wonders. So, be sure to make the most out of your experience! 

Go on a Gastronomic Adventure in Chiang Mai Gate Market 

Ah, of course! Your adventure wouldn’t be complete without going on a gastronomic adventure and trying the heavenly treats and delicacies of Vietnam. Don’t worry because I know where exactly you should go in Chiang Mai to satisfy your cravings for delicious Vietnamese foods! 

Welcome to the Chiang Mai Gate Market! This open-air market is a haven for those who are hunting Vietnam’s famous street foods such as Bun Cha, Xoi, Goi Cuon, and the iconic Pho. I’m sure that you’ll definitely encounter all of them and a lot more during your visit to Chiang Mai Gate Market. Oh, and there are also tons of local fresh produce available so be sure to drop by when you have the chance! 

Tour Around the Highland People Discovery Museum 

One of the best ways to explore a country is by knowing more about its history and immersing yourself in its rich culture. That is exactly what you’ll accomplish when you visit the Highland People Discovery Museum in Chiang Mai. 

Highland People Discovery Museum
Highland People Discovery Museum | Photo via museumthailand.com

It is an ethnographic museum showcasing the life of Thailand’s hill tribes. It features indoor exhibits of the hill tribes’ lifestyle, a video presentation of tribal life in Vietnam, and a large garden with numerous life-size displays of tribal huts. The museum also conducts a monthly tribal market where guests can buy authentic handmade clothes, handicrafts, and delicious food from different tribes! 

Interact with Rescued Elephants at Elephant Nature Park 

Another best thing to do while you’re in Chiang Mai is to visit the most popular and most ethical elephant sanctuary in the whole country of Thailand. I’m talking about Chiang Mai province’s Elephant Nature Park.

Family of Elephants bathing in the river at Chiang Mai, Thailand. | BigStock Photos

Established in 1998 with a genuine intention of providing a safe sanctuary for our lovely giants, more and more elephants are being raised and protected in the Elephant Nature Park. Feel free to enjoy and meet them in person! You can even take a picture with them as a souvenir for your memorable vacation in Chiang Mai! However, riding the elephants is prohibited as it is considered unethical and we don’t want that. 

Aside from elephants, you can also meet other beautiful animals in the sanctuary such as dogs, cats, chickens, and even water buffalos! They also served a buffet of tasty treats of Thai cuisine for lunch so be sure to check it out!

Discover the Famous Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls 

Ah, yes! You shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the famous Bua Thong Waterfalls also known as the “Sticky Waterfalls” while you’re in Chiang Mai! It is a small and beautiful multi-tiered waterfall made up of limestones. The reason why it’s nicknamed “Sticky Waterfalls” is because the limestone rock formations create enough friction for people to climb it. The waters here are also crystal clear so I’d say go ahead and try climbing it! 

Bua Thong Waterfalls is one of the best places to visit in Chiang Mai
Bua Thong Waterfalls | Photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr under creative commons

Aside from exploring the Sticky Waterfalls, there are also a lot of things you can do to enjoy! There’s a great picnic spot near the entrance as well as restaurants that are serving delicious Thai food. Oh, and there’s also a wide garden leading to a shrine where guests can walk around and admire the great scenery created by the waterfalls, butterflies, and birds. 

Marvel Towards Wiang Kum Kam 

One of Chiang Mai’s greatest attractions is its historical landmark, Wiang Kum Kam. It is an ancient city that flourished during the 8th century and was then also recognized as the Lanna Kingdom’s capital. 

Wat Changkam, Wiang Kum Kam
Wat Changkam, Wiang Kum Kam | Photo by hewy/Flick under creative commons

Today, thousands of tourists marvel at the extraordinary architecture of Wiang Kum Kam as well as the rich history behind it. There are also ancient artifacts inside such as stone tablets, Buddhist sculptures, and pottery inside! You can explore the ancient city on foot, by renting a bicycle, or by riding a horse-drawn carriage to level up your experience!

Fall in Love Great Finds at the Night Bazaar

Finally, capping up your day after a long, tiring, yet fulfilling adventure at the famous Night Bazaar! You can score great deals on clothes, scarves, wood carvings, souvenirs, and many more in this night market. Of course, some of the best-tasting Thai street foods are also on display so make sure to try them out. 
Once you’re done shopping and eating, the next thing you could do is watch a traditional Muay Thai Boxing Fight at a stadium near the Night Bazaar. These adrenaline-pumping competitions are huge cultural events that the people of Chiang Mai love to watch!

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar | Photo by calflier001/Flickr under creative commons

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