Popular things to do in Chiang Mai


Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai scored plenty of accolades in recent years through reader polls of widely read magazines and websites like Condé Nast Traveller. It has much going for it, not least its setting in a beautiful mountainous region of northern Thailand. Its ancient old town has a wealth of sights and there are impressive attractions and activities city-wide.

The original part of Chiang Mai is still enclosed by its original moat and retains remnants of its fortifications. Within the town is a relatively quiet network of small alleys pockmarked with temples, galleries, boutique guesthouses and irresistible cafés. Rich Lanna culture is all around, best discerned in ancient teak shophouses and big temples of this area.

Chiang Mai has nearly as many temples as Bangkok, some of which are just as impressive, such as the must-see Wat Phra Singh. Wat Phratat Doi Suthep, with its high vantage point overlooking the city, is one of the top visited sights in the country. From up here, visitors can see Chiang Mai spread out below.

Cyclists often make a beeline for this high point before heading further up the mountain and into the jungle, or before racing back down. Mountain biking is one of the top activities here, since there is great terrain and many professional outfits that offer extensive touring options. You can also choose to cycle the old town or get on a motorcycle trip and explore the area at large.

Other main activities in the Chiang Mai area include trekking, zip lining, white water rafting, bamboo rafting and elephant riding. Trekking in particular is a much sought out activity. Tours head up into the mountains to visit some of the many hill tribe villages. They may take several days and usually include an elephant ride or encounter.

Golf is also hugely popular, with more than a dozen good courses and resorts dotted around the city and landscape, some to championship level, albeit with reasonable green fees. There are also more extreme activities on hand here, such as bungee jumping and zorbing.

Those with children have a good choice of activities and attractions, including a zoo, night safari, waterfalls, beautiful parks and gardens and several large shopping malls with full facilities. In fact the city is especially well set up for families, some returning year on year to enjoy the cooler air, excellent hospitality and top hotels.

In addition is some of the most impressive and value-for-money shopping in the kingdom. The Night Market sells vast supplies of locally made handicrafts, which make perfect gifts and keepsakes. Chiang Mai also produces high end products, to include stunning silks, carved furniture, artwork and fashion.

The wellness industry is also a big attraction. Thai massage has influences from across Asia and has likely been used here for well over a century. The Thais themselves are masters at hospitality and wellness. As a result, along with Thai traditional massage, there are numerous options available in the many spa centres in town. These include beauty treatments, manicure, reflexology and yoga. Prices are very reasonable.

48 Hours in Chiang Mai: #SSBD Cheat Sheet

Posted on 21 July 2016

Chiang Mai is known as the “rose of the north” in Thailand, and for good reasons. Once the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai has natural beauty in abundance. Surrounded by lush jungles, national parks and the picturesque foothills of the Himalayas, this city is a stunner in the best way possible. In the next episode of #TravelSSBD, Sonia Chew gets utterly charmed in Chiang Mai. Meanwhile, this is 48 hours in Chiang Mai, #SSBD style.

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Chiang Mai Activities [6]

    Night Cycling Cultural Tour

    Chiang Mai, Thailand

    When the sun sets, Chiang Mai doesn't stop. It slows down with the ancient temples as their golden spires illuminate the whole site. See the old town...


    US$31.20 / pax


    An exciting way to view the jungle life from above. We take you high into the canopy using an ingenious system of platforms, tree houses, cables, and...


    US$93.89 / pax


    Tired of the conventional ways of touring? Why not try biking instead – an incredibly fun and refreshing way to take in the sights and sounds of Chian...


    US$31.20 / pax

Chiang Mai Attractions [3]

Chiang Mai Culture [47]

Chiang Mai Sightseeing [37]

Chiang Mai Tours [71]

Chiang Mai Transport [4]

Chiang Mai Wellness [3]

Things to do with kids in Chiang Mai [2]

Where to eat in Chiang Mai [6]