Chiang Mai was by far my favourite city in Thailand. Its chilled out atmosphere coupled with amazing restaurants and endless experiences to sign up to, makes it the perfect haven to spend a week.
The centre of Chiang Mai is visible by the outer walls which are marked as a square on a map (incase you’re not sure on where to stay). Getting about is easy thanks to the many songtaews (red taxi things) which charge 30 baht per person to take you wherever in the city.
Whilst in Chaing Mai make sure you don’t miss out on:
6) Go to Thailand’s highest point
About a 2 hour drive south of Chaing Mai is Doi Inathon National Park. These mountain ranges are foothills of the Himalayas and are home to countless waterfalls and Thailand’s highest point.
At 2565m above sea level, the highest point does not offer much of a view (if any) but there is one spectacular walk you can do which takes you through the forest and into the moorlands. You have to hire a guide to do the hike at Kew Mae Pan, it’s 200 baht so try to get a group together. They say the walk takes 2 to 4 hours but we did it in an hour!
Make sure you check out the Wachirathan and Sirithan waterfalls.
A visit to Doi Inathon national park isn’t complete without seeing the two pagodas which were built in celebration of the Kings 60th birthday. Sat on top of a mountain the views are incredible and the gardens, o so scenic. TOP TIP: head here after 16h00 for a lot less people.
The park costs 300 baht per person and is only reachable by car. So you can either book yourself on a tour or hire a car from the airport. I hired a car for the day for 32$ and petrol was 10$.
5) Shop ’til you drop at the Saturday or Sunday Walking Street Night markets
You can’t possibly come to Chiang Mai and not witness a walking night market! Running over the weekend and taking up all of Wualai Road on a Saturday and Rachadamnoen Road on a Sunday, there is plenty to see and do! From live music, to street food, to jewellery vendors! This is the place to come and shop for your souvenirs and keep seeks, don’t forget to haggle (except on food)!
4) Check out the super instagrammable restaurants
Chiang Mai is brimming with beautifully designed restaurants and cafés! Brunch to your hearts content or eat bowls and bowls of fresh fruit.
Make sure you check out:
–Fern Forest Café – This café transports you into a forest with it’s extremely green terrace. It has very affordable prices with a menu of both local and western food.
-Rustic and Blue (pictured) – Chill out on the terrace whilst sipping your smoothie and listening to their awesome acoustic playlist. The breakfast menu is to die for but the prices are definitely higher than the norm in Thailand (but it’s so worth it!)
-Snooze Chiang Mai – A much smaller terrace this place offers a selection of bowls of fruit smoothies with healthy toppings, the best way to start your day!
3) Explore the countless temples
If you walk around the centre of Chiang Mai you will literally stumble across a new temple at every turn! From golden pagodas to black and pearl temples there is such an eclectic mix.
The most famous temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, is located a top of a mountain to the west of the town. You can reach it by songtaews (red taxi things).
2) Learn how to cook Thai food
Ever wondered how they make the curry paste for Thai Green Curry? Or what exactly is in those delicious spring rolls?
You can find out and enjoy a day of eating what you cook by signing up to a cookery course!
I booked with Tom Yum Thai Cooking School which I 100% recommend. Our teacher, Gay, was as joyful as her name suggests! It was also the best value package I found offering 6 courses for 800 baht.
You get picked up from your hotel and start the course at the market. Gay speaks really good English and was a fountain of knowledge on all the local produce.
You get to chose out of 3 options for noodles, curry, soup, and appetizer. Everyone gets to make mango sticky rice!
TOP TIP: You will be eating all the food you make throughout the day so I would suggest booking the course starting at 16h and having just a late breakfast before.
1) Spend the day with elephants
Chiang Mai is THE spot for elephant sanctuaries in Thailand.
I think everyone and their grandma now knows that you shouldn’t ride an elephant. Now it’s all about finding an ethical sanctuary (some state to be ethical but then the elephants are mistreated). I can 100% recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chaing Mai- they have a range of awesome packages and the elephants live in different “camps” with their families and are obviously loved ❤
Their prices are a lot more reasonable than other sanctuaries and they offer the best package ever – the “Walk with the elephants” where, after feeding and bathing them, you get to walk through the jungle with them and witness them interact with their natural habitat. It was nothing short of magical!
No matter what package you go for you will be lent a traditional Karen top to where and some packages will allow you to keep these! You can book online via their website. Check out my blog “A magical encounter at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary” for more info!
If you are planning on visiting Thailand’s capital find out everything there is to do in Bangkok.
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