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The first time we visited Chiang Mai we planned to stay three days, four days tops. Two weeks later we were still there! This city is truly awesome; we love it. The relaxing atmosphere almost makes you forget you’re in a city and there are so many fun things to do. Get ready for our 10 highlights of Chiang Mai.

1. Sunday Walking Street

Don’t leave Chiang Mai without visiting Sunday Walking Street! It’s a really cool market where you can buy all kinds of authentic, handmade souvenirs, like embroidered handbags and sarongs. I literally had to drag Mariska away from the handmade teapots; which she still hasn’t forgiven me for. The majority of the people walking and shopping around are locals, which makes it extra special. Visit the market before sunset, when it’s still relatively quiet.

Location: Chiang Mai old town, Tha Pae Gate
Opening hours: Every Sunday from 4:00 PM to midnight
Price: free

Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai

2. Elephant Nature Park

The Elephant Nature Park does fantastic work. They take care of elephants that have been traumatized because of maltreatment. You can come and help out by feeding and washing them. Highlight of the day is when the elephants go bathing in the nearby river, where they can experience feeling completely weightless, something they thoroughly enjoy. These days a reservation is required as it’s really popular.

Location: Head office – 1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Price: 1 day – lunch and transport included – adults 2,500 Thai Baht/children 1,750 Thai Baht
Website: https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

3. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Yes, it’s very touristy, but if you’re in Chiang Mai you should visit Doi Suthep mountain and it’s temple. This mountain temple provides a sweeping view across the city. The gorgeous and twisty road, 16 kilometers from Chiang Mai, will lead you to the foot of the temple. After that you’ll have to climb another 306 steps to reach the temple grounds. It can get pretty busy in the afternoon (best avoided), but in the evening you can still walk around outside the temple walls and watch the night fall over Chiang Mai. Magical!

Location: Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Opening hours: from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM (inside)
Price: 30 Thai Baht

Ringing the bells at Doi Suthep - Chiang Mai

4. Bua Thong Waterfalls

The Bua Thong Waterfalls are very special and particularly popular among the locals. The reason they’re so special is because you can climb them, which is why they’re also called the Sticky Waterfalls or Spiderman Waterfalls. It’s a great day out for the entire family. You can go for a walk among nature and enjoy the peace and quiet. The red songtaew will take you there directly!

Location: Mae Ho Phra, Mae Taeng District
Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Price: free

Sticky Waterfalls, Bua Thong Waterfalls in Chiang Mai

Photo credit: Walk Fly Pinoy

5. The Riverside Bar & Restaurant

There are lots of great restaurants in Chiang Mai. But if we had to choose just one, we’d choose The Riverside Bar & Restaurant. It has live music, a great atmosphere, excellent food and a beautiful view over the River Ping. We visited three times and every time it was really busy. They always managed to find us a table, but it’s a good idea to call ahead to secure a table right next to the river. The best thing to order here is the Thai food!

Location: 9-11 Charoenrat Road Watgate Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
Opening hours: from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Price: Main course 100 – 450 Thai Baht
Website: http://www.theriversidechiangmai.com/

Riverside Bar and Restaurant in Chiang Mai

6. Go on a Jungle Trek

Go on a multiple-day trek through Chiang Mai’s jungle. We like Pooh Eco Trekking where you’ll be exploring small jungle villages with local guides, the jungle itself and the Karen people’s paddy fields. Expect fair tourism with small groups and authentic tours. Some tours last more than a day, including a basic overnight stay in jungle – which requires a good fitness level (and good shoes).

Location: 59 Rajchapakinai Road, Chiang Mai
Opening hours: from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Price: see website
Website: http://pooh-ecotrekking.com/eco-trekking.html

Trekking in Chiang Mai

Photo credit: bfick

7. Ziplining through the jungle

Want to fly through and above the jungle? It’s possible in Chiang Mai. You choose between different types of adventures, some of which last for two hours straight! It’s not just the adrenaline rush that makes this an unforgettable experience, but also the beautiful natural surroundings. In Chiang Mai there are many ziplining companies to choose from. We did the Eagle Track Zipline, and it was a-ma-zing!

Address: Head office – 29/4-5 Kachasarn Road, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai 50000
Opening hours: Full day tour, 1 hour drive from Chiang Mai
Price: 2000 – 2400 Thai Baht
Website: http://www.eagletrackchiangmai.com/

Me and my sister ziplining in Chiang Mai

8. Wat Chedi Luang

This hidden gem is located in Chiang Mai old town. You practically pass it during Sunday Walking Street. Take some time and have a walk around this gigantic temple that’s partly in ruins. Over the last several hundred years it has endured many earthquakes, causing the partial crumbling of its stone walls. It was always restored afterwards so luckily, there are still a few pretty looking elephant statues visible on the structure. With Buddha statues scattered around here and there and several beautiful, ancient trees, this is a truly awesome sight.

Location: 103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Muang District, Chiang Mai, 50200
Opening hours: accessible 24 hours (outside)
Price: 40 Thai Baht

Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai

9. Ladyboy Cabaret

Well then, should we recite the whole story again?! No, let’s keep it short. At first you might think: why would anyone want to go here? Yeah, we really don’t have an answer for that. Just go, have a couple of beers and enjoy the show. It’s truly hilarious. The Ladyboy Cabaret starts every evening at 9:30 PM in a bar at the Anusan Market. The entrance fee is 200 Thai Baht per person and includes a free drink. A small tip for the waitresses is expected, so be sure to have a few 20 Thai Baht notes on you!

Location: Anusan Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai
Opening hours: 9:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Price: 290 Thai Baht including 1 drink

Ladyboy cabaret in Chiang Mai

10. Catmosphere Cat Café

Catmosphere is a cat café that serves cakes, tea and fruit shakes. Really! Imagine dozens of roaming cats and guests running around playing, petting and taking pictures. In between, have some cake and a cup of coffee. A great place to visit for any cat lover! Catmosphere is located just outside the center of town, but is easily accessible by taxi or motorbike.

Location: Huaykaew Road, Chang Phueak, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300
Opening hours: From Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Price: Drinks: 80 Thai Baht, cake: 100 Thai Baht
Website: http://www.catmospherecafe.com/

Catmosphere Cat Café in Chiang Mai

Tip: Also check out our extensive guide to Chiang Mai, which contains even more fun activities, great recommendations for hotels, restaurants and how to get around!

Best Hotels Chiang Mai

Swiss Lana Lodge, Chiang Mai

Swiss Lana Lodge - $

The very kind owners turned this traditional house, made out of Teak wood, into a snug guesthouse with beautiful rooms, complete with a balcony, hot tub, general seating area and much, much more. And it’s affordable as well. This is one of our favorite guesthouses of Thailand!

Rimping Village, Chiang Mai

Rimping Village - $$$

Rimping Village is ideal for families or couples. It’s in a quiet location, just outside the center and within walking distance from both the Ping River and the Night Bazaar. Furthermore, it has a swimming pool, a tour desk, 24-hour reception and comes fully equipped with all modern conveniences!

What will you definitely be doing in Chiang Mai?


Author Sander

Former elementary school teacher, storyteller, sports enthusiast, and adventurer. Love to do the "impossible", which is usually the exact opposite of what’s expected.

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