Discovering the Best of Chiang Mai in 2 Days

We’ve all heard of Bangkok. The Thailand capital city is known in the international tourism industry as one of the most visited cities in the world. However, Bangkok isn’t all of the country. In Northern Thailand, Bangkok’s counterpart, Chiang Mai, is slowly rising to recognition as well.

Public Transport in Chiang Mai
Public Transport in Chiang Mai

Unlike Bangkok in Southern Thailand, the humble giant city of Chiang Mai in the North has geography characterized by mountain ranges, and the altitude of the area contributes to the much-cooler climate compared to the Southern region. The culture in Chiang Mai is also slightly different—for instance, nightlife in Chiang Mai mostly ends at 12 midnight, as opposed to Bangkok, where most establishments run 24/7.


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Monk inside a temple - Best of Chiang Mai
Monk inside a temple – Best of Chiang Mai

The Northern capital is a jewel on its own, and although it’s impossible to list down everything good about the city, here are some of the best things about Chiang Mai that you can explore in two days:

Best of Chiang Mai: Morning activities

Chiang Mai’s Old Town

Old Wall of Chiang Mai
Old Wall of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a site to a kingdom that was founded in 1296. During then, the nearby area which is now Myanmar was a threat to the kingdom, and thus, the ruler, King Mengrai, found the need to construct walls and a defensive moat around it. Several centuries later, kingdom wars are over but remnants of the Old Town still remain. Although most of Thailand have remnants of its ancient kingdoms, Chiang Mai is the only city in the country where most of the walls are still visible and intact. Although culture has developed through time, Chiang Mai’s Old Town still has this quaint elegance that can be seen not just on the walls, but on the people, some buildings, and some streets as well.

300 Buddhist Temples

Chiang Mai’s influence in Northern Thailand extends to religion. Buddhist Temples, or “Wat”, are very notable spots in the city. There are about 300 Buddhist Temples in the city alone, and being able to visit them all can be a feat. Meanwhile, here are the top three of the 300:

Best of Chiang Mai
Best of Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep Temple. This Theravada Temple is built during the 14th century and is surrounded by many legends. The copper-plated temple in the area is considered the most sacred stupa.

Entrance of the Silver Temple
Entrance of the Silver Temple

Wat Sri Suphan. More commonly known as the Silver Temple, Wat Sri Suphan is famous locally and internationally because of its shimmering silver façade. The temple was built in the early 1500s and was intricately designed by local silversmiths.

Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang. Located right in the middle of Chiang Mai’s Old Town is Wat Chedi Luang. Although it is not as grandiose as most of the Wats in the city, its fame comes from its massive and towering structure. Standing at 80 meters tall, the temple’s crumbling structure holds historical as well as cultural significance.

Traditional Thai Massage

Thai Massage
Thai Massage

Chiang Mai is known for having several massage schools, and all spa and wellness centers offer traditional Thai massages. Where else can you get the best of Thai massage than in Chiang Mai? You can easily get a confirmed spa reservation at

You can easily get a confirmed spa reservation at Fah Lanna Spa and avail their free round trip transfers to and from Chiang Mai City Old Town area.

Afternoon delights

Ban Rai Kong Khing

Thai Cooking Lessons at Ban Rai Kong Khing
Thai Cooking Lessons at Ban Rai Kong Khing

This small tourist hotspot village is famous for its history. The village in Hang District in Chiang Mai started off as a small community-based tourist landmark that was led by a family who wanted to find more income for the less than 200 families in the village. Now, through its exemplary showcase of unity and love of culture, the village has expanded to more than 700 families and offers guests cooking classes, Yam Khang, a traditional form of massage, and culinary tours.

Bo Sang Village

Bo Sang Village
Bo Sang Village

This village in the handicrafts capital of Thailand is known for offering workshops that showcase the art of umbrella and parasol making.

Vieng Joom on Teahouse

Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice

Have a cup of high tea and an excellent, peaceful view of the Mae Ping River in this picturesque café. Known for its pastel pink building, amazing blends, and sweet snacks, the Vieng Joom on Tea House is located on Charoenraj Road and is impossible to miss.

If you want to experience the local street food, Klook.com offers Chiang Mai Street food tour. The tour is already inclusive of tour guide, food costs, hotel transfer, sightseeing admission fees, and more!

Khao Soi

Khao Soi
Khao Soi

Khao Soi is a local favorite dish, and indulging in a bowl of it is nearly equivalent to immersing yourself in the local culture. This noodle soup dish is made from hand-cut rice noodles that are cooked traditionally, and the broth is curry-based. It is usually topped with meat, curdled blood, and onion chives.

Nightlife

Dinner Cruise in the Mae Ping River

Sometimes a good way to end a walking tour of a city is by having a beautiful dinner in a fine restaurant. But what’s better is having a one-and-a-half hour dinner cruise along the Mae Ping River that flows in Chiang Mai, aboard a 30-seater ship, while partaking on exquisite Thai cuisine.

Street Market and Shopping

Chiang Mai is home to more than ten shopping malls, but the best handicraft and food markets are located in the streets. Some are open every day, while some are only open during nighttime or during specific days of the week. Here are some of the best street markets that you shouldn’t miss:

Warorot Market
Warorot Market

Warorot Market. The Warorot Market, known locally as “Kad Luang”, is one of the most famous local markets in town. It is a multilevel open shopping mall with various stalls that sell clothes on the upper floors and food on the lower floors.

Warorot Market in Chiang Mai
Warorot Market in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Night market
Chiang Mai Night market

Night Bazaar. One of the most massive street markets in the city is the Night Bazaar, which opens at 6 PM to 12 MN. The stretch of the market is located two blocks to and from the intersection of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Khro Road. The list of items for sale here are endless, ranging from clothes, furniture, figurines, CDs, trinkets, and yes, food.

Sunday Walking Street. The stalls in this market specialize in unique handicrafts, arts, and music. The market is located along the entirety of Ratchadamnoen Road and opens at 4 PM to 12 MN on Sundays. During this time, the road is closed to vehicles.

Food Vendor in Chiang Mai
Food Vendor in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Night Safari

Chiang Mai Night Safari
Chiang Mai Night Safari By A.Aruninta – Own work, CC BY 2.5

Spice up your nightlife in Chiang Mai Night Safari, a nocturnal zoo which offers tram rides, shows, and tours to the animals that it has taken care of. The zoo also has tours being offered in the morning but its nocturnal tours, which are opened as late as 10 PM, are its main attractions.

You can book your Night Safari tour via Klook.com and avail of different package options.

Getting to and around Chiang Mai

Getting to Chiang Mai is easy, and staying there also proves to be more affordable than its Southern capital counterpart Bangkok.

Several airlines offer daily flights to Bangkok. From there, you can hop on trains which will take you from Bangkok to Chiang Mai over the course of the night. There are several hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old Town, which are accessible to most of the landmarks mentioned above.

Chiang Mai Tuk Tuk
Chiang Mai Tuk Tuk

The most preferred mode of transportation in Chiang Mai are buses. Bus lines pass through major landmarks in the city. You may also opt to rent a motorcycle.

Our Chiang Mai Media Fam Tour was made possible by Tourism Authority of Thailand (Philippines) and Thai Airways. Please bookmark this blog for more stories about our Bangkok and Chiang Mai Adventures. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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