Chiang Mai Bucket List: 15 Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Novice Monk in Chiang Mai Thailand
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Top 15 Tourist Spots and Best Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is filled with fun things to do. As one of the most popular tourist spots in Thailand, Chiang Mai is famously known as the “Rose of the North” and is surrounded by enchanting architecture. The city was founded over seven centuries ago and it is the capital of Lenna Kingdom. Chiang Mai is also home to over 300 temples. It experiences cooler temperatures than any parts in southern Thailand, a fact that many visitors find fascinating as they can spend longer house enjoying beautiful sites without feeling fatigue.

Novice Monks in Chiang Mai by Victor Deweerdt via Unsplash
Novice Monks in Chiang Mai by Victor Deweerdt via Unsplash

Besides, the Chiang Mai people are very hospitable and charming of Thailand and you will instantly feel its charisma the moment you land your foot there. You will easily fall in love with the place and when you do, below are 15 best things to do in Chiang Mai.

Attend the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festival

Loi Krathong the Festival of Lights in Chiang Mai by Robert Metz via Unsplash
Loi Krathong the Festival of Lights in Chiang Mai by Robert Metz via Unsplash
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This three-day festival usually involves parades, contests, ritual dances, sky lanterns, and floating lights. The festival takes place in November and it the first day of celebration is called the Yi Peng or the lantern festival, where homes and institutions in the region are adorned with lanterns. The second day is what the locals call the Loi Krathong, or the full moon, which involves getting rid of any past bad omen and asking for future good luck.

Liven up at Bus Bar Chiang Mai

Bus Bar Chiang Mai photo via FB Page
Bus Bar Chiang Mai photo via FB Page

Here, trailers are turned into a nice space. Locals, visitors, expats, and backpackers find Bus Bar a nice place to enjoy Thai food, meet up, connect and listen to live music. Bus Bar is located near the Ping River and it has seats inside, outside and on top. You can find delicious Thai food starting from 50 THB to 100 THB while 70THB for drinks. The only downside to Bus Bar is the annoying mosquitoes, especially during rainy nights.

Have fun in Art In Paradise

Art In Paradise in Chiang Mai
Art In Paradise in Chiang Mai

Walking along 3D image walls is one of the most exciting activities in Chiang Mai. House in a four-story building, Art In Paradise is one of the biggest 3D museums in the world. If you are accompanied by the young ones, book an afternoon in Art In Paradise for fun-filled and creative moment.  You can find this museum along Chan Klan Road in Chiang Mai and it opens 9 AM to 9 PM.

Brave yourself and go zip lining

Dragon Flight Chiang Mai photo via FB Page
Dragon Flight Chiang Mai photo via FB Page

Now, this is surely the most thrilling Chiang Mai itinerary, though not for faint hearted ones. But if you are a daredevil, then look no further than the Dragon Flight Chiang Mai. The package contains 26 zip lines, 1 sky bridge, 1 skyboard, 1 canopy walk, 1 spiral ladder, 1 timber ladder, nature walks and hundreds of fun things to do for every one of all ages (4 years to 65 years though). Visit their FB Page for more details.

Climb the highest peak in Thailand

Hike Doi Inthanon
Hike Doi Inthanon

If you are in Chiang Mai for a long haul, try stepping out of your comfort zone and conquer the highest mountain in Thailand – Doi Inthanon. The mountain is just 2 hours from Chiang Mai and at its base is a park filled with beautiful flora and fauna, cool climate and several waterfalls.

Race up the sticky Chiang Mai waterfalls

Bua Tong waterfall by Eli Court via FB
Bua Tong waterfall by Eli Court via FB

This is one of the must things to do in Chiang Mai, as it has a combination of both fun and adventure. Welcome to Bua Tong waterfall, only 2 hours by car, outside Chiang Mai. Don’t be surprised to find many locals here; they can’t get enough of the place too! Climb all the way to the top of Bua Tong waterfall and find a healing sacred spring.

Marvel at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Another top Chiang Mai itinerary; visit the golden pagoda in mount Doi Suthep. You can find the Naga Serpent – a 300-step staircase that leads up to a sacred temple, which is decorated with fascinating historical murals.

Be cool at Nimmanhaemin Road

If you want cool things to do in Chiang Mai, nothing can beat shopping at the trendiest part of Chiang Mai – Nimmanhaemin Road.  The area also contains bars and restaurants.

Try out Khao Soi

Khao Soi
Khao Soi

One of the finest exports of Chiang Mai, Khao Soi is a coconut and curry flavored soup loaded with yellow egg noodles and chicken, with crispily fried egg noodle toppings. The dish is served with chopped red onions, a wedge of lime and pickled green mustard. Don’t make a mistake of leaving Chiang Mai without tasting Khao Soi.

Shop at Warorot Market

Warorot Market
Warorot Market

Warorot Market is by the Ping River, and unlike other markets, Warorot is not a night market, but rather opens early in the morning and closes when darkness falls.

Boat ride on Mae Ping River

Mae Ping River by Lerdsuwa via Wikipedia CC
Mae Ping River By Lerdsuwa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 CC

After shopping at the nearby Warorot Market, book a two-hour boat ride along Mae Ping River. This is one of the most soothing activities in Chiang Mai. Along the way, you will enjoy beautiful sceneries including traditional teak houses.

Come up and close with elephants at a sanctuary

Sustainable Tourism In Chiang Mai by Kym Ellis via Unsplash
Sustainable Tourism In Chiang Mai by Kym Ellis via Unsplash

Now, just because you are in Thailand doesn’t mean you can just ride elephants. Leave that to experienced Thai people or experts. Instead, find retirement camps or elephant sanctuaries where they keep rescued elephants. Learn why you should not ride elephants here and help to feed them.

Visit the Tiger Kingdom

Tiger Kingdom Best Things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand
Tiger Kingdom Best Things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand

The Tiger Kingdom is located 10 kilometers outside of Chiang Mai, and it is a home for tigers of varying ages. Get up close and personal with tigers at the Tiger Kingdom and enter numerous cages.

Unwind at Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm

Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm
Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm

Orchids are very popular with Thai people; they are actually the symbol of Thai Airways and the nation of Thailand. You can buy seedlings here as well as souvenirs.

Get Thai Massage from prison

Thai Massage
Thai Massage

We don’t mean mug someone and get thrown in prison to get this special Thai massage, rather the massages are offered by ex-convicts and graduates of a vocational course in Chiang Mai prison. You will have to part with 200 THB for an hour of Thai massage or foot massage; while an hour of full body massage will set you back 400 THB. You will not only be enjoying the pleasure but also will be supporting these ex-prisoners.

Check out our complete list of recommended Hotels in Chiang Mai, Thailand via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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