Chiang Mai is widely regarded as the gateway to Thailand’s north, as it’s the country’s second largest city and loaded with incredible experiences and jump off points for adventure. With its incredible mix of old and new architectures set against a striking mountain backdrop, Chiang Mai boasts some of the most photogenic scenery in the country. But on top of its natural beauty, this place is home to over 300 temples, hill tribes that live without the modern luxuries of running water or electricity, and a general historical aura that gives Chiang Mai something zesty and beautiful in its atmosphere that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
What to do in Chiang Mai
Even though Chiang Mai is the perfect place to begin your adventure towards other areas of Thailand’s north, there is an enormous number of different things you can do in this place without having to leave.
With its large number of temples and places of worship, one of the best things you can do in Chiang Mai is visit some of them. In particular, we’d recommend putting on some sturdy shoes and making the trek up 304 steps to Wat Doi Suthep. Thousands of tourists and Buddhists alike flock to this site on a yearly basis due to its incredible beauty and significance to the Buddhist faith. It’s said that the pagoda in the centre of the temple contains relics from the original Lord Buddha. It also offers incredible views of the surrounding area due to its elevation, but with the stairs being the only way up, you’ll want to make sure your fitness is in check if you’re going to pay a visit.
Being the main centre for handicrafts in the country, bargaining your way towards purchasing some unique artwork and crafts at Chiang Mai’s markets is an essential experience that you can’t leave without taking part in. Open from 6pm until 12am, just walking around the bazaar is going to open your eyes to some incredible handmade goods. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, just browsing the incredible displays is enough to keep you and the family entertained for hours.
Just an hour or so outside of Chiang Mai you’ll also find an unforgettable experience at the Elephant Nature Park. Unlike what you would have seen in a lot of pictures, the elephants here aren’t for riding. They’re actually animals which have been rescued from abuse and injury – it’s a sanctuary for them to live away from the often cruel and harsh conditions a lot of other places in Thailand force on elephants. Coming here will show you a truly beautiful side to these amazing creatures and gives you the opportunity to really give something back by caring for them. If you’re really into the idea of helping the elephants you can even stay at the sanctuary for a full week!
There are also dozens of other options for things to do in Chiang Mai, including cooking classes, river cruises, jungle hiking, as well as various cultural festivals and museums. So no matter how long, or when you’re in Chiang Mai, it’s guaranteed you’ll find plenty of things to do.
Where to Stay
As Chiang Mai is a veritable centre of cultural and architectural awe, you’re going to want to make sure that your accommodation fits with the aura. And for that reason, we’d most highly recommend you spend your time staying at Duangtawan Hotel. Located in the heart of Chiang Mai and surrounded by lush hinterland offering stellar views of the impressive landscapes, this place is perfect for all types of holiday-makers.
The outdoor swimming pool and sun deck make the Duangtawan an obvious choice throughout any time of year. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy a cocktail while watching the sun set across the jungle greenery and temple ridden hills to understand the sheer beauty of this place. You’ll also find some seriously high quality dining options in this place with the Sunflower Chinese Restaurant offering the very best of Cantonese cuisine either for a dim sum lunch or extensive a la carte menu.