8 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

There are tons of things to do in Chiang Mai, but on the other hand… it’s not like you MUST VISIT this, this and this. You can’t come home from Paris without having seen the Eiffel Tower, and you can’t come home from New York without having seen Time Square. But you can come home from Chiang Mai having done basically nothing. Just hanging out here is great in itself. Here are some recommendations of activities many seem to like though:

things to do in chiang mai1. Visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

This beautiful temple is located in the mountains near Chiang Mai. To get up there, take a taxi, tuk tuk or ride your own motorbike if you’re a confident driver. It’s not a very long ride, but the road is pretty steep and has many turns. Once you get to the temple, you’ll be able to enjoy an amazing view across the city. There are nice souvenir and food stalls around and the temple itself is beautiful. You’ve to walk 300 steps to get up there though, so be prepared!

2. Visit the Sunday Market

On Sunday, there’s a big market in the center of the old-city, starting at the gate. It’s great to wander around here. There’s lots of (touristic) stuff, but actually of rather good quality, and food. You can definitely spend a couple of hours here! Apparently there’s much more authentic, artistic stuff to be found here than during the night market, but in all honesty, it kinda seemed the same to me.

3. Visit the night market

Every night there’s a night market, east of the main gate of the old city. You can find all kinds of touristic stuff here, including lots of fake bags, sunglasses and watches. Just stroll around and see if there’s something you like. There may be some musicians around for entertainment, and you can also find a Burgerking, McDonald, Starbucks, Hagendasz etc in this area.

things to do in chiang mai

4. Get a massage by ex-prisoners

You can get massages all over Thailand, but in Chiang Mai you’ll find a (couple of) massage places where female ex-prisoners work. Being a criminologist I of course had to try this, and it turned out to be great. The massages are just amazing, the place was nice and clean and great service. And knowing that at the same time you’re providing these women with a job opportunity, feels good. Having a record (and jail time, so social disengagement) will usually prevent these women from getting a normal job again, forcing them back into crime. So, I would recommend to visit one of these places and help them stay on the right path while you become totally relaxed! The one I went to a couple of times is located on 35 Jhaban Road in center of the old city. 180 baht for an hour.

5. Practice Muay Thai or watch a fight

Muay Thai is very famous in Thailand and especially in Chiang Mai it seems to be a very big deal. Its like Thai boxing.. Official fights are held every night at the Thapae stadium and as Chiang Mai really seems to be the place to be when it comes down to Muay Thai, there are frequently internationals competing. Especially during the weekend. Don’t fool yourself though – these fights are real, and these (international) fighters are really good!!

You can however also give Muay Thai a try yourself without getting completely crushed right away. Various schools (‘camps’) are located in Chiang Mai and you can just show up for class. You’ll learn the basic kicks and punches and get the full experience including lots of work outs, sweating and serious soreness the next day.

Things to do in Chiang Mai

6. Enjoy a thai cooking class

You can find these all over Thailand, but especially in Chiang Mai it seems something you should definitely give a try. Whereas most of them are just single-day activities, you can sometimes find longer, like 3-day courses. Some places will give you their recipes to take home, others won’t.

7. Make a day trip

Chiang Mai is located in a region where there’s much to see and do. A fun day trip is visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle. At the Golden Triangle the boarders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. You can enjoy a boat trip on the Mekong river here. And you can also add a visit to the Long Neck Hill Tribe to this and a visit to the hot springs. All of these activities fit in one day. You can also consider a day trip to Pai, a hippie town some 3 hours away from Chiang Mai, or to one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the surrounding areas. Pai is actually worth a longer visit though, but if you don’t have time you can try to squeeze it into a day. Other day trips can include activities such as ziplining or visiting the Elephant Nature Camp for retired elephants.

Things to do in Chiang Mai

8. Visit the Reggae bar

This is a thing in Chiang Mai. It seems like everyone knows about THE reggae bar. On the square where many pubs/clubs are located, the reggae bar is one of them. Every night there’s really good live music here, which is definitely worth a visit. Don’t worry, be happy!

Have you been to Chiang Mai? What did you like to do? Let me know in the comments below!

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20 Responses to 8 Things To Do In Chiang Mai

  1. Nigel says:

    Got to Chiang Mai yesterday I will definitely tick a couple things off this list.

  2. We currently are living here and are yet to go to Chiang Rai! Have done everything else on the list though.

    • Flying Dutchgirl says:

      Ah nice, seems like a great place to live! Enjoy it! And the one day tour I did to Chiang Rai was great, can definitely recommend!

      • Vanessa says:

        What was the one day trip that you mentioned above that include Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle? I can find only overnight trips… Thanks!

  3. Rob says:

    Nice suggestions indeed. But next time you are in Chiang Mai, escape the city and stay at a local homestay for one or two nights! There are some amazing places not far from Chiang Mai.

  4. More relaxing and fun compared to Bangkok it seems?

  5. Loooove Chiang Mai and have done all of the above with the exception of the Thai Cooking class! I did get a massage although not so sure if they were ex prisoners… :) Probably not!

  6. Lovely destination and stunning pics that you have shared! We agree, Chiang Mai has everything and is full of landscapes and deep culture! But what about Costa Rica? Could it be a good idea for your next top list?

    We would love to read a post about Nosara beaches! Lacquaviva Hotel has a white sandy beach and for many years been the site of Costa Rica national surfing championships, along with other top beaches in the country, like Hermosa Beach, Jacó, and Salsa Brava in Manzanillo. It is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.

    Just to let you know, in case you want to go and surf with us! Keep doing this amazing writing job.

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      We denleitfiy need more smart people like you around.

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  7. Thank you for the information! I will be here in a few weeks. Oooh I have heard about the prisoner massages, I really want to give it a try!

  8. Lehia says:

    Got to love Chaing Mai – the golden temple is perfect at sunset, a perfect way to end the day!

  9. Jio TV says:

    actually i like Chiang mai more than Bangkok when I’m in Thailand

  10. Therie says:

    If you loved Chiang Mai, should definitely check out Khao Sok in Southern Thailand, it is less touristy.