Things to do in
Chiang Mai

Whether you're a backpacker or a seasoned traveler, the 300 temples and lush mountains here won't fail to inspire.

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Our most recommended things to do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai: Elephant Care at Elephant Retirement Park

1. Chiang Mai: Elephant Care at Elephant Retirement Park

Meet and feed elephants on this elephant sanctuary tour from Chiang Mai. Watch these majestic creatures up close and learn about them from specialists. Sit down to an authentic Thai lunch and stay hydrated with complimentary water. Start your journey in the morning with a hotel pickup from Chiang Mai city center. Take the 1-hour ride to the countryside of Mae Tang district. Get changed into the local clothes and be ready for the fun activities. The experienced guide will provide information about the elephants' behavior and how to provide proper care for them. Then, prepare food and healthy treats for the elephants and feed them afterward. After that, you and the elephants will walk to play in the mud and sand spa. During this time, you will have a chance to observe their behavior, in beautiful natural surroundings. After your time with the elephants, change your clothes, shower, and then enjoy a delicious traditional Thai buffet lunch, which is suitable for vegetarians. After lunch, relax on the 1-hour journey back to the city and will be transferred back to your hotel in Chiang Mai city center.

Doi Inthanon National Park Small Group Full Day Tour

2. Doi Inthanon National Park Small Group Full Day Tour

Get picked up from your hotel in Chiang Mai city center for a day to explore one of Thailand’s original national parks and highest mountain, Doi Inthanon.  Perfect for adventurers and culture enthusiasts alike, this tour will feature picturesque landscapes, remote villages, and incredible viewpoints. The first stop is one of the largest and the most beautiful waterfalls in the country, the Wachirathan Waterfall. Over 80 meters high, the power of this waterfall creates a refreshing mist that feeds the surrounding vegetation.  Next, stop at the stunning 50-meter cascade, Sirithan Waterfall, which is fed by the Mae Klong River.  Then, stop at the famous twin pagodas: the Napamatanee Don and Napaphon Bhumisiri. Built for the Royal King and Queen, they are located at the highest point in Thailand.  Round out the tour with a visit to the Karen Tribe locale. Learn a bit about the hill tribes people’s culture and way of life in their village of Sobhad.

From Chiang Mai: Chiang Rai Famous Temples Small Group Tour

3. From Chiang Mai: Chiang Rai Famous Temples Small Group Tour

Chiang Rai, on a full day trip from Chiang Mai to take guided tours of the White Temple, Wat Rong Seua Teb, and Baan Dam Museum. Travel in a comfortable car and choose from a group or private tour. Enjoy the convience of being picked up from your accommodation in Chiang Mai. Sit back and relax on the airconditioned drive. Stop at the Mae Khachan Hot Springs to relax, dip your feet into steaming mineral water, have a snack, or walk around the gardens. Continue to the modern architectural masterpiece known as the White Temple. Explore this fantastical space that was designed and built by a local artist, Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Head to the Wat Rong Seua Ten (temple of the dancing tiger) to uncover the secrets of this religious site that was built where tigers were said to have leapt over the river. Admire the stunning blue and gold colors of this temple. Make your way to the Baan Dam Museum (Black House Museum). Explore a cluster of nearly 40 shadowy structures exhibiting art dating back to the Ayutthaya period. See preserved animals and a collection of bones. Travel by car back to your accommodation in Chiang Mai.

From Chiang Mai: Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Day Tour

4. From Chiang Mai: Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Day Tour

Meet elephants on this guided day trip from Chiang Mia to the anna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary. Keep your clothes clean by wearing local clothes and boots. Travel in an airconditioned van and have the chance to feed and hug rescued elephants before sitting down to fresh lunch at a local restaurant.  Depart Chiang Mai and journey into the mountains of northern Thailand to visit the ethical Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary (approximately 1-hour drive from the city center). Upon arrival, learn about the elephant conservation program and benefit from an introductory talk and the chance to interact with the rescued animals. Get the chance to give them a hug and discover how to prepare a healthy meal to feed them. Go for a walk around the sanctuary with the elephants and stop to give them a mud bath to keep their body temperature down and protect them from parasites. Feed them before enjoying a homemade lunch at a restaurant inside the sanctuary.

From Chiang Mai: White Temple & Golden Triangle Day Trip

5. From Chiang Mai: White Temple & Golden Triangle Day Trip

Uncover the secrets of Thailand's famed Golden Triangle on this day trip from Chiang Mai. Travel aboard an airconditioned van from a centrally-located meeting point. Visit the Mae Kachan hot springs and the White Temple. Explore the Mekong river on a longtail boat and enjoy a tasty lunch. After a 07:00 AM pick-up in central Chiang Mai, depart for Chiang Rai, stopping for a short break at Mae Kachan hot springs. Visit Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, before continuing to the Golden Triangle area. Go to Wat Phra That Chedi Luang (limited access). See the Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar borders from the Golden Triangle viewpoint. Stop for lunch before spending time at House of Opium. Enjoy a long-tail boat trip on the mighty Mekong River. On the way back to Chiang Mai take a break to stretch your legs in Mae Suay or Wiang Pa Pao district and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. The estimated arrival time in Chiang Mai city is 8:30 PM. The arrival time in Chiang Mai City depends on the traffic conditions, amount of passengers, and any other unforeseen circumstances.

Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit

6. Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit

Learn how to make authentic Thai dishes with this fun, small-group cooking class in Chiang Mai as you prepare classic dishes using ingredients from a local market. Choose between a half-day class during the morning or the evening and cook five dishes, or go for the full-day class to cook an extra two courses! Get picked up at your hotel within Chiang Mai, then meet up with the rest of your group and choose what you want to cook from the menu. Visit a local market and buy the necessary ingredients, and tour an organic farm filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Once you're done, head to the classroom and prepare your individual cooking stations for the lesson. Follow the instructions of your professional English-speaking guide as you cook a variety of authentic Thai dishes such as mango sticky rice, pad thai, and curry, and make curry paste with your own two hands! Enjoy the fruits of your labor by sharing a meal with your group. Exchange stories as you sample each others' cooking before you head back to your accommodation.

Doi Suthep, Wat Umong & Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Small-Group Tour

7. Doi Suthep, Wat Umong & Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Small-Group Tour

Begin your morning tour by climbing the 306 steps up to Doi Suthep Temple with your local guide. Bask in the golden rays of sunrise after conquering the staircase and take photos of the unrivaled view of the city of Chiang Mai.  Then, stand in the shadow of the golden Kruba Srivichai Monument, named after the Thai Buddhist monk and engineer of many temples and roads. Gain an insight into how the monks live and choose to make a merit (offering) with them.  Head to Wat Pha Lat, a hidden temple in the lush jungle. Admire the serene statues, shrines, and surrounding nature.  Wrap up your half-day tour with a stop at Wat Umong, a 700-year old temple built back in 1297. Explore the forest and underground tunnels. Marvel at the architecture of the chedi.

4-Hour Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill Tribe Village from Chiang Mai

8. 4-Hour Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill Tribe Village from Chiang Mai

Depart Chiang Mai and travel to the temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on Doi Suthep mountain. Follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims who climb up 309 steps to the stupa on the hilltop. Get spectacular views of Chiang Mai city and its surroundings. Then, visit a village and museum of the ethnic Hmong hill tribe, located inside the boundaries of the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Learn more about the life of the tribe, known for their colorful costumes and handicraft traditions. Return to Chiang Mai and get dropped off at your hotel.

Chiang Mai: Ping River Night Kayaking Trip

9. Chiang Mai: Ping River Night Kayaking Trip

Set off on a nighttime kayaking tour of Chiang Mai. Start at dusk and see the city as its lights turn on for the evening. Journey on an easy-to-navigate river past restaurants, homes, and Mai Yai trees. Discover the romance of the Ping river as you set out on a 6 kilometer kayaking trip. Paddle through the city center and take in views of the sights from the water. Drift slowly with the river. Float by massive native Mai Yai trees. Go under brightly lit bridges and listen to the music spilling out of riverside restaurants. Admire charming waterside homes. Enjoy the colors of the Chiang Mai skyline at night.

Ethical Elephant Caretaker & Doi Suthep Temple Private Tour

10. Ethical Elephant Caretaker & Doi Suthep Temple Private Tour

Begin your private experience with a pick-up from your hotel in Chiang Mai city and take a scenic journey to a private elephant estate where you will be their caretaker for half a day. Upon arrival, Walk to the main base camp, located up the hill, get changed into an elephant caretaker outfit and prepare yourself for a day of fun. Learn about Asian Elephants' long and fascinating history as you learn to cook healthy herbal treats for them to eat for a snack. Afterward, feed the handmade treats to them and walk along their side through the beautiful lush forest. Continue with elephant bathing in the river and say a farewell to your new, big friends as you set off on the next part of your tour. Take some time out of your day to enjoy a delicious Tha lunch, eating dishes with rice and finishing off your meal with a selection of fresh tropical fruits. Then, visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple that is situated on the top of a mountain. You can reach the top by walking up or using the elevator. At the very top, there is a golden chedi and terrace adorned with small shrines, breadfruit trees, rock gardens and, an Emerald Buddha statue. From the mountain top you will be treated to breathtaking views of the lush greenery below.

Planning Your Visit

  • When to visit?

    March, April, and May are Chiang Mai's hottest months, with November to January seeing the city's coolest temperatures. May to September is the rainy season, but despite its threatening name, is considered by some to be the best time to visit. If you can handle the odd, refreshing shower, you'll be rewarded with smaller crowds, greener countryside, and more active wildlife.

  • How many days?

    Chiang Mai is cheap to visit and boasts plenty to do. You'll want to spend at least four or five full days there.

Good to know

  • Language
    Thai
  • Currency
    Thai baht (฿)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+07:00)
  • Country Code
    +66
  • Best time to visit
    It depends how you feel about rain! If you don't mind a refreshing shower here and there, May to September is an absolutely wonderful time to visit Chiang Mai.

Other Sightseeing Options in Chiang Mai

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What people are saying about Chiang Mai

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 3,942 reviews

Great sanctuary with a lot of respect and love for each of the animals, the owners are really nice too! I definitely don’t regret to have done it, that’s an incredible experience and I am pretty sure I won’t do it again anywhere else like that, so 100% worth it.

Had a great experience with Nong as our tour guide. Would highly recommend doing this tour as there will be less people visiting the temples early in the morning. Would also recommend requesting Nong because he was absolutely fantastic.

Great people who really care about the animals. BE CAREFUL around the animals, as the staff is very liberal with customers being around the animals.

A great tour with a great guide (Big up Tim)! It’s was really worth it, the atmosphere and the souvenirs are perfect!

Our guide was amazing and so nice!! Loved the tour