Things to do in Chiang Mai

About Chiang Mai

Travelers in Chiang Mai should not miss the iconic Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the historic Wat Chedi Luang, and the serene Doi Inthanon National Park. For a taste of local life, the bustling Warorot Market is a must-see, as is the charming Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls for a unique nature experience.
For those visiting with children, the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium offers engaging wildlife encounters, while the Chiang Mai Butterfly and Orchid Farm delights with its colorful displays. Interactive cooking classes can also be a fun and educational experience for the whole family.
Adventurous souls can embark on elephant sanctuary visits, zipline through the lush jungles, or trek to hill tribe villages. Biking through the scenic countryside or rafting on the Mae Taeng River are also top outdoor activities in Chiang Mai.
The Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, various art galleries, and artisan workshops provide culturally enriching indoor activities. Additionally, spa treatments and traditional Thai massage offer relaxing indoor experiences.
The best tours in Chiang Mai typically include temple hopping tours, night market food tours, guided nature treks, and rural cycling tours. For a cultural deep dive, crafting and cooking tours are highly recommended as well.
The Chiang Mai National Museum, Tribal Museum, and Lanna Folklife Museum rank highly among the city's most visited institutions, each offering insights into the region's diverse history and culture.
Rainy days are ideal for museum tours, culinary classes, and visiting indoor markets like the Chiang Mai Handicraft Centre. Exploring the old city's temples, which offer shelter and rich stories, can also be a great option.
For those short on time, quick self-guided audio tours of the Old City, visits to Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple), and trips to local artisan shops can be completed in 60 minutes or less.

Best Things to Do In Chiang Mai

Delve into the wonders of Chiang Mai through diverse and captivating attractions suitable for every visitor.

Chiang Mai: Wat Pha Lat

What is it?
A hidden jungle temple offering a serene and contemplative environment.
Why you should go?
Wat Pha Lat, often overlooked by tourists, can be found on the way to Doi Suthep. This quiet temple exudes a unique spiritual ambience, positioned amidst a natural forest setting with stunning waterfall backgrounds. The temple grounds provide a mystical experience as you wander past statues draped in moss and listen to the subtle sounds of nature and soothing chimes. It's the perfect excursion for mindful travelers seeking tranquillity and is an idyllic setting for meditative walks, all enriched by the history and mythology narrated in your audio guide.

Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Observatory and Planetarium

What is it?
An educational center offering a journey into the cosmos.
Why you should go?
The Chiang Mai Observatory and Planetarium invites visitors to gaze upon the stars and explore the wonders of the universe. This attraction offers a captivating experience for families and astronomy enthusiasts alike, featuring interactive displays and state-of-the-art telescopes that provide a closer look at the night sky. Perfect for an educational afternoon, the observatory blends science with the magic of space exploration, with audio guides supplementing the astronomical displays and expanding visitors' knowledge.

Chiang Mai: Sticky Waterfall (Bua Tong Waterfall)

What is it?
An exhilarating natural attraction known for its climbable limestone formations.
Why you should go?
Sticky Waterfall, located just outside of Chiang Mai, offers an unforgettable adventure where visitors can safely climb the waterfall's unique sticky surfaces due to mineral deposits that provide grip. This natural playground is ideal for those looking for an active day out in nature and is well-suited for families, groups, and couples. The falls create natural tiers and pools, perfect for soaking and relaxation. A self-guided audio tour enriches the visit with geological context and local legend, making the Sticky Waterfall a memorable and educational retreat.

Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre

What is it?
A hub for the arts, showcasing local artistry and historical exhibits.
Why you should go?
At the heart of Chiang Mai's historical district, the Arts and Cultural Centre invites you to explore the city's rich past through a curated selection of art and cultural exhibits. Within its walls, visitors can discover the evolution of Chiang Mai's community and its traditions. With audio guides available, one can delve deep into the narratives of indigenous crafts, dance, music, and customs, making it an enlightening and enriching cultural experience for all ages.

Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Classes

What is it?
Interactive culinary sessions aimed at mastering the art of Thai cuisine.
Why you should go?
No visit to Chiang Mai is complete without indulging in its culinary delights, and an authentic Thai cooking class goes one step further by empowering you to recreate the flavors at home. From market tours to hands-on preparation of classic dishes such as Pad Thai and green curry, these classes are led by expert chefs and often include digital audio recipes. Engage in a fun and tasty learning experience that deepens your appreciation for Thailand's gastronomic heritage.

Chiang Mai: Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

What is it?
A natural haven showcasing a famous mountaintop temple and picturesque trails.
Why you should go?
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is renowned for its trails that lead to the sacred Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a pilgrimage site with stunning views over Chiang Mai. Visitors can enjoy a hike through the verdant jungle to discover hidden waterfalls and serene nature spots. As a city sanctuary for nature lovers and spiritual seekers alike, the park offers a peaceful retreat from urban life, complete with educational audio guides to enhance the journey.

Chiang Mai: Sunday Walking Street Market

What is it?
A weekly market event where culture, crafts, and cuisine converge on city streets.
Why you should go?
Every Sunday, the city center transforms into a vast pedestrian zone for the Walking Street Market. This cultural festivity allows visitors to sample traditional Northern Thai street food, shop for handmade souvenirs, and watch live performances. It's a lively introduction to the artisanal and culinary traditions that shape Chiang Mai, with guided audio tales adding context to each encounter.

Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Historical Centre

What is it?
An immersive attraction offering insights into the rich tapestry of Chiang Mai's past.
Why you should go?
The Chiang Mai Historical Centre is an essential stop for history buffs looking to delve into the area's storied past. The centre features a range of interactive exhibits, depicting the evolution of local culture and society from ancient times to the present. It's an educational experience enhanced by narrative-driven audio guides, providing context to the diverse artifacts and gallery displays.

Chiang Mai: Elephant Care & Grand Canyon Jumping

What is it?
An experiential day trip offering close encounters with elephants and cliff diving thrills.
Why you should go?
For those seeking hands-on adventure, spending time at an ethical elephant care facility provides an unforgettable interaction with these gentle mammals. Completing the day by visiting the Grand Canyon Water Park, thrill-seekers can plunge into crystal-clear waters from cliffs. These unique activities offer couples and families the excitement of a lifetime, with audio tours to guide and inform throughout.

Chiang Mai: The Lanna Folklife Museum

What is it?
A museum dedicated to the cultural traditions and daily lives of the Lanna people.
Why you should go?
Set in a beautifully restored former courthouse, the Lanna Folklife Museum demystifies the region's customs, religion, and art. With life-size dioramas and comprehensive exhibits, visitors gain an intimate understanding of Northern Thai culture. Audio guides available in multiple languages tell the captivating stories behind Lanna's heritage, making this museum a key cultural attraction in Chiang Mai.

TOP-5 tours in Chiang Mai for first time visitors

  • Explore ancient Lanna history with a tour of Old City temples, featuring Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang's majestic ruins.
  • Savor the tastes and sounds of Chiang Mai with a Night Bazaar audio tour, detailing local crafts and street food delicacies.
  • Uncover nature's secrets on a Doi Inthanon National Park tour, revealing lush forests, waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas.
  • Immerse in local culture with a San Kamphaeng crafts tour, learning the fine art of silk weaving and umbrella painting.
  • Navigate the vibrant stalls of Warorot Market, with audio guidance through the hub of Chiang Mai's trade and traditions.

Fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids

Chiang Mai is a playground of fun for families, offering adventures that will delight children of all ages. Start with the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium, where kids can come face-to-face with exotic marine life and traverse an underwater tunnel. Further outdoor excitement awaits at the Chiang Mai X-Centre, filled with kid-friendly activities such as buggy rides and paintball, ensuring that families with a thrill-seeking spirit find plenty of action. For a more laid-back experience, the Chiang Mai National Museum introduces children to the rich history of the region through engaging exhibits and interactive displays, providing a perfect blend of education and entertainment. Each venue is ideal for young explorers and is more memorable with the stories and facts provided by audio tours, adding depth to every family outing in Chiang Mai.

Things to do in Chiang Mai with family

Chiang Mai captivates families with its diverse range of activities suitable for all ages. A highlight is the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, offering a deep dive into the city's heritage with interactive exhibits that engage both parents and children. For a breath of fresh air and a dash of adventure, the Chiang Mai Zipline Experience combines the beauty of the surrounding nature with exhilarating canopy flights that are sure to thrill the entire family. Lastly, a visit to the Eco Elephant Care Park allows for an up-close encounter with these gentle giants in an ethical environment, fostering unforgettable memories and a greater appreciation for wildlife. These attractions, enhanced by informative audio guides, embody the enriching things to do in Chiang Mai with family, ensuring a vacation filled with education, excitement, and bonding.

Free things to do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai thrives with a plethora of free attractions that highlight the city's rich culture and natural beauty. A visit to the historical heart of the city, the Old City area, showcases a tapestry of ancient temples, such as Wat Phra Singh, without an entrance fee. While there, the Sunday Night Walking Street becomes a paradise for those who enjoy cultural immersion and browsing traditional handcrafts. Nature enthusiasts can delight in the lush greenery by trekking the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat, an enchanting temple hidden in the forest. Each of these experiences offers not only a deep connection with Chiang Mai’s enchanting ambiance but also the opportunity for self-led adventures with insightful audio tour narratives, ensuring an enriching exploration of this Northern Thai gem at no cost.

Cheap things to do in Chiang Mai

Adventure and culture in Chiang Mai come without a hefty price tag, offering enriching experiences for budget-savvy travelers. A visit to the bustling Warorot Market (Kad Luang) immerses visitors in daily local life and provides a feast for the senses, with street food and trinkets available at low prices. For serene moments, wander through the majestic grounds of the Chiang Mai University campus, where the lush landscape and art installations create a picturesque environment that encourages contemplation and leisurely strolls. Lastly, experience the serene and spiritual side of the city with a self-guided walking tour around the many historic temples, including Wat Chiang Man, where intricate Lanna-style architecture and peaceful courtyards can be enjoyed at little to no cost. Audio tours enhance these affordable activities by providing fascinating context and deepening the appreciation for Chiang Mai's cultural and historical offerings.

Things to do in Chiang Mai for couples

Chiang Mai sets the scene for romance with a selection of intimate and memorable activities for couples. Drift gently over the stunning landscape in a hot air balloon at sunrise, an unforgettable experience that offers breathtaking views and a sense of tranquility. For a more grounded experience, couples can indulge in a relaxing day of pampering with a traditional Thai couple’s massage at one of the city’s many reputable spas, infusing relaxation and connection into their vacation. As the day ends, there's nothing quite as romantic as a dinner date at one of Chiang Mai's riverside restaurants, where the culinary delights and ambient setting by the Ping River create a perfect backdrop for love. Each experience is designed to bond partners more closely together, with self-guided audio tours available to add depth to the natural and cultural landscapes they encounter.

Things to do in Chiang Mai at night

Chiang Mai transforms as evening falls, offering vibrant night-time experiences for every kind of traveler. The Chiang Mai Night Safari presents an exotic twilight adventure, allowing visitors to view nocturnal animals and enjoy the cool evening air in a thrilling setting. The city's night markets, including the famous Night Bazaar and the more local Sunday Walking Street, provide endless shopping, entertainment, and dining options, perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine. For a relaxed evening, meandering along the Ping River and settling down in one of the many waterfront bars or restaurants offers a serene escape with a scenic view. These attractions come to life at night, and with the help of audio tours, visitors are privy to stories and insights that deepen their understanding of Chiang Mai's rich night-time offerings.