Chiang Mai is a beautiful city in Northern Thailand. There are many amazing things you can do and see there, but today I will give you my top 5. I spent a week in Chiang Mai and fell in love with the stunning region.
- Temples – Something that can’t be missed in Chiang Mai are all the amazing temples. There are so many throughout the city, its hard to miss them. I was on my way to see Wat Chiang Man, which was only a 10 minute walk from my hostel and I ended up seeing 4 other temples along the way! I almost liked the smaller temples which I stumbled upon better, as they were less touristy and I could explore and enjoy the beauty of the temple in peace.
- Elephant Sanctuary – There are several elephant sanctuaries close to Chiang Mai. I would definitely say one of these are worth a visit. But do your research and make sure you go to one that treats the elephants well and avoid any elephant riding! I personally went to Elephant Nature Park, which was great but also very large and commercial. However we were taken around the park in small groups, our group only had 5 people and our guide, so that was very nice and personal.
- Massage – I had never had a massage before my first time in Thailand a couple years ago, I could never justify the cost. But here in Asia they are so affordable that its a given that most tourists will get one. However finding a good one that isn’t too painful isn’t always easy. In Chiang Mai I went to Lila Thai Massage which was great, they have several location around Chiang Mai and have great prices for what you receive.
- Zip lining – This is not an activity for those on a tight budget. However my previous plans had fallen through, so I decided to treat myself to a zip lining day trip and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! I choose to go with Skyline Adventure, mainly because this is who my hostel recommended and they could give me a discount. I am not going to lie, I was a little worried about the fact that I was ziplining in Asia and was it really a safe thing to do? But as long as you listen to the guides and double check that your carabiner is securely closed each time, its a lot of fun! The course at Skyline Adventure was huge, with 28 ziplines, 8 sky-bridges and 4 abseils and the best part is the 900m zipline at the end! The course takes at least 2 hours to complete and then you get a yummy lunch at the end and of course there is a pick up and drop off shuttle from your hostel included 🙂
- Sunday Night Market – I have been to a lot of night markets, most cities in Asia have some kind of night market and Chiang Mai itself has several different ones. But the Chiang Mai Sunday Market (walking street) is still one of my favorites. I love the fact that they close off the streets to vehicles (hence the name walking street) and the variety of stalls here is great. The problem with a lot of night markets is that after you have seen the first 10 stalls you have seen them all, because they are all selling similar items. The Sunday Market also has delicious street food and its super cheap, so make sure you don’t have dinner beforehand so give yourself a couple hours to see it all!
I hope this gives you some great ideas for you trip to Chiang Mai or inspires you to visit this beautiful city. If you are also looking for great yet affordable places to stay in Chiang Mai, these are my two recommendations:
Diva Guesthouse – This hostel is great for those on a budget and the staff are incredibly friendly. When I stayed it was only 120 baht per night for a bed in a 6 bed dorm! The dorm had its own ensuite bathroom with shower and toilet (I may have accidentally broken the doorknob in the bathroom, but I am sure that’s fixed by now). Although if you are tall the shower may be a bit difficult for washing your hair…
Potae’s House – If you have a bit more to spend on a hostel, this place is great! Its one of the cleanest hostels I have been in and I loved that the dorm rooms had ‘capsule beds’ with curtains that gave you a bit more privacy. There was also a simple breakfast included and the showers are high enough for giants like myself! The only thing missing from this hostel was some kind of common area or lounge.
One last tip
If you want to spend a bit longer in the Chiang Mai area, there are many Workaway projects in Northern Thailand. You can volunteer a several hours a day in return for accommodation and food. Its a good chance to meet locals and really learn about Thai culture and lifestyle.