Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and is referred as the “Rose of the North”.
There are three ways on how to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok: by bus, train or plane. We opted to take an hour flight to Chiang Mai.
Here are 10 things to do in Chiang Mai to fully enjoy your vacation:
1.) VISIT DOI SUTHEP
A Thai saying goes, “If you haven’t tasted Khao Soi or seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven’t been to Chiang Mai.” Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or Doi Suthep is temple with a commanding view of the city.
From our hotel we booked a Grab car to take us to Chiang Mai University or you can also ride a red taxi going to Chiang Mai University with a fare of 50 Baht per person. From Chiang Mai University, we rode a red taxi going up to the temple. Taxi fare was 40 Baht per person. Red taxi’s are open air vehicles and a shared ride with other commuters.
The highlight of this temple is the view point which will give you a fantastic view of Chiang Mai.
It is a big, colorful, beautiful and sacred temple. I have been to many temples before but Doi Suthep is one of the most remarkable temples i have ever been.
Along the stairs going up the temple, there are children dressed in their traditional attire who gamely posed for photos. You can give them any amount as tip. I find them very charming and fun to be with.
2.) Have a taste of Khao Soi.
Khao Soi or Khao Soy is a popular as a street dish eaten by Thai people in northern Thailand. The main ingredients are hand cut rice or egg noodles, coconut milk and curry soup base. A rainy afternoon in Chiang Mai calls for a perfect time to have Khao Soi and there’s no perfect place to be, than at the number 1 restaurant, Khao Soi Kun Yai located at the Old Chiang Mai City along Sripoom road.
3.) Explore the Top 3 must-see temples in Chiang Mai.
The historic Old City was once a walled city with gates and a moat for protection. Designed as a square, the layout consists of roads and sois (alleys) connecting them. Presently, preserved city gates and the surrounding moat is more decorative than protective. The sois are lined with accommodations or hotels, massage parlors, tour operators, cafes and numerous Thailand ancient temples. There are more than 300 temples in Chiang Mai. Everywhere you go, you will not miss a single street or corner without a temple.
Below is the map of Chiang Mai which is very helpful and notice the square in the middle which signifies the Old Historic City.
Here are the top 3 that i visited:
WAT PHRA SINGH CHIANG MAI
Entrance Fee: 20 Baht
It is the second most venerated temple in Chiang Mai after Doi Suthep
WAT CHIANG MAN
Entrance Fee: Free
It is the oldest royal temple in the city.
WAT CHEDI LUANG
Entrance Fee: 40 Baht
A quick visit to the Three Kings Monument is also advisable. The Sculpture of Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng and Ngam Muang, who are purported founding fathers of Chiang Mai.
4.) Quick break at Poppy’s.
When you’re templed out, a quick or even a leisure break at Poppy’s for some Sticky Rice and Mango is a good idea. It is just across Wat Chedi Luang and on weekends, this is the street for the night market.
Seeing people come and go at the temple and stall owners putting up their stores is such a joy to see. People watching at its best in this spot.
5.) Shop at the Sunday Market.
The Sunday Market or Walking Street is a large market located right in the center of the old walled city. Starting at the Tha Phae Gate and extends for about 1km down the full length of Ratchadamnoen Road. You can go to the Market every Sunday from 4pm until midnight.
Our hotel is just a walking distance from where the Sunday Market is located.
6.) Eat street food at the Weekend Night Market
7.) Get an authentic Thai Massage at Green Bamboo Massage.
The best Thai massage i ever had in my life. Traditional massage costs 250 Baht. They also offer several kinds of services. Reservation is a must since this is a very popular massage parlor. Rated number 1 in Chiang Mai. It is a very clean and well sanitized. Their post-massage treat of Thai tea and Sweet banana was such a treat. It made the whole experience worth every Baht.
It has a small and charming studio inside the moat with a fair and sustainable concept, located in a typical wooden Thai house. The certified staff is highly trained in the arts of ancient Thai massage therapy. The owner uses real home made cosmetics and even created her own aloe vera oil and coconut oil.
8.) Feed, Bath and Mud Spa with the elephants.
Here’s a link to one of the highlights of my Thailand trip.
9.) Grab an authentic Thai meal at Mr. Kai with Thai Beer.
Delicious Thai food paired with cold Thai beer. Note to order beer before 2PM since all stores and restaurants doesn’t sell beer from 2:00-5:00 PM.
10.) Grab a Dairy Queen or Coffee at the airport.
We were a bit early at the airport for our flight back to Bangkok and we were instructed to come back on later time for check in. I took the opportunity to try their Thai Tea Blizzard which tastes yummy as well as their Durian Blizzard both with almonds.
I also tried coffee at Cafe Amazon which is a popular local coffee shop in Thailand.
Thanks to Liz Marcelo for these recommendations, my caffeine and ice cream cravings were very much satisfied.
Chiang Mai is definitely one of the most beautiful cities i have ever visited. It is like walking into a living historical city. An excellent combination of old and new. It is also one of the most relaxing place to roam around. If i were to choose, i would want to retire on a place like Chiang Mai.
“Chiang Mai represents the prime diamond on the crown of Thailand, the crown cannot be sparkle and beauteous without the diamond…”