Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai – From Temples to Night Markets
Chiang Mai would not be complete without experiencing its many temples. The city boasts numerous ancient Buddhist “wats”, each boasting its own distinct architecture.
The Sunday Night Walking Market runs the length of Ratchadamnoen Road and boasts hundreds of stalls selling both tourist souvenirs and local crafts. Bargaining is encouraged; don’t be shy! Give it a go and see what awaits!
1. Visit the Temples
One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is visiting local temples. Not only are they stunning to look at but they hold significant meaning within local culture and tradition.
If you want a free way of exploring temples on foot, walking alone will do the trick. But for an interactive cultural experience consider taking a tour or visiting during one of the festivals held therein – most popular festivals occur between autumn and springtime.
At these times, Chiang Mai comes alive with activities as you can experience many festivals and cultural events in this vibrant city. Be sure to book your hotel well ahead of time as rooms tend to fill quickly during festival periods.
Chiang Mai offers plenty of attractions besides temples. The Sunday Night Markets provide a wonderful opportunity to shop for souvenirs and enjoy tasty street food; these markets can be found along Ratchadamnoen Road and its side streets, starting at Tha Phae Gate and ending near Wat Chedi Luang which features an incredible temple with a towering chedi.
Wat Chet Yot, with its impressive serpent figures, is another must-see temple. Many locals visit to pray for good health – believing that snake statues have healing powers and can cure their illnesses.
Chiang Mai is well known for its temples and markets, but also boasts an exciting art scene. Many local artists showcase their works throughout the city for sale – offering unique souvenirs like traditional Thai paintings or eye-catching t-shirts depicting Chiang Mai’s spirit and charisma.
2. Go on a Tour
Chiang Mai is a vibrant city full of unique attractions to see and do, including temples. Of course, these Temples are among the primary draws, but this city also boasts plenty of other fascinating offerings worth experiencing. Tours in Chiang Mai provide opportunities to get acquainted with this exciting destination better and see more than its most well-known attractions; some tours also take guests on experiences of festival festivities that Chiang Mai hosts; this provides you with an immersive Thai cultural experience you may otherwise miss.
Chiang Mai Night Markets are an absolute must for visitors to this vibrant city. These bustling markets feature everything from traditional Thai handicrafts and clothing to souvenirs and electronics – as well as street performers and live music! One of Chiang Mai’s premier night markets is Anusarn Market which features numerous food options along with various stalls selling handmade goods.
Khua Maeklong Night Market, situated along the railway line north of Chiang Mai, is another highly acclaimed night market that draws a large crowd every night. Though smaller than other Chiang Mai markets, it still offers great products from local producers as well as delicious street food vendors.
Chiang Mai offers several night markets to explore, with Sunday Night Market located near Ratchadamnoen Road and its side streets being one of them. At this market visitors can watch talented musicians and dancers perform, sample local street food offerings and even indulge in fish pedicure or relaxing massage services!
3. Take a Cooking Class
Are you looking for an entertaining and unique way to spend the day? A cooking class could be just what’s necessary! Chiang Mai offers numerous culinary schools offering all sorts of culinary courses. Here, students learn to prepare a variety of Thai dishes before getting the chance to taste what they have created at the end of class!
The Basil Cookery School is a favorite among visitors and keeps classes small so as to provide one-on-one instruction from its experienced chefs. Other top cookery schools include Thai Farm and Aroy Aroy; with the latter providing pick up and drop off services. Both use local ingredients grown onsite that give a true rural Thai experience.
Chiang Mai markets offer another must-do activity. Experience what life is like among local people while shopping and experiencing this important part of Thai culture.
If you want something a bit more active, take a bike tour or enjoy a hot air balloon ride to experience Chiang Mai from a different viewpoint and gain spectacular aerial views of its beauty.
Huay Tung Tao Lake provides another relaxing activity. Here you can spend a relaxing evening by the water’s edge while socialising with local families and friends. On weekends you may also witness traditional rituals of releasing floating lanterns into the sky as part of an ancient Chinese practice to rid oneself of misfortune and create new hope. Yie Peng Festival held annually is also an exceptional chance to witness this experience first-hand!
4. Visit Doi Suthep National Park
Doi Suthep National Park is an expansive biosphere, home to both mixed deciduous forests that shed their leaves during the dry season at lower elevations and tropical evergreen forests above 1000 meters. A bounty of flowering trees fill the air with fragrance while stunning floral displays fill its hilly landscape. Macaques and other small mammals can often be seen cavorting along its treetops.
Nam Tok Monthathon waterfall stands out as the standout, cascading into several pools that make for ideal swimming – although an entrance fee will apply to enter this national park. A little further along is Mae Sa Waterfall where a five-minute trail leads you past two more falls before arriving at Mae Sa.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most notable landmark on Doi Pui is an elegant gold temple perched atop its summit and popular among Thai pilgrims as a pilgrimage destination. Additionally, Doi Pui Park hosts several other shrines and temples for visitors to explore.
Doi Suthep National Park can be reached in various ways, with cars providing the most optimal experience. Tuk-tuks may be convenient for shorter trips; just be careful as drivers may attempt to scam you! Renting a scooter might also work; just remember it may be more challenging navigating outside Chiang Mai!
Along with hiking, the park is also an excellent place to experience northern Thailand’s sights and sounds. There are plenty of small restaurants and cafes along its roads, as well as breathtaking views across the valley below. If visiting during April don’t miss Songkran festival where Thais use water bottles and buckets to spray each other for one full week!
5. Go to the Night Markets
Night Markets in Chiang Mai provide the ideal setting to experience local culture and cuisine, from mouthwatering food stalls and vendors offering fresh fruit smoothies, noodles, Thai dishes, desserts and much more. There is also a vast array of handicrafts, clothing and souvenirs. If possible, early evening is recommended when less people visit.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar should be part of any trip to Thailand. This bustling marketplace is perfect for souvenir shopping and local goods; plus there’s lots of entertainment and culture here too, from acrobats and dancers to musicians and magicians! Open from 4pm to midnight each night, try visiting early in the day if possible to avoid crowds.
Anusarn Night Market, conveniently situated close to Wat Phra Singh Temple Complex – home of an impressive gold-covered chedi visible from many parts of Bangkok – is another highly acclaimed night market worth visiting. While much smaller than others, its charm still deserves your time!
For shoppers seeking a break from shopping, the market offers a special section dedicated to releasing floating lanterns into the sky. This activity is especially popular at the end of each year when people gather to celebrate Yee Peng or Lantern Festival and release lanterns symbolically release misfortune and wish for good fortune; providing a beautiful and relaxing end to each day!