Ruta 8
Chiang Mai

8 cool things
to do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand is one of the top holiday destinations in the country.
Although it’s the second biggest city after Bangkok, Chiang Mai is compact and you can do most things within walking distance.

If you like chilling out in cafes, wandering and exploring new places with no rush this town could be for you. Here are our top 8 activities.
  • 1

    Get lost and find yourself

    One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is to stroll along its alleyways of the Old Town. There is a great variety of cafés and restaurants with a relaxed atmosphere. The first thing to do is find the places you like and once you get the feel for it, you´ll get the vibe of Chiang Mai.

    We soon selected our favorite spot for having a coffee, drinks, Thai food and breakfast bowls. There are hardly any vehicles passing by and you'll probably come across some Wats or Buddhist temples by chance. That’s when you´ll start exploring the Old Town.

    Chiang Mai town
  • 2

    Visit Chedi Luang Wat
    & have a chat with a monk

    There are hundreds of Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai to visit and it's hard to decide which ones are best.
    We prioritised Chedi Luang as we read we could have a chat with monks. And although we spoke to a couple, communication in English was hard but you may have more luck.

    Chiang Mai monks Chiang Mai Chedi Luang
    The pagoda (at the back) had its size reduced to nearly half in 1545 after an earthquake, but it was once the tallest building in Chiang Mai and the construction dates back more than 600 years ago.

    Chiang Mai
    Opening hours: 8am to 5pm
  • 3

    Visit Wat Prah Singh
    and take a Songthaew to...

    Wat Prah Singh (Gold Temple) is only about 750 meters from the previous temple and is also worth a visit as it´s one of the most respected temples in Chiang Mai.

    In its grounds there are several ornamented buildings with a relaxing atmosphere and the main hall (Viharn Luang) houses a copper and gold 15th-Century Buddha statue.

    Chiang Mai Wat Phra Singh

    If you fancy spending the whole day exploring Wats in Chiang Mai, you can catch a Songthaew (pickup truck taxi) right in front of this temple as there will be many drivers offering to take you to different parts of town.

    A ride in a Songthaew is already an experience by itself and if you are lucky you can spot other people trying to negotiate the ride to the same destination. We shared ours with another couple and went to Wat Doi Suthep for 600 Baht return in total.

    Opening hours: 6am to 5pm
  • 4

    Wat Doi Suthep temple

    Located about 15km on a hill overlooking Chiang Mai, Wat Doi Suthep is one of the most important temples in Thailand. Built in 1383 as a Buddhist monastery it houses richly decorated images.
    You can also spot a copy of the Emerald Buddah (the real one is in Bangkok, which is in fact, much smaller and made of Jade) and enjoy views across Chiang Mai.

    Wat Doi Suthep temple
    Opening hours: 5am to 9pm
    Entrance-fee: 30 baht.
  • 5

    Eat at Chang Phuak Gate Market – North Gate

    Chiang Mai has countless markets to choose from, where you can expect to find several stalls selling souvenirs, textiles, handcrafts and food.

    Now if you´re only looking to put your taste buds to the test in a less crowded place, head to Chang Phuak Market.

    Chiang Mai North Gate market snack

    This market is relatively compact and offers a good range of yummy Thai Food, snacks and fresh fruit juices/smoothies. There are several stalls to choose from with a proper Thai ambience.

    Listening to the sizzling sound of meat in a wok or watching skillful cooks preparing delicious meals in minutes is one of those experiences in Thailand that will probably linger in your memory. Not to mention you can expect to have some of the best Mango with Sticky Rice here. In our opinion. 😃

    Chiang Mai North Gate market snack Mango with sticky rice
    Tip: Bring your own tupperwares and a reusable cup to avoid single use plastic. You can ask them to serve the food/drink in it instead. I managed to use them most of the time and we felt great having a lower impact on the environment during our trip!
    Opening hours: 6pm to 11pm
  • 6

    Taking a cooking course

    As Thailand is famous for its delicious food, many try to learn how to replicate the flavours back home. With that in mind, we took a course with Siam Garden Cooking School to learn some of the basics of Thai food.

    Cooking course Chiang Mai Cooking course Siam Garden
    They pick you up at your hotel and on the way they stop at a food market where they give an introduction of the condiments and herbs used in Thai cuisine.

    The house had a nice garden in the backyard, the premises were great and each attendee had your own wok to cook the dishes. Each person could choose 4 different dishes to cook plus some curry paste and a desert.

    The place is tucked away outside the city so if you're short of time, there are other options closer to town generally recommended by your hotel.

    Price: 750 baht/person
  • 7

    Massage at Women’s Correctional Institution

    After visiting many Wats you may fancy doing something more relaxing!

    Located in the Old Town, this centre is a reference for foot or body massage. All done by women who committed small crimes and are learning a new skill to have a better chance of reintegrating into society when they leave prison. Although they are not needed, there are guards on site in case you worry about security.

    Chiang Mai women´s prison

    After having this experience, we also decided to try a place where massage by ex-prisoners was offered. But funnily enough, we preferred the Correctional Centre. The former experience and premises were more relaxing and ironically, the masseuses looked happier! 🤷

    Price: 200 baht/1hour (body or foot massage)
  • 8

    Take a Yoga or
    Muay Thai class

    There are several schools or studios to choose from for those who want to try a new sport or simply keep fit while traveling. Drop-in classes are commonly available around the city and prices may vary according to each activity.

    We joined a drop-in class at Freedom studio for a Yoga session and I truly enjoyed trying a class with a different teacher from another country.
    Ning gave us a progressive class, really challenging us to try new postures.
    Prices starts from 250baht per class depending on the activity.

    Yoga class Freedom Studio
    Yoga class Price: 250 Baht / class.

Where to eat

Nun´s restaurant

Where to stay

Si Phum Heritage Boutique