Welcome to Chiang Mai, a city brimming with captivating experiences and cultural wonders. If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Chiang Mai, look no further. From enchanting elephant sanctuaries to the surreal beauty of the White Temple in Chiang Rai and the thrill of exploring Wua Lai Walking Street, this article is your ultimate guide to discovering the top attractions in Chiang Mai.

Delve into the art of cooking at Grandma’s Home Cooking School or set off on a day trip to Chiang Rai for a dose of historical significance. For coffee lovers and cafe enthusiasts, we have an enticing feature on cafe hopping in One Nimman, where trendy establishments await. Whether you’re crafting your Chiang Mai itinerary or seeking the most captivating attractions, we’ve got you covered. Join us on this unforgettable journey through the wonders of Chiang Mai, where an array of unforgettable experiences awaits at every turn.

1. Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai

Photo: Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai

Include this rare opportunity in your Chiang Mai itinerary. Not only will you have the rare chance to interact with elephants up close, but you’ll also get to relish a delightful mud bath experience alongside these magnificent creatures.

Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai is an extraordinary journey that brings you closer to these magnificent creatures in a genuine, and most importantly, ethical way. Your adventure begins by donning the traditional Karen tribe outfit, a beautiful symbol of respect for the elephants and their heritage. Next, you will feed them bananas, and share heartfelt moments as they roam the land, munching grasses that the staff scatter on the floor. You’ll also learn more about the elephant’s diet, and how to care for one, as you learn how to craft nutritious food balls for the elephants. 

The trip’s ultimate highlight awaits as you follow the elephants to the river for an rejuvenating mud spa session. Dive into the fun as you shower and playfully splash around with these gentle giants. Worried about capturing the moments? Fret not, as an on-site photographer will be there to take all the photographs. However, if you’re camera shy, you can easily opt-out by informing the staff beforehand. So, embrace the joyous experience worry-free, knowing your memories will be beautifully preserved.

For just $61.19 per person, this 6-hour journey from pick-up to drop-off promises a truly rewarding and transformative encounter with the elephants. Depending on the season, prices may vary, but the value of this experience remains immeasurable.

Convenient pick-up options are available at 6:30am or 11:30am, and the sanctuary is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from the city center.

Pro tip: Opting for a last pick-up and first drop-off can save you traveling time, making it an excellent choice if you’re located further from the office.

Klook

2. Grand Canyon Waterpark

Photo: Grand Canyon Waterpark / Facebook

Get your adrenaline pumping at Chiang Mai’s brand new Grand Canyon Waterpark. This extraordinary destination offers an exciting blend of nature’s beauty and thrilling water activities that promise an unforgettable experience.

As you step foot into the waterpark, prepare yourself for a day of endless fun on the unusual inflatable water park that floats atop the sparkling water. Get your adrenaline pumping as you brave the giant slides, conquer the floating obstacle course, and test your balance and agility. That’s not all. For water enthusiasts, there’s no shortage of activities to choose from — paddle away in a kayak or canoe, enjoying the calming surroundings while basking in the sunshine. Meanwhile, families with little ones can delight in the kiddie pool, where the youngest visitors can splash and play in a safe and enjoyable environment. Lastly, for those seeking an adrenaline rush like no other, the 400-meter zipline awaits! 

To ensure a seamless and convenient experience, be sure to prebook your tickets online. Although Klook’s tickets are currently sold out until November, you can still secure your spot through Viator or your hotel’s concierge.

Klook

Location: 202 ถนน เลียบคลองชลประทาน Nam Phrae, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand
Tel: +66 52 010 565
Opening hours:
10am-7pm

3. Fah Lanna Spa

Ethereal setting in Fah Lanna Spa’s Old Town branch

Step into a world of bliss and tranquility at Fah Lanna Spa, a prestigious winner of the World Luxury Spa Awards.

Boasting a name that pays homage to Chiang Mai’s captivating history in the former kingdom of Lanna, the crown jewel of their offerings is the Fah Lanna Wisdom. This treatment is a sublime fusion of ancient Thai medical wisdom, massage, and traditional Thai Lanna culture. Beyond mere physical benefits, it nurtures the mind and spirit as well.

The heart of this experience lies in the gentle yet powerful Lanna Thai Massage techniques, accompanied by the essence of Thai Medical Traditions, Thai Herbal Therapies, and Ancient Lanna Wisdom. The result is a holistic journey that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Lanna. 

Entering the treatment room with flowers, candles, and incense, you are immediately transported on a spiritual journey that sets the stage for the transformative massage to come. The therapist begins with a “Taleo,” a Lanna Symbol of protection, to assess your body balance. A skin and spiritual detox using Betel leaves follows, believed to purify not just the skin but also dispel any negativity. After around two hours of indulgent massage, the journey concludes with gentle body movements, leaving you in a state of profound relaxation and rejuvenation.

For those seeking a more concise experience, the basic Siam Massage awaits, offering a 2-hour escape into serenity at 1,600 baht per person.

Fah Lanna Spa has multiple branches across Chiang Mai, but their Old Town outlet stands out as the grandest of them all.

Fah Lanna Spa

Location: 57, 57/1 Wiang Kaew Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Tel: +66 88 804 9984
Opening hours:
12-9pm

4. A Chef’s Tour

One of the destinations of our evening food tour, serving earthenware roasted pork

Embark on an epic culinary journey with A Chef’s Tour in Chiang Mai, where the name says it all — an exploration of hidden gems and delectable delights that will tantalise your taste buds.

This gastronomic adventure takes you to 18 mouthwatering dishes spread across 5 diverse eateries, ranging from charming roadside food stalls to bustling wet markets and even a sumptuous full-fledged restaurant. Experience the rich tapestry of flavours, from traditional Northern Thai cuisine to unique ethnic dishes like the savoury delicacies of the Shan people.

For only $78 per person, you get more than just a memorable feast. The package includes transportation, so you can savour every moment without worries. But most importantly, the star of the show is undoubtedly the friendly and engaging guide, who accompanies you throughout the tour, weaving tales of the origins and significance of each dish you try.

Booking is made easy by heading directly to their website, where you can choose between the delightful lunchtime tour or the enchanting evening tour. So, if you’re a food enthusiast eager to uncover Chiang Mai’s hidden culinary treasures, A Chef’s Tour is an absolute must on your itinerary.

A Chef’s Tour

5. Grandma’s Home Cooking School

Our instructor explaining the various herbs and spices grown in their very own organic farm

Take your love for Thai cuisine to new heights with Grandma’s Home Cooking School, an extraordinary opportunity to master your favourite dishes in the most authentic and immersive setting.

What sets Grandma’s Home Cooking School apart is its unique setting. Classes are conducted right on their expansive and picturesque farm, just a short 30-minute drive from the city center. The journey to the farm is well worth it, as you’ll find yourself surrounded by the lush beauty of the land, boasting an impressive array of herbs like basil, blue pea flower, and chili, all grown with care.

The Full-day Course, priced at 1,790 baht, promises a truly comprehensive experience starting at 9am and concluding around 3:45pm. The adventure begins with a visit to the local market, where you’ll immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and enticing aromas of fresh produce. Next, get ready for a fascinating tour of their organic farm, gaining a deeper appreciation for the ingredients that make Thai cuisine so tantalising.

Then comes the heart of the day — the hands-on cooking class. Learn the art of crafting at least five delightful dishes, including an appetiser, a soup, a curry, a stir-fry, and a dessert. With expert guidance from experienced chefs, you’ll gain valuable skills and secrets to recreate authentic Thai flavors in your own kitchen.

If a full day sounds too extensive, Grandma’s Home Cooking School offer a Half-day option as well, starting from 1,190 baht per person. The half-day session omits the dessert and snack making portion at the end but ensures you still get to indulge in these treats before you bid farewell.

Grandma’s Home Cooking School

6. Wua Lai Walking Street

One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is to explore the vibrant and bustling Wua Lai Walking Street. A charming street by day, and a shopper’s paradise on Saturday nights, as the streets close, inviting a delightful array of merchants to set up shop.

Prepare to be enchanted by the diverse offerings that await you here. From stylish clothes to delightful toys, handcrafted trinkets to delectable food, this lively street has it all! Immerse yourself in a shopping spree where you can find unique and handmade treasures that make for perfect souvenirs or cherished gifts.

Located near the south side of the old city walls, Wua Lai Walking Street connects to Thipanet Road and is conveniently just a ten to fifteen-minute stroll from Tha Pae Gate, one of the main entry points to the historic heart of Chiang Mai.

Location: 69 Wua Lai Rd, Haiya Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Opening hours:
5-11pm (open on Saturdays)

7. Cafe hopping at One Nimman

French pastries at Saruda Finest Pastry

One Nimman is is known for being a vibrant and trendy district in Chiang Mai, lined with stylish boutiques, chic cafes, art galleries, and innovative restaurants.

Embark on a delightful cafe-hopping adventure in One Nimman, where the true essence of this vibrant district comes alive. Among the plethora of choices, we highly recommend two exceptional cafes that epitomize the essence of One Nimman’s reputation.

Firstly, indulge your taste buds at Saruda Finest Pastry, a renowned patisserie that stands as a beacon of culinary excellence in Chiang Mai. Here, you’ll encounter an exquisite array of French pastries, meticulously crafted to perfection. Each delectable creation promises to transport you to a realm of sweet indulgence, leaving you craving for more.

Next, immerse yourself in the world of award-winning coffee at Roast8ry Lab. Renowned for their masterful roasting techniques, these coffee connoisseurs have taken coffee brewing to new heights. Savor each sip as you appreciate the rich flavors and unparalleled aromas, making this a true haven for coffee aficionados.

Saruda Finest Pastry

Location: 12 Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 3, Tambon Su Thep, อ. เมือง Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Tel: +66 63 867 0868
Opening hours: 10am-9pm

8. Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

2nd floor of the museum

Discover the fascinating world of Thailand’s giant butterflies and creepy crawlies at the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, a hidden gem operated by a malaria researcher and his entomologist wife.

With walls adorned in glass frames filled with pinned insects like stick insects, beetles, butterflies, and more, every display is thoughtfully annotated with both scientific information and personal anecdotes. Informative panels on insect-borne diseases provide valuable insights. For just 200 baht per person, this mesmerising journey offers unlimited water to keep you refreshed as you explore, and you even get to take home some stickers as a charming memento of your visit.

The museum is a testament to the passion and expertise of the husband and wife team, Manop Ratana Rittirong Gul and Rattana Rumpa Rittirong Gul. Both former contributors to the prestigious Smithsonian, Rattana is a world leader in mosquito research and has contributed nearly 500 mosquito species to the world record, while her husband is an expert in malaria.

Location: 72 Siri Mangkalajarn Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Tel: +66 53 211 891
Opening hours:
10am-3pm (closed on Wednesday)

9. Thrift at Reused Clothing

Calling all seasoned thrifters with an adventurous spirit. Reused Clothing awaits you in Chiang Mai.

Tucked near the northern walls of Chiang Mai’s old town, Reused Clothing is located along a stretch of thrift stores (Reused Clothing has the best gems of them all). This street is a treasure trove for those who relish the thrill of the hunt and don’t mind getting a little dusty. Embrace the thrill of the find as you explore the array of pre-loved gems, priced as low as $1 per piece, with the average being just $3.

If you’re a true thrifter at heart and seek the excitement of unearthing unique, prepare to get your hands dirty and discover delightful steals.

Location: 39 Atsadathon Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Opening hours: 10am-6pm

10. Day trip to Chiang Rai

Photo: @gaiacreatrix / Instagram

Embark on an extraordinary day trip to Chiang Rai for its rich cultural heritage and architecture marvel.

Its most iconic landmark, the Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, glistens under the sunlight, creating a surreal and heavenly appearance. The intricate carvings and delicate details on the facade are stunning, adding to the temple’s ethereal charm. In addition to the White Temple, the tour also includes a visit to The Golden Triangle, a captivating and historically significant meeting point where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge. Here, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Rest assured, the tour guide will regale you with captivating stories throughout the journey, making the experience even more enriching and memorable. Lastly, immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture of the Karen Village, where you’ll learn about their neck-ringing traditions and gain insight into their way of life.

All of this awaits you for just $82.85 per person, making it an exceptional value for a comprehensive and enriching experience. Book your adventure on Klook and set off on a journey filled with wonder, cultural discovery, and breathtaking vistas. The Chiang Rai Day Trip is the perfect blend of exploration and immersion, showcasing the essence of Northern Thailand’s allure. 

Klook

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