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Chiang Mai Travel Guide: What to Do & Where to Eat in Chiang Mai, Thailand | Wanderlist Travel

Let's travel to: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is the creative hotspot in the North of Thailand. An ideal city if you like to explore historical temples, great mountains, hill tribe villages or traditional night markets. Although the city it's much smaller than the capital Bangkok, you can easily spend the same amount of time here without getting bored at all.


  • A songtaew is a red taxi that looks like a small van where you can sit in the back. It is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around the city.

  • From Chiang Mai you can continue your trip to nearby Pai or Chiang Rai by bus. Or take a 3- day bus & boat tour to Luang Prabang in Laos. Chiang Mai airport has flights to every destination in Thailand as well for budget prices.

  • Daily night trains run to/from Bangkok. A great way to travel and get in touch with the locals.

  • Summers in Chiang Mai are extremely hot, winters are a lot cooler compared to the rest of Thailand. Expect heavy showers, especially in the evenings, during the raining season.


  • Walk through the town and pay respect to Buddha at Wat Phra Singh or the highest temple in town Wat Chedi Luang.

  • Hike, cycle or drive up to Wat Doi Suthep on the mountain right outside the city. The temple is great but the views are superb. You can see the entire city from above. Lazy people can take the cable car to avoid the final 300 steps from the parking to the temple.

  • Rent a motorbike to drive the Samoeng Loop. Without stops it will take you about 3 hours to drive this 100km loop. But on the way you can stop at breathtaking viewpoints, cool down at waterfalls or explore some remote caves.

  • Travel with kids? Or want to escape the heat or rain for half day? Visit the 3D Art in Paradise museum to take the funniest selfies of your entire holiday.

  • Spend a day with elephants! Many operators offer half- or full day tours to feed & wash the elephants. Better don't ride them, elephants don't like that! For unique experiences you can also visit the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang.

  • Fly over the rainforest on a zip line, mountain bike off-road & down hill, get on a ATV or do a survival jungle tour. In other words, don't stuck to the city itself.. there is so much more to explore!

  • At night you won't be bored if you visit a Thai Boxing match near Thapea Gate or the Ladyboy Cabaret Show at Anusarn Market.


  • With so many night markets there is food every where! My favorite spot is Ploen Ruedee market at the Night Bazaar. Other markets can be found near the University (Malin Plaza) or the street food market just outside the Old town's North Gate.

  • Nimmanheanin is a great place for coffee lovers, but also food lovers can eat their heart out.

  • Lemongrass, right next to the Hard Rock Cafe, has great Thai dishes. Make sure you try Khao

  • Soy, the local specialty.

  • Blue Diamond Breakfast Club is the place to go for great sandwiches and they open all day long! Some people call it Vegan heaven because their main ingredient seems to be the avocado.

  • Craving for a burger? Try the Mac & cheeseburger at Rock me Burger on loy Kroh.

  • If you can't handle spicy food, use the magic words: May Phet (pronounce: my pet) which literally means: no spicy!

  • Chiang Mai has many cooking schools where you can learn how to make your favorite Thai dishes by yourself.


  • Backpackers all seem to know where to go at night. Zoe in yellow is a big outdoor bar/dancing with many tourists & locals dancing and drinking till midnight. After 12 continue the party at Spicy or try to find the hidden Living Room bar that opens till late.

  • Besides food & shopping the Night Bazaar has great bars with live music as well. For example Boy's blues bar and Thaieuropean Bar. If you like live music the North Gate Jazz bar is also unmissable when you're in town.

  • Maya Mall's rooftop is full of bars as well. Myst as the best cocktails while enjoying the city's night views.

  • Right next to the iron bridge is the Bus Bar. A lovely place for a beer. Every Wednesday Couchsurfing meetings take place here.


  • There are 5 massive shopping malls in town. If you think it's too hot to shop at the markets you got to go there. Central Festival mall doesn't only have shops but also an indoor ice skating rink, a game hall and a cinema.

  • Every Saturday there is a big night market at the South gate of the old town. On Sunday the market is inside at the east gate. On weekdays the Night Bazaar next to the Ping river is the place to be.

  • Across town there are many fresh fruit and vegetable markets. You'll find stuff you've never seen or smelled before. It's also great to go there to take amazing photographs.


  • Over 700 years ago Chiang Mai became Thailand's capital in the Lanna kingdom. Its name means “new city”.

  • Most sights are inside the old city walls, but the most impressive sights are outside the city. Simply grab a motorbike, songtaew or book an Uber or Grab with your smartphone.

  • The highest mountain of Thailand (Doi Inthanon) is just 1.5 hour away!

  • Between March & May there can be a lot of smog in the city. Farmers get blamed for burning their paddy fields after harvesting. The government is working hard to prevent this.

  • West of the old town is an area called “Nimmanheanin”. Nowadays it's a creative area filled with shops, restaurants and common workplaces to host the many expats & hipsters living in the city.

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