Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่), a key stopping point for anyone exploring Thailand, can be found in the northern region of the country. Anyone who has been there will know that it is a gem of a city. There is so much history, culture and food to be experienced for people from all around. So, what are the best things to do there?
Here is a quick look at the different activities and places to see when you visit this northern gem.
As with anywhere in Thailand, you should definitely try the local cuisine. Thanks to its location in the North, as well as its diverse population, there are plenty of different cuisines to try. Chiang Mai is home to plenty of local specialties, and arguable some of the best Thai food.
Perhaps the most well-known dish originating from the area is Khao Soi (ข้าวซอย). This is a sweet curry dish served with chicken and both crispy and regular egg noodles. There are plenty of night markets, such as the one north of the old city, where you can find and choose something to eat. Thai desserts are also recommended to try because Thai people have so many kinds of desserts.
As soon as you arrive, you will see the large mountains and hills across the landscape. The city feels much more full of nature thanks to the trees and rivers flowing through. The mountains in particular make for a great backdrop on the horizon.
The closest mountain to the city, Doi Suthep (ดอยสุเทพ), is easy to get to and is a great place to hike, explore, and enjoy the spectacular views. From the highest point, you get a clear view of the city and the surrounding areas. It is definitely worth seeing. Also nearby is Doi Intannon (ดอยอินทนนท์). This is Thailand’s highest point, reaching up to 2565 meters.
You can also drive about 11km from the Old City to Chiang Mai Grand Canyon and enjoy some outdoor activities there.
For those of you who enjoy seeing locally produced food alongside locally made clothing, souvenirs and other items, the markets are worth a stop. There are markets all around the city. Some specialize in food, while others focus on clothes and accessories. Whatever you are looking for, you will likely find at one of the many markets in Chiang Mai.
One that is worth a mention in Jing Jai Market. Jing Jai focuses on organic fruits and vegetables with many other local products like soap, clothing and food stalls. There is also live music playing, giving you something to do as you enjoy your tea or meal.
There are a vast number of temples in Chiang Mai. There are big temples and smaller ones, but each have their own charm and significance for the locals. The beautiful designs and artworks are well worth the cost of entry. Some don’t cost anything to see at all, but a donation would be well received.
Wat Chedi Luang is one of the best known within the city, famous for its 15th century Chedi. Another notable mention goes to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. As the name suggests, it is located on the mountain Doi Suthep and offers spectacular views with beautiful architecture.
It is hard to miss the old, broken walls that surround the old city. They tell an interesting story about the locations history. Within these walls today however, are a variety of different shops, restaurants and places to stay. It is a nice place to explore all the small streets and alleyways, seeing everything this square-shaped maze has to offer.
If you are looking to hang out and take part in the slower paced everyday life of the locals, this is the place to do it. You can find everything you would want to eat and anything you would want to drink so why not take a day off to enjoy it. For those on a tight budget, there is still plenty to do.
Chiang Mai is well known for its festivals. With a different culture from elsewhere in the country, things are celebrated in slightly different ways. Depending on when you arrive, there will likely be some sort of celebration to get involved with and learn about.
In April, you will have a chance to enjoy Songkran if you are in Thailand. Songkran is considered one of the most important holiday in Thailand. It is the time for family and relatives. Songkran is also known as the water festival because people will splash water on each other to wish them luck in the new year.
Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง) is said to be one of the best to see when in the city. Taking place around November time each year, the holiday is celebrated by releasing a basket onto a river. These baskets or ‘Krathong’ (กระทง) are usually handmade with banana leaves amongst other things. You should also expect fireworks and see paper lanterns being released into the night sky.
There is a reason that Chiang Mai has become so popular. It has such a laid back, unique charm to it. It is full of nature and history, so there is a lot to see and learn. When in Thailand, you should definitely stop by in Chiang Mai and work your way through this list. You can also explore attractions in Chiang Mai that local people usually go to. This gem in the North may just be the highlight of your travels.
Prepare yourself for your stay with the Ling Thai app. Even if you just learn the basics, you will be able to improve your experience so much more. You can also join a language exchange meet-up in Chiang Mai or register a Thai course at one of these Thai language schools in Chiang Mai.