Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai’s myriad famed Buddhist temples, or wats, can be overwhelming for visitors. Any guide will proffer extensive lists of ‘must-see’ temples, prestigious Buddha images, historically significant chedis and not-to-be missed Lanna-style religious architecture. We lost count at 35 wats within Chiang Mai’s old city walls alone, with at least that number again in the surrounding downtown ... Read more about Essential Chiang Mai temples .
While it doesn't hold a candle to Wat Doi Suthep in terms of scenery, Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai's most prestigious temple and therefore is the epicentre of yearly Songkran festivities among the Buddhist faithful. ... Read more about Wat Phra Singh .
Wat Chedi Luang rivals Wat Phra Singh for the title of Chiang Mai’s most important and prestigious city temple. Though it comes a definite second for local visitors, the two temples are probably neck and neck in terms of foreigners, though for sheer size Wat Chedi Luang has no ... Read more about Wat Chedi Luang .
Wat Pan Tao is not one of Chiang Mai’s most famous wats but this small temple with its attractive teak viharn is well worth a peek, and since it’s conveniently located right next door to the prestigious Wat Chedi Luang it wouldn’t be going far out of your way to drop ... Read more about Wat Pan Tao .
Definitely one of Chiang Mai’s most unusual and interesting temples, Wat Umong, (or ‘tunnel temple’ – umong meaning tunnel in Thai), is set in forested grounds near the foot of Doi Suthep. ... Read more about Wat Umong .
The setting for this post is the tiny and rather hidden away Wat Pansao, a temple that we reckon gets almost zero foreign visitors but is actually well worth a visit if you’re wandering or cycling around town. The wat is tucked off the western moat road just below Chiang Mai Ram hospital and Central mall (approximately 300-400m south of the hospital on the same side of the ... Read more about Wat Pansao .
The correct name for this historic, attractive and unusual Chiang Mai temple is Wat Potharam Mahavihara, though locals generally use the name Wat Jet (or Chet) Yot, meaning the Temple of Seven Spires for its famous centre piece, a seven-spired chedi, or ... Read more about Wat Jet Yot .
Wat Lok Molee is an attractive and often overlooked little temple that’s recently received a facelift, and while not being one of Chiang Mai‘s most well known temples is well worth including on any temple tour of the downtown ... Read more about Wat Lok Molee .
Wat Sri Suphan is a worthy addition to our current Chiang Mai temple coverage — it’s a good one and its location adjacent to the Wualai walking street market makes it very convenient to combine the two. With Wualai being Chiang Mai’s traditional silver-making district, the temple’s claim to fame is unsurprisingly its silverwork. Having seen the wat we now wonder how there’s any of that ... Read more about Wat Sri Suphan .
Possibly the oldest surviving temple in Chiang Mai city, Wat Chiang Man is said to have been built in 1296 under the orders of King Mengrai himself. Indeed it must have been one of the first features to have been finished, since legend claims the king lived here while he was overseeing the construction of his new ... Read more about Wat Chiang Man .
I came across a few more of these odd, isolated stupas on our travels around Chiang Mai so here are a few more images of lost chedis in addition to my last ... Read more about Not so lost chedis of Chiang Mai .
Pronounced jedee not jedi, so if you’re after a Star Wars-related post you’re going to be disappointed! Walking or riding around Chiang Mai you can’t help but notice these isolated, old brick stupas — or chedis as they call them in these parts — liberally scattered around ... Read more about Lost chedis of Chiang Mai .
Visitors to almost any northern Thai temple will notice the numerous wooden poles propping up branches of the temple’s bo tree. What are ... Read more about Mai kham sari .
With the recent opening of several new museums in Chiang Mai, the part of the old town around the Three Kings Monument and along Phrappokklao Road is fast becoming something of a historical ... Read more about Chiang Mai's museum district .
Chiang Mai’s National Museum, located on the ‘super-highway’ close to Wat Jet Yot, isn’t a huge museum but is nicely laid out, well lit and large enough to provide an easily followed and succinct outline of the northern city’s history from prehistoric times until the 20th century. In fact it’s a jolly good little museum and deserves to get more than the trickle of visitors it seems ... Read more about Chiang Mai National Museum .
Chiang Mai’s new museum district — as we’re calling it — offers not only the new Lanna Heritage Centre and the Chiang Mai Historical Centre but also the freshly upgraded Arts and Culture ... Read more about Chiang Mai Arts and Culture Museum .
Along with the Lanna Folklife Centre, the excellent Chiang Mai Historical Centre is another brand new museum in the northern capital.Here’s a rundown on what goodies to expect ... Read more about Chiang Mai Historical Centre .
Chiang Mai’s Lanna Heritage Centre, (or Lanna Folklife Museum depending upon which sign you read), is a brand new city ... Read more about Lanna Folklife Museum .
To compliment Chiang Mai’s Saturday and Sunday walking street markets the city now lays claim to a weekly Farmers’ Market. Though tiny compared to the long-standing and sprawling weekend markets, the centrally located Farmers’ Market certainly does quality instead of ... Read more about Farmers' Market .
There isn’t actually an official ‘walking street’ in Chiang Mai, but every Sunday the whole length of Ratchadamnoen and Pra Singh Roads, the old city’s principal east/west axis, plus several side streets, are closed to traffic and become one long street bazaar, stretching all the way from Wat Pra Singh down to and including Tha Pae Gate. (That’s well over a kilometre, plus it seems to ... Read more about Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street market .
We can’t have any pretensions at comprehensive Chiang Mai coverage without mentioning what is the city’s largest market: Worarot. ... Read more about Worawot (Chiang Mai's "Chinatown") .
Although Chiang Mai’s Saturday Walking Street Market started up around the same period as the Sunday one, for some reason it’s never really caught on in the same way. ... Read more about Saturday Walking Street Market .
Don Phayam market is a bit out of the way but well worth the trip if you’d like to visit, what for us is, the quintessential Chiang Mai ... Read more about Don Phayam Market .
Kamthieng market is what in the West we might call a garden centre, as it sells flowers, plants, trees, garden equipment, furniture, decorations and so ... Read more about Kamthieng Market .
A very traditional little shopping spot, Somphet market is just off Moonmuang Road, right in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Guesthouse-land . In fact we can only assume that most customers in the market these days are guesthouse cooks, since there really aren’t many private houses in this part of town anymore. Now there’s not a lot there that your average visitor would actually want to purchase, ... Read more about Somphet market .
With its wooden tables, thatched roof and mud floor, the organic farmers’ produce market in Chiang Mai is very much an old-style, traditional village market conveniently set up in downtown Chiang Mai ... Read more about Organic farmers' market .
Lang Prince Market, also known simply as the secondhand market, runs across the river in eastern Chiang Mai and is well worth a poke around to see how Thais love to buy and sell a bargain. It’s not as well known to foreigners as Saturday’s Wualai walking street or the Sunday Ratchadamnoen version, but this is a fun place for a stroll and a ... Read more about Lang Prince Market .
Nimmanhemin — or Nimmanheminda — Road and its surrounding sois form Chiang Mai’s rapidly growing chic quarter of town, and indeed the whole area itself is now known as Nimmanhemin or commonly Nimman. Located on the west side of the city in Suthep district near the foot of the mountain, it was until some 20 years ago still just a dirt track on the outskirts of town, but has since seen a ... Read more about Chiang Mai's chic Nimmanhemin .
The large monolithic red brick Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel next to Central Huay Kaew shopping mall might not look desperately exciting from the outside, but it’s a good spot to waste away a few hours on a hot Chiang Mai afternoon if you’ve no pool in your own Chiang Mai hotel. The hotel itself is actually rather a good midrange deal, but the main attraction for non-residents is their large, ... Read more about A good Chiang Mai swimming pool .
“Forget it, Jake — it’s Chinatown!” is a classic line from a classic movie, but a Chinatown in LA, London or Sydney is going to stand out far more than a Chinatown in Bangkok or Chiang Mai will ever ... Read more about Chiang Mai's "Chinatown" .
After looking at the background to the Kayan or “Long Neck Karen”, we’ll now deal with the question of “Should you visit the Kayan or “Long Neck Karen” by looking at some of the specific pros and cons, and arguments for and against visiting the villages where these people ... Read more about Should you visit the Kayan or "Long Neck Karen"? .
Other than running Chiang Mai's excellent Freebird Cafe -- a Shan/Burmese vegetarian restaurant -- Thai Freedom House runs a community education, arts and language centre for both refugees from Burma (Myanmar) as well as underprivileged ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand ... Read more about Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai .
We’ve been a bit reluctant to try this popular Chiang Mai attraction out to be honest since swinging through tree tops didn’t really sit well with our vertigo. But as it came recommended by several mates and, apart from anything else, its ads are plastered over every other tuk tuk and outside every tour agent’s office in town, we thought we’d better give the Flight of the Gibbon a ... Read more about Flight of the Gibbon .
Maybe I’m a cynical old whatever but… “monk chat club” sounds a little like monk feeding time in Luang Prabang. Not that it’s the tourists’ fault: the monks seem more than happy to go along with it. Luang Prabang novices have never been so well fed and Wat Chedi Luang donation boxes are brimming. But is this a laudable attempt by an ancient religion to move with the times or merely ... Read more about Monk chat clubs .
Most courses kick off with a trip to the market to peruse and learn about fresh ingredients. The teacher will then give a demonstration, after which students prepare the dishes themselves, usually ones you've chosen yourself from a list. Some courses cook then immediately eat their produce throughout the whole day, but most save all dishes for mealtimes. In one day, you will generally cook around ... Read more about Thai cooking classes .
Guides can be cheeky, splashing water on their passengers and generally making fun. Even without splashing it is highly likely that you will get wet up to the ankles at the very least. Luggage should be left behind, and any valuables should be securely sealed up in plastic bags. Bamboo rafting is often offered as an extra in combination with elephant riding on a trek or day tour. The cost ... Read more about Bamboo rafting .
We cannot guarantee any uncharted rocks or icebergs on this cruise and the Nam Ou, Sangkar River, or even River Kok it is not, so don’t expect dramatic scenery; yet a cruise on the Ping River is a very pleasant way to while away a couple of ... Read more about Mae Ping River Cruise .
The American University Alumni (AUA) has courses in both spoken and written Thai. Their first two beginner classes focus on spoken Thai, while more advanced classes introduce the writing system and develop reading skills. Classroom work is demanding and rigorous, and is recommended for those with a serious interest in learning the language. Classes meet two hours per day from Monday to Friday ... Read more about Learn Thai .
The long running Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures offers a comprehensive range of rock climbing courses catering to nearly everyone from absolute beginners through to advanced climbers and cavers. Sample courses include a full day introduction to rock climbing that goes for 2,795 baht per person through to a three-day rock climbing fundamentals course for 8,995 baht. They also offer ... Read more about Rock climbing .
We’ve covered the excellent Chiang Mai Aquarium and Nakorn Ping Aviary but haven’t yet given you an overall rundown on the city’s famous zoo; so, it’s about time! Chiang Mai Zoo is situated at the foot of Doi Suthep, just behind Chiang Mai University, and covers a large area of secondary forest, foothills and stream valleys backing on to the national park ... Read more about Chiang Mai Zoo .
Instead of trying to cover the whole of Chiang Mai zoo in one post we’ll concentrate on what to our mind is the best part of it — the aquarium. Chiang Mai’s state of the art aquarium opened some three years ago and it’s been improving ever ... Read more about Chiang Mai aquarium .
Along with the excellent aquarium, the aviary is another of our favourite spots in the vast Chiang Mai zoo. ... Read more about Chiang Mai Aviary .
Greater Chiang Mai weighs in these days with a good million inhabitants (the exact figure varies according to where one draws cut-off points), and it has most of the attributes a modern city aspires to have. It has whopping shopping malls and chic boutiques, a Chinatown, a professional football team (albeit an embarrassingly bad one), historic monuments, university, famous zoo, vibrant ... Read more about Suan Buak Hat .
The slightly grubby and often congested stretch of road running between Chiang Mai’s Narawat Bridge and Tha Pae Gate, which goes by the name of Tha Pae Road, has always been firmly in the say light blue or at best purple set on Chiang Mai’s imaginary Monopoly board but these days, while not yet up there with the dark blue of Nimmanhemin, is doing its best to earn a place in the green row. Tha ... Read more about Chiang Mai's Tha Pae Road .
Doi means mountain in the northern Thai dialect, so Doi Suthep of course means Suthep Mountain. Doi Suthep’s most famous feature is its temple, Wat Doi Suthep, and is part of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Finally, Suthep is the name of the western district of Chiang Mai city abutting said mountain and home to CMU, Chiang Mai Zoo and the fashionable Nimmanhemin Road ... Read more about Doi Suthep .
The Mon Thaa Than Falls Nature trail near Chiang Mai is an easy-to-moderate hike of two to three hours that you can do on your own, though it does get trickier during the rainy season. The entire route is in the forest, with the first half or so being flat and the second downhill. It’s good for spotting bird life and a pleasant waterfall lies at the ... Read more about Mon Thaa Than Falls Nature Trail .
Huay Tung Tao — much loved by Chiang Mai locals and expats and regrettably little known by visitors — is a small artificial lake at the foot of Doi Suthep. ... Read more about Huay Tung Tao .
It’s a familiar dilemma; you’re trying out this whole Southeast Asia, motorbike experience, and while you’re pretty comfy on the bike, you’re scared to venture too far, much less brave the windy, treacherous roads that lead to Pai. Fear no more. Here’s a list of our favourite Chiang Mai getaways that are all easily accessible to someone who’s relatively new on two wheels. So slap on ... Read more about Easy motorbike day trips .
Elephants are central to Thai culture, and if you’re coming to Chiang Mai hoping to encounter the beautiful Asian elephant, then you’ve come to the right place. Thailand itself has more than 70 elephant camps, most located in the north, and you’ll soon find that every guesthouse, travel agent, and tuk tuk driver seems to be peddling a different elephant experience. The abundance of choice ... Read more about Elephant camps: Should you go? .
Less than an hour away from the Old City of Chiang Mai lies an expanse of natural beauty teeming with legendary wildlife. At least, that’s what we were told when we first made a trip out to Ob Khan National ... Read more about Ob Khan National Park .
Surprising how many people can stay several days in Chiang Mai and remain oblivious of the — by city standards — plentiful and varied bird life. Being a leafy town and with forested mountains not far away in any direction, you don’t need to go hiking in the national park to see some pretty exotic ... Read more about Common birds of downtown Chiang Mai .
Nearly all first-time travellers to Thailand choose to embark on a hilltribe trek in the mountainous area surrounding Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son in Thailand's north. While the majority will have a great trip, a substantial minority will have a very poor experience, either due to sub-standard operators or unrealistic expectations. Here are a few pointers that newbie trekkers should keep in mind ... Read more about Trekking in Thailand .
Ban Tawai boasts of being the largest handicraft market in Thailand. Whether or not it really is the largest, it certainly is huge; even if you have no intention of purchasing anything we reckon it makes for a fascinating place to wander ... Read more about Ban Tawai handicraft market, Hang Dong .
We like loops — loops are good; no A to B and straight back to B again, no backtracking, no repetition, but departing your destination in one direction, travelling in a loop, circle, oval or trapezoid and returning from a different direction. ... Read more about Thailand's Mae Salong Loop .
Just outside of downtown Chiang Mai, on the edge of the ‘super highway’, lie the recently excavated ruins of the ancient city of Wiang Khum ... Read more about Wiang Khum Kham ancient city .
I recently re-visited the Doi Pui Hmong Village with some trepidation; on my first visit nearly 10 years ago I’d found it tacky and touristy, and had turned my nose up at a hill-tribe village with Visa stickers and a coach park. As it turns out, I thoroughly enjoyed it this time ... Read more about Doi Pui .
Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints, or Wat Pra Prabat Si Roy in Thai, is a remote and spectacular forest temple located in Mae Rim’s Salouang district. Though it’s a highly prestigious and popular temple among Thais, very few foreigners make it out here. This is a shame since it’s a picturesque spot, with a lovely drive to get there, making it an interesting day or half-day out from ... Read more about Wat Pra Prabat Si Roy (Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints) .
Mon Cham is a restaurant and “camping resort” situated in the Nong Hoi Royal Project in a remote corner of Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district. ... Read more about Mon Cham: Restaurant and camping in Mae Rim .
Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar is one of the city’s prime evening attractions and is one of Thailand’s oldest night street markets. Such bazaars, night markets or “walking streets”, where souvenir, handicraft and food stalls line footpaths, are these days a feature of many Thai towns, but they were innovative in their day. Chiang Mai now also has Saturday and Sunday Walking Street ... Read more about Night Bazaar .
The Chiang Mai Hilltribe Handicraft Training Centre was established in 2007 by the Seventh Day Adventist Church to help train and provide income for education for women and girls from poor hilltribe families in northern ... Read more about Chiang Mai Hilltribe Handicraft Training Centre .
I often get asked by visitors about bookstores in Chiang Mai, perhaps because a) it’s hard to choose from among the bewildering number of secondhand bookshops, b) it’s hard to find the decent new book shops or c) they’re looking for books in obscure, minority languages like ... Read more about Buying a secondhand book in Chiang Mai .
While Thai language readers are spoiled for choice and plenty of excellent secondhand hand options are available, considering the large expat community and number of Western visitors the new reading material situation is disappointing in Chiang ... Read more about Buying new books in Chiang Mai .
Following on from our recent Songkran post: if your $1,000 Nikon does get totally destroyed by water pistol-frenzied 5-year-olds during the festivities don't ... Read more about Buying or fixing a camera in Chiang Mai .
Yes, Chiang Mai is home to two Central department stores, Kad Suan Kaew and Airport Plaza — in this post we’ll deal with the former since it’s the closest to downtown and probably more frequented by tourists than its larger, though slightly more out of town, ... Read more about Central Department Store, Chiang Mai .
One of the finest ways to spend time in Chiang Mai is to wander the streets of the old town. Explore the narrow alleys, local markets, ancient temples; take in a museum maybe, take a break in one of the town’s myriad coffee shops and of course check out the ... Read more about A walking tour of old Chiang Mai .
An easy but very scenic short hike near Chiang Mai that’s practical to do on your own is this trail from Doi Suthep’s ranger sub-station at Huay Tung Tao to the nearby waterfall of the same name. At present our route is about an hour there and an hour back by the same route, though we are looking at some additional trails with a view to mapping a possible round ... Read more about Hikes around Chiang Mai: Nam Tok Huay Tung Tao .
Any expat or visitor to Chiang Mai will quickly become familiar with the town’s main drags. You’ll have strolled along Ratchadamnoen running through the centre of the old town, tuk-tuked down Tha Pae Rd on your way to or from the night bazaar and of course eaten, drank, hired a motorbike and bought a Bangkok Post on Moonmuang running alongside the eastern ... Read more about The Chiang Mai soi tours: Ratchamanka Soi 2 .
We have complained about downtown Chiang Mai’s lack of parks before but there is a stretch of grass and trees that we inconsiderately overlooked, a very long stretch in fact — nearly eight kilometres long — which makes for an interesting and attractive hike without ever having to leave the city centre. We’re talking of course about the strip of tree-lined parkland that borders the moat ... Read more about A walk around Chiang Mai's old city: part 1 .
We begin our circumnavigation of Chiang Mai’s old city at the northwest corner known as Hua Lim, for no particular reason other than you have start somewhere. And we move in a clockwise direction simply because it’s considered the more auspicious by ... Read more about Walking Chiang Mai: The north side .
Having reached Sri Phum corner on our last Chiang Mai city walk and continuing in our auspicious clockwise direction, we’re going right into the thick of the action with a stroll along the old city’s eastern wall and ... Read more about Walking Chiang Mai: the east side .
Having snacked, supped and cappuccino-ed your way along the Tha Pae side of town you’ll probably be ready to hit the much quieter southside of Chiang Mai’s old city. ... Read more about Walking Chiang Mai: the south side .
We’ve covered north, south and east: now it’s time for the final stretch of our Chiang Mai hike, which covers the stretch of moat road between Suan Buak Hat Park and our initial starting point at the northwest corner and junction of Huay Kaew Road. This stretch is one of the least built up and most scenic of the four sides of the old city, though once again traffic on the one-way system can ... Read more about Walking Chiang Mai: the west side .
Songkran is the Thai name for the Theravada Buddhist New Year which falls on the 13th April. (The Mahayana Buddhist New Year, in Vietnam or China for example, is based on the lunar calender – in Thailand it’s always a fixed date.) It’s not only Thai New Year but in theory is the same for Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Sri Lanka though dates may vary ... Read more about Songkran in Chiang Mai .
An abundance of college students plus some stellar art and music departments at local universities have made Chiang Mai Thailand’s artistic capital in the eyes of many. The city hosts a wealth of young creative talent and spending some time gallery hopping may show you a whole new side to Chiang ... Read more about Art galleries .
Well correctly speaking, (and we need to be correct here), we’re talking about the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional ... Read more about Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution .
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.