Photo: Temple town.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Chiang Mai.


Essential Chiang Mai temples

The sheer number of Chiang Mai’s myriad ancient Buddhist temples, or wats, can be overwhelming for visitors, so here is our take on the highlights of the city’s temple ... Read more about Essential Chiang Mai temples .

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
15km west of Chiang Mai

As the saying goes “if you haven’t visited Wat Doi Suthep you haven’t visited Chiang Mai”, so you’d better get yourself up ... Read more about Wat Phra That Doi Suthep .

Wat Phra Singh
Where Ratchadamnoen Rd meets Samlarn Rd

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
Phrapokklao Rd, (next door to Wat Pan Tao and a short walk from Wat Phra Singh)

Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, Chedi Luang means “royal chedi” in Thai and this was the official temple of the Lanna ... Read more about Wat Chedi Luang .

Wat Chiang Man
Ratchaphakhinai Rd, Chiang Mai

Located inside the moat in the northeast corner of the old city, this is probably the oldest surviving Buddhist temple in Chiang Man. Thought to have been built in 1296 during the reign of King Mengrai, Wat Chiang Man actually served as a temporary home to the ruler while his new city of Chiang Mai, (and presumably palace), was under construction. ... Read more about Wat Chiang Man .

Wat Pan Tao
Corner of Ratchadamnoen and Phrapokklao Rds

Wat Pan Tao is not one of Chiang Mai’s most famous wats but this small temple with its very attractive teak viharn is well worth a peek. ... Read more about Wat Pan Tao .

Wat Umong
Soi Wat Umong, off Suthep Road, Suthep

Set at the foot of Doi Suthep along the road leading to Wat Doi Suthep and Doi Pui village, Wat Umong is one of Chiang Mai’s most unusual temples and makes a worthy addition to a day trip up the mountain. ... Read more about Wat Umong .

Wat Pansao
Just off Boonrueang Rit Rd, Suthep

The tiny but very attractive and photogenic Wat Pansao sees very few foreign visitors so all the more reason for stopping by! It also happens to have some interesting legends attached to it so here’s a brief ... Read more about Wat Pansao .

Wat Jet Yot
Superhighway, north of intersection with Huay Kaew Rd

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 after its famous centrepiece, a seven-spired chedi, or ... Read more about Wat Jet Yot .

Wat Lok Molee
Manee Nopparat Rd, (the north side, outer moat road.)

Wat Lok Molee is an attractive and often overlooked little temple which 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
Wualai Soi 3, Hai Ya

With its convenient location next to the Saturday Walking Street Market, Wat Sri Suphan is an easy—and worthwhile—addition to your temple ... Read more about Wat Sri Suphan .

Lost chedis of Chiang Mai

If you’ve spent any time in Chiang Mai you can’t help but have noticed the ubiquitous brick chedis, or stupas, liberally scattered around the city. ... Read more about Lost chedis of Chiang Mai .

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Chiang Mai National Museum
Super Highway, Suthep.
T: (053) 221 308

Re-opened in mid-2017 after a welcome make-over, Chiang Mai National Museum is a jolly good little site that also deserves to get more than the trickle of visitors it seems to receive at ... Read more about Chiang Mai National Museum .

Chiang Mai Historical Centre
Prapokklao Rd
T: (053) 217 793

Along with the Lanna Folklife Centre, the excellent Chiang Mai Historical Centre is a relatively new museum addition to Chiang Mai’s offerings and is well worth an hour or so of your ... Read more about Chiang Mai Historical Centre .

Lanna Folklife Museum
Prapokklao Rd
T: (053) 217 793

Chiang Mai’s Lanna Heritage Centre, (or Lanna Folklife Museum, depending on which sign you read), is an excellent addition to the city’s museum offerings. ... Read more about Lanna Folklife Museum .

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Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street market
On Ratchadamnoen and Phra Singh Rds between Tha Pae Gate and Wat Phra Singh in the Old City

There isn’t actually an official, permanent, “Walking Street” as such in Chiang Mai, but every Sunday the entire length of Ratchadamnoen, the Old City’s principal east/west axis, plus several side streets, are closed to traffic and become one long open air street ... Read more about Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street market .

Saturday Walking Street Market (Wualai)
Wualai Road, Hai Ya

Located on Wualai Road the Saturday Market, (locally known as Wualai Market), is similar to the Sunday one but smaller, more chilled out and a bit less touristy. ... Read more about Saturday Walking Street Market (Wualai) .

Night Bazaar
Chiang Klan Rd, starting at Thapae and ending at Sridonchai

Chiang Mai’s huge and long-standing Night Bazaar is the best one-stop shop in town to pick up cheap souvenirs and a broad range of ... Read more about Night Bazaar .

Worarot market
Around Chang Moi Rd near the Ping River

Chiang Mai’s bustling, commercial “Chinatown” quarter spreads across a sprawling section of town known collectively as Worarot, extending on both sides of Chang Moi Road and covering an area between Ratchawong, Tha Pae Road and the Ping ... Read more about Worarot market .

Somphet market
Moonmuang Soi 6, Sri Phum

Somphet; a colourful, local style and very conveniently placed market that’s worth a peek as well as making for a good spot to pick up some snacks or to grab a coffee or ... Read more about Somphet market .

Don Phayam Market
Junction of Suthep and Canal roads, Suthep District

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
Off Atsadathon Road

Kamthieng Market is essentially what you would call a garden centre in the West, with flowers, plants, trees, garden equipment, furniture, decorations and so on for sale. ... Read more about Kamthieng Market .

Ban Tawai handicraft market
15km south of Chiang Mai in Hang Dong district

Ban Tawai boasts of being the largest handicraft market in Thailand. Whether or not it really is the largest, it certainly is huge and 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 market
Hang Dong, around 15km south of Chiang Mai

This very local style suburban market is worth a stop on your way to or from Ban Tawai, as while there are numerous similar, or larger, local markets scattered around Chiang Mai’s outlying areas we’re mentioning this one as it lies on your way to, and provides an interesting contrast to, popular Ban Tawai. The market is located in what passes for the centre of Hang Dong, on the north ... Read more about Hang Dong market .

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General activities

Flight of the Gibbon
Mae Kompong village, one hour from Chiang Mai city
T: (053) 010 660-3

This jungle zipline course is one of the area’s most popular activities and it was easy to see why when we finally got over our fear of flying and tried it for ourselves. ... Read more about Flight of the Gibbon .

Huay Tung Tao
Off the Mae Rim canal road, (route 121), past the 700 Year Stadium, Mae Rim

Hugely popular among locals and expats alike but little frequented by tourists, the small but scenic lake of Huay Tung Tao lies a short ride from Chiang Mai’s downtown at the foot of Doi Suthep and makes for an excellent diversion. ... Read more about Huay Tung Tao .

Rock climbing
55/2-3 Ratchaphakhinai Rd, Phra Singh
T: (053) 207 102

Chiang Mai might not immediately strike one as being a rock climbing hotspot along the lines of Krabi’s Railay for example but there are some good spots out among the limestone outcrops west of town and the very well organised Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures Co offer a range of interesting options. Climbing sites are out in Sankhampaeng District with the star of the show being the ... Read more about Rock climbing .

Mae Ping River Cruise
T: (053) 274 822

Laos’s Nam Ou, Cambodia’s Sangkar, or even Chiang Rai’s Kok River this is not, so don’t expect dramatic scenery and an untamed river, yet a cruise on the Ping River is a very pleasant, albeit tame, way to while away a couple of ... Read more about Mae Ping River Cruise .

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Public parks and zoos

Chiang Mai Aquarium
Part of Chiang Mai Zoo complex, 100 Huaykaew Rd, Suthep
T: (053) 221 179

Part of the large Chiang Mai Zoo complex, the Chiang Mai Aquarium is probably the best place in Thailand (apart from the actual seas) to get up close and personal with the region's marine, and indeed riverine, life. ... Read more about Chiang Mai Aquarium .

Chiang Mai Aviary
Chiang Mai Zoo, 100 Huay Kaew Rd, Chiang Mai

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 .

Suan Buak Hat
Southwest corner of the old town, corner of Bumrung Buri and Bunreuang moat roads

Suan Buak Hat is downtown Chiang Mai’s one and only park but fortunately it is a cute one and a fine spot to wander around or while away an hour or so ... Read more about Suan Buak Hat .

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Natural attractions

Doi Suthep and Doi Pui
West of central Chiang Mai

Lush primary forest and a mountain top temple a ten minute short ride from downtown Chiang Mai makes for a varied and interesting day trip. Suthep is a district of western Chiang Mai City, (and which includes Chiang Mai Zoo and Nimmanhemin Road) and gives its name to the adjacent mountain, (Doi meaning mount in North Thai), as well as the temple on the summit—Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. The ... Read more about Doi Suthep and Doi Pui .

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Day trips

The Samoeng Loop

Probably best avoided at weekends when the road gets clogged up with too many tourists of dubious driving abilities, this is a great loop to do on a hired bike (or car) during the week and fits conveniently, including stop-offs, into a day ... Read more about The Samoeng Loop .

Elephant camps: Should you go?

Elephants are central to Thai culture, and if you’re coming to Chiang Mai hoping to encounter the beautiful Asian elephant, then perhaps you’ve come to the right ... Read more about Elephant camps: Should you go? .

Ob Khan National Park
Namphrae district, Hang Dong
T: (086) 181 1068

Whether simply swimming, relaxing and picnicking by the river, or doing some full-on hiking and camping, a trip to picturesque Ob Khan National Park will make it feel like you've left Chiang Mai hours behind you. ... Read more about Ob Khan National Park .

Wiang Khum Kham ancient city
10 minute tuk tuk ride from downtown Chiang Mai

Located just a ten minute tuk tuk ride from downtown Chiang Mai, the ruins at Wiang Khum Kham ancient city make for a very pleasant half day trip. ... Read more about Wiang Khum Kham ancient city .

Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi (Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints)
Around 70 km north of Chiang Mai

Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints, or Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi in Thai, is a remote and spectacular forest temple located in Mae Rim’s Saluang ... Read more about Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi (Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints) .

Mae Sa Valley
North of Chiang Mai

The popular and picturesque Mae Sa Valley lying a short distance north of Chiang Mai is something of a microcosm of Chiang Mai, (and perhaps Thailand’s), tourist industry covering everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. ... Read more about Mae Sa Valley .

Chiang Mai Grand Canyon

A series of flooded quarries in Hang Dong district is the setting for one of Chiang Mai’s newer and more unusual attractions. ... Read more about Chiang Mai Grand Canyon .

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Shopping in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s shopping potential covers the full spectrum with wide choices in every department from practical travel purchases and souvenirs through to stuff you never knew you wanted. Hard-core shoppers will be in their element and even blasé browsers will get tempted. ... Read more about Shopping in Chiang Mai .

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Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

One day in Chiang Mai

Firstly, we’d sincerely hope you were consecrating more than just the one day to Thailand’s second largest, and certainly most attractive, city with its wealth of sights and fine accommodation and eating options but as an introductory one day programme goes, here are a few suggestions. ... Read more about One day in Chiang Mai .

Three days in Chiang Mai

A three day Chiang Mai programme will allow you enough time to take in a cross section of the City’s sites, nearby Doi Suthep plus perhaps a day out in the surrounding area to Mae Sa, Samoeng or Hang ... Read more about Three days in Chiang Mai .

Chiang Mai walking tours

With its labyrinth of cute narrow lanes and a stunning ancient temple and tempting fresh coffee shop seemingly around every corner Chiang Mai Old City lends itself perfectly to a walking tour. ... Read more about Chiang Mai walking tours .

Hill-tribe trekking from Chiang Mai

Time was when trekking was the be all and end all for Chiang Mai and if you wanted to go trekking in Thailand you headed up here and if you travelled to Chiang Mai it was because you were intending to go on a trek—things have changed. ... Read more about Hill-tribe trekking from Chiang Mai .

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Massages and spas

Spas and massages in Chiang Mai

As with any Thai tourist destination spas and massage parlours of every description are ubiquitous throughout Chiang Mai. So here’s a brief run down on what to expect and some suggestions as to where to go. ... Read more about Spas and massages in Chiang Mai .

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Cooking classes

Thai cooking classes
All over and around Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is very well regarded for its cooking classes and if you’re at a loose end for a half day—or even a full day—then why not sign up for a fun and interesting Thai cookery ... Read more about Thai cooking classes .

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Giving back

Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
116 Maneenoparat Road, Chiang Mai

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 .

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Mai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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