Every time I visit Chiang Mai I leave regretfully, wishing I had more time. I’ve had some thoroughly enjoyable times in Chiang Mai, seen and done some amazing things, but there’s still so much I want to see and do. So here’s a few things me and the family have done in Chiang Mai, and a few things which are still on my Chiang Mai bucket list
Take the Train to Chiang Mai
This was my first train journey in Thailand. We opted for the train because it’s cheaper than flying, more comfortable than a bus, and it’s been on my “must do things in Thailand” list for longer than I can remember.
I read reports on several blogs about taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I wanted to know how, where and when, but besides all that valuable information the blogs posts highlighted a couple of compelling reasons to take the train.
Reason 1 to take the train: it’s an adventure, an experience all on it’s own.
The best reason to take the train to Chiang Mai though, as highlighted by the blog posts I read, it’s the beginning of your Chiang Mai adventure. Trundling along on the train through the countryside, jungles and mountains (see photo below) as the sun is rising exposes you to some of the most magnificent scenery you will ever see.
Do you want to take the train ?. You can read a more detailed report about the train ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, what it costs, how and where to buy your train ticket, and which train you should take. Read my post, Train 13 Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Explore Chiang Mai on Foot
Last time I visited Chiang Mai it was January, the weather was comparable to a summer day in England, perfect weather for a stroll. You can take in quite a lot of Chiang Mai on foot, including the wall, city gates, moat, and several old temples inside the old city.
Pigeons at Thapae Gate
The pigeons at Thapae Gate (see photo below) are themselves a minor tourist attraction. Just like the pigeons at Trafalgar Square in London, they can easily be persuaded to perch on your hand while your friend takes a photo. I actually spent quite a lot of time taking “photos of people photographing people with pigeons”.
Chiang Mai Viewing Point
We stopped at the viewing point en-route to Doi Suthep. From the viewing point you can see the most wonderful panoramic views (see photo below) of Chiang Mai. If you take a baht bus (songthaew) to Doi Suthep, tell your driver to stop at the viewing point first.
Chiang Mai Segway Tour
While I roamed Chiang Mai on foot, my wife and son took a Segway tour. Segways (see photo below) are a fun way to see the sights of inner Chiang Mai, so say my wife and son. The 2 hour Segway tour costs 1,999 baht, including 2 guides.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Commonly named just “Doi Suthep”, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (see photo below) is the most visited attraction in Chiang Mai. The temple dates back to the 13th century, and perched some 1,676 meters above sea level it offers some spectacular views of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Hill Tribe Tour
You can’t visit Chiang Mai without visiting the old city and the wall. If you asked me to recommend one more thing to do in Chiang Mai, it would definitely be a guided hill tribe tour. I’m a fan of guided tours, they offer a unique opportunity to see and do things you would otherwise miss. Our hill tribe tour visited a Long Neck village and the even more remote villages of the Akha and Lissu tribes. The outstanding points for me were the unique photo opportunities, and the knowledge gained from our well informed guide.
Hill Tribe Tours are usually combined, they include other attractions, ours included Chiang Dao Cave and the Orchid Farm. Some of the better tours combine the hill tribes visits with elephant trekking, river cruises etc.
Chiang Mai Bucket list
Doi Intanon National Park: At 2,565 meters above sea level, Doi Intanon is the highest point in Thailand. I’ve seen many images of Doi Intanon, evocative images of temple stupas protruding through heavy mist, as though they were mountains rising from the sea.
Elephant Nature Park: This project was started by a woman who genuinely loves elephants. The founder, Lek Chailert opened the park to give mistreated elephants a refuge. There’s no elephant riding here, no tricks, no painting and no tricycle riding. At Elephant Nature Park you feed the elephants, bathe with the elephants, and watch the elephants just being themselves in their own natural environment.
More Things to do in Chiang Mai
- Flight of the Gibbon (forest canopy tour).
- Whitewater rafting.
- Elephant trekking.
- Off road motorcycle tours.
- Mountain biking.
- Chiang Mai City bicycle tours.
- Hot air balloon rides.
- Trekking on foot
- Rock climbing.
- Chiang Mai Zoo
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Chiang Mai Guided Tours
There’s all manner of tours available in Chiang Mai, from relaxed half day temple tours to adrenaline pumping whitewater rafting tours. Viator have an excellent choice of tours in Chiang Mai, hotels usually have racks of tour brochures, and there are many local high street travel agents offering a multitude of tours. Viator have an extensive choice of Chiang Mai tours, and options to arrange your own custom tour with a guide of your choice.
Multi Day Chiang Mai Tours: Check out the multi day Chiang Mai guided adventure tours from TourRadar.com.
Discounted Chiang Mai Tours
We paid 1,999 baht per person for the Segway tour, booking direct with the operator. Since then, I have discovered a great site offering discounted prices for most tours and activities in Chiang Mai. Before you buy your tickets, I recommend you check the prices for Chiang Mai activities with Klook.