15 Things to Do in Chiang Mai (Thailand) for an Affordable & Charming Vacation

Discover the stunning beauty of Chiang Mai and be captivated by its charm. This laid-back travel destination is a hit for most travelers from across the globe who simply want to unwind and see lovely sights like no other. Your vacation in this amazing place will surely be a wonderful experience.

Once a capital of Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is now known as the second city and spiritual capital of Thailand. Home to tons of temples, museums, and other impressive tourist spots, this place is worth your visit. You’ll never go wrong checking it out, for it provides you a lot of unique attractions and activities to try with your family or friends.

Surrounded by gorgeous architecture and rich in history, Chiang Mai has a lot to offer to all kinds of travelers. You can enjoy numerous activities while here and never regret a single thing. So, don’t miss out on this list of coolest things to do in Chiang Mai.

1. Stroll along Doi Inthanon National Park

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: 41330 | pixabay.com

Visit the highest peak in Thailand that rises 2,565 meters above sea level and awe at its superb scenery. Doi Inthanon, also known as The Roof of Thailand, takes pride in its natural beauty and historical significance. It is a sanctuary for different animal species and a perfect place for bird-watching. You’ll notice plenty of birds while here, which some are just found in Doi Inthanon.

2. Explore the majestic Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Jenny NLF | flickr.com

Experience the magic of Doi Suthep, one of the most visited attractions in Chiang Mai. It is a spiritually and historically significant place in Thailand that embodies the Lanna culture. Also, this mountain has a breathtaking view of the entire city and houses the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a temple that contains the replica of the Emerald Buddha and large white elephant shrine.

3. Check out San Kamphaeng Road

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Manfred Lentz | flickr.com

Find a good stretch of various handicraft outlets at San Kamphaeng Road. Popularly known as Handicraft Highway, this is where you can purchase tons of silverware, jewelry, lacquerware, wood carvings, sculptures, pots, and silk products. Not to mention, Chiang Mai is also famous for its best silverware in the country. It is the ideal place to buy all your handicraft needs.

4. Get thrilled at Chiang Mai Night Safari

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: lizhong | flickr.com

Have a fun and exciting evening with different animals at Chiang Mai Night Safari. Featuring three animal zones, namely Savanna Safari, Jaguar Trail, and Predator Prowl, you’ll absolutely enjoy various activities while here. You can tour around the area in an open tram for about an hour and see numerous animals up close. Additionally, there is a light show to look forward to every evening and you are allowed to hand feed wild animals and pet tiger cubs. Certainly, a night to remember!

5. Pay a visit to the Karen Long Neck Tribe

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Justin Vidamo | flickr.com

Never miss the opportunity to go to the Karen Long Neck Tribe village when in Chiang Mai. This will certainly be a one-of-a-kind and enlightening experience as you will meet a unique tribe who originally came from Myanmar and fled to Thailand. Once you visit them, you’ll witness their simple everyday life. Make it a point to go there with a tourist guide in order to be able to communicate with the locals properly.

6. Swing by Wat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Twonix Studio | flickr.com

Head over Wat Phra Singh, another most venerated tourist spot in Chiang Mai. It’s a Buddhist walled-in temple and monastery that was established during the 14th century. Also known as the Temple of the Lion Buddha, it is home to two main Buddha statues and 700 monks, who are truly friendly and frequently talk to the tourists. In addition, the biggest building here is the assembly hall that houses the Phra Chao Thong Tip, a huge gold and copper cast of the seated Buddha.

7. Cool off at Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Alpha | flickr.com

Marvel at the exotic butterfly and plant life at the Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm. This cozy greenhouse is a must-visit spot in Chiang Mai as you get to enjoy the real beauty of nature. It offers a lot of butterflies around as well as plants of different species. There is also a souvenir shop selling fresh orchids in case you want to buy one and a cafe where you can indulge in good food while touring around the farm.

8. Step in the Lanna Folklife Museum

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Dari Extension | flickr.com

Tour around the awe-inspiring Lanna Folklife Museum or Lanna Heritage Centre and see its impressive exhibits. Housed in a former Thai colonial-style Provincial Court, this museum is packed with cultural artifacts and exhibitions about the city’s history, people, and culture. It recreates the Lanna village life through a series of life-sized dioramas. It is the ideal place to visit when you want to know more about the past of Chiang Mai.

9. Witness the elephants paint at Maesa Elephant Camp

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: maesaelephantcamp.com

Be amazed by the gentle giants at Maesa Elephant Camp. Home to the largest number of domesticated elephants in Thailand, this camp offers various interesting elephant shows as well as elephant painting, bathing, and riding. There is also an elephant nursery that ensures the well-being of each animal. You can’t leave the camp without watching the elephants paint. Yes, they can paint and carry out artwork that you can buy in the souvenir shop. Amazing, isn’t?

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10. Walk around Wat Chedi Luang

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Bernd | flickr.com

Pay respect to another Buddhist temple, Wat Chedi Luang, when in Chiang Mai. Also referred to as the Temple of the Big Stupa, this worship place is still active and you’ll see monks going about their everyday work. This historic center used to be the home of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s holiest religious object. Due to the earthquake in 1545, the temple was damaged and restored to its current state.

11. Relax at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Zoe Maxim | flickr.com

Take a time off at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs. Set in a wooded area surrounded by mountains, this tourist spot offers a relaxing place for everyone who wish to simply unwind even for a short while. There is a traditional mineral water swimming pool where you can bathe and pamper yourself. The waters here have high sulfur content, which means it can totally soothe you and is healthy. You can also have a full body Thai massage while here for a delightful experience.

12. Celebrate Songkran Festival

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: John Shedrick | flickr.com

Get ready for a fun, wet, and wild Songkran Festival. In case you happen to be in Chiang Mai in mid-April, you might be able to witness this traditional Thai New Year celebration. Thais believe that throwing of water will cleanse your sins that is why they are celebrating this popular water festival each year. In fact, the whole Thailand celebrates Songkran Festival, but it is said that you can best experience it in Chiang Mai. Many images of Buddha parade through the streets with locals throwing water over them and all the people around. So, don’t get mad when people start throwing buckets of water on you!

13. Come by Wiang Kum Kam

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: David Goetz | flickr.com

Don’t miss the chance to drop by Wiang Kum Kam when you’re in Chiang Mai. This ancient city along the Ping River is a significant sight in Thailand, which was built by King Mengrai, the founder of the Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai kingdoms. Expect to see numerous structures and other items, like pottery, earthenware, as well as Buddhist architecture and sculptures. You can take a horse-led carriage to completely enjoy the ruins.

14. Shop ’til you drop at Chiang Mai night markets

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: Teun Janssen | flickr.com

Buy affordable items at Chiang Mai night markets and enjoy shopping all you can. There are plenty of night bazaars here, so you’ll have a lot of options where to purchase low-priced souvenirs, handcrafted goods, and food. Bartering is also encouraged and the markets are open every night.

15. Rejuvenate at Chiang Mai Women’s Prison Massage

Chiang Mai
Image Credit: geoff dude | flickr.com

Try a unique experience and enjoy a traditional Thai massage by the ex-prisoner women at Chiang Mai Women’s Prison Massage. A massage parlor has been set up in order for the women to have a job after prison life. These women have been taught life skills before they are released in the prison, so it’s truly an excellent opportunity for them to have something to do when they’re already freed.

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Featured Image: lizhong | flickr.com

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