Chiang Mai is my favourite of Thailand’s cities. It has a more chilled out atmosphere than Bangkok, and its surrounded by beautiful scenery. Chiang Mai is also full of things to do – it can be overwhelming to choose which to spend your time with. Here are 5 things you can do in Chiang Mai, from budget trips to a cheeky splurge.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
This hilltop temple is worth a visit for so many reasons, but firstly – the views are incredible! You can see across Chiang Mai from the top of 300 steep steps, but don’t worry, there’s a cable car if you aren’t feeling the climb. Once inside the temple, you are surrounded by opulent gold decorations, including the iconic copper plated chedi in the centre. At this temple I was blessed by a monk, and learnt a lot about the fascinating history of the temple itself, as well as the practices there.
The temple is free to enter, but if you want to take the cable car it costs 30 THB (about 60p/$1).
Chiang Mai Adventure Day
During my most recent trip to Thailand, my travel buddy and I were tempted by the Chiang Mai Adventure Day. I’m sure in the future I’ll be posting on this trip in its entirety, but suffice to say it was a really enjoyable, but challenging, experience! The day was full of activities, including mountain biking through the jungle, elephant riding and white water rafting in up to grade 5 rapids. We were exhausted by the end, but left as very satisfied customers.
We took the ‘Exciting Chiang Mai’ day trip, which cost 1950 THB (about £37/$61). A little pricey, but worth it in my opinion for the experience.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Image property of Madeleine Holland
On both of my trips to Chiang Mai, the night bazaar was at the top of my to-do list. Located right in the centre of town, ask at your hostel or hotel for directions, or grab a tuk-tuk for under a dollar if you aren’t staying too far. Sprawling across a few streets and an indoor area, the night market has a variety of goods, from handmade items to a variety of clothes, there’s so much to choose from here. Although items may seem a bit expensive at first, bartering is part of the culture so have fun with it, don’t take it too seriously and don’t push your luck too far! There are bargains to be had, but don’t get too carried away.
Entrance to the night bazaar is free, so you can get your shop on!
Flight of the Gibbon Ziplining
Image property of Tree Top Asia
Although I haven’t tried it myself, Flight of the Gibbon is one of Chiang Mai’s main tourist attractions. Your day is spent whizzing down over 5km of ziplines above the vibrant jungle. There are two sky bridges and abseil descents to test your nerve too. Everyone I’ve met who has done this course had the best time and couldn’t stop raving about it. However, ultimately the price tag has always been what’s prevented me from giving it a go myself.
The one day Flight of the Gibbon tour costs 3599 THB per person (about £50/$81).
There are so many cooking classes in Chiang Mai you will be absolutely spoilt for choice. In 2011, I took a course with the Thai Cottage Home Cookery School. The course lasted a day, and we learnt to make a variety of dishes; coconut soup, Thai green curry, Pad Thai and spring rolls. We got to eat our creations too, and had a trip to the market at the start of the day to gather and learn about the ingredients we were using.
Prices for cooking classes vary, but the Thai Cottage Home Cookery School charges 6oo THB per person (about £12/$19)