Surrounded by the mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a flourishing city often used as a base among both backpackers and tourists wishing to explore the lush landscapes, hill tribes and outdoor adventures of the region. Nevertheless, Chiang Mai itself is a large and culturally important city where historical and modern Thai architecture and traditions coexist.
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Surrounded by lush mountains and dotted with historic temples, Chiang Mai is the best hub for exploring northern Thailand. This city has a rare combination of adventure, nature, culture, history, food, and modern comforts; a blend that makes it one of our favorite cities in the world. We are delighted to introduce to you some guide line to travel to Chieng Mai to make you an ultimate experience
1/ Take A Visit To Doi Suthep
Open: Daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
The most famous attraction in all of Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep, every travel agent and driver will ask you if you want to go, it is like Big Ben is to London. Doi Suthep is about 12km outside of Chiang Mai and is a mountain that has a fantastic view over all of the city. Standing at 5400 metres the mountain also houses Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a 13th century temple that is home to a large white elephant shrine as well as a replica of the Emerald Buddha.
Tip: This Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill Tribe Village Visit includes a scenic throughthe historic areas of Chiang Mai, a visit to Doi Suthep and a visit to the Meo Hill tribe
2/ Visit Doi Inthanon National Park
Open: Daily from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm
Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the highest mountain in all of Thailand, an extension to the Shan Hills and made mostly from granite. The park covers a land area of 48,240 hectares. The highest point of the mountain is 2565 metres tall and has been known to hit lows of -8 degrees centigrade, whilst visiting the Park you cannot help but notice the number of birds that you will see, Doi Inthanon is home to more species of bird than anywhere else in Thailand.
The diversity of Doi Inthanon does not only extend to plant and animal species, however. The park has long been home to settlements of Northern Hill tribes as well. Recent efforts have been made to allow these unique villages to maintain their traditional cultures while co-existing with modern developments such as tourism and the Bhumibol Dam, which harnesses the power of the Ping River to provide electricity to thousands of Thai people.
3/ Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chieng Mai
Location: Office on Tha Phae Road, Chieng Mai, Thailand
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai was among the pioneers of the new ethical elephant attractions which have swept Thailand. Effectively a retirement home for the gentle giants who have worked in the often-unpleasant logging and tourism industries, the sanctuary allows careful interaction between visitors and residents.
There are no gimmicks, no circus tricks, and absolutely no riding, as it can harm the surprisingly weak backs of these mighty creatures.
The sanctuary is a paragon of responsible tourism, being operated in partnership with the nearby Karen hill-tribes and locals from Chiang Mai. At the time of writing, the sanctuary is home to over 30 elephants, with several spacious locations around 60 km from Chiang Mai for them to range in peace and comfort.
4/ Karen Long Neck Tribe & Chiang Dao Cave
Boasting some of the most spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations in the country, Chiang Dao Cave stretches many kilometres into the mountains. Legend has it that it connects with several other caves, before eventually emerges at the other end somewhere in Shan State across the border. The official figure, though, is 12 kilometres, and you can explore only a small part of it.
The cave is part of the 2,100-metre-high Doi Chiang Dao mountain range, the third highest peak in Thailand formed by pushed up sea floors some 230-250 million years ago. For the most part, the cave is well lit, but as you progress further in, even a powerful flashlight is useless. The best way to go about exploring the cave is to hire a guide, who is well-equipped with a kerosene lantern and know his way around.
Further up from Chiang Dao Cave, a visit to the Padung Village introduces you to the ‘Long Neck Karen’ ethnic hill-tribe. The women wear brass rings around their necks, wrists and ankles as part of their culture. It is a good idea to explore, with respect, the village a little to get a feel of their culture and way of life, before supporting their income by purchasing a few souvenirs (not a requirement though).
5/ Doi Pui Tribal Village and National Park
Location: Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Doi Pui, at 1,685metres above sea level, is the highest peak in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. It is famous for its beautiful waterfalls which are easily reached from the main road. But one of the hottest attractions for Doi Pui must be Hmong Tribal Village situated less than five kilometres from the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. A visit to this village is an eye-opener into the tribal villagers’ private life. Witness their simple way of living, their homes, as well as learn about their culture through a collection of objects, such as musical instruments, traditional silver-embroidered costumes and bamboo crafts.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park features a number of waterfalls, many are accessible from the Mae Rim-Samoeng Highway north of the Old City. Montha Tan Waterfall, at 730 above sea level, has a total of nine cascades and flows into Huay Kaew Waterfall at the foot of Doi Suthep. Other notable waterfalls include Tat Mauk Waterfall and Mae Sa Waterfall.
6/ Bosang Handicraft Village
Location: Chiang Mai-San Kampaeng Highway (Route 1006), Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bor Sang mid-sized craft village about nine kilometres east of the Old City specialises in the paper umbrella-making craft. Well known for outstanding handcraft quality as well as signature floral designs, Bor Sang Village has made its name throughout the country and abroad – so much so that the name Bor Sang has become synonymous with the paper-umbrella craft itself and the umbrella, a cultural symbol of Chiang Mai.
Here, you’ll find plenty of hand-painted umbrellas, tiny cocktail umbrellas, large parasols for gardens or patios and other handmade products – all made from sa paper (produced from the bark of the mulberry tree) and, a more recent development, cotton. The design has also evolved, from the original floral patterns to depictions of Chiang Mai’s rural scenery and even abstract patterns.
7/ Participate in Loi Krathong Festival
Chiang Mai celebrates the Loi Krathong festival more than any other city in Thailand, an annual event that ties in with the twelfth lunar month.
Krathong is a Thai term which refers to a piece of banana trunk decorated with flowers, banana leaves, candle and incense sticks. The word Loy means to float in the Thai language. When put together, those two terms simply mean floating banana trunk festival. Modern krathongs are mostly made out of bread or Styrofoam. But Styrofoam krathongs are sometimes not allowed as they pollute the water and they are difficult to decompose. Bread Krathongs are more environmentally friendly as they are biodegradable and in most cases eaten by fish.
Why do Thai people want to float a krathong? There are many stories regarding how the festival originated. One of the versions is that Thai people have long been closely involved with rivers for ages as Thailand is an agriculture based country. This means rivers are like their own blood veins. And to show respect to the river, basically the goddess of the river called Pra Mae Khongkha, Thai people decided to make a Krathong to worship and ask for forgiveness. The Thais now also see it as a time to wave goodbye to misfortune, wash away sins of the past year, and make wishes for the coming year.
Based on the diverse of nature and culture in Chieng Mai offer for travelers, we have carefully created this 2 day suggested-tour which including combine travel style.
Day 1: Doi Suthep – Pui National Park – Old City
AM: You will be delivered to Mon Tha Than Waterfall where your trek will begin. Experience the grandeur and breathe taking views the trail offers as you walk among forests of bamboo, tall hardwoods, a variety of colorful flowers, and a diverse bird population. Make sure you bring a swim suit as there will be opportunities to cool off in the pools of several waterfalls you will see. The hike itself is a moderate one but proper footwear is highly recommended.
Your hike will end at Chiang Mai’s most sacred temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (1383 AD). The temple is located 16 Km’s from the city and 3,500 feet (1,066 meters) above sea level. Its large golden chedi attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year. While you are enjoying the panoramic view of Chiang Mai City and the Ping Valley from this beautiful mountain temple.
PM: Take a stroll through the Old City of Chieng Mai where you can find many of the most popular sights. Many of the temples for which Chiang Mai is rightly famous can be found in this area, as are museums and galleries.
Day 2: Elephant Sanctuary – Cooking class
AM: Deoart to Elephant camp. Here and there, if you prefer to have a big moment with the elephants and want to save their live this trip you will see the elephants in the nature live and feeding them and take them for mud spa and bath.
PM: You will enjoy a cooking class with professioinal chef who will teach you how to prepare an authentic local Thai food and you will learn how to play the flavor to make them harmony in food.
1/ Khao Soi Khun Yai
Location: Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Thailand
It’s the quintessential Northern Thai dish of crispy and soft egg noodles in a creamy, curry-like sauce made with coconut milk. It’s typically made with chicken or beef, though some places offer versions with pork, shrimp, or fish as well. It’s usually served with a side of chopped red onions, pickled cabbage, and a wedge of lime. If you like, you can mix a packet of pork rinds into your khao soi for some extra crunch.
2/ Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak (Cowboy Hat Lady)
Location: Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
If khao soi is Chiang Mai’s most famous dish, then this food stall is arguably its most popular. Manning the stall is this lady badass wearing a 10 gallon cowboy hat. Known as the Cowboy Hat Lady, she’s been described as a Chiang Mai institution with a reputation for serving some of the best khao kha moo in town. Khao kha moo is braised pork leg cooked in Chinese five spice and served over rice with a medium-boiled egg. From the moment her stall opens at 5PM, it’s constantly flooded with people looking to get their khao kha moo fix. And not just people on foot either. Cars and motorbikes would stop by the side of the road and get her food to go.
3/ Suki Koka
Location: Thanon Manee Nop Parat, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the same cluster of food stalls as the Cowboy Hat Lady, this bowl of Thai suki was one of Ren’s favorite things to eat in Chiang Mai. Served wet or dry, Suki Koka’s Thai suki consists of vegetables cooked with mung bean noodles and a mix of seafood or your choice of meat. Like Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak, it’s one of the most popular eateries in this cluster of North Gate food stalls. Don’t leave without eating at both. Suki Koka makes their Thai suki with heaps of cabbage cooked briefly in a wok at high heat, keeping it crunchy whilst giving it that wonderful smokey wok hei flavor. Ren had this dry version with pork (suki haeng moo). It was absolutely delicious, especially when eaten with the suki sauce which Ren thought was the best part about the dish.
4/ Cherng Doi Roast Chicken
Location: 2/8 Suk Kasame Rd, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you’re in the mood for kai yang (roast chicken), then Cherng Doi should be at the top of your list. It’s an Isaan dish that’s now popular throughout Thailand. A whole chicken is often halved and pounded flat before being marinated then slowly grilled over a low charcoal flame.
Along with SP Chicken, Cherng Doi Roast Chicken is often cited for serving some of the best kai yang in Chiang Mai. Both were fantastic. Kai yang is an Isaan dish so it’s commonly eaten with som tam (green papaya salad) and sticky rice. The meat was tender and juicy with nicely crisped skin. It’s a little sweet from the marinade and goes very well with the acidity from the som tam and the chewiness of the sticky rice.
5/ Kiat Ocha
Location: 42-43 Intawarorot Road, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you like Hainanese chicken rice, then you need to eat at Kiat Ocha. Open since 1957, they’ve been specializing in this Southern China dish for over 60 years now. Hainanese chicken rice consists of whole poached chicken served with oily rice (cooked in chicken fat) and chicken broth soup, along with freshly minced red chilli and garlic, dark soy sauce, and freshly ground ginger.
Kiat Ocha was brimming with people when we were there. They’re only open till 3PM so it’s a great place to have lunch. If you’re a fan of satay, then you’ll be pleased to know that Kiat Ocha is just as famous for its satay as it is for its Hainanese chicken rice. Originally from Indonesia, satay refers to a family of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meat served with a sauce, most commonly peanut sauce. It’s a popular dish throughout many countries in Southeast Asia.
6/ Tong Tem Toh
Location: Chang Wat Chiang Mai, Thailand
It’s a trendy Thai restaurant in the Nimman area known for serving good Northern Thai food. They have an extensive menu so not sure what to order, until you look around. Nearly every table had this beautiful platter of Northern Thai appetizers. On it was some sai oua (Northern Thai sausage), nam prik ong (chili-based dip), nam prik noom (roasted banana pepper chili sauce), pork rinds, eggs, and some raw vegetables for dipping.
The ideal time to visit Chiang Mai is between October and April. Weather during this period is mostly cool and pleasant with light breeze, which is also why it’s peak tourist season. Another good time to visit Chiang Mai is during the festivals when the city is at its vibrant best. Here’s a monthly break up of season and events so that you can plan your trip better?
November to February: This is the ideal time to visit Chiang Mai because the weather is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities. While it does not get too cold, you should carry a jacket and some light woolens. January is usually considered the best month and sees a high influx of tourists. If you plan a trip in November, you will catch the Loi Krathong festivities and in February you will see the Chiang Mai flower festival.
March to May: While summers start setting in from the end of March, tourists still visit Chiang Mai and it’s a good time to look for deals on hotels and flights. Even if the temperature during the day is high you can spend the afternoon in the pool and head out after sunset. Temperatures rise up to 40°C between April and May. Carry light cottons, sunglasses and hats to beat the heat.
June to October: The temperature during the rainy season cools down although the humidity rises. While it rains less than southern Thailand, monsoons are still heavy in Chiang Mai as well. So you will have to be prepared with umbrellas, raincoats and study shoes. Not many tourists visit Chiang Mai during the monsoon so if you are looking for a quieter holiday in this ancient town, then this is the time for you.
Best time to visit Chiang Mai for:
Honeymoon. During the cool dry season from November until mid-February is ideal. The lantern festival is on in November which makes for a romantic experience.
Wedding. November until mid-February is seasonally cool and dry with a warm and comfortable temperature. Rain showers are unlikely, so outdoor weddings won’t be threatened by bad weather.
Elephant sanctuary. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, the rainy season of late April until late October is ideal. Elephant sanctuaries are extremely popular in Chiang Mai and visiting during this season means less crowds and more time with the animals.
Lantern festival. Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, involves releasing lanterns into the sky that symbolises letting go of ills and misfortunes. It’s held on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month which is typically mid-November.
Water festival. Songkran is a famous festival in Thailand which celebrates the New Year and brings in the most tourists. The official date of the New Year is April 13th but the water activities last until the 15th. Splashing water onto loved ones acts as a wish for a year of blessings, but recently the festival has turned into a giant water fight with water guns and all.
Flower festival. The first weekend of every February Chiang Mai hosts a three-day Flower Festival. There are ceremonies, beauty pageants and gardens are filled with flowers found only in the Chiang Mai area.
By air: Flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is the quickest mode of transportation. Domestic flights depart from both Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) in Bangkok, landing at Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). Low-cost carriers fly from Don Mueang Airport and include Thai AirAsia, Nok Air, and Thai Lion Air. You can also sometimes find great deals with Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways, and Thai Vietjet Air, which all fly from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Compare fares and terms, as it can sometimes be worth paying a bit more for the airfare if it includes a checked baggage allowance. Flying can often cost the same as taking the train, especially if you book in advance. Budget flights start from around 1,000 THB (approximately 30 USD). The flight takes around one hour and 15 minutes and there are more than 50 flights every day of the week.
By train: Several trains run between Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station and Chiang Mai Station every day. The journey usually takes between 12 and 15 hours. Delays are fairly common. Third-class tickets are the cheapest, though the wooden benches can quickly become very uncomfortable and the carriages can be stuffy and crowded. Seats aren’t allocated either. Second-class seats (that can recline) are the next cheapest option. Tickets typically cost around 500 THB (approximately 15 USD) in a carriage with fans; air-conditioned carriages are a little more expensive.
By bus: Buses between Bangkok and Chiang Mai take around 12 hours and there are several services, both during the day and at night, every day. Most buses to Chiang Mai leave from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Station (the Northern Bus Station) and arrive at the Arcade Bus Station.
You can choose between regular and VIP services, with the main differences being the price and comfort levels. Second-class government bus services cost around 450 THB (approximately 13.50 USD), while first-class government bus services cost around 550 THB (approximately 16.50 USD) and have toilets onboard, as well as air conditioning. VIP buses vary in price depending on the operator, but are usually cheaper than 900 THB (approximately 27 USD).
Throughout this article, we wish you to have an idea of how to travel to Chieng Mai for your best experience. In case you are looking for your own travel agent, who can offer a wonderful and hassle-free trip, please feel free to let us know. We always commit our best to make it your once-in-a-lifetime journey.