Explore Chiang Mai

Explore Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the “Rose of the North” in Northern Thailand. The city is Thailand’s second largest with a surprisingly laid back culture. The landscape is what draws many travellers with its lush green countryside, beautiful mountain tops, and temple rooftops dotting the skyline. The city itself is a thriving hub for international organizations, students, artists, shopkeepers, and of course Buddhist monks! Another reason to visit this area is the great street food – particularly on Suthep Road.

What to eat in Chiang Mai?
Well, everything. So here is quick list of musts:

  • Phad See Ew – a broad noodle version of pad thai
  • Kao Soi – a creamy coconut curry with egg noodles (a northern dish)
  • Suki Yaki – a glass noodle favourite with vegetables and meat, served dry or in a soup (your choice)
  • Khao Kah Moo – a stewed pork leg served with rice.
The Golden Hall
Mae Salong Area Tea Plantations
Umbrella Stand

Places to Visit in Chiang Mai

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Pra Singh
  • Wat Umong
  • Elephant Nature Park
  • Chiang Mai National Museum

Unique Things to See and Do in Chiang Mai

  • Eat your way through the Night Bazaar
  • Visit an Elephant camp
  • Take a Thai cooking course
  • Explore the “handicraft highway” along San Kamphaeng Road
  • Visit the Mae Salong Tea Plantations
  • Although controversial, the Tiger Kingdom still attracts some visitors

A Sample of Chiang Mai Attractions

Wat Prathat Doi Suthep
A temple with a view, Wat Prathat Doi Suthep is located atop of a mountain 15km away from Chiang Mai city. Popular for its sitting Buddha shrine, the temple’s first chedi was constructed in 1383. When visiting there be sure to view: the white elephant (listen to the legend), the golden stupa, the golden Buddha statue, and the green glass Buddha statue.

Wat Chedi Luang
This temple is located in the historic area of Chiang Mai. Inside the Viharn (assembly hall) you will see an impressive space with a large gold standing Buddha, known as the Phra Chao Attarot. The Buddha dates back to the construction of the temple in late 14th century. Also look for the Dipterocarp Tree, the city pillar, and Wat Phan Tao.

Tribal Museum
Anyone interested in the different ethnicities that have shaped Thai culture should visit the Tribal Museum. It is located by the Ratchamankla park (also worth a visit). Northern Thailand’s hill tribes (Hmong, Karen, Akkha, Lisu, Lahu, and Mien) are all featured for their cultural significance in Thai life. The museum showcases some of their traditional artefacts like jewelry, costumes, and even agricultural tools.

A Day Trip from Chiang Mai

If you have the time, about an hour north of Chiang Mai is the Chiang Doa area which is famous for the Chiang Doa Cave. Legend has it that over 1000 years ago a Burmese monk came to this area to build a cave inside the mountain. There are over 100 caves inside with only 5 for public access. Within them are many impressive carvings – large and small.

If you have time to extend your day trip, drive past Chiang Doa up into the Mae Salong area close to Burma, where you will see the picture perfect tea plantation landscape. The area is quite remote and spectacularly beautiful. While you are there be sure to visit the Mae Salong’s temple for stunning views of the tea terraces.  There are B&B’s for overnight stays, cafes to eat at, and even a morning market to practice your bartering skills.

Did you know…?

That although ancient Asia didn’t have many lions, lion guards are associated as mythical figure that protect with the lunar guardian - the Naga.

Wat Phra Sing Lion Guards

Did you ALSO know…?

That in 1992 there were 1049 hilltribe villages counted in the Chiang Mai province.

Karen Hilltop Tribe woman, - Sorin Colac / Shutterstock

Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai

The best time to visit is during the dry season from November to February. The temperatures are cooler but can still reach a high of 30C so you’l want to bring lighter clothing for daytime. If you plan on travelling to the mountains, bring some warmer clothing for the evening as the temperature will drop.  On average the temperature hovers around 20C but at the low end can get down to the neighborhood of 5C. If you are planning on hiking – refer to your guide’s advice for clothing choices suitable to the area you are trekking in.

Ready to plan your visit to Chiang Mai? Check out these popular guides and trips.

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