Top 5 things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is one of the most well-known cities in the North of Thailand. And for good reason, as there are a lot of fun things to do. Chiang Mai is best known for the elephants and the cool temples! But there is more…. So let’s explore all the things you must do in Chiang Mai.
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1. Elephant Sanctuaries
The number 1 thing to do in Chiang Mai is to visit an elephant sanctuary. There are many elephants sanctuaries in Chiang Mai. Here you the opportunity to see these beautiful animals from up close, to feed them and even to give them a nice bath! This was definitely one of the main highlights from our time in the North of Thailand!
The elephants that live in these sanctuaries were rescued from a bad situation. Some elephants came from the circus, some came from labour camps and some were disabled in the jungle. It is heartbreaking to see how those elephants were treated in the past and how they have suffered. In the sanctuary that we visited there was one elephants who stepped on a landmine that was still there from the war, crippling him for the rest of his life. Another elephant could not stop dancing the steps he was forced to do in the circus.
It is amazing to see how these beautiful and kind animals are enjoying a new and much happier life! You can really see the joy in their eyes as they play with the mud and the water. It’s very special because you can be part of that happiness.
Visiting an elephant sanctuary is a wonderful experience, as long as you do it responsibly. Please pay attention to what kind of elephant sanctuaries you visit, as some pretend to help the animals but they actually treat the animals just as bad. On the website https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/elephant-friendly-tourist-guide you can read all about ethically responsible elephants sanctuaries.
During the day Chiang Mai is quiet and calm, but at night this city is filled with fun stands, food carts and loads of people that wander and mingle in the streets. The city is transformed into a big market with all kinds of knick-knacks. A real treat for the eyes and therefore, the second top-thing to doe in Chiang Mai. From handmade salt and pepper shakers, to little wooden statues and boardgames. Besides all the stands and the fun products, the thing I love the most about this market was the relaxed atmosphere. Everyone was happily and curiously snooping around.
I highly recommend staying in our favourite ho(s)tel in Chiang Mai: Muan Hotel! It is brand new, in the heart of Chiang Mai and perfect for backpackers!
When you wander the streets of Chiang Mai you come across many cool temples. For one temple you need to bring your sunglasses, as it’s completely covered with gold! Each of the temples has its own style and purpose, so every time you’ll be surprised with something new.
When you are in Chiang Mai I recommend that you walk into the old centre and visit these temples. For the temples that are located outside of the old centre, like Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, I’d recommend renting a motorbike. Visiting the temples is wonderful activity for the morning of late afternoon. As it’s way too hot on mid day.
Do you like streetfood? Well, then you are in the right place in Chiang Mai! Because street food is everywhere, it is delicious and very cheap. What more does a traveler want?! 😉
All over Chiang Mai there are food stands selling homemade dices that are perfect to eat on the go. But there are also places where all the food stands gather and a food court is organised, with loads of food choices and seats. On the edge of the east-side of the old centre there is a park area where a food court is organised every day.
I loved eating street food in Chiang Mai, as it is where the local people eat too. And its super budget friendly. Once we ordered spring rolls, and we had gotten 4 huge rolls for only 50 bath. That is not even 1,50 euros! Another time we sat down in one of the food courts and we ordered something of which we had no idea what is was, and we were amazed with all the flavours. After that we only ate street food in Chiang Mai 😉
5. Rice fields
One thing that most people that travel to Chiang Mai don’t know is that Chiang Mai is surrounded by incredible rice-fields. Especially in the rain season, this area is incredibly green. A fun activity is to take a motorbike and to explore the area. A great place to stay or drink something is cloud 9. This is only a 20 minute drive from the centre of Chiang Mai. It is a hotel and restaurant in the middle of a rice field. The burgers and the fruit shakes are delicious and it’s the perfect spot for a sunset dinner.
I hope you are going to have a great time in Chiang Mai! Which of these 5 things to do is your favourite? Let me know in the comments! 😊
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So, you won’t forget anything on your trip. And check out this vlog from Pai in the North of Thailand for some travel inspiration ↡