10 Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

10 Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai Province

Lots of historical and natural landmarks await!

Thailand is famous for many of its cities and islands, namely Phuket, Krabi, and its capital city, Bangkok. But there’s actually another lesser-known place to learn more about Thailand’s rich history and appreciate its untouched natural beauty! Enter Chiang Mai Province, Thailand’s second-largest province — and also one of the most picturesque! Having been here during my teenage years, I was pleasantly surprised to see the vast changes when I came back this year.

Once the core of the Lanna Kingdom, present-day Chiang Mai has transformed into Northern Thailand’s major tourist hub. For those visiting the Rose of the North, here are ten things to do in Chiang Mai that I recommend to make the most out of your trip.

Also read: Thailand Travel Requirements: What to Know Before Visiting

1. Revisit Chiang Mai’s past at the Old City

things to do chiang mai

Image credit: Mith Huang

Out of the numerous historical places to visit in Chiang Mai, this takes the cake as a must-see. After King Mengrai founded Chiang Mai, he planned the city’s layout based on ancient military and astrological beliefs. He then ordered the construction of city walls and a moat to protect his citizens from potential attacks by the Bamars and the Mongol armies.

Visitors can still find a myriad of activities happening within the Old City grounds today. From local Thai dishes to Chinese and Japanese fare, discover the variety of inexpensive street food within the night markets at Chang Phuak Gate and Chiang Mai Gate. Alternatively, the moat and several restored city walls are also the perfect backdrops to capture some aesthetic shots for your social media feed.

 2. Learn the process of making Thai silk at Cocoon Farm

things to do chiang mai

Image credit: Jerald Ang

We’ve all seen many beautiful Thai silk outfits but not many know of the painstaking process behind its creation. Learn all about it at Cocoon Farm, an experiential centre where visitors can discover how silk is harvested from the silkworm cocoons. Watch as the experienced artisans work their magic, spinning and weaving the threads into the raw silk waiting to be further processed.

Those looking for artsy things to do in Chiang Mai can partake in making your own Thai handicraft and tie-dyeing your own apparel. All these creations can be brought home, which will definitely make great souvenirs to remember your trip.

3. Have a splash at Grand Canyon Water Park

Thailand’s relatively hot weather year-round calls for a refreshing dive at the largest floating water park in Chiang Mai! Located in an abandoned limestone quarry outside of the city, Grand Canyon Water Park is a paradise for all adrenaline junkies.

Whether you’re screaming your lungs out while ziplining or showing your fancy wakeboarding moves, there are many water activities for all to enjoy a fun-filled day out.

4. Soak your worn-out soles at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

san kamphaeng hot springs

Image credit: Jerald Ang

What was once a former grassland has now become a hotspot for visitors of all ages to enjoy. The first thing you will see as you set foot into San Kamphaeng Hot Springs are two spouts shooting boiling water up into the air. A thermal pool then accumulates the hot spring water, before channelling it through a network of artificial canals.

The nearby shops sell eggs which can be boiled in the piping hot spring waters. After which, tourists can chew on it after cooking to their desired level — all done while bathing their feet in rich mineral waters.

5. Breathe in some fresh air atop Doi Inthanon

doi inthanon national park

Image credit: Pongdanai

Nicknamed the Roof of Thailand, Doi Inthanon is one of the most famous Chiang Mai attractions. The 2,565m-tall mountain has many scenic nature trails and breathtaking viewpoints for visitors to admire its surrounding landscapes. You can even get unobstructed views of Nepal’s Himalayan peaks and China’s Yunnan mountains on clear days if you’re lucky enough.

With an average temperature hovering around 17°C, Doi Inthanon draws visitors for its cooling weather amidst Thailand’s hot and humid climate. Although visiting Doi Inthanon is among the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai, you can only access the summit via car or chartered transport. Hence, it’s best to settle your private transportation prior to heading up the mountain.

King and Queen Pagodas

Image credit: Bharath Mohan

Doi Inthanon is also home to two royal pagodas: Phra Mahathat Naphamethinidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphonphumisiri (aka the King’s and Queen’s Pagodas, respectively). Built to honour the 60th birthdays of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, each pagoda houses a small shrine with an elaborate mosaic pattern along its walls. Lush and beautiful flowers can also be found within the royal gardens, elevating the beauty of the majestic structures.

6. Head on an adventure within Chiang Dao Cave

chiang dao cave

Image credit: Jerald Ang

At first glance, Chiang Dao Cave’s exterior speaks for itself: Two guardians protect the entrance and a covered elevated walkway leads up to the main cave of Tham Phranon.

The Chiang Dao Cave is made up of four smaller caves: Tham Phranon, Tham Maa, Tham Kaew, and Tham Naam. While the former is brightly illuminated, the other three caves are pitch black and require a guide for safe navigation. Equipped with a gas lamp, the local guides will bring you around to explore different stalagmite and stalactite formations. 

Several places require crawling through crevices and traversing down steep slopes, so do wear the appropriate attire to avoid getting cuts and abrasions.

7. Relax and chill at an airplane cafe

airplane cafe

Image credit: Jerald Ang

Wouldn’t you be shocked to see an airplane parked in the middle of town? Found along Mae Taeng’s main road, the Air Diamond Café is one of Chiang Mai’s newest attractions. Formerly an ex-Thai Airways plane, it has been repurposed into an F&B establishment serving up coffee, food, and pastries from local brand, Black Canyon. 

Everything about the cafe reminisces that of a typical aircraft: Passenger seats, window shades, a flight ticket as its admission ticket, and even access to the cockpit. The only difference, thankfully, would be that you can enjoy a cup of drink without experiencing any turbulent weather.

8. Enjoy amazing views of Chiang Mai at Wat Phra That Doi Kham

things to do chiang mai

Image credit: Jerald Ang

Situated on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Kham is an attractive and underrated temple not known to many tourists. The centrepiece is its 17m big sitting Buddha statue, guarded by large warrior statues on both sides of the stairs.

Within the temple’s courtyard, you can find its oldest structure: the chedi, a pagoda built to enshrine the Buddha’s sacred relic and guarded by huge golden naga serpents. Outside of the temple, you can admire amazing landscaped vistas of Chiang Mai and the adjacent Royal Park Rajapruek from the Doikham Panorama Viewpoint. This temple can definitely be considered as an alternative compared to the more well-known yet crowded Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

9. Go shopping at Anusarn Night Market

anusarn night market

Image credit: Jorge Láscar

There are so many things to do in Chiang Mai but you surely can’t miss out on getting some worthy buys at Thailand’s famous night markets! You can do just that at the city’s largest night bazaar, Anusarn Night Market. Aside from having some great food options, you can also find intricately designed souvenirs and handicrafts on display. 

Whether it’s embroidered pouches or adorable animal sculptures, there’s always something for you right here. And with the right charms and bargaining skills, you might get some of these with a decent discount. It’s definitely a steal if you ask me!

10. Take part in Chiang Mai’s Yee Peng Lantern Festival

This is one festival you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re visiting Chiang Mai at the end of the year! Yee Peng Lantern Festival is an annual affair in November that takes place during the full moon night on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. Usually held over three days in conjunction with Loy Krathong Festival, this traditional Lanna celebration sees participants releasing khom loi (paper lanterns) to signify letting go of one’s past misfortunes and wishing for good luck in the coming year. 

The result is truly a spectacular sight to behold, where thousands of flames illuminate Chiang Mai’s starry night skies. It’s also why Yee Peng Lantern Festival has earned the title of being Thailand’s most magical festival.

Also read: Top 7 Tourist Scams You Should Watch Out for in Thailand

There are so many places to visit in Chiang Mai so what are you waiting for? Get your bags packed and scoot over to Thailand today!

We would like to thank Tourism Authority of Thailand for inviting TripZilla to join their fam trip.

About Author

Jerald Ang

Jerald is always looking at aviation news and his favourite pastime is plane spotting. When he is taking a break, you'll find him either indulging in his Pokémon games or searching for his escape.