Chiang Mai is a bustling city in Northern Thailand that offers some amazing and unique things for you to do. Whether it’s within the old city or outside the city of Chiang Mai, we have a list of 8 things you must experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand waiting for you.
Things To Do In Chiang Mai
1) Shop Till You Drop At The Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market
First up on the list of things you must experience in Chiang Mai is the Sunday Night Market.
One word, EPIC. The Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market is the mother of all markets in Thailand and Southeast Asia. If a market ever did steroids, it would look like Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market.
Hundreds upon hundreds of street vendors selling anything from your typical elephant pants and other backpacker apparel, to hand made leather goods and wooden crafts.
There are, what feels like, miles of streets that are yours to explore and get lost in. Not to mention, tasty treats you can devour while shopping!
If you’re looking for a food tour, check out Chiang Mai Street Evening Street Food Tour.
Check Out: Three Temples Not To Miss in Chiang Mai
2) Chat With A Monk at Chedi Luang
Exactly what is sounds. You chat with a monk and it’s pretty great when it comes to things you must experience in Chiang Mai.
Outside of Chedi Luang, there is a sign encouraging temple visitors to sit down and talk with a monk. How are we going to pass that up?! We didn’t.
We spoke with a sweet boy who was 16 years old. It was seriously so interesting just listening to him explain where he came from, what he does day-to-day and just his general insights on life and everything around us.
It’s hard to think that a 16 year old has a better grasp on spirituality than you but it was a pleasant conversation I don’t think we’ll forget.
3) Volunteer At A Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary
One of the must do items on 99.9% of peoples lists when visiting Thailand is to see elephants. However, please, please, PLEASE research ahead of time! Any elephant park or sanctuary should NOT let you ride the elephants. In addition, the elephants should NOT be chained up.
Instead, they should be rescues from a previous circus or trekking life and roaming freely where guests can interact with them.
We researched ahead of time and did our due diligence and that’s when stumbled upon Elephant Nature Park and fell in love with this company and it’s purpose.
We booked a full day with Elephant Nature Park and spent a day feeding the elephants, walking through the jungle with them, and lathering them up with mud followed by a good wash in the river.
To be that close to an animal that is SO big and has an even bigger, sweeter personality was a moment you’ll never forget. Visiting a sanctuary is 100% must.
If you want to read about our day at Elephant Nature Park, give our “The Best Elephant Sanctuary To Volunteer At In Thailand.”
4) Have A Night With The Lady Boys
WORTH EVERY SINGLE BAHT AND THEN SOME! A night with the Chiang Mai Lady Boys is for sure on the list of things you must experience in Chiang Mai. What. A Night.
If you don’t go see the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show while you’re in Chiang Mai you have failed as a person at life. This musical wonder is everything you wanted but didn’t know you needed.
Thai boys singing and dancing while in drag was hands down one of the most fun nights we’ve had in ages!
Full of gut busting laughs, thoughts that make women think “how does a man move better than I do in heels” and a dash of raunchy makes for an unforgettable show.
5) Sizzle It Up At A Thai Cooking Class
Book a half day or a full day cooking class when in Chiang Mai and you’ll have a belly full of memorable food, no doubt.
We did a half day class and in that half day class, we went to the market to buy our food and get a few lessons in Thai flavor profiles. After the market, you’ll head to the kitchen (an outside, open air establishment) where we prepped and cook 6 delicious Thai dishes.
You’ll leave full and in food heaven. We highly recommend a cooking class when in Chiang Mai. Such a fun way to spend a day!
For vegan and vegetarian Thai cooking classes, reserve your spot here.
6) Get A Traditional Thai Massage
Now, if you’ve had a Thai Massage before you know what to expect. For all of you who have not…it’s an experience to say the least.
We thought it was just a variation of your typical Swedish Massage. Holy hell, ha, were we wrong! A little Thai woman will come at you like a spider monkey! She’ll get ontop of you and twist your body in ways it’s never bended before all while saying “relaaaaxxx, you need to relaaxxxx.”
I think both Jesse and I agreed that it’s impossible to relax when you get a Thai Massage but it’s an authentic experience you need to have 🙂
7) Relax at Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
Wanting to get away from the city of Chiang Mai? Well, the chill lake locals and expats go to called Huay Tung Tao is what you are looking for.
Rent a motorbike and and drove about 30 minutes north of the city. A 50 baht per person fee to get in is required.
After you pay, bam, you’ll be hit with a picturesque lake with bamboo huts.
How much is it to rent a hut for a few hours? Just order some food and the hut is covered. Order some lunch and drinks and just chilled the day away on the lake.
8) Devour Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
No trip to Chiang Mai is complete until you’ve had the official dish of Chiang Mai, Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a flavorful noodle soup that is handmade with love.
This dish is packed with traditional Thai flavors. From coconut milk to chilies to lemongrass, ginger, turmeric and garlic, this Thai curry will leave you licking the soup bowl clean … seriously.
The best place to get Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is at Khao Soi Khun Yai which translates to Grandma’s Khao Soi. And this place is literally that. A friendly elderly Thia woman makes you fresh Khao Soi from scratch.
This is truly a must do when in Chiang Mai and rounds out out list of things you must experience in Chiang Mai.
- For The Budget Conscious: Great vibe, fun, friendly and social atmosphere, look no further than Stamps Backpackers. The owners are Thai and Canadian and were great resources for the area and not to mention SUPER friendly. It was clean and a great location so if you’re backpacking this is seriously the spot for you
- The The Luxury Inclined: Phra Singh Village is luxury located in the heart of Chiang Mai. From a killer breakfast buffet to one hell of a pool Phra Singh Village is your luxury oasis.
- For Something In Between: Located in the old city, Pha-Thai House is a short walk from all of Chiang Mai’s highlights. Featuring a pool and gardens, this place will be a nice little break from city site seeing.
For more places to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)