Make the most of your trip with our Top 10 things to do in Chiang Mai off the beaten track
Located in the northern region of Thailand, Chiang Mai is one of the Land of Smiles’ most-visited cities, and one that is regularly included in ‘best of’ itineraries for the Southeast Asian country. Our Travelmood travel expert Orlagh has visited this location on more than one occasion – here are her Top 10 things to do in Chiang Mai off the beaten track.
1. Food and drink
Chiang Mai is littered with places to kick back and dine. Our favourite place to get coffee in town is Ristr8to, while Aanchan is the best vegetarian restaurant. Unwind over some sundowners is Baan Din Bar, where you can also enjoy some shisha. All three can be found on Nimmanhaemin Road.
2. Wat Suan Dokh on Suthep Road
This Buddhist temple has a branch of the Pun Pun organic vegetarian restaurant. You can also do meditation retreats there, as well as regular monk chat sessions, where you can talk to a monk to find out more about Buddhism and meditation.
3. Wat Umong
Wat Umong is one of the city’s forest temples and is well worth a visit. Also located along Soi Wat Umong – the road leading to it, in fact – is the rather cool Wattana Art Gallery.
4. Mae Rim-Samoeng loop
This area offers a scenic view of the city’s lush, green surrounds. Motorbikes can be hired to do the loop around Doi Suthep, which has twisty rural roads, great scenery, strawberry farms and more.
5. Warorot Market
Right next to the Ping River, this day market is where the locals shop, meaning that you’ll get the best value. It is also famously known for selling many local Thai snacks and is one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai.
6. Grand Canyon – Chiang Mai off the beaten track
Yes, Chiang Mai has its own Grand Canyon. Only the Thai version is, in fact, an old, abandoned quarry, which has filled with rain water that’s accumulated in 40m-deep lakes. It’s the scenic views that are the draws here – some of the most beautiful in the city.
7. San Khampaeng Hot Springs
These are found in a wooded area near the city, nestled in the foothills of the nearby mountains, and have been turned into mineral baths and a traditional mineral water swimming pool. The high sulphur content in the water is said to give it healing powers.
8. Sunday Walking Street
This is the place for street food in Chiang Mai. Running on a Sunday – obviously – you can stroll up and down the street with a plethora of eating and shopping options at your disposal. The main section of the walk is Rachadamnoen Road, which begins just behind Thapae Gate. What kind of grub is on offer? Everything and anything from pad Thai, curries, sushi, samosas and other Indian food and Chinese dumplings.
9. Documentary Arts Asia
One of the cultural highlights of Chiang Mai, this gallery space shows documentaries and holds events that highlight the political situations of various Asian countries. They’ve also got a library that hosts photographic exhibitions. Perfect for those that want to learn more about Thailand and Asia’s wider issues.
10. Elephant Nature Park
This is the best elephant camp around Chiang Mai. Known for treating the animals superbly, the park offers visitors the chance to volunteer for a day, feeding and caring for the animals, who have often been used as hard labour. The price of your day includes transport to the park and lunch, and importantly your fee goes towards the upkeep of the park and care of the animals ensuring the park’s high standards are maintained.
With these things to do in Chiang Mai off the beaten track, you have no excuse to not immerse yourself in the Thai culture during your trip! Do you have something to add to the list? Tweet us @Travelmood and let us know!