Having now left Chiang Mai, looking back, I feel like I didn’t give it a proper chance. After a lot of back and forth in my mind, about whether or not to spend some of my remaining Thailand days in Pai, I decided to spend just two full days in Chiang Mai before heading to Pai to set off for an overnight trek. As it turned out, I didn’t get to do my overnight trek in Pai, and therefore spent 2 more days there that I could’ve enjoyed in Chiang Mai. This was a real shame, as I felt that I had only just scratched the surface of what Chiang Mai has to offer.
With so little precious time, I tried to make the most of what I had. It was a manic two days, but here’s my list of top 5 things to do in Chiang Mai.
Top 5 Things To Do In Chiang Mai
1. Elephant Nature Park
This takes one full morning and afternoon, but is very much worth it if you want to get up close and personal with some Asian elephants. Read about my experience in the Elephant Nature Park in my previous post!
2. Chiang Mai night market
Chiang Mai’s night market is made up of hundreds of street stalls and shops, spread out over several blocks. It is located on the eastern part of the city, just outside the old city walls. There are lots of handicrafts on sale here, as well as a ton of cheap clothes and a few food stalls.
I unfortunately wasn’t around during a weekend to be able to check out the Saturday and Sunday walking street markets but I hear that they are well worth checking out as well (perhaps even more so than the night market!).
3. Thai cooking class
Having enjoyed my Vietnamese cooking experience in Hoi An immensely, I decided to sign myself up for a Thai cooking class as well. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are well known for offering the best cooking classes in Thailand but I opted for Chiang Mai as I had received some good personal recommendations from some other travellers.
Over the course of 4 hours, we were taken on a local market tour, before learning how to make 4 Thai dishes (of our choice from a few options). My pad thai, red chicken curry, chicken in coconut soup and mango sticky rice dishes were amazing (if I may say so myself! :P). This evening class was really good fun, where I got to meet some cool people and eat a home-cooked meal.
4. Wat Suthep
Wat Suthep is one of Thailand’s most famous temples. Located on a mountainside, a little outside the city centre, it’s a bit of a climb to reach the temple (309 steps) but you get a great view of the whole city if you do make it to the top! You can cheat and take the tram, but where’s the fun in that eh?
The architecture of this temple is Lanna based, with the defining monument being the gold-plated chedi (stupa) topped by a five tiered umbrella.
The easiest and most economical way of getting to Doi Suthep is via a shared taxi (songthaew) caught just outside the northern gate of the old city.
5. Muay Thai kickboxing
As mentioned in my Bangkok post, it had been Luca who suggested I watch muay thai kickboxing in Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok. I’m glad I did as I managed to get some informal cheap tickets at the Thapae Stadium for 6 separate fights, with decent seats (all for THB400). A bonus match was included where 6 boxers are thrown into a ring, blindfolded and left to find and kick each other’s asses. It was as ridiculous as it sounds, though very entertaining. 🙂 All in all, I had a great time at my first muay thai kickboxing event and was very impressed with the boxers.
So there you have it, my top 5 list. Have you been to Chiang Mai? What am I missing?