CK Travels

Chiang Mai, Thailand – 44 Things To Do Guide + Photos 2024

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Northern Thailand’s largest city, Chiang Mai is famous for its incredible temples, bustling night markets, rolling hills and old city.

A nice way to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok (and just over an hour away by plane), Chiang Mai has bags of character and can be easily explored on foot.

The food in Chiang Mai is cheap and nearby Nimman is packed full of cute cafes, hipster hangouts and comes alive at night.

From rooftop bars to river cruises, massages to Muay Thai, here is our guide to the very best things to do in Chiang Mai (Thailand) in 2024:

You might like – 30+ things to do in Chiang Mai at night >

Table of Contents

Getting around Chiang Mai

Most of Chiang Mai’s main attractions are walkable from the Old City including most of the temples.

Alternatively, you can aboard the famous Chiang Mai red Songthaew trucks for 30 THB per person or take a Grab taxi for next to nothing. For instance, a Grab taxi from Chiang Mai Old City to Nimman is usually around 90 to 120 THB during non-peak times.

Chiang Mai red songthaew
Chiang Mai red songthaew

Tuk tuks are also very prevalent in Chiang Mai and enthusiastically tout for your business.

Another form of Chiang Mai transport is the new green Hop & Go Bus which was introduced in late 2023. This is a 40 seat air conditioned bus where you hop on and off all day for 300 THB between 8am to 5pm seven days a week (although the routes vary depending on the day).

Chiang Mai Recommended Hotels and Accommodation

The best places in Chiang Mai to stay are either near the old city as it is close to all the main temples and walking night markets, or in Nimman as the hotels here are more modern and generally have bigger rooms.

Some of the best hotels and accommodation in Chiang Mai include:

Chedi Home Hotel
Cute and cosy hotel with small pool and amazing breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Chedi Home Hotel. 

Read our review on Chedi Home Hotel >

Chedi Home hotel Chiang Mai
Chedi Home breakfast

Buri Suri Hotel Nimman
Lovely hotel set in a colonial building with good sized swimming pool and on-site restaurant, located a short walk from many bars and restaurants in the Nimman neighbourhood. Check out prices and availability for Buri Siri Boutique Hotel.

Buri Suri Hotel Nimman
Chiang Mai
Buri Suri Hotel Nimman

LUXURY ($$$)
99 The Heritage
This 4 star boutique hotel is set in a colonial building in the old town just across the street from the epic Wat Phra Singh temple and a short walk away from the weekly Sunday Walking market. Check out prices and availability for 99 The Heritage >

99 The Heritage Hotel Chiang Mai
99 The Heritage
99 The Heritage Hotel Chiang Mai
99 The Heritage

Check Chiang Mai hotel rates and availability on >

Chiang Mai things to do

1. Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

Elephant Nature Park is one of Chiang Mai’s most popular attractions!

Elephant Nature Park is an award winning rescue and rehabilitation centre, home to dozens of elephants who have been saved from mistreatment in the entertainment or logging industry. The park is located around 60km outside of Chiang Mai old town and it takes around 1 hour to drive there.

Elephant Nature Park offer a variety of different tour options where you can view the elephants and learn more about the work they do at the sanctuary.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

The most popular tour is the ‘SkyWalk single day visit’ for 3,500 THB, which includes pick up/drop off from your Chiang Mai hotel, plus a vegetarian buffet lunch. You pay a deposit online and then pay the rest once you arrive at the park. They also do half day trips for 2,500 THB.

Elephant Nature Park also offers week-long stays for tourists who want a more hands on volunteering experience, head to their website to view the tour options and to book online.

Elephant Nature Park is the most famous rescue sanctuary but there are several other elephant parks in the region that you can visit (make sure you do your research before to ensure you are visiting an ethical sanctuary).

Check out these other elephant experiences on GetYourGuideViator and Klook.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

2. Doi Inthanon National Park 

Doi Inthanon is one of the most popular day trips from Chiang Mai and is also one of the most famous national parks in Thailand (it has the highest peak in the country).

The park is located a 90 minute drive from Chiang Mai city and is known for its spectacular views from the summit. It also boosts stunning waterfalls, scenic nature trails, mossy forests, the King’s agricultural project, shrines, remote villages and rice terraces.

Doi Inthanon National Park  in Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon National Park  in Chiang Mai

This is one of Thailand’s best hiking spots and whatever level of fitness you have, there is a trail to suit you.

Most people visit Doi Inthanon as part of a small group guided tour. Popular ones you can book online include:

Doi Inthanon National Park  in Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon National Park  in Chiang Mai

3. Chiang Mai Cooking Classes

No trip to Chiang Mai is complete without doing a cooking class.

Given Chiang Mai’s climate and surrounding farm lands, most of Thailand’s fresh produce and finest ingredients are farmed and grown here making it the ideal place to brush up your culinary skills.

Most cooking classes in Chiang Mai involve a trip to a local market or farm to source fresh ingredients before taking you back to the cooking school to to prep your produce and cook up a storm in the kitchen.

Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai

Northern Thai dishes like khao soi or more standard foodie fare like pad thai, papaya salad and Thai curries are usually on the menu (including making your own fresh curry paste).

We did a cooking class with Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai and you can read our review here.

Other Chiang Mai cooking classes you can book include:

Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai

If you don’t want to venture out of Chiang Mai old city, there are several cooking schools within the city walls. The most popular seems to be Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School who operate half day or full day workshops day and night including trips to the nearby Ming Muang farmers market.

Love sausage? There are even dedicated northern Thai sausage workshops that you can book onto and are pretty cheap too.

Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai

4. Enjoy a delicious bowl of Khao Soi noodles

Chiang Mai is foodie heaven and most dishes are very inexpensive (especially in the night markets or local restaurants in Nimman).

Whilst in Chiang Mai, you must slurp down at least one bowl of legendary local curry noodle dish khao soi.

Khao soi’s core ingredients are usually a curry soup base (usually medium spiced), served with meat and noodles plus some side garnishes.

Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom Chiang Mai
Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom

The most common version in Chiang Mai is usually chicken khao soi, but many Chiang Mai khao soi restaurants also serve pork and beef versions.

We’ve written a guide about the best Khao Soi restaurants in Chiang Mai, which includes:

  • Khao Soi Khun Yai
  • Khao Soi Mae Sai
  • Huen Phen
  • Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom (the famous Netflix Khao Soi noodle shop which featured on ‘Somebody Feed Phil’).

If you are staying in the old city, we cannot recommend Khao Soi Arak enough – run by a cute old couple with the dining area effectively in the garage (half the fun is the experience), their khao soi has chicken that just melts off the bone plus it is only 50 THB as of early 2024 – cheap AND delicious!

Khao Soi Mae Sai Chiang Mai
Khao Soi Mae Sai

5. Nimman /  Nimmanhaemin Road

Nimman is one of Chiang Mai’s coolest neighbourhoods and very different from the old city.

Nimman (based along Nimmanhaemin Road,) is a hipster district full of chic coffee houses, shopping malls, bars and retail stalls.

Nimman Chiang Mai

Lush, green streets give way to brand new shopping districts and co-working spaces plus some of the best Chiang Mai food and restaurants, many of which are more authentic and less expensive than the old city.

Nimman by day is fine but Nimman by night is even better, with several night markets plus lots of outdoor bars and craft beer bars.

You might like our guide to all the things to do in Nimman >

Nimman Chiang Mai
Nimman Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Night Markets

Chiang Mai is blessed with numerous night-markets – read our guide to the 14 best night markets here >

Our top picks for night markets in Chiang Mai include:

6. Sunday Walking Market (Tha Phae Walking Street)

Likely the most iconic and well-known night market in Chiang Mai, if you plan to visit just one market on this list, the Sunday Night Walking Market is a must-do.

Spanning the full length of Rachadamnoen Road plus several side streets and temple grounds, the Sunday Night Walking Market is huge, comprising hundreds of stalls and food carts.

Sunday Walking Market (Tha Phae Walking Street) Chiang Mai

Most of the food courts are located in the grounds of temples along the main strip, making eating in them quite a satisfying yet surreal experience.

CK Travels tip – for a great aerial view of the Sunday Night Walking Market, grab a drink at the Tha Phae Grill rooftop bar. Head on up several sets of stairs to the outdoor roof deck looking out directly over the Sunday walking market.

You might like our ultimate guide to the Sunday Night Walking Market in Chiang Mai >

Sunday Walking Market (Tha Phae Walking Street) Chiang Mai
View from the Tha Phae Grill rooftop bar

7. Wua Lai Saturday Night Walking Market

One of the best things to do at night in Chiang Mai, the Saturday Night Walking Market in Wua Lai is one of the biggest weekly markets in the city, with hundreds of stalls and several food-courts along a huge outdoor street.

A treasure trove of artisan gifts, street-food (and occasional tourist tat), the Wua Lai Saturday Night Walking Market is a wonderful way to spend your weekend.

Wua Lai Saturday Night Walking Market Chiang Mai

The market runs from 5pm to approx 10pm every Saturday night.

From live entertainment to the dazzling silver temple, clothing stalls to crocodile skewers, read our ultimate guide to the Wua Lai Saturday Night Walking Market in Chiang Mai >

The Sunday Night Walking Market vs Saturday Night Walking Market, which is best?

For us, the Sunday market is better as it is about a third bigger and spread out over a larger area – plus the temple food courts are an experience in themselves.

For a slightly quieter experience, head to the Saturday Night Market instead. Many stall holders attend both markets.

8. Chiang Mai South and North Gate Markets (Nightly)

A nightly market, these are some of the best night markets to get a late night fix of food.

The South and North Gate markets are both food focused and have lots of good looking (and sweet smelling stalls) all closely packed in together, with the historic gates as a stunning back-drop.

cowboy hat lady chiang mai market
Famous Cowboy Hat Lady stall at the North Gate Market

Popular with locals and tourists alike, the South and North Gate food markets have a wide variety of food with lots of budget and cheap eats.

You might like – Things to do in Pattaya, Thailand >

9. Chiang Mai Friday Night Market (Kad Kongkao Walking Street) / Lanna Square Night Market

Much smaller than the Saturday and Sunday night markets, the Chiang Mai Friday night market is less well known, open from 4pm to 10pm with around 30 stalls selling jewellery, food, clothing and other souvenirs like carved soap.

Given its smaller size, we’d recommend combining it with a visit to the Lanna Square Night Market next door, the only daily night market located inside Chiang Mai’s old city walls.

Chiang Mai Friday Night Market (Kad Kongkao Walking Street)
Chiang Mai Friday night market

Opened at the start of 2023, Lanna Square Chiang Mai is currently the newest night market in Chiang Mai and one of the more laid back and mellow food courts.

Consisting of around 30 or so food stalls, Lanna Square night market in Chiang Mai is centred around a large stage area and a huge seating area.

Chiang Mai Lanna Square night market
Lanna Square night market

It is also located next door to Chiang Mai’s main old city bar and entertainment area, centred around Zoe in Yellow bar (so it has the makings of a big Friday night out!)

Check out our guide to Chiang Mai’s Friday Night Walking Market here >

Chiang Mai Lanna Square night market
Lanna Square night market

10. Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area / Anusarn Night Market

Open 7 days a week, there are several night markets around the Night Bazaar Area, all of which are generally open from 5pm to midnight – Anusarn Night Market, Pavillion Night Market, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Kalare Night Bazaar and Ploen Ruedee Night Market.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area / Anusarn Night Market

All of the night markets have dozens of stalls plus food kiosks and street-food stalls. Of all the night markets in this area, the best one is Anusarn Night Market, but make a night of it and visit several in one go.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area / Anusarn Night Market

Anusarn Night Market in Chiang Mai’s night bazaar area has hundreds of stalls selling crafts, souvenirs and clothing. It is quite spread out with lots of room to explore and shop, and much less crowded than the Saturday and Sunday walking markets.

Combine your Anusarn Night Market shopping with a trip to Chill Square, a well lit and clean food court with multiple food outlets (all pretty reasonable in price) and a couple of bars to buy cheap cool Chang beers.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area / Anusarn Night Market - Chill Square
Chill Square

You might like – Things to do in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand >

Chiang Mai Temples

A visit to one of (or several) tranquil temples is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai (most are free to visit). The former capital of the Lanna kingdom in Northern Thailand, there are over 200 Chiang Mai temples in and around the old city.

We’ve written about the best temples to visit in Chiang Mai here but our top 5 temples in Chiang Mai would be:

11. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan

Located in the hills high above Chiang Mai, even the journey to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is breathtaking – and as for the views at the top at night and at sunset…(!)

When you first arrive at Doi Suthep, there are two ways to get to the main temple ground – you can walk up the seven-headed serpent stairs (over 300 steps) or take an electric stair lift /funicular for a small fee.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan Chiang mai

First established in the 1380s, the temple and its grounds have grown over the years to be one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai if not the whole of Thailand.

As a result, tourist hordes can get a little annoying so best to visit late in the evening (the added bonus is that you’ll get to see the sunset over Chiang Mai, given the incredible mountain views).

Fun fact – Part of the movie Rambo III with Sylvester Stallone was filmed at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Stallone regularly used to hang out at Dukes Bar during production.

Book this Chiang Mai Doi Suthep and Wat Umong Enchanting Evening Tour >

12. The Silver Temple

Wat Sri Suphan (or the ‘silver temple’) is one of the most dazzling temples in Chiang Mai, that shimmers and sparkles in the evening.

The original Sri Suphan dates back to the 16th century but was replaced with a ‘silver’ temple (well, silver and aluminum in the 2010s) when the old temple became run down.

This Chiang Mai silver temple is incredible both inside and out. Note that the main temple at Sri Suphan is deemed as ‘for men only’ (we know, we know!).

As of 2024, there is now a small admission fee for foreigners (50 THB) to visit Wat Sri Suphan.

Try this – Chiang Mai temple tours with Viator >

13. Wat Phra Singh

Likely the most famous temple in Chiang Mai’s old city (and as a result, tourist central), Wat Phra Singh is also one of the oldest places of worship with construction work started in 1345.

The Thai Lanna architecture at Wat Phra Singh is also one of the finest examples of its kind in Northern Thailand (also check out Chiang Rai’s temples).

Be sure to check out the huge golden chedi at the rear of the main assembly hall which includes giant golden elephants.

As of early 2024, entrance to the main Wat Phra Singh site and temple is usually free but they charge 50 THB for foreigners for the ceremony with monks at dusk.

You might like – Bangkok’s best shopping malls >

14. Wat Chedi Luang

As you’d expect from a temple that has a title meaning ‘large’ (luang) in Northern Thai dialect, Wat Chedi Luang is epic in scale and famous for its colossal chedi which is almost 300 foot high and can be seen from many parts of Chiang Mai’s old town.

Wat Chedi Luang was built in the 14th century and as you’d expect from such a renowned temple (with beautiful grounds to match), is one of the most frequently visited by tourists.

One of the highlights at Wat Chedi Luang is the ornate ordination hall that is ‘guarded’ by fierce looking naga statues – the colossal chedi base comprises multiple epic elephants, plus you can talk to the novice monks (look out for ‘monk chat’ signs).

Entrance to Wat Chedi Luang costs 50 THB for foreigners – price correct as of May 2024.

You might like – Guide to Jodd Fairs DanNeramit, Bangkok’s newest night market >

15. Wat Jedi Lin

A quick mention of Wat Jedi Lin, our own personal favourite temple in the old city. We like it as it doesn’t get the tourist hordes (yet) but also has an incredible pond with a floating jetty out the back.

Monks walk around the site plus there is a small coffee shop and several terraces where you can feed the fish in the pond.

Serene and one of the most tranquil temples in Chiang Mai, War Jedi Lin is free entry and only a short walk from the more famous temple – Wat Chedi Luang.

You might like our ultimate guide to all the best temples in Chiang Mai & Nimman >

16. Chiang Mai Food Tours

Take a journey through Chiang Mai’s markets and local eateries with a tour guide, exploring the city both on foot and by songthaew (the local red trucks). We did a Chef’s Tour of Chiang Mai and absolutely loved it – read our Chef’s Tour review here >

Many tours give you the opportunity to try tasty Northern Thai food and distinctive desserts like coconut pudding at several Chiang Mai night markets.

Read more about this tour and book your spot >

Check out these other food tours in Chiang Mai:

Rooftop Bars in Chiang Mai

After a ‘hard’ day of sightseeing or Chiang Mai tours, there is no better way to end the day with a sunset session at one of Chiang Mai’s rooftop bars, looking out over the old city or towards the sun-kissed mountains in the distance.

Some of the best rooftop bars in Chiang Mai include:

17. HIDELAND.cnx

Chiang Mai’s biggest and most popular rooftop bar, HIDELAND.cnx is a super spot to see in a sunset with a rooftop terrace and alfresco dining area, both looking toward the mountains.

HIDELAND.cnx Chiang Mai rooftop bar

Open from 5pm to 11.30pm daily, be sure to arrive early at HIDELAND.CNX as the best tables get taken very fast. 

Drink, alcohol and food prices are reasonable here given the view – for  instance, a small bottle of Chang beer at HIDELAND costs around 70 THB as of February 2024.

They also have an extensive food menu (Thai and Japanese fusion) plus a small indoor seating area and DJ playing most nights – entry is free.

HIDELAND.cnx Chiang Mai rooftop bar

18. Tha Phae Grill

The best rooftop bar within the walls of Chiang Mai old city, Tha Phae Grill has incredible panoramic views and unspoilt vistas looking out towards the hills and over the old city temples.

Tha Phae Grill Chiang Mai rooftop bar

Be sure to walk up the several storeys of stairs and perch yourself in a prime position on the very top outdoor rooftop area (there are several floors of indoor areas but make sure you head up top).

Whilst a little more expensive than Hideland, Tha Phae Grill is a fantastic night out in Chiang Mai and the grilled skewers here are really cheap and tasty (around 20THB to 40 THB a stick). A small Chang beer at  Tha Phae Grill costs around 110 THB.

19. See a ‘Knockout’ Muay Thai Fights

One of the most common night sights in Chiang Mai is the Muay Thai promoters handing out leaflets whilst you are in bars or cafes.

Muay Thai boxing matches usually take most nights of the week in Chiang Mai with standard seats costing 600 THB and ringside seats 800 to 900 THB (muay thai boxing prices correct as of early 2024).

Muay Thai Fights Chiang Mai

Most fixtures have a mixture of local Thai fighters and also ‘guest’ international Muay Thai boxers (male and female bouts).

There are several Chiang Mai muay thai stadiums and theatres including Thaepae Boxing Stadium and Kalare Night Bazaar Boxing Stadium – there is usually some form of Muay Thai every night in the city.

Get your Chiang Mai Thaphae Boxing Stadium Tickets here or Kalare Night Bazaar Boxing Stadium tickets here.

20. Lamchang (Chiang Mai’s bohemian neighbourhood)

Situated in the heart of Chiang Mai’s old-town, Lamchang is a warren of smoothie bars and cute cafes by day and bars and hipster hangouts by night.

Whilst it is nice to visit in the daytime, Lamchang’s character shines through at night with lots of live music bars, green garden bars and even late night smoothie bars (and yes, you can ‘smoke’ too).

The best areas to explore in Lamchang at night are Moon Muang Road Lane 7 or Lane 6. We really like the By Hand Pizza Cafe for a tasty slice or relax in the garden bar of Chadra Mantra Hotel with an ice-cold Chang and escape mopeds.

By Hand Pizza Cafe

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21. Chiang Mai Street Art

Chiang Mai’s tree lined avenues and side alleys are awash with cool and creative street-art, by both local and internationally renowned artists.

The beauty of Chiang Mai’s street art scene is that it is constantly changing so you never know what you will discover.

Chiang Mai Street Art

Although there are murals and illustrations all over the city, the areas with the highest concentration of more permanent street art in Chiang Mai are the alleyways in the old city Lamchang neighbourhood (especially the alley where the Friday Night Walking Market takes place). Plus Phra Pok Klao 6 Alley that runs alongside Wat Muen Tum temple.

Chiang Mai Street Art

You might like – the perfect 3 / 4 / 5 day itinerary in Chiang Mai >

22. Three Kings Square / Lanna

The main focal point of the old city and a huge open square where many events and religious festivals take place, Chiang Mai’s Three Kings Square is famous for the eponymous statues of Kings Mengrai, Ngam Muang and Ramkamhaeng and Ngam Muang, said to be the founding fathers of the city.

Three Kings Square / Lanna Chiang Mai

Built in the mid 80s, the Three Kings Square in Chiang Mai is also one of the few open spaces in the old city (popular with skateboarders and freestyle dancers too).

Across from the square, you’ll also find the Lanna Folklife Centre which celebrates Lanna culture in a gorgeous villa style museum – open daily from Wednesday to Sunday, the admission fee is 90 THB per adult and 40 THB per child.

You might like – 7-Eleven Thailand beer and alcohol price guide (or all the Lay’s crisp flavours) >

23. Jing Jai / JJ Farmers Market (Weekends only)

The newest Chiang Mai market on this list, Jing Jai (JJ) Farmers market, takes place every weekend at a purpose built square and retail complex just a short walk or tuk-tuk/ Grab taxi ride from Chiang Mai’s old town (around a 20 minute walk from the north / east old town walls).

Jing Jai / JJ Farmers Market (Weekends only) Chiang Mai

Laid back, beautiful to look at and very chilled and chic, JJ Market (Jing Jai) prides itself on the range of fresh produce, artisan goods and its environmental stance (e.g. no plastic packaging).

Straight away, you can tell that Jing Jai (JJ) farmer’s market is quite different from the other daytime markets in Chiang Mai – it also isn’t that well know by tourists (yet) so on our last visit, we only spotted one other group of ‘tourists’ the entire time we were there.

Read more about what to expect at Jing Jai Farmers Market in Chiang Mai here >

Jing Jai / JJ Farmers Market (Weekends only) Chiang Mai
Jing Jai / JJ Farmers Market (Weekends only) Chiang Mai

24. Blue Noodle

See that massive queue of hungry visitors snaking down the road? That’ll be the entrance to the super popular Blue Noodle Shop, churning out oodles of beef noodles for very little Baht.

Blue Noodle Chiang Mai

Some rate this as the best beef noodle shop in Thailand, famed for its stewed beef which simmers overnight.

We quite liked our food although we thought it was a tad overrated (for our money, Akyra Beef Noodles in Nimman was way tastier and not as ‘touristy’).

Costing 90 THB for a large bowl of beef noodles (correct as of February 2024), take a seat and slurp down your soup at Chiang Mai’s Blue Noodle Shop.

25. Khlong Mae Kah Canal Village

Before you head to Wua Lai for the Saturday evening market, spend the early evening in nearby Khlong Mae Kha Canal Village, a short 15 minute walk from the start of the market.

Khlong Mae Kah Canal Village Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s newest ‘tourist attraction’, Khlong Mae Kha is a waterside village that has recently been transformed to a new night market area that is themed like a Japanese town.

A 1 km stretch of the Khlong Mae Khas has now been cleaned up, with colourful plants and flowers planted and two new Japanese bridges (with lanterns) installed.

Free to visit and a fun thing to do in Chiang Mai, read our guide to visiting Khlong Mae Kah Canal Village here >

Khlong Mae Kah Canal Village Chiang Mai

26. Lanna Architecture Centre and Khum Cafe

Chiang Mai’s Lanna Architecture Centre is a an art gallery with gorgeous gardens right in the heart of the old city.

Lanna Architecture Centre and Khum Cafe Chiang Mai

If you have an interest in Northern Thai style architecture, this is a nice place to browse exhibits, many of which have been produced by students from the Chiang Mai university Architecture Department.

Located in the grounds, Khum Cafe is one of the nicest cafes in the whole of Chiang Mai with beautiful lawns, plenty of tree shade plus a lovely area to relax in complete with traditional Thai triangular pillows and Thai tea.

Lanna Architecture Centre and Khum Cafe Chiang Mai

27. Chiang Mai Mango Sticky Rice Lady

One of the nicest stories and a sweet thing to do in Chiang Mai, make sure you buy your classic mango sticky rice dish from the ‘Mango Sticky Rice 50 Baht’ stall (as it is called on Google Maps) run by the sweetest old lady.

Not only does she sell the most amazing sticky mango rice for just 50 THB (complete with two types of sticky rice – standard and butterfly pea dyed rice), her street-food cart is immaculate. At the of writing she has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Google with almost 50 reviews.

Chiang Mai Mango Sticky Rice 50 Baht

Located on the old city crossroads near the famous Blue Noodle stall and across from Kad Klang Wiang Outdoor Shopping Plaza, the Mango Sticky Rice 50 Baht lady in Chiang Mai can usually be found between mid morning until she sells out (usually by around 1.30pm).

Be aware that when she is finished, another mango sticky rice lady moves into her spot but it just isn’t the same!

28. Chiang Mai Lantern Festival & Loy Krathong (November only)

Loy Krathong is one of the biggest annual festivals in Thailand that takes place during the full moon night on the twelfth month of the Thai lunar month (usually early to mid November in the standard calendar).

One of the best places to enjoy Loy Krathong is in Chiang Mai whereby lanterns are set off in selected parks outside of the city, and thousands of small krathong floats are set sail on the River Ping at sunset and into the evening.

The next Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai will be around 15th November 2024.

Find out more about the Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai here >

29. Massage

You can’t go far in Chiang Mai without hearing the familiar cry of ‘You waaaaant massage?’ *although it is all a bit more low key than say in Bangkok or Pattaya.

There are lots of permanent massage parlours located in and around Chiang Mai old town and Nimman at night.

Zira Spa Chiang Mai
Zira Spa

Pop up massage stands also appear at the Saturday Night market and Sunday Night market en-masse; literally dozens of beds are plonked down on the sides of the market and are a popular tourist attraction.

Generally, the pop-up massage stalls at the night markets are cheapest, offering half hour long massages for as little as 80 THB.

Another popular massage parlour chain in Chiang Mai is Women’s Massage Center By Ex-Prisoner, which is renowned for its social enterprise by training female ex-convicts to become masseuses.

Women’s Massage Center By Ex-Prisoner, Chiang Mai

30. Breakfast and Brunch in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai and Nimman are both renowned for their cool cafes and coffee shops (be sure to check out the industrial chic interiors and skull coffee cups at the award winning chain of Ristr8to coffee shops in Nimman).

After a few weeks spent in Chiang Mai, we’ve had breakfast and brunch in dozens of cafes – most serve good food but these would be our top breakfast and brunch places in Chiang Mai (all are still open as of February 2024):

Sun Rays Cafe

Sun Rays Cafe Chiang Mai

Fern Forest Cafe

Fern Forest Cafe Chiang Mai

Kati Breakfast and Brunch

Kati Breakfast and Brunch Chiang Mai

Nap’s Coffee Roaster CNX

An honourable mention to Nap’s Coffee Roasters CNX who we discovered on our most recent trip to Chiang Mai.

The interiors are sleek with the best air conditioning ever and the staff are very friendly. You can choose which type of roast you’d like and prices are good (around 60 to 90 THB per cup) – the menu is also unpretentious and coffee divine.

Nap’s Coffee Roaster CNX Chiang Mai

31. Warorot Market / Kad Luang

The biggest day market in Chiang Mai (literally every food tour or walking we did took us here), Warorot Market (Kad Luang) is a maze of market stalls across multiple levels, selling everything from dried insects to waving cats.

Warorot Market / Kad Luang chiang mai

Warorot Market’s upper floors specialise in fabric and clothing (everything from school uniforms through to tourist garb) whilst the lower floors have more local ingredients and food stalls.

If you plan to buy tourist gear like elephant pants and traditional hats, Warorot seems to be a little cheaper than the night markets and walking markets.

Also, most stall holders at Warorot seemed to let you browse without any hassle or calculators shoved in your face which is quite refreshing compared to other Chiang Mai markets.

Warorot Market / Kad Luang chiang mai

32. Think Park! Nimman

An outdoor plaza packed with shops, bars and restaurants, Think Park is best described as a Japanese themed entertainment district which really comes alive at night (we find it pretty quiet in the daytime but it has a few beauty and fashion shops).

Think Park Nimman has lots of Japanese lanterns and neon lights plus has craft beer bars and east Asian restaurants – one of the nicest bars is The Camellia cafe and music bar which has a huge outdoor stage.

A little piece of Japan in Nimman, Think Park is a relatively new night-time thing to do in Chiang Mai with loads of cute and charming features like a Japanese road crossing (even the nearest entrance from Maya shopping centre is themed like a Tokyo Metro / Underground station).

33. Chiang Mai Flower Festival (February only)

One of Chiang Mai’s biggest annual festivals held every February, Chiang Mai blooms into life with its Flower Festival, which takes over the city and Buak Haad Park.

On the Saturday morning of the festival, dozens of floral floats and thousands of dancers and musicians take part in a huge 3 hour parade (it starts around 8am to beat the heat).

By night, all the flowery fun moves to Buak Haad Park where there are evening illuminations, light-shows and lasers plus prize presentations for who had the best petals (or something).

The Flower Festival is free to attend – the 2025 Chiang Mai Flower Festival dates have yet to be confirmed but it is likely to be the first or second weekend in February 2025.

34. Chiang Mai Shopping Malls

Although nowhere on the scale of Bangkok’s shopping centres and malls, there is a smaller set of shopping centres in Chiang Mai, mainly located in Nimman or on the outskirts of town.

Maya Lifestyle

Some of the best shopping malls include the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, Chiang Mai Central Festival Mall and the chic One Nimman mall, which has an incredible European style plaza and bell tower – it feels just like Italy (or one of those faux Italian style malls in Las Vegas).

Whilst we aren’t saying shopping is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, the malls are a great place to stock up on essentials or dine in cool air-conditioned restaurants.

Read our guide to the best shopping malls in Chiang Mai here >

Central Festival Mall

35. Cabaret Shows

Chiang Mai is no stranger to night-time cabaret shows and whilst there may not be as many as say Bangkok or Pattaya, there are still several evening performances and dinner shows to choose from.

Popular Chiang Mai night-time cabaret shows include the Siam Dragon Cabaret Show, and the Traditional Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show.

Most (but not all) cabaret shows include transfers and dinner and promise an epic night of evening entertainment.

36. Zoe in Yellow nightclub and bar area

Next to Lanna Square Night Market, the bar area around Zoe in Yellow nightclub has been one of Chiang Mai’s main entertainment districts for several decades.

The square has around 8 or 9 bars and nightclubs including Bar 48 Garage (complete with a VW campervan bar), Roots Rock Reggae Bar, hedonistic Havana bar plus various grass cafes and dispensaries.

Most bars open from 5pm to midnight and as all the bars are right next to each other in a huge outdoor plaza, it can be quite a fun evening pub or bar crawl in the making.

37. Ping River Dinner Cruise

Enjoy an evening epicurean experience aboard a Chiang Mai cruise boat at night – try tasty Northern Thai dishes as you float past temples lit up at night and combine with drinks or tea for an unforgettable night-time treat.

An excellent way to see Chiang Mai at night with all the landmarks lit-up,  the Ping River Cruise is available most evenings and generally sets sail around 7pm.

Book your Ping River Dinner Cruise in Chiang Mai here >

Don’t fancy dinner? Do a daytime cruise on the Ping River here >

38. Tom Lam Yai / Chiang Mai Flower Market

Chiang Mai’s colourful flower market is open every day with most flower vendors beginning work around 5am and closing at dusk, but certain parts are open 24 hours.

Unless you are after flowers or food and drink, there isn’t actually that much to buy there but it is wonderful to walk around and smell the floral scent.

Tom Lam Yai / Chiang Mai Flower Market

If you can, try to visit Tom Lam Yai flower market during the build-up to a festival as the flower stalls will be teaming with floral decorations and bouquets.

During Loy Krathong festival all the stalls have floral tributes to the River Goddess, plus krathongs you can buy to set sail on the River Ping (which is actually just across from the flower market).

Most of the flower deliveries at Tom Lam Yai arrive in the morning to escape the heat when the flowers will more likely wilt, so best to arrive early to see this take place. Tom Lam Yai is also a short walk from Warorot Market so a visit to both of them can be combined.

Tom Lam Yai / Chiang Mai Flower Market
Tom Lam Yai / Chiang Mai Flower Market

39. Listen to live music The North Gate Jazz Co-Op

There is no shortage of live music in Chiang Mai at night – most of the night markets or walking streets have buskers or musicians (some good and some…well…not so good).

One of the most famous live music venues in Chiang Mai, the North Gate Jazz Co-Op is a cosy and charming bar in the shadow of the ancient The Chang Phuek Gate that offers free live blues and jazz music several times a week (just make sure you buy a beer or three).

Another popular live music spot near Chiang Mai Gate is Chai Restaurant, or if you are Nimman, there are also lots of late night music venues and late night cafes too like Why Me and New Moon.

40. Day Trip to Chiang Rai

We’d recommend spending a few nights in the tropical delights of Chiang Rai – check out our perfect 1-2 days in Chiang Rai guide.

Highlights include the Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple), Baan Dam (the Black House), the famous Wot Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) plus numerous night markets.

However, it is also possible to visit Chiang Rai as a day trip from Chiang Mai – find out more with Klook, GetYourGuide or Viator.

The White Temple

You might like – The top things to do in Chiang Rai, Thailand >

41. Chiang Mai Zoo / Night Safari

Chiang Mai zoo is one of the largest zoos in Thailand, located on the outskirts of town near Nimman.

We’ve been a couple of times during the day and it is a fun day out for families, with buggies that take you around various animal enclosures (or you can even hire a golf buggy and drive yourself).

Compared to a lot of western zoos, Chiang Mai Zoo seems quite run down and in need of repair but it is also quite cheap to visit, costing 350 THB per adult and 120 THB per child as of early 2024. It should also be noted the last panda here sadly died in 2023 (so there are no pandas currently at the zoo).

Many visit Chiang Mai zoo by day but there is also a night safari – travel around Chiang Mai Zoo at night on an enclosed tram and see hundreds of animals and international species up close.

Lasting around 1 hour, Chiang Mai Zoo Night Safaris run every day of the week, between 5:30pm and 8pm every evening.

Book your Chiang Mai Zoo Night Safari here >

42. Get High in Chiang Mai

And we aren’t talking rooftop bars! Since 2022, it has been legal to smoke grass in Thailand and dozens of dope shops have cropped up in Chiang Mai old town and in Nimman – that said, please note it is illegal to smoke (and vape) in public places.

With dope cafes in Chiang Mai with names like The Dispensary and Green Smoked, let’s just say it is now quite easy to make best ‘buds ‘in Chiang Mai – look for the bright green neon leaf signs or just follow your nose.

43. Tim Baan Yaii – homemade ice cream in Nimman

This is a really n-’ice’ thing to do in Chiang Mai. A dainty dessert cafe in the back-streets with just a handful of tables inside, this is our favourite ice-cream shop in the whole of Chiang Mai.

The ice-cream here is incredible with delicious homemade flavours like lemon cheesecake plus seasonal specials.

A scoop of single ice-cream at Tim Baan Yaii costs 55 THB. We also tried the 89 THB chocolate sundae which included a free choice of ice-cream, crushed wafers, chocolate brownies bits plus lashings of sauce – honestly, it is ice-cream heaven!

Our final Chiang Mai thing to do

44. Pai

Around 130 km / 90 miles away from Chiang Mai lies Pai, possibly the most picturesque town in the whole of Northern Thailand.

Known for natural wonders like waterfalls and hot-springs to super cool cafes and live music in town, the pace of life in Pai is a lot slower than Chiang Mai (although the mini buses going there seem to be intent on getting there super speedy on windy roads).

One of the most popular trips for Chiang Mai, a one way minibus from Chiang Mai old city to Pai costs from 150 THB per person and can be bought from any tourist office in Chiang Mai.

Or book a private Pai tour here with GetYourGuide or Klook.

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