Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and is more relaxed compared to busy Bangkok. Surrounded by northern hills and jungle, people visiting Chiang Mai often stay longer to enjoy its delicious food, peaceful hotels, and old temples.

In the 13th century, Chiang Mai was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and was known for its markets and monasteries. Even though the modern city has grown beyond its old walls, you can still see monks, street vendors, and bustling markets everywhere.

Visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a famous temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A legend says a sacred white elephant carried a piece of Buddha’s bone to the top of Mount Suthep and died there. The golden temple was built on that spot.

You can climb 306 steps to the temple, with shiny serpents lining the way (or take a lift). At the top, there are small shrines, gardens, and great views of Chiang Mai, especially in the late afternoon. You can also hit a huge gong.

Cycle the Ruins of Wiang Kum Kam

Wiang Kum Kam is an ancient city 5 km (3 miles) south of Chiang Mai. It was hidden underground until recent excavations. The city was abandoned due to flooding and is now a quiet area by the Mae Ping River.

You can cycle through the ruins, which are peaceful and not crowded. The site has big plinths and stupas, showing its historical importance. Over 1,300 artifacts were found here, some shown in a nearby visitor center.

Haggle for Bargains at Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar

Chiang Mai has always been a market town. The night bazaar, open every night, is the main market. It’s easy to find with its bright lights and music.

Outer stalls sell items like plastic sunglasses, but deeper in, you’ll find antiques and fabrics. Hill tribe traders sell traditional items like organic coffee and baskets. Bargaining is expected, so be ready to negotiate with a smile.

Learn Thai Cooking with a Local Family

Spend a day cooking with Mr. Prapat and his family in Chiang Mai. Start by picking fresh ingredients from their garden. Then learn to cook Thai dishes, balancing salty and sweet flavors. Enjoy the meal with fresh watermelon juice or coconut water around the family table.

Visit the Elephant Nature Park

The Elephant Nature Park helps save Asian elephants in Thailand. The park provides medical care and a place for elephants to roam.

During your visit, you’ll see elephants grazing and playing. At lunch, learn about elephant care from specialists. You can also help bathe the elephants in a river.

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