Quite simply. Chiang Mai is beautiful. It is Northern Thailand’s largest city and is surrounded by lush green mountains, beautiful temples and a bohemian atmosphere that is held together by a growing collection of bars and restaurants, cultural markets and traditional Thai experiences. We don’t think that you’ll need much in the way of persuading, but to get your travel senses ready, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite things to do in Thailand’s ‘New City’: Chiang Mai.
1. The Inspiring Wat Phra Doi Sutthep.
Known commonly as Doi Sutthep (though this is actually the name of the mountain), this mountain-top
temple sits on a peak just 15 kilometers away from Chiang Mai and not only offers visitors a beautiful temple to explore, complete with the famous and awe-inspiring gold-plated Chedi and an intriguing collection of Lanna art, but also offers breathtaking 360 degree views of Chiang Mai and the jungle below. Be prepared to get your muscles working on the ascent up the temple’s 306 steps, stop to take in the incredible views and the wondrous architecture and prepare for one of the most rewarding temple visits in all of Thailand. If you enjoy exploring the Wat’s of Thailand, then you’ll be spoiled for choice in Chiang Mai, but if you only have time for one more then we recommend Wat Chiang Man which is the oldest and one of the most charming temples in Chiang Mai.
2. The YI Peng and the Festival of Lights
Now this will depend on when you’ll be visiting Chiang Mai and Thailand, but if you can time your visit to
coincide with the Yi Peng festival(usually around November time but check first)you’ll be rewarded with
something quite special and unique to Chiang Mai. In other parts of Thailand the Festival of Lights is
celebrated by floating banana leaf cups on rivers and canals, while in Chiang Mai, thousands of balloon like
fire and smoke filled lanterns are flown into the sky. The result is a magical show of lights and shapes,
performed as a symbol of worship to Phrathat Chulamani.
3.Experience a Night in the Jungle | Jungle Trekking
With its close proximity to the jungle, Chiang Mai has become an exciting base for adventure seeking
tourists. You’ll find it easy to join a group on a guided trek where you can ride an elephant, go bamboo rafting and hike through miles of dense jungle. You can just go for a day trip if you don’t feel like an evening in one of the local villages or under a jungle canopy, but we recommend taking the plunge and immersing yourself into the sounds and charms of the jungle at night.
4.Discover a traditional Thai Dish
Thailand is home to a number of great dishes that have originated from all over the country. So it’s only right that Chiang Mai should have its own, and no trip there would be complete without it. Khao Soi or Chiang Mai Noodles is a basic dish made from a coconut milk soup, egg noodles, pickled mustard, chilli paste and your choice of meats. It’s simple fare but iconic of the region.
5. Change your life at a fitness bootcamp
Chiang Mai is a dream setting for the fitness boot camps in the area. You can get all-inclusive packages with pool side accommodation, deliciously healthy food menu’s and access to dedicated fitness professionals who will guide you carefully on a pathway to a new you -perhaps a New Year fitness regime to kickstart yourNew Year resolutions? While there, you’ll be taken to serene locales including waterfalls and rice paddy fields and you’ll be in the most perfect of settings to begin your new life.
6.Get extreme at the Chiang Mai X-Centre
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, then a visit to the X-Centre is a must. Here, if you’re up to the challenge, you can play paintball, drive drift karts and even do a bungee jump. The latter is an incredible experience high above the trees of the jungle where for but a brief moment you can get a unique birds eye view of Chiang Mai and the surrounding area, before you fall 50 meters back to earth. We take our boot camp guests here for a lush and thirst quenching water melon punch on their cycle day adventure. Here is their web site so you can check it out yourself. http://www.chiangmai-xcentre.com/
7.Arts at the Sunday Market
The Chiang Mai Sunday ‘walking street’ Market stretches for a whole kilometer down the full length of
Ratchadamnoen Road. A simple stroll will reveal everything from hand made jewellery boxes, lanterns and various locally produced handicraft products to road side massage parlors, clothing made from Thai silk and a healthy dose of provincial culture. A must see.
8.Explore the Old City | Chiang Mai’s Old City
The old city of Chiang Mai is charm personified. A moat and the remains of a City Wall surround it and once you’re inside you’ll embrace the atmosphere more than anything else. It’s a beautiful place to explore, with every nook and cranny offering a charming scene to the passer by. You’ll find no less than 30 temples, quaint open shop fronts with ladies sewing inside and children playing nearby, and food stalls selling typical Thai street foods and local crafts.
9.The Night Life | Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai is not an all night city like Bangkok or Phuket, but it has its share of great nightspots for those
eager for a little night time recreation. If you’re a fan of the market cultures in Thailand then a visit to the
Night Bazaar in the center of the city will be rewarding. Expect to find similar products to the Sunday Market,only the night Bazaar has a very different atmosphere – with the glowing neon signs of Western food chains,international bars close by, plenty of cheap but very tasty street food to try, and a few extras – like portrait painters and stalls selling fake designer clothes and jewellery. There are some great bars around the city too,with the more touristy spots tending to be around the old city. If you’re looking for something a little trendier -then head to one of the bars in Nimmanhaemin just northwest of the old city.
If your experience of Thailand has thus far been confined to scenes of lengthy stretches of white sand beaches and the vast city scapes of Bangkok, then Chiang Mai will be a surprising change with its incredible natural scenery, hundreds of temples, 360 degree vistas of lush tropical jungle and a bohemian air that gives the city something of a dreamy atmosphere – it is perfect for aspiring artists and those in search of a little adventure or even a little relaxation – Chiang Mai truly has something for everyone.
We hope our 10 great things to experience in Chiang Mai has inspired you to come and visit us!
Many of our bootcamp guests combine their Thailand fitness retreat with a stay in Chiang Mai City. We are always happy to recommend the must do places to visit and activities to try in Chiang Mai.
To Your very good health and happiness Louise from Fresh Start Fitness Bootcamp at the luxury Spa Health Resort Chiang Mai Thailand.