Chiang Mai is about as laid back as Bangkok is busy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do! From temples in the city to elephant camps in the jungle, you’ll definitely spend your day working up an appetite for the delicious street food to be had in the evenings. Here’s our Chiang Mai bucket list to inspire the beginnings of your next adventure:

Ride a Songthaew and a Tuktuk
Tuktuks are private and a nice way to catch a cool breeze if you’re sweltering in the summer heat! But songthaews will typically cost about half the price as you share the truck with other passengers and hop on/hop off wherever you like.

Shane inside a crowded songthaew truck.
Tuktuk!
Chat with the Monks
Most of the temples you’ll come across offer “monk chats” to allow a low-key cross cultural exchange that helps the young monks practice their English.

Thai monk
Bathe an Elephant
Elephant Nature Park doesn’t allow riding on their elephants, but you get to take them for a walk and splash around in the river with them!

Such a special time with these gentle giants.
Eat Khao Soi
The crispy noodles and pickled vegetables and lime that go on top are definitely something to write home about. This bowl was only 40 baht ($1.15USD)!

Khai Soi paired with a Thai tea is everything I need right now.
Get a Prison Massage
Where else can you say you did this? The local women’s correctional institute houses a vocational massage and spa training program. Getting an hour-long Thai massage is so inexpensive (compared to the US) you could probably afford to visit more than once while in Chiang Mai.

The spa also has a restaurant with a lovely courtyard!
Shop the Night Market
It’s THE place to be in the evenings, whether you’re shopping or just grabbing a bite to eat. Unless it’s Saturday or Sunday—in that case, you’ll need to head to the Saturday or Sunday Markets!

Plenty of food stalls at the night market!
Let Fish Nibble on Your Toes
Don’t, I repeat DON’T participate in this pedicure if you’re extremely ticklish!

Join the Hype of Songkran
If you happen to be in the city during Thai New Year, don your parka and buy a watergun because NO ONE is safe!

Old, young—everyone gets involved in the water fights.
You WILL get soaked!
Escape to this Cool Secret Garden
When you’re ready to have a chill afternoon, head to this cool secluded garden for a cup of coffee.

Table at The Faces
Leave an Offering at a Temple
When you visit one of the city’s 300 temples, buy a flower and incense to leave at the feet of Buddha.

Incense and flower bundles are sold around the temples!

Being the heart of Northern Thailand, there’s endless things to do in Chiang Mai to satisfy any cultural enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, animal lover or foodie traveler. Check out the rest of our posts to start planning your trip to Thailand now:
How We Booked Our Business Class Flight for This Trip for Only $57

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About The Author

Traveling as often as possible while also running a vintage shop from our home in Texas. Obsessed with ancient sites, Turkish carpets, and tacos.

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