The morning begins with a soft glow and a cool breeze. People walk through the streets, beginning their days by giving alms to orange clad monks and receiving blessings. Food stalls are just being set up and the smell of chile, incense, and different spices mix together.The sound of countless birds chirping fills the air.
Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities in the world, which is probably why I chose to live here for a year. It’s small, but still has the amenities of a big city without feeling claustrophobic and overwhelming. The people are generally friendlier then in the touristy south, and countless book shops, vegetarian restaurants, and hip clothing boutiques line the streets. Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai is surrounded by readily accessible nature that is only an hour or so away.
Here are some of my favorite things to do and places to go in Chiang Mai- and remember- Chiang Mai is not so much about doing, but more about sitting back, feeling, and soaking up the experience.
The Walking Street Market is held every Sunday from 4-10 pm. I prefer to get there early, as the crowds of tourists haven’t formed yet and you can see everything being set up. Sunday Market is one of the best places to buy souvenirs, crafty home items, clothes, and street food.
For a thrift store addict such as myself, this place is heaven. It is filled with vintage dresses, leather purses, and beaten up oxfords. You have to hunt for a while to find something wearable, but there are so many hidden gems among the racks.
Places like this are why Chiang Mai will always have such a special place in my heart. Different stalls sell fresh pressed juice, organic peanut butter, kefir, and black rice sprouted bread. They also have delicious food to eat on the spot, such as a salad bar and a wraps/burritos stand from the owners of Birds Nest Cafe. The market is located directly behind the 3 kings monument in Old City.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Although it’s a long drive up the mountain, Doi Suthep is definitely worth it. The views from the mountain are some of the biggest draws here, as the rest of the temple can be rather crowded.
Elephant Nature Park
I wrote a separate post on elephant parks in Thailand here, but felt that Elephant Nature Park should definitely be included on this list. It is a great way to see these majestic creatures in an almost natural environment, and supports a great cause.
Get a Massage
Getting a thai massage is like yoga without doing any work. Afterwards, I feel incredibly stretched out. My favorite place in Chiang Mai to get a massage is Green Bamboo Massage. Unlike many other places, they have tables with an area to put your face, which really helps with neck strain. An hour long thai massage there costs 200B (around 8$.)
Sticky Falls is about an hours motorbike drive outside of Chiang Mai. It is unlike any waterfall I have ever seen, and you can climb up it if you are wearing the right shoes. It is a great place to spend the afternoon, and many local families have picnics there.
Catmosphere is heaven for an animal lover such as myself. You can drink coffee and cuddle with adorable cats. What more can I say?
Art in Paradise
Art in Paradise is a very fun interactive museum that is located very close to the Night Market. Although I want here on a field trip for work, I would definitely come back with friends. It has amazing photo taking opportunities and is overall a very fun experience.
I feel as perhaps this should be in a separate blog post all of it’s own, but I will include it anyways. Songkran is giant water festival that occurs during April, the hottest month of the year in Thailand. Although Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand, it is known for being the most fun and craziest in Chiang Mai. People come out in droves, armed with water guns and buckets of water, sometimes with ice in it. There are foam parties,water fights, and all over good-natured fun. Prepare to completely soaked.
Those are some of my favorite things to do in Chiang Mai. I didn’t including eating out, because I plan to make an entirely separate blog post on that- food in Chiang Mai deserves it. Anyways- did I miss anything? What do you love to do in Chiang Mai?