Places to visit in Chiang Mai
Have you ever connected to a place instantly? Even though you have never been to that place before, the moment you land there you feel you are at home? Well, Chiang Mai was exactly that for me. I am in love with Chiang Mai and I loved everything about the place, the landscapes, temples, elephant camps and the people. In this post, I will list down all the places to visit in Chiang Mai.
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About Chiang Mai
Once the capital of independent Lanna kingdom, Chiang Mai is a city in the northern part of Thailand. Famous for its ancient temples and landscapes, Chiang Mai was founded in the year 1296. With very few tourists and less crime rate, Chiang Mai is one of the safest destinations for solo travelers.
- The best time to visit Chiang Mai is between the months of October and April as the weather is pleasant and cool. This is also the peak season which means that there will be more tourists than normal. January is the coldest month in Chiang Mai.
- You need at least 3 to 4 days to explore and cover the places in Chiang Mai. There are many things to do in and around the city.
- The best way to explore Chiang Mai is by buying TAGTHAi one day or three days pass. This is more economical way of exploring many sights in Chiang Mai.
Places to visit in Chiang Mai
There are many things to do in Chiang Mai From the local markets and restaurants, to spectacular ancient temples, Chiang Mai has something to offer to all kinds of travelers. There are around 24 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai alone.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
While my friend and I were strolling around in Chiang Mai city, we accidentally met a taxi driver named Mon. He was the one who informed us about Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. And he mentioned that the temple was the number one spot to visit in Chiang Mai.
Located on Doi Suthep mountain, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Buddhist temple. The temple dates back to 1383 and is considered as one of the most sacred temples in Thailand. As this is a religious site, the visitors must dress appropriately and remove footwear before entering the temple.
Decorated with gold coated domes, the temple is massive and grand. With various Buddha statues and domes, the temple is housed in a large complex and every corner tells the story of Buddha.
At a height of 1676 metres, the temple is situated on top of a mountain and you need a vehicle to reach to the base of the temple. From the base or the ticketing office, the temple can be reached by two ways:
- One by climbing around 309 steps and
- Other by taking a cable car (which costs around Thai Bhat 50 per person return).
According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera had a dream and in his dream he was asked to go to Pang Cha and find a relic. When he ventured, he found a bone which many claimed was Gautama Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers and it glowed.
Sumanathera took the relic to Sukhothai’s king King Dharmaraja. Unfortunately, the relic did not display any powers and the king doubtful of the authenticity of relic asked Sumanathera to keep the relic with him. With King Dharmaraja’s permission, Sumanathera took the relic to King Nu Naone of Lan Na. The relic broke into two pieces, where one was enshined Wat Suan Dok and the other piece was placed on a white elephant and sent back to the forest. The elephant is said to have climbed the mountain up to Doi Suthep, where the elephant stopped, trumpeted three times and died. After this incident, the king immediately gave orders to construct the temple.
- The temple is around 15 kilometres from the Chiang Mai city and by road, the journey takes about 30 minutes.
- Taxi charges to the temple – Mon, the taxi driver, charged us Thai Bhat 800 for a return trip.
- Timings of the temple: 6 AM to 8 PM every day.
- There is an entrance fee of 30 Thai Bhat.
- Cable car ride – The additional cost for visiting the temple is Thai Bhat 50 per person (return) for the cable car ride.
Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham
One of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai is Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham. Said to be more than 700 years old, the temple was built by King Mangrai of the Lan Na dynasty. Famous for its ancient tunnels and large chedi, the Buddhist temple has many attractions such as the Talking trees (with words of wisdom in Thai and English languages), paintings, library/museum and many more. Note that the temple is also called as the Tunnel temple.
- The temple is around 6 kilometres from the Chiang Mai city and by road, the journey takes just a little more than 10 minutes.
- Timings of the temple: 5 AM to 8 PM every day.
- There is no entrance fee.
Wat Chedi Luang
Another ancient temple in Chiang Mai is Wat Chedi Luang which is around 600 years old. Even though the temple’s construction began in the 14th century when King Saen Muang Ma planned to bury his father’s ashes, the temple was finished only by mid 15th century.
- The temple is in Chiang Mai city and you can walk to the temple if you are staying at city centre.
- Timings of the temple: 5 AM to 10 PM every day.
- There is an entrance fee of 40 Thai Bhat per adult and 20 Thai Bhat per child.
Local market at Night Bazaar road
Night Bazaar road is located in Chiang Mai city centre and is home to one of the best local markets in Chiang Mai. From local souvenirs to delicious street food, the local market at Night Bazaar road offers everything to tourists.
- The market is open every day between 5 PM and 11 PM. And the busiest time is around 7 PM.
- Ensure to haggle on the prices quoted.
Located in the southern part of Chiang Mai province, Chom Thong has many things to do, including Doi Inthanon National park.
At a height of 80 metres, Wachirathan waterfall is a great stop over in the Chom Thong district. Also known as Diamond Creek falls, it is one of the prominent and beautiful waterfall in Thailand.
- The waterfall is open every day between 6 AM and 5 PM and is on the way to the summit of Doi Unthanon.
- There is an entrance fee to enter the national park and it is about 50 Thai Bhat per adult.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Famous for its waterfalls, trails, view points, the Doi Inthanon National park is a one day trip from Chiang Mai. The national park is home to Thailand’s highest mountain Doi Inthanon and the national park is also called as the roof of Thailand. Standing tall at 1676 metres, Doi Inthanon mountain can be climbed and there are 306 steps to get to the summit.
- The national park is around 70 kilometres from Chiang Mai city and by road, the journey takes up to one hour 30 minutes.
- You can also take a one day tour from Chiang Mai that cost about 600 Thai Bhat.
- There is a temple at the top of Doi Inthanon and visitors can visit the temple for free.
- You need to cover your head when you visit the temple and wear appropriate clothing. No shorts or revealing clothes.
- To enter the temple, ensure to leave your foot wear outside. No shoes or slippers allowed inside.
Weekend trip to Wat Rong Khun (The White temple) in Chiang Rai
Popular for its amazing and intricate architecture, Wat Rong Khun is a privately owned art exhibit in Chiang Rai. The temple is white in colour representing the purity of Buddha and is also known as the White temple.
- The temple is around 175 kilometres from Chiang Mai city and by road, the journey takes up to 3 hours.
- Timings of the temple: 8 AM to 5 PM every day.
- There is an entrance fee of 50 Thai Bhat per adult.
- As it is a temple, you need to wear appropriate clothing.
How to get to Chiang Mai?
The distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is around 700 kilometres. The fastest way to get to Chiang Mai is by flight which takes just about 1 hour. There is good connectivity between the cities by Air Asia and the cost of one way ticket from Bangkok and Chiang Mai is around USD 40 to 70.
If you have a transit stop in Bangkok and have very few hours in the city, then read how to spend a few hours in Bangkok so you can make the best use of your transit time.
Chiang Mai can also be reached by trains and buses from Bangkok. The train or a bus takes around 10 to 11 hours journey but are the cheapest mode of travel and costs less than USD 20 for one way.
Transportation within Chiang Mai
Rent a bike
The most economical way to travel within Chiang Mai city is by renting a motor bike. There are many places where you can rent a bike and you need to have an international bike licence to ride within the city. The bike rental (for a gearless two wheeler) is around 450 Thai Bhat per day.
Mon, taxi driver’s contact details
It was by accident that my friend and I met this amazing taxi driver named Mon. We took a three hours trip with him and he charged us a reasonable fare. He is very friendly and more importantly he is local. He knows most of the stuff and also tells you the history of the places. I would definitely recommend him, especially if you are a solo traveler and would want to explore Chiang Mai.
- Mon’s phone number is 065-6949404 if you wish to contact him. Say hello from me when you visit him!
Do not forget to get the famous Thai Massage
Review | Gold Hand Thai Massage
Who doesn’t love body massages, especially if they are Thai massages? Who doesn’t love pampering? I am sure everyone loves them and likewise I love them too. While I was in Chiang Mai, I got body massages done almost everyday. I tried various places to find that right massage centre that had the best ambiance and masseur. One place which was very nice and cheap was the Gold Hand Thai Massage. This massage centre is on the Night Bazaar road and I must say they were amazing. The staff is very friendly and the massage very relaxing. I would highly recommend them for the best massage in the city.
Safety for solo female travelers
Absolutely yes! Chiang Mai is very safe for solo female travelers. Even though I traveled to the city with a friend, I can still vouch that the city is safe and friendly to the travelers. However, like any other city in the world, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at night.
Having visited multiple cities in Thailand, I can for sure say that Chiang Mai is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. The city will always be special for me and even though I have been there already, I still feel I can go back and discover more places.
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What did you like about the city? Let me know in the comments below.
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