Chiang Mai Travel Guide
The ultimate guide to the best things to do and see in Chiang Mai
Thailand’s northern city is a cool place offering something a bit different than the typical Thai beach destinations. Full of young and creative people, it’s a hipster heaven surrounded by mountains. Start here with my basic Chiang Mai travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest Chiang Mai travel blogs.
When to Visit
October to April is the tourist high-season for all of Thailand and over the summer months you’ll experience the rainy season and hot, hot, hot weather. But then again — you can also get bargain deals on tours and hotels. If you plan your trip around some of the more interesting festivals and holidays (Loi Krathong, or the Lantern Festival, in October/November and Songkran in April), then you’re sure to have an amazing cultural experience, especially in Chiang Mai, where it’s extremely popular.
Top Things To Do
Take a cooking class – Thai food is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Thailand, right? It definitely is for me! And learning how to cook some of it yourself is a great way to learn more about the culture and take home with you a new skill rather than just souvenirs! There are tons of places in town that will offer cooking classes, but for something a bit unique, try May Kaidee for a vegetarian or vegan cooking class.
Get a view over the city from Doi Suthep – The national park and mountain, just outside of the city, offers incredible views of the surrounding areas (so long as the skies are clear!). But besides the scenic viewpoint, it’s the temple that sits atop the mountain which is the real attraction. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (its official name) is an impressive, gold-colored Buddhist temple. It’s a holy site for many Thai people and it’s also a very popular tourist attraction.
Visit the Elephant Nature Park – I don’t know much about the elephant-tourism industry in Thailand except what I heard at Elephant Nature Park, but it does seem like a risky game to play with living, breathing animals. Anyway, once you’re at the park, you spend most of the day feeding the elephants (they eat A LOT), bathing them once or twice in the nearby river, and enjoying a smorgasbord of a buffet lunch. It’s not a cheap thing to do, but it is definitely something you’ll remember!
Chiang Mai Tours
Although it’s a relatively small city, taking a tour around Chiang Mai will save you time and get you in to some areas of the city you might otherwise overlook, so it’s definitely worth you time to consider one. Take a look at this selection of Chiang Mai tours.
LGBT – Gay Chiang Mai Travel Guide
Thailand is generally regarded as a very gay-friendly country to visit in Southeast Asia, and Bangkok regularly makes it to the top of the world’s best gay-friendly cities, but Chiang Mai is also a super gay-friendly destination in its own right. These are a few of the best things you should know about visiting gay Chiang Mai.
Ram Bar – Billing itself as Chiang Mai’s friendliest gay bar, this place is right in the heart of the city and puts on elaborate cabaret shows every night at 10pm. Guarantees a good time!
Club One Seven Sauna – More than just a gay sauna, this place is also a guesthouse with a fully equipped gym, spa and massage salon. It’s well appointed, beautifully designed and serves as a great place to meet other gay travelers.
More gay travel resources here.
Chiang Mai Hotel Deals
Chiang Mai has plenty of cool and quirky hotels, as well as all the big chains you’d expect. I’ve found that using Booking.com, Agoda.com or Hotels Combined can be really useful for finding last-minute deals.
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