Most people will tell you to only spend three days in Chiang Mai. But they’re wrong. We spent seven days here and we were highly glad that we did. There are so many things to do in Chiang Mai that three days simply isn’t enough and leaves no time to chill.
Chiang Mai was a great next stop from Bangkok. It was smaller and bit quieter. The people a lot friendlier. A million times less pollution, And beautiful views all around the city. We took a plane from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which took an hour. This only costs around £40. This was much easier than it would have been to get a bus.
We stayed in a budget hotel which we booked on hotels.com, fair to say it was very basic. Clean but not as luxurious as we were used to. There is an abundance of hotels, hostels and apartments to suit everyone during their stay, we opted for a very cheap one because we’re trying to stretch our pennies out as much as possible. Our hotel was called Central CNX. All the staff were very friendly and helped us out when ever we needed it.
The hotel had a small swimming pool which was perfect for relaxing after a busy morning and cooling down. There was a laundry service in the hotel which cost 50baht (£1) per kilo, a massive help because me and Matt were running out of clothes. The room was cleaned daily if you wanted it to be and all our stuff was safe. The bathroom door did come off if you opened it too quickly though, but hey what else do you expect from a budget hotel.
For getting around and seeing all the things to do in Chiang Mai there is no other option than to rent a moped. Well there is but none of them are better than having the freedom to go where ever you want when you want. For a 125cc it cost 200baht which is equivalent to £4. It was cheaper to hire a moped for a day than it was to wash our clothes. Mental. Be careful on the roads though, they don’t seem to have many rules here and right of way isn’t a thing. I didn’t drive, Matt did. I just clutched on for dear life on the back. Don’t let them keep your passport as a deposit, most hotels wont ask for these but private companies will. All in all this was one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai for getting around.
Right at the top of my list for things to do in Chiang Mai and definitely one experience you can’t miss out on is spending the day with many of the rescued elephants. I wrote a full post on this so I wont go into too much detail, But it was one of the best days of my life for sure. Read about it here.
On one of the many days we spent in Chiang Mai we visited Monthathan Waterfall. Here we completed our first nature hike and died a little. The waterfall was surreal and there was a few different tiers to it that were reached by a hike/climb. Throughout the nature trail there were little information points telling you about the different trees and wildlife that grew and lived in the jungle. There are loads more waterfalls around Doi Suthep area but me and Matt were absolutely knackered after the first one. So we went back home and sun bathed around the pool.
Whilst you’ve got your scooter visit the Doi Suthep Temple. It was beautiful up there. Views for days. Golden temples all around and colourful gardens surrounding. Be prepared to hike up 309 steps though. I am super unfit so I was sweating buckets by the time I got to the top. But hey at least they had an ice cream shop up there.
If you keep exploring past Doi Suthep you’ll reach one of the ‘hill tribes’ Not really what I was expecting but there was lots of shop stalls and food places there. This tribe have obviously adapted to suit the tourists. Past the shops was a flower garden with a waterfall running through it which was gorgeous.
After the sun sets the night markets come alive. There are so many to visit and there was way too much to buy. You could literally buy anything, scorpions on sticks, puppies, fakes, you name it they had it. We got lost a few times but every corner brought a new street of make shift stalls and they needed exploring. Bartering with the sellers gets easier with practise. What ever you want to pay say lower and haggle the price. Usually if it’s a fair offer and you ‘pretend’ to walk away they’ll call you back and sell it to you.
All the bars and restaurants you could possibly need are everywhere you look and not hard to find, especially in the old town. Its quite cheap to eat in Chiang Mai with a sit down meal costing between £2 and £6. If you’re looking for something a bit more romantic head to the river just outside of the old town and sit in one of the many gorgeous riverside restaurants, the prices here can be anywhere from £2 a meal to about £10, still pretty cheap! For a more local experience try out one of the millions of street food vendors. My go to meal whilst I was there was chicken fried rice, which didn’t even cost me £1. I’m a sucker when it comes to spicy food so if something says it’s a little spicy it’ll probably blow your head off if you’re like me.
Drinking in Chiang Mai is fairly priced. A lot cheaper than back home. There are plenty of drinking holes to go around here as well. The weird purchasing of beer laws in Thailand where you can only purchase alcohol at certain times doesn’t seem to apply in these places, only in the shops. Which is a super win. Beers all round.
So that’s My things to do in Chiang Mai. Hope you enjoyed. Next up is Cambodia and Siem Reap.