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Chiang Mai Province

Trip Planner Asia  /  Thailand  /  Chiang Mai Province
(75,000+ reviews from top 30 attractions)
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Rose of the North

Accessible by an overnight train from Bangkok, Chiang Mai Province seems a world away from the rest of Thailand. The mountain ranges of this area shelter abundant vegetation and wildlife, and provide many chances for adrenaline-inducing outdoor activities. Most visitors come to raft, hike, and bike the forested hills, but you can also take a more relaxed approach to your Chiang Mai vacation by exploring botanic gardens, experimental farms, elephant sanctuaries, hot springs, and the numerous temples scattered across the area. The center of traditional cottage industries, Chiang Mai houses lots of workshops turning out handcrafted silverware, pottery, and silk clothing--all of which make classic souvenirs. Plan your tour of Chiang Mai Province and Thailand travel itinerary using our Thailand trip generator.
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Chiang Mai Province Holiday Planning Guide

Accessible by an overnight train from Bangkok, Chiang Mai Province seems a world away from the rest of Thailand. The mountain ranges of this area shelter abundant vegetation and wildlife, and provide many chances for adrenaline-inducing outdoor activities. Most visitors come to raft, hike, and bike the forested hills, but you can also take a more relaxed approach to your Chiang Mai vacation by exploring botanic gardens, experimental farms, elephant sanctuaries, hot springs, and the numerous temples scattered across the area. The center of traditional cottage industries, Chiang Mai houses lots of workshops turning out handcrafted silverware, pottery, and silk clothing--all of which make classic souvenirs.

Places to Visit in Chiang Mai Province

Destinations in Chiang Mai Province

Chiang Mai: The province's largest city, this "Rose of the North" stands under tall mountains and boasts plenty of atmosphere: architecture, markets and shops, restaurants, and some of the top natural attractions in Chiang Mai Province.

Mae Rim: Mae Rim couples insight into the culture and life of indigenous tribes with memorable views and natural attractions, including wildlife reserves dedicated to the preservation of endangered species.

Doi Suthep: A mountain getaway, this 1,676 m (5,499 ft) high nature park offers relaxing hikes through lush forests, examples of old religious architecture, and sweeping views of the city.

Doi Inthanon National Park: Often referred to as the "roof of Thailand," Doi Inthanon National Park boasts hiking trails, waterfalls, and the summit where visitors flock to enjoy breathtaking views of the world from above.

Popular Chiang Mai Province Tourist Attractions

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: Climb the 309 steps up the mountain to this sacred Buddhist religious site, wrapped in mystery since its founding in 14th century.

Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan: Originally the final resting place of the 14th-century king, Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan today represents a massive temple with great historical and religious significance.

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park: Housing the royalty's winter residence, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park includes stunning views, a waterfall and pool for cooling off, gardens with various plant and animal species, and an onsite temple.

Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden: With over 400 species, including orchids and palms, the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden offers a well-organized presentation of a range of plant life.

Huay Tung Tao Lake: Swim, sunbathe, or picnic at this man-made lake hidden by lush forest and dotted with shady huts.

Wat Chiang Man: Two meditation halls, gilded ornaments, and interesting statues make Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in the area, worth including in a Chiang Mai itinerary.

Wat Chet Yot (Wat Maha Photharam): Designed as a replica of the Indian temple where Buddha attained enlightenment, this 15th-century place of worship showcases intricate design and exudes a peaceful atmosphere, weighted with history and religious importance.

Tha Phae Gate: Built in the 13th century as a means of defense, the Tha Phae Gate today represents an important historic and cultural landmark, as well as a favorite gathering place--especially for the traditional Sunday market.

Planning a Chiang Mai Province Vacation with Kids

Places to Visit in Chiang Mai Province with Kids

With lush nature, a variety of natural sights, and a refreshingly slow pace, the province proves a very welcoming place to young visitors; as such, you'll have plenty of Chiang Mai Province vacation ideas for the whole family.

Nature-loving kids will appreciate encounters with wild animals in the province's conservation centers. Meanwhile, the number and variety of national parks are perfect for hiking, and the mountain bases let you try some climbing or trekking.

The old town of Chiang Mai provides information and interesting facts about the local history and culture. Even the youngest will enjoy the narrow streets, colorful markets, stories of the past, and different tasty snacks.

Things to Do in Chiang Mai Province with Kids

Get to know the province's wildlife with a trip to the famous Chiang Mai Zoo or Thai Elephant Home, and then pet the baby tigers at Tiger Kingdom. Spend at least a day of your Chiang Mai vacation at Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, with its shaded benches, soft grass, and lots of things to see and do. Kids will also appreciate a trip along the region's beloved river with a Mae Ping river cruise.

Tips for a Family Vacation in Chiang Mai Province

Thanks to the province's laid-back pace, a family holiday in Chiang Mai Province should be relatively easy and worry-free. If you happen to need a babysitting service, ask in advance when making your reservations: many resorts offer childcare for up to several hours. Likewise, many hotels provide additional smaller beds or cribs, but do your research before booking.

If you anticipate that any family members may have allergies or problems with the change of climate, bring your own medications instead of buying them there--best to stick with the tried and true. That said, most of the things babies and toddlers need such as bottles, wet wipes, or diapers are available in most of the grocery stores and supermarkets in Chiang Mai Province's cities.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Chiang Mai Province

Cuisine of Chiang Mai Province

This northern province represents a unique region compared to the rest of the country, and the cuisine also reflects these differences. Food preparation here bears the influence of China and Burma, yielding new recipes that have become a trademark of the people.

Several dishes you won't want to pass up during your Chiang Mai Province trip include sai oua, grilled pork sausage with a variety of vegetables and herbs; tam khanun, spicy jackfruit salad; and gaeng hoh, one of the numerous curry variations, consisting of different curry pastes and pork or shrimp.

For some finger food to accompany a drink, go for miang ham, which uses betel leaves as the basis, and all kinds of fillings: shrimp, diced fruits and vegetables, dips, and spices.

As you tour Chiang Mai you'll probably notice the prevalence of curry: staples of the local diet include khao soi (a soup with noodles and chopped fresh vegetables) and gaeng hang lay (curry with pork pieces).

Shopping in Chiang Mai Province

If you expect to find shiny high-end stores bearing the names of international brands on your Chiang Mai holiday, you're likely to be disappointed. However, if you learn a bit about the region's extensive history in trade dating back to the 15th century, you'll be thrilled to mingle with the locals in some of the numerous traditional street markets.

Indeed, the markets are very much a Chiang Mai attraction in and of themselves. Some of them happen only on weekends, while plenty of others open at sunset and last until midnight. Try hitting San Kamphang's Saturday market, and don't miss the popular Night Bazaar, Sunday night market at Tha Pae Gate, and Wualai Road Saturday night market. Each of these showcases a rich diversity of traditional arts and crafts, such as cotton and silk clothes and scarves, bags, shoes, and home decor items like gilded bowls. Of course, part of the charm of the night markets lies in the small, quaint eateries and food vendors serving up local specialties and drinks, so pause for a break and then head back for more bargaining.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to Chiang Mai Province

Interesting Facts About Chiang Mai Province

● Chiang Mai is almost completely surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains.

● Most of the locals work in the agriculture business.

● The region is abundant in national parks, with nearly 20 within its borders.

Holidays & Festivals in Chiang Mai Province

Apart from the state holidays celebrated throughout Thailand with days off, family gatherings, and public events, this region boasts several events and festivals characteristic for this part of the country. If you have the chance, try to include one or more on your list of things to do in Chiang Mai Province.

The Ping River Festival takes place around November 9-12, with the spectacular sight of hundreds of shining lanterns and fireworks lighting up the sky and paying tribute to the river.

If you visit in April, you can catch the Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai: this local New Year's celebration turns into a huge party all over the city, with the world's largest water fight. The event started as a tradition of spraying loved ones with water for good luck, but nowadays it's all about getting soaking wet--plus dance and music performances.

For those who enjoy seeing, smelling, and learning about flowers, Chiang Mai's Flower Festival is the place to be in the beginning of February. Colorful parades of people and floats decorated with real flowers, beauty pageants, and several stages with bands keep the atmosphere cheerful.

Useful Chiang Mai Province Travel Tips

Climate of Chiang Mai Province

When planning a Chiang Mai Province vacation, you'll be delighted to know that the climate is a very pleasant, mild topical one, characterized by three seasons: cool, hot, and rainy. The cool season (November-March) has average temperatures reaching 20 C (68 F), pleasant for long walks and exploring. The hot season sees temperatures as high as 40 C (105 F) and lasts until June; this might be hard on those who don't tolerate high humidity.

From June to October, the rainy season brings brief daily downpours, but the temperatures are lower, around 25 C (77 F). If you don't mind the wet interruptions and the rampant mosquitoes, you'll find a breathtakingly green landscape and otherwise comfortable conditions.

Transportation in Chiang Mai Province

You have plenty of options for transit while sightseeing in Chiang Mai Province, from charming local transit to rental cars for convenience.

As usual, buses in larger towns offer service to local and sometimes more distant destinations. Generally the vehicles are well maintained, air-conditioned, and rather inexpensive. More popular than the buses are the famous songthaews: these private, vividly painted trucks can carry around ten people and work like taxis, stopping wherever you need.

You'll probably want to try out a ride in an iconic tuk tuk at least once during your Chiang Mai trip, and regular taxis also operate with slightly more expensive fares. Although outdated, several samlors can still be seen on the streets--these bicycle tuk tuks remain a favorite with the elderly, who usually use them to avoid walking.

If you want to have more flexibility over your pace and transit, you can rent a car or a scooter in the larger cities such as Chiang Mai for a quite low a price.