If you’re planning a trip to Chaing Mai and wondering about the things to do in Chiang Mai, then this travel guide is for you. The mountainous region of Chiang Mai is located in the northern part of Thailand. The city was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and is now known for its exclusive handicrafts, wooden carvings, temples, national parks, festivals, and adventurous sites. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or a vibrant cultural adventure, Chiang Mai has something to offer every traveller. In this guide, we have listed the best things to do in Chiang Mai with kids and family, for couples, and things to do in Chiang Mai at night. Please read below:
Things to do in Chiang Mai with Kids and Family
1. Enjoy the Grand Canyon Water Park
Grand Canyon Water Park is a one-stop destination in Chiang Mai for a fun day out for family and kids. This outdoor aquatic park features thrilling activities like kayaking, ziplining, and wakeboarding. For kids, there is a dedicated swimming pool where they can freely swim and enjoy themselves. Adults can enjoy giant water slides and running on floating, inflated tubes. You can also get swimwear and a waterproof camera on rent, along with a locker facility to keep your belongings safe. There is an onsite eatery called The Grill Restaurant serving lip-smacking Thai and international cuisine for your hunger pangs, or treat yourself to coffee and desserts at Caramelo Cafe. It is one of the Chiang Mai activities that you cannot simply miss. The waterpark is open from 9am to 6pm.
2. Explore the Chiang Mai Zoo.
Sprawled across an area of 200 acres, Chiang Mai Zoo is a fascinating place for kids and families to enjoy. This zoo is home to a variety of animals, such as penguins, seals, tigers, lions, flamingos, koalas, hippos, ostriches, giraffes, and many more. You can witness animals thriving in their natural habitat. The other interesting attractions you can find here are the snow doom, the freshwater aquarium, and Nakornping Bird Park. You will find many hikers hiking through the zoo and families enjoying picnics at the recreational areas.
3. Pamper elephants at Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Chiang Mai’s Elephant Jungle Sanctuary offers a unique and ethical experience with the gentle giants. You and your kids can get the opportunity to feed and bathe the adorable elephants. The sanctuary takes pride in its commitment to the welfare of elephants and exercises ethical practices for their conservation. Once you reach the sanctuary, a guide will explain the ins and outs of the sanctuary. After that, you get the opportunity to pamper the elephants by bathing and feeding them. It is advisable to carry a pair of extra clothes and a towel, as one gets drenched while bathing the elephants.
4. Click Photos at Art in Paradise
Art in Paradise is a 3D art gallery and is home to displays that are expressive of optical illusions. The museum also has six different zones: the dinosaur zone, wildlife area, classic art area, underwater zone, the ancient art of Egypt, and surreal art. Here you can click cool and amusing photos with your family against the 3D backdrop of crossing a river, flying on the magic carpet, or escaping an underground swimming pool. There are no boundaries or restrictions in the museum, so you can comfortably explore it, take photographs, and have a thrilling experience. A total of two hours would be enough to explore the place.
5. Interact with Tigers at Tiger Kingdom Chiang Mai
Get up close and personal with the majestic creatures of the jungle at Tiger Kingdom. This park has big cats, small tigers, and cubs. Upon arrival, a friendly trainer will guide you on how to interact with a tiger of your choice. You can pick which tiger you’d like to spend time with and pay a fee accordingly. There is also an onsite restaurant where you can have a delicious lunch. Children would be required to accompany their parents to the cage. Make sure to not miss this once-in-a lifetime experience in Chiang Mai. The Tiger Kingdom opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.
6. Visit the Namtok Bua Tong Waterfall (Sticky Waterfall).
One of the unique things to do in Chiang Mai is to visit Namtok Bua Tong Waterfall, also known as the Sticky Waterfall. These waterfalls are gorgeous to look at, and you can even climb directly up the limestone rocks, much like climbing a staircase. Typically, waterfalls make the rocks slimy, but that is not the case here. The cascading waterfall carries a special mineral that makes the rocks hard and not slippery. All you need to do is wear sturdy shoes, and you can easily make your grip on the surface of the rocks. Take the opportunity to admire the beauty of this waterfall and click on Instagram-worthy photos of you and your family. The waterfall is located in Namtok Bua Tong-Nam Phu Chet Si National Park, which is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
7. Spend time at Nong Buak Haad Public Park.
Nong Buak Haad Public Park is a prominent and only public park located in the centre of Chaing Mai. You can spend a peaceful and relaxed time in the tranquillity of this park. The park is lined with numerous Nanapan trees, a beautiful pond, and a fountain. Many locals and tourists visit this park for relaxation and to attend the many festivals that take place in Chiang Mai, such as the flower festival. You can also find people of different age groups jogging, weightlifting, and engaging themselves in other sporting activities. The park is open every day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Things to do in Chiang Mai at Night
8. Shop at the Chiang Mai Night Markets.
There are several night markets in Chiang Mai brimming with interesting items, both local and exotic. These night markets have hundreds of shops all calling out customers to buy their products. Visiting a night market gives you an opportunity to explore the city like a local. Chaing Mai is well known for its arts and handicrafts, so make sure to buy some showpieces, wooden carvings, ceramics, and lacquerware. Finish your shopping spree with delicious Thai street food, and while you’re at it, make sure to enjoy live performances by buskers.
9. Watch a Cabaret Show in Chiang Mai
One of the things to do in Chiang Mai at night is to watch a scintillating cabaret show. You can head to the Siam Dragon Cabaret Show, which promises to provide a fun and entertaining experience. The dazzling lights, the brilliant sound design, and the incorporation of cabaret make up an hour-long gala. The cabaret show is performed by Thai transgender performers who are skilled in singing, dancing, and acting. Together, they put on a powerhouse performance for the guests. They are dressed in shimmering and extravagant costumes and headpieces that could grab anyone’s attention. After the event ends, the guest can even get a photo with them.
10. Chiang Mai Night Safari
A popular activity to do in Chiang Mai is to go on a night safari, where you can observe wildlife up close and personal. In this safari, a 50-seater tram takes you on a night escapade in the wild with tourists from all over the world. On this safari, you can stop and feed giraffes, hippos, rhinos, bison, etc. Hence, it is a must-visit for all nature and animal enthusiasts. The guests can also enjoy a musical fountain. After the safari tour, you can relax at the Chiang Mai Night Safari Resort while savouring delicious dishes such as omelette rice, sticky rice, roasted pork, sausages, buns, and beverages, all expertly prepared by skilled chefs.
11. Explore the Walking Street of Chiang Mai
An exploration of Chaing Mai at night wouldn’t be complete without visiting its walking street. It is one of the ideal places to shop and watch the highlights of this beautiful city. The most famous walking streets in Chiang Mai are Tha Pae Sunday Walking Street on Ratchadamnoen Road and WuaLai Walking Street held on Saturdays on Wua Lai Road. After 12 PM, vehicular traffic is halted and not allowed to pass via these roads. This makes the markets more pedestrian-friendly. Once you enter the walking street, you will find shops lined across the road selling food, drinks, Thai products, and souvenirs, along with cultural entertainment.
12. Dine and drink at the rooftop bars.
Chaing Mai rooftop bars might not be as glitzy and glamorous as those of their Bangkok counterparts, but they offer similar vibes and views that are captivating. Here, you can enjoy refreshing cocktails and have a delightful culinary experience. Most of the rooftop bars give you scenic views of Doi Inthanon Mountain. Some of the best rooftop bars in Chiang Mai include THC Rooftop Bar, Rise Rooftop Bar, The Roof Yard, etc. From upscale bars to casual, traveller-friendly spots, rooftop bars in Chiang Mai offer a variety of atmospheres and interiors.
13. Go clubbing in Chiang Mai.
If you’re a party enthusiast and want to explore the clubbing scene in Chiang Mai, head straight to the old city, where you will find most of the clubs concentrated. The clubs in Chiang Mai aren’t as boisterous as the Bangkok ones, but they are most likely to give you good foot-tapping music, delightful cocktails, and most importantly, the vibes. The best bars and clubs in Chiang Mai include the Infinity Club, Zoe in the Yellow, and Blacknight Cnx. Here, you will see tourists from all over the world drinking, dancing, and socialising.
Things to do in Chiang Mai for Couples
14. Visit the Chiang Mai Flower Festival
If you happen to visit Chiang Mai from late January to early February, don’t miss out on the spectacular annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival. This three-day festival usually takes place on the first weekend of February, marking the end of winter and the arrival of spring as new flowers start to bloom. The festival runs from early morning to afternoon and sometimes even into the evening, offering a range of activities for people to enjoy. The festival is well known for its gorgeous flower decorations, which make for a perfect background for taking Instagram-worthy photos. You can also watch a parade that begins at 4 AM and includes marching bands, dances, singers, and beautiful carriages decorated with flowers that narrates the glory of Lanna Kingdom.
15. Watch a Sunset from Doi Inthanon National Park
Located about 58 metres away from Chiang Mai city centre is Doi Inthanon National Park. This park is highly protected, and you could catch a glimpse of the fauna and stunning flora. There are also several viewpoints in this park where you can click a couple photos with your partner. You can catch a stunning sunrise or sunset from various viewpoints. In addition, if you are a couple who likes adventure, then go hiking together on the mountainous trails of this wonderful park. Doi Inthanon National Park is open all year round from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
16. Pray at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a highly revered and iconic temple in the Chiang Mai region that holds immense significance for Thais. It’s a must-see destination and one of the most visited landmarks in Chiang Mai. As you reach the temple, you will be captivated by the impressive seven-headed serpent statues that line the stairs leading up to the temple. Upon reaching the summit, you’ll be mesmerised by the stunning golden pagoda, built in the Chaen and Chiang Saen styles, which serves as a breathtaking backdrop for your photographs. You can take a songthaew or a red truck taxi from Chiang Mai city centre. These shared taxis depart regularly from the Chang Puak Bus Station and will take you to the temple for a reasonable fare.
17. Ride the Rapids with Whitewater Rafting
Chaing Mai is a great place for a couple who like to enjoy adventurous activities together. And what better activity than doing whitewater rafting together? Join a rafting expedition and ride the strongest rapids of the MaeTaeng River in Chiang Mai. Take advantage of this opportunity to explore the nature and sights of Chiang Mai. There are many rafting tours where 10–12 people paddle against the gushing water for about 10 kilometres.
18. Do Trekking in Chiang Mai
Trekking experience in the breathtaking Chiang Mai province This region has several trekking trails that offer panoramic views of the northern part of Thailand, but the Baan Pha Dang to Huay Kukap route stands out as one of the most thrilling. Immerse yourself in the local village culture nestled in the mountainous terrain. Interact with the friendly locals to gain a deeper appreciation of their way of life. Even beginner trekkers can undertake this expedition. Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning landscapes and opportunities to connect with nature, which will give you a profound sense of inner peace and rejuvenation.
19. Relax at the Mae Ping River Dinner Cruise
Mae Ping River Cruise is a 90-minute dinner cruise that allows you to sit, relax, and enjoy a Thai dinner. In this 48-seater jetty, enjoy a romantic dinner with your partner and the jetty cruises along the River Ping. The skilled chefs whip up delicious Thai delicacies, and friendly staff take care of the guests with their warm hospitality. Being a part of the Mae Ping River Dinner Cruise is a must-do in Chiang Mai for couples.
20. Eat Northern Thai food.
Food across all of Thailand is delicious, but when in Chiang Mai, it would be criminal not to try the region’s delicacies. Some of the exclusive northern Thai dishes include: Khao Soi (soft and crispy noodles in a curry broth), Gaeng Hinlay (stewed pork belly), and Sai Oua (spicy grilled sausage). You can try them in the streets, at night markets, or at a fancy restaurant. You will notice how the climate and the geography of the region affect the preparation and ingredients of the food. Due to the cooler climate, there are many warm and comforting meat-based dishes and herb-infused soups on the menu.
Wrapping up the list of activities to do in Chiang Mai, we can conclude that Chaing Mai is one of the best places to travel to in Thailand. The city still holds the reminiscences of a glorious past yet is wonderfully harmonised in contemporary times. If you have been thinking about visiting Thailand, explore Thailand tour packages and include Chaing Mai in your travel itinerary.
Q1. What is the best time to visit Chaing Mai?
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from November to February. During this time, the weather is pleasant for all kinds of outdoor activities and explorations.
Q2. What is Chiang Mai best known for?
Chaing Mai is best known for its panoramic mountains, national park, waterfalls, Buddhist temples, walking streets, local wooden carvings, and handicrafts.
Q3. How many days in Chiang Mai are enough?
Ideally, one should spend at least 4 to 5 days to get the full Chaing Mai experience.
Q4. Is Chiang Mai good for couples?
Chiang Mai is good for couples who wish to have an eclectic experience of natural sites, adventure activities, serene temples, and shopping.
Q5. What is the famous walking street in Chiang Mai?
Tha Phae Walking Street, also known as the Sunday Walking Street, is the most famous walking street in Chiang Mai. It is located on Rachadamnoen Road and opens only on Sundays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Q6. What is the best way to get around Chiang Mai?
Songthaew is the local transportation in Chiang Mai. It carries 6 to 8 people and costs around 50 to 100 THB per person.
Q7. Does Chiang Mai get cold at night?
Chaing Mai, being a mountainous region, may get cool at night when compared to coastal regions. So, it’s advisable to carry a rain jacket or a windcheater.