I recently had the chance to visit Chiang Mai again after about 15 years. Chiang Mai is a province which is well-loved by tourists, second to Bangkok. This city has lots to offer and as part of Bangkok Airway’s route via Koh Samui, I explored this new city, all over again.
Bangkok Airways – Asia’s Boutique Airline flies direct from Singapore Changi Airport to Koh Samui Airport in just 1 hour 30 mins. Bangkok Airways is a full-service carrier and you will be pampered by wet towels to freshen yourself, an in-flight meal and lots of drinks (water, rice tea, coffee, tea, soft drinks, wines). From Koh Samui, we flew over to Chiang Mai to explore more.
Here’s 20 Things To Do in Chiang Mai and the individual posts on the various places mentioned will be rolled out progressively, so do stay tuned. :)
#1 Eat Khao Soi
What is the MUST EAT in Chiang Mai? It’s not Pad Thai, Tom Yum or Basil Chicken Rice. It’s Khao Soi! This Northern Thailand dish is basically curry with yellow egg noodles. It’s usually served with chicken or beef and garnished with crispy noodles. Who doesn’t love curry? It goes well with rice and noodles. Make sure you try it before you leave Chiang Mai.
#2 Meal at Saen Kham Terrace Restaurant
Having a meal here is not cheap for Thai standards but if you are willing to pay for good fine Thai cuisine, this is a place you must have a meal, be it for lunch or dinner. You will be welcomed into the restaurant with the “Basketry and Weaving” concept. The meal itself needs no further explanation because everything here is just Aroi Mak Mak! Just remember to end it off with a Thai Milk Tea & Mango Sticky Rice. It’s actually a good way to start your visit to Chiang Mai.
#3 Visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most popular temple in Chiang Mai, one of the most sacred temples in the north. Founded in 1383, it originally took 5 hours to climb out the mountain. Thanks to the road construction, getting here is now much easier. You can either climb up the stairs (306 steps) or take the tram. Do check out the historical murals and shrines, they are beautiful.
#4 See Chiang Mai City from above!
After visiting Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you can actually walk over to Chiang Mai’s viewpoint where you can see Chiang Mai from above. Magnificent view indeed. It was beginning to rain and we spotted where the rain was!
#5 Chill Chill at Woo Cafe!
Cafe in Chiang Mai! When we knew we were going to a cafe in Chiang Mai, we were so excited! And this cafe called Woo Cafe is so nicely decorated and a very nice place to just chill. The drinks here are served in mega cups and don’t leave without trying their cakes. All of their cakes look so good and I wanted to try everything. My favourite is the Banoffee Cake! We had lots of fun here taking photos, ensuring they were beautiful for Instagram. That’s what bloggers like to do! :)
#6 Stay at Le Meridien Chiang Mai
If you want a memorable stay in Chiang Mai, this is it. Located right in the midst of the city, you get basically everything you need. Food, Night Market, Massage Parlours, Pubs, etc. Entering the lobby definitely feels luxurious in Le Meridien Chiang Mai. The rooms need no further mention, it’s just beautiful and you would want to stay in the room all the time.
#7 Shop at Anusarn Night Market
Anusarn Night Market is right outside Le Meridien Chiang Mai. Over here, you can get many things from souvenirs, cloths, customised passport covers, handicrafts to the popular “Instant / Fried Ice Cream Rolls”
#8 Visit The Highest Spot in Thailand (Doi Inthanon)
The highest spot in Thailand is right in Chom Thong District, Chiang Mai Province. It’s 2565 metres above sea level! And do bring you windbreaker or jacket if you need because the temperature is as low as 8 °C even though its 30 °C in the city. During winter seasons, it will be even colder.
#9 Take a walk in Ang Ka Nature Trail (Doi Inthanon)
Ang Ka Nature Trail is just next to Doi Inthanon Highest Point. If you’re tired of the city life, take a walk on this nature trail, breathe in some very fresh air to soothe yourself. Of course, don’t leave without taking some beautiful photos of the nature.
#10 Shop like a local at Hill Tribe Market (Doi Inthanon)
While driving down Doi Inthanon, you will see a local tribal market selling some traditional fresh vegetables and fruits grown by them. You can try the fruits before buying.
#11 Visit the Twin Royal Pagodas of Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon (Doi Inthanon)
This photo doesn’t do the location justice but it’s the best I can take with the bad weather. The twin pagodas were built by the Royal Thai Air Force to commemorate the King’s and Queen’s 60th birthdays in 1989 and 1992, respectively. Surrounding the pagodas are beautiful gardens for you to take photos.
#12 Have lunch at Royal Inthanon (Doi Inthanon)
This restaurant probably has the best food on the mountain. This is part of the King Royal Agricultural Project (or known as the Royal Project), to improve living standards of hill tribes and part of crop-substitution program. The project lets them grow fresh vegetables and fruits and right here at Royal Inthanon Restaurant, you can enjoy all these fresh crops. The food here is really fresh and delicious. With the mountain view, it makes the meal even more memorable.
#13 See Waterfalls at Wachirathan Waterfall (Doi Inthanon)
This is the second major waterfall on the way up to the summit of Doi Inthanon. It’s easily accessible and you can get a magnificent view of the powerful waterfall without much effort (climbing).
#14 Have Traditional Dinner at Khum Khantoke
If it’s your first time to Chiang Mai, you have to try Khantoke, a traditional dinner served in a round tray filled with small plates of different dishes. This meal originated as a cultural showcase and during the meal, there will be cultural performances for you to enjoy. I especially like the deep-fried sweet vermicelli and fried chicken!
#15 Shop at Sunday Walking Street (Mega Night Market)
When planning a trip to Chiang Mai, make sure you are there on a Sunday because there’s a mega night market which you MUST visit. It’s only open on Sunday and it’s so huge that I could not complete it. I think to successfully finish it, you will probably need 3 hours. There are lots of things for you to see and buy here. Otherwise, just indulge in the street food.
#16 Lunch at Tuang Thong Canyon View
This is the view you get while dining here. Isn’t it beautiful? The food served here is fresh and delicious, make sure you try their prawns, curry in coconut and steamed fish! Oh, this restaurant is owned by a Singaporean and his Thai wife.
#17 Visit Chiang Mai’s Grand Canyon
If you can’t get enough of the magnificent view of the Grand Canyon, you can head on over to have a close-up look.
#18 Visit the Ancient City of Wiang Kum Kam
Want to see the ruins of the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom? Head over to Wiang Kum Kam and hire a local guide to bring you around the sites which contain the ruins of the ancient town. It was rediscovered by chance when locals dug up the ruins that were buried underground.
#19 Eat Chiang Mai’s best Grilled Chicken at SP Chicken
Everybody is asking me to try SP Chicken in Chiang Mai. However, due to my tight schedule, I was not able to. But this was recommended by many people and even my tour guide who ultimately went to try after hearing it from me. She say it’s Aroi Mak Mak! Oh my, I need to fly there to try it now.
#20 Shop at Waroros Market
Waroros Market is like the mega morning market where you can get fresh food, snacks, tidbits, clothing’s, etc. It reminds me of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh’s Ben Thanh Market. Best to go on your last day of Chiang Mai so you can buy fresh food and tidbits back home.
Well, this wraps up the 20 Things To Do in Chiang Mai. I will definitely be returning to explore more and will also be updating this list. Meanwhile, do lookout for the individual posts which I will be writing if you are interested in knowing more about the individual places that I recommended.
This post is made possible, all thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (Singapore) and Bangkok Airways. Thank you for your great hospitality as always! Khob Khun Mak Krub!