Chiang Mai: top things to do among temples and markets

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With all the things you must do in Chiang Mai, it’s impossible to get bored!

You’ll be spoilt for choice between excursions (like Doi Suthep), daytime and night markets, visits to various temples, massages. From Bangkok you can reach Chiang Mai by bus or train (click for read the article) . I chose the bus and was very happy with my choice..

chiang mai cosa vedere templi

Chiang Mai in Thailand: how to spend 3 days in this city

Chiang Mai is considered the second biggest city in Thailand, although it is radically different from Bangkok. It is much more western, more liveable and even the tourism itself is different. Much less almond-eyed foreign faces than Bangkok. I suggest you to read this my post: the must see things to see in Bangkok.

One of the strengths of this city is the fact that it has conformed a bit more to the European style and this translates into a more well-kept city (especially Chiang Mai old town). There’re a lot of clubs, pubs and bars. MOst of them allow you to use their WiFi network free (if you buy something to drink or eat). The cost of living is still the same.

These are the two key factors that have allowed Chang Mai to become the ideal city for digital nomads. I.e. those who can work anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. There are many who consider it for this purpose. With a few baht smoothie people can sit at a few bars, using the Wi-Fi network and working for hours.

Chiang Mai city map, how’s structured?

That said, let’s see how the city is arranged.

You can see from the map that there is a square composed of the 4 main streets. They enclose what is called the Chiang Mai old town where there are many point of interest like the Wat (temples) and many important buildings of the city centre.

chiang mai templi cosa vedere

Please note: usually the adjective “old” does not bring to mind anything good, it is often associated with something degraded, ruined. In the case of Chiang Mai we have to reverse this concept. The Chiang Mai historical centre is the most beautiful and well-kept part of the city. Given the narrow streets there is little traffic, there are also many well-kept clubs and restaurants along with good food at very low prices. The difference with the rest of the city is obvious.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

Looking for news regarding what to do in Chiang Mai I have never found anyone who could adequately describe this aspect to me, so I would like to give you one of the usual tips.

Tip: if you have to pick your hotel, search for one that is located absolutely within the Chang Mai old town. You will have a totally different perception of the city.

I would like to strongly recommend you the Log Home Boutique: very refined and well-kept, a beautiful swimming pool and in addition to being inside the old town. You are about ten minutes walk from the Night Bazaar. If you stay during the weekend you are just as far away on foot from the Saturday Night Market. It takes place in a completely different street from the normal Night Bazaar. Specifically, the Night Bazaar takes place every night in the same area (east) of Chiang Mai, on Saturday and Sunday on Wualai Road, obviously on Saturday and Sunday.

Pay attention: if you want, CLICK HERE for all the hotel of Chiang Mai old town.

From the map that I have prepared for you you can see in::

  • ORANGE – In my opinion, the best place where you can stay in Chiang Mai. You can reach everything on foot.
  • BLUE – Night Bazaar.
  • GREEN – Saturday and Sunday Night Market.

chiang mai alloggiare night bazaar saturday sunday market

Visiting Chiang Mai: the weather

As for the weather, spending a day in Chiang Mai is less stressful than Bangkok. Certainly when the sun hits, it hits hard, though the humidity won’t bother you as much as in the capital. Even geographically it is blessed, thanks to its excellent location: not far from the mountains that provide various trekking or outdoor activities and not far from the border with Laos and Chiang Rai.

Chiang Mai is also known for its many cooking schools, some of which are very prestigious.

The best things to do in Chiang Mai

And now we come with the must see of Chiang Mai, what you can’t miss.

What to do?

Every hotel you will go to, every tourist agency you will meet, will have the typical “dispensers” of flyers each with its own attractions. Below is a list of things you can do and see in Chiang Mai:

  • Hike for one or more days in the jungle combined with a rafting descent back to the valley.. They will pick you up directly from your hotel. Prices vary depending on the number of days, but usually less than 1000 baht for one day are not spent.
  • Visit Doi Inthanon National Park.
  • Experience the thrill of the Flight of the Gibbon (it’s a zipline)
  • ATV trips.
  • Visit Doi Suthep
  • Take a cooking class (QUI puoi prenotare)
  • Treat yourself with a massage
  • Hike to the white temple of Chiang Rai (it is quite far away)
  • …and much more…

You got a lot of solutions on your hands to spend your time visiting Chiang Mai. I can’t tell you which one is best for you or not, everyone has their interests. However, you won’t be disappointed for sure, though. Above all, pay attention to the weather. Before booking a tour around Chiang Mai, check out the weather conditions on the following days. We decided at the last minute not to go on an excursion, and we got lucky because a great storm occurred. Surely if you visit Chiang Mai during the dry season you are less likely to find bad weather.

Among the things to see in Chiang Mai there is also the Doi Suthep, so in this other article I will discuss -> how to get to Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai.

chiang mai doi suthep

Thai cooking classes

I would also like to give you a recommendation on cooking classes you can take in Chiang Mai.

As for prices in Chiang Mai, they are around 1000 baht. We have seen prices ranging from 800 to 1200 baht. You can choose a half or full day depending on your preference, the price varies depending on what you decide. They pick you up at 9.00 am at your hotel and the first step is to take you to a local market. There they explain the main ingredients of their cooking culture and where you will shop for your meals.

Note: in the following days that we spent in Chiang Mai we crossed the aforementioned market. I have to say that thinking about entering it in the morning, with all those smells, fish and meat in the open air, was quite challenging. In spite of that, it didn’t give me a lot of problems, but if there was someone interested in the cooking class, please take this into account.

chiang mai mercato market

After the shopping tour they will take you either to the town or to the farm. You can decide this at the time of booking and even in this case there are price variations. From about 9.30 am you will begin to cook the various meals and then smell, taste and finally eat the beautiful delicacies that you will create ,that are usually 6 including dessert.

When we arrived in Chiang Mai we decided to absoluetely take the cooking class. Then, after 5/6 days of eating Thai Food, although delicious, your stomach will desire to taste our beloved food and we were at that stage. The day before we were quite nauseated and that made us give up this experience which I was told is very interesting and fun.

Take a relaxing break and enjoy a massage in Chiang Mai

I would like to suggest you a nice place that is really worth a visit in Chiang Mai. It is called Fah Lanna Spa and in Chiang Mai you will find two different facilities, one inside the old city and the other outside.

We went to the one inside the old city. Every detail is taken care of to the utmost, the girls at the reception are very polite and the environment gives you an extremely peaceful feeling. If you don’t book, you often have to wait even an hour, but don’t worry, it is absolutely worth it. If you want to pass the time, Fah Lanna Spa also has a bar where you can have a seat, drink and play with the wooden tic-tac-toe on each table.

Just before the massage they offer you tamarind tea and invite you to fill in a kind of questionnaire where you can tell if you have any particular physical problems. You are also asked to specify the intensity of the massage you are going to choose. The masseurs are really good and put you at ease. At the end of the massage they will take you to a small room next to the bar where they will have already prepared an herbal tea with sesame biscuits. The price for a massage is higher than the average of the other places but you will feel pampered like never before. A half-hour Thai massage costs 250 baht. I really do recommend you treat yourself here. Here’s its website Fah Lanna Spa.

Chiang Mai night markets

Finally, let’s speak again about the best places to see in Chiang Mai during the night. I’m talking about the numerous night markets because they are one of the best things to see in Chiang Mai, you can’t come back home from this beautiful Thai town without visiting both of its markets.

Inside the markets you can find a lot of costume jewelry, but not only that, also local hand-made pieces. In Chiang Mai you’ll find a lot of hand-made items and I’ve been tempted to buy some. Unfortunately, most of the time I had to close my eyes and walk straight ahead, otherwise I would have bought everything.

Here, if you love these products you must know that at the Night Bazaar, especially at the Saturday Night Market, besides the eyes you will have to close your nose several times. You will be surrounded by a myriad of perfumes that will be your constant temptation. Speaking of which, at the Saturday Night Market we ate the best Pad Thai of our journey. 30 bath for a large portion that made us cry since it was so good. Actually, I was also crying because it was quite spicy!

chiang mai cosa vedere saturday night market

Tips and conclusion

So, as I told you at the beginning of this post, Chiang Mai doesn’t lack anything at all!

Tip: if you want some prints to bring back home go to the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai. Halfway down the Night Bazaar on the left of the stairs you will find some very good artists ready to sell you their beautiful works. For everything else, if you can, save your baht for the Saturday Night Market or even better for Sunday. It’s an understatement to talk about markets, though…in these Saturday and Sunday Chiang Mai markets you will find a lot of things that are not available at the Night Bazaar and they will be much cheaper.


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