Chiangmai is popularly known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai is blessed with stunning natural beauty and unique indigenous cultural identity. Founded by King Mengrai the Great as the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom by merging the various city states in the region in 1296, Today Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand.
About 700 kilometres from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is situated on the Mae Ping River basin some 310 meters above sea level. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, it covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometres. The terrain is mainly jungles and mountains, parts of which are within national parks which are still fertile and verdant with plentiful flora and fauna. There are many sites and locations where tourists prefer to visit to study the lifestyle of the tribal people who live on high hills.
1. Sunday Walking Street
If you're looking for the best place to shop in Chiang Mai, The Sunday Walking Street Market is the best opportunity for buying amazing Thai handicrafts, clothing, shoes, food, handmade soaps, dolls, pillow cases, art work and more - and all at incredibly cheap prices. Here, you'll not only find Thai crafts and products you won't see anywhere else, it's also located in an area full of coffee shops, sidewalk cafes, bars, restaurants, beautiful Thai temples and more food stalls than you've ever seen.
The Sunday Walking Street Market commences at Thapae Gate and runs the complete length of Ratchadamnoen Road through the heart of the Old City from 4pm until midnight and over the years has become a Chiang Mai institution.
2. Doi Suthep Temple
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Established in 1383, this magnificent temple overlooks the city from its 1,073m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep, which peaks at 1,685m. It is famous for its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a good clear day. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and knelt down - which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site.
Entrance to the temple is free for those who wish to climb the 300-plus steps; alternatively, there's a cable car with a 50 baht fare.
Clearly marked songthaews to Doi Suthep leave from Pratu Chang Phuak, passing Chiang Mai University and the zoo on the way. Prices are fixed at 40 baht up and 30 baht down. Alternatively, the 18km journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing. The final 12km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling.
3. Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh. The wat was originally built in 1345. It may have simply been a stupa erected by a king (and descendant of the great Mangrai) to honour his father. There are three main buildings, namely the Stupa, Viharn Lai Kam, and Haw Trai.
The temple is located on the corner of Singharat and Ratchadamnoen road which nearly bisects the old city, running from the Tapae gate all the way to the temple, which is just inside of the Suan Dok gate.
4. Wat Chiang Man
This temple was built in 1297 at the site of the camp King Mangrai used when he supervised the building of Chiang Mai. It was the first temple to be built in Chiang Mai and contains several very old artifacts. The oldest structure is the Chang Lom chedi, which is in a style that could have originated from Sri Lanka via Sukhothai, or from Pagan. Fifteen elephants represent a sea of unformed matter upon which the cosmos of the chedi floats.
Wat Chiang Man is on Ratchaphakhinai Road near where it intersects Sri Phum Road, which runs just inside the moat along the north wall of the old city. The closest "landmark" to Wat Chiang Man is the Thai Airways office on Phrapokklao Road. Walk down the small street next to the office and turn left at the next main street. The temple will be on your left.
5. Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand. It is 8,500 feet above sea level. The mountain was also known in the past as Doi Luang (meaning big mountain) or Doi Ang Ka, meaning the crow's pond top. Near the mountain's base was a pond where many crows gathered. The name Doi Inthanon was given in honour of the king Inthawichayanon, one of the last kings of Chiang Mai, who was concerned about the forests in the north and tried to preserve them. He ordered that after his death his remains shall be placed at Doi Luang, which was then renamed.
Private transportation is the recommended way to visit Doi Inthanon. The main attractions are spread over a distance of 40 kilometers and only a private vehicle will allow flexibility in planning your itinerary. Motor cycling is the best mode since it allows travel on some of the rough and narrow dirt roads which lead to hill tribe villages.
6. Bo Sang Umbrella Villag
Bo Sang Umbrella Village was originally a small village where generations of villagers were engaged in handicraft production and trading of silk and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols for over two centuries.
Bo Sang Umbrella Village is famous for its traditional Thai umbrellas and other handicrafts. Bo Sang umbrellas and parasols are now renowned worldwide as artistic masterpieces, as confirmed by winning the "Best Souvenir" prize at the International Tourism Seminar held in Los Angeles, USA. You can visit Bo Sang Umbrella Village at any time in any season but the best time to visit the village is in the third week of January, during the annual Bo Sang Umbrella Festival. The approximately one kilometer length of road in the village is finely decorated with items from the shops on both sides of the road: colorful umbrellas, traditional lanterns, and products from mulberry paper can be seen everywhere. This is the best time to buy world renowned umbrellas at special discounts from the retailers.
For directions to Bo Sang Village: from Chiang Mai City, take Chiang Mai - Sankampaeng Rd., and turn left on to Bo Sang - Doi Saket Rd. The entrance to the village is only a few meters from the intersection.
7. Chiang Mai Zoo
Chiang Mai Zoo was established in 1974. Situated on 531 Rai of verdant forest land at the foothill of Doi Suthep mountain, the zoo is surrounded by hilly terrain which is home to thousands of species of wild plants and flowers adorning the natural landscape of valleys, streams and waterfalls.Chiang Mai Zoo is the first and only zoo in Northern Thailand where visitors can experience the excitement and intimacy of various species of animals in their natural habitat.
Panda Live in Chiang Mai Zoo
Recently,its popularity soared over with the Chinese government’s loan to Thailand of two pandas – ‘Chuang Chuang’ , ‘Lin Hui ’and ‘Lin Hui’. The pandas are housed in a new purpose-built wing of Chiang Mai Zoo.
If you are visiting the zoo to see the pandas, the best time for a visit is 09:00 when the enclosure is opened and the pandas fed. The zoo is open 08:00 to 18:00
Admission is 100 Baht (adults) and 50 Baht (children) if you want to see the pandas, although this is on top of the usual fee of 30 Baht (adults) and 5 Baht (children).
Chiang Mai Zoo is located at the Huay Kaew Road. Probably the easiest way to get there is Tuk-Tuk, but Songtaews going to Doi Suthep also take you to the zoo. Bus number 3 also goes past the zoo.
8. Chiang Mai Aquarium
This brand new Chiang Mai Aquarium is the longest aquarium in Asia. In the Chiang Mai Aquarium you'll find fresh & salt-water species living side by side in a distinctive complex containing several unique exhibits.
It's an incredible collection of marine life from oceans halfway around the planet and from rivers on several continents. This is a chance to experience a remarkable close-up view of the rarely observed underwater world as you walk through the aquarium's crystal clear tunnels.
Foreigner: Adult Baht 520, Children Baht 390
Thai Residents: Adult Baht 290, Children Baht 190
It is also located in Chiang Mai Zoo and open daily during 8am until 6pm.
9. Jungle Flight
The Jungle Flight is an adventure tour. It is an exhilarating 3 hour journey through the glorious jungle roof top. With its striking views and awe-inspiring splendours, you will zip wire from platform to platform over 40 meters above ground. Adrenalin rush after adrenalin rush will be experienced as you navigate the jungle from above. As well as taking in 2 breathtaking wooden sky bridges, you will use the unique jungle staircase that encircles a magnificent tree to lower you from one platform to another. At other times there will be sheer drops and your journey finishes by abseiling back to solid ground. Your journey will also include walking through a coffee plantation, mixing with the locals in the Khamu Village and a splendid hot spring.
A 3 hour extravaganza zips wiring through the impressive 1000 years old tropical Thai rainforest adventure. Outstanding scenery glimpsed from up above. For an unforgettable experience, high in the majestic canopy of lush pristine northern Thai jungle, JUNGLE FLIGHT will take you on a spectacular high rise adventure that will propel you on a journey that you would never have imagined possible.
10. Flight of the Gibbon
A unique zip-line canopy tour through pristine, 1500 year old tropical forest outside of Chiang Mai. 18 platforms & sky bridges connect 2km of zip lines that take you through different layers of the forest canopy.
You zip line easily from tree to tree on a spectacular and gradual downhill course, taking time to linger in your favorite places, soaking up the fragrance, clean air and animal life. The safety team accompanies you and teaches you how to move through the trees with the speed and grace of a young gibbon.
11. Chiang Mai X-Center
Chiang Mai’s X-Centre is the one-stop for all adrenaline junkies with a wide range of thrilling activites to keep visitors of all ages entertained all day long.
If its motorsport action you're after you can try one of our off road tours by motorcycle or buggy into the hills of the beautiful Mae Rim Valley or if you'd sooner go racing you can take to the track in the easy-to-drive dirt-track drifter karts.
Got a team of friends together? Then it could be time for some paintballing using the very best equipment available. If none of this gets your adrenaline pumping then perhaps try bungy jumping 165 feet from our custom-built tower or rolling down a hill inside one of our huge Xorb Balls – two great ways to make people laugh and scream at the same time.
When you've had enough excitement for the day and are feeling hungry or thirsty you can chill out with a hearty meal and a beer either in the air-conditioned sports bar or open-air restaurant.
Whether you come alone or in a group our friendly, easy-going staffs are there to take care of you and ensure everyone has a day to remember at the X-Centre.
The X-Centre is located in Mai Rim valley and is a 25 minute drive from the centre of Chiang Mai city centre.
For More Information : Please see at www.chiangmai-xcentre.com
12. Maesa Elephant Camp
One of the “must do’s” when you and your family come to Chiang Mai is to visit one of the many elephant parks. Mae Sa Elephant Camp, situated at the picturesque Mae Sa Valley, is one of the most popular elephant camps in Chiang Mai. Here, you’ll be able to watch an amazing show put on by the elephants. Watch them play soccer/football, throw darts, paint and put on a traditional logging demonstration, etc.
They’ll even have fun with you by playing tricks like putting hats on you heads!
Elephant showcase and talent shows take place every day at 8.00 AM, 9.40 AM and 01.30 PM. You are invited to ride on the back of an elephant that will take you through the jungle and across the river. It is a truly amazing and memorable experience that any travelers to Thailand should have a chance to see.
Only an hour from the Chiang Mai city, the Maesa Elephant Camp is located on Maerim-Samerng Road and close to Maesa Waterfall and Queen Sirikrit Botanic Garden.