Welcome to your MTT travel guide: Chiang Mai travel guide, the “Pearl of the North” of Thailand. This picturesque city is renowned for its rich culture, delicious cuisine, magnificent temples and breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Today, we’re excited to take you on a tour of Chiang Mai’s must-see attractions and help you plan an unforgettable experience!
Chiang Mai travel guide: must-see places
Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai
Explore the dazzling splendor of this Buddhist temple
Looking for a temple to visit in Chiang Mai? Look no further than Wat Phra Singh! This 14th-century temple is one of the most important in the city and houses a standing wooden Buddha statue that is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.
I had the chance to visit Wat Phra Singh during my last trip to Chiang Mai. I was immediately impressed by the beauty of the temple and the serenity that reigned there. The standing wooden Buddha statue is truly amazing. It is so detailed and so expressive. I spent a long time admiring the statue and meditating on the wisdom of Buddha.
- Wat Phra Singh is a very popular temple, so it is best to visit early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Entrance to the temple is free.
Chiang Mai travel guide – Chiang Mai night market
As night falls, Chiang Mai comes alive with new energy. The streets fill with street vendors, tourists and locals, all attracted by the excitement of the night market.
The Chiang Mai Night Market is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. It offers an immersive experience of Thai culture, with its colorful stalls, tantalizing smells and lively music.
Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, clothes, accessories or food, you’ll find everything you need at the Chiang Mai Night Market. The stalls offer a wide variety of products, from traditional jewelry to wooden, fabric and ceramic crafts.
But the Chiang Mai Night Market is much more than just a market. It’s also a great place to discover Thai cuisine. Food stalls offer a wide variety of dishes, from classics like pad thai and tom yum soup to regional specialties like khao soi and sai oua.
Stroll through the aisles of the Chiang Mai night market and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of this place. Savor the delicious dishes on offer, admire the handicrafts and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
- The Chiang Mai Night Market is open every evening from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
- The market is located in downtown Chiang Mai.
- It is best to negotiate prices.
Chiang Mai travel guide – Wat Chedi Luang
A thousand-year-old temple, full of secrets
Welcome to Wat Chedi Luang, a historic treasure in the heart of Chiang Mai Old Town. This centuries-old temple was once an architectural marvel, with a central stupa over 80 meters high. However, in 1545, an earthquake marked its fate, leaving the temple partially in ruins.
Today, the ruins of Wat Chedi Luang hide a mystical aura and a fascinating history. Explore its remains, soak up the region’s past grandeur and imagine the secrets they hold. Wat Chedi Luang is more than just a historical site, it is a window into Chiang Mai’s past, inviting you to discover its mysteries. A must-visit for history and culture lovers.
- Wat Chedi Luang is a very popular temple, so it is best to visit early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the crowds.
- Entrance to the temple is free.
Chiang Mai travel guide – Doi Suthep
The sacred mountain of Chiang Mai
In the heart of Thailand, north of the city of Chiang Mai, stands a sacred mountain that attracts visitors from all over the world: Doi Suthep. This 1,676 meter high mountain is an important place of worship for Thai Buddhists, but it is also a natural site of great beauty.
A mountain with many facets
Doi Suthep is a mountain with many facets. It is first and foremost a place of spirituality. At the top of the mountain is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple.
But Doi Suthep is also a place of nature. The mountain is covered in dense forest that is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. You can go hiking, trekking or simply stroll to enjoy the beauty of the landscapes.
A must-see in Chiang Mai
A visit to Doi Suthep is a must for any stay in Chiang Mai. The mountain is accessible by car, bus or cable car. Once at the top, you can visit the temple, admire the panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, or simply stroll through the forest.
Some tips for visiting Doi Suthep
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will need to climb stairs or ride a gondola to reach the top.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Come early in the morning, when the mountain is still cool and the view is clear.
Chiang Mai travel guide – Old town
Welcome to the old town of Chiang Mai, a place full of charm and authenticity. Surrounded by historic walls, this part of the city is a journey through time, where every street corner holds fascinating discoveries.
Discover ancient temples with golden roofs, soak up the colorful atmosphere of local markets and taste the exquisite flavors of Thai cuisine. Stroll through the cobbled streets and be surprised by the local crafts.
The old town is not just a setting frozen in the past, it is a place of life where Thai traditions and culture are still present. It is an invitation to immerse yourself in the soul of Chiang Mai, through its lively streets, its captivating temples and its hidden treasures.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture or simply the essence of Thailand, Chiang Mai Old Town is an unmissable stop on your trip.
Tips for visiting Chiang Mai Old Town:
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Come early in the morning, when the city is still cool and the streets are less busy.
- Respect local culture and traditions.
The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai
Chiang Mai travel guide – An architectural marvel
I want to share with you a place that had a profound impact on me during my trip to Thailand. The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, in Chiang Rai, is a true artistic marvel, and I have no hesitation in considering it the most beautiful temple in the world.
The White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun, is located in Chiang Rai, a city located in northern Thailand. Chiang Rai is the neighboring province of Chiang Mai, another popular destination in Thailand. You can easily access Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai by taking a domestic flight, bus or car.
This Buddhist shrine is much more than just a religious structure. It is a living work of art, a creation that amazed me from the first moment. The pristine white exterior, which glows in the sun’s rays, is a representation of purity, a Buddhist ideal embodied in stone and light.
What impressed me the most were the fascinating details that adorn every inch of the temple. Elaborate carvings tell Buddhist stories, while elements of Thai popular culture blend seamlessly into this work of art.
I can only encourage you to visit the White Temple if you have the opportunity. It is an encounter with beauty and spirituality in a unique setting. Wat Rong Khun is proof that art can transcend boundaries and touch the soul. It’s an experience that will leave you in awe and remind you why exploring the world is an extraordinary adventure.
The apotheosis of nature in Thailand
Prepare for an extraordinary natural experience as you explore Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest point. Nestled in Doi Inthanon National Park, this peak offers a grandiose spectacle of the country’s natural beauty.
The park is a mosaic of landscapes, from dense forests to majestic waterfalls. You can follow hiking trails to discover this unspoiled nature, observe a variety of birds and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the mountains.
One of the most memorable moments of your visit will be the contemplation of the great amazement of King Inthawichayanon, after whom the peak is named. This stunning structure is surrounded by exquisite botanical gardens and stunning valley views.
Doi Inthanon National Park is also home to many fascinating hill tribes. You will be able to discover their unique culture, their crafts and their ancestral traditions.
What to see and do in Doi Inthanon
- Hike to the top of the mountain: The most popular trail leads to the top of the mountain in about 3 hours.
- Visit Buddhist Temples: There are several Buddhist temples located on Doi Inthanon, including Wat Phrathat Doi Inthanon, which houses a relic of the Buddha.
- Camping in the rainforest: There are several base camps where visitors can spend the night in the rainforest.
- Enjoy the panoramic views: The summit of Doi Inthanon offers panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding countryside.
Tips for visiting Doi Inthanon:
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for hiking.
- Bring water and snacks, as there are no stores on the hiking route.
- Check the weather forecast before you go, as weather conditions can change quickly on Doi Inthanon.
Bua Thong waterfalls (sticky waterfalls)
The unique experience of walking on water
When we think of waterfalls, the image that comes to mind is often that of powerful, thundering waterfalls. However, the Bua Thong Waterfalls in Thailand offer you a completely unique experience. Nicknamed the “sticky waterfalls”, they offer you the opportunity to walk directly on the water, an unforgettable adventure.
Nestled in the Mae Taeng district of Chiang Mai province, Bua Thong Waterfalls is a natural wonder made up of several smaller waterfalls that converge to form one majestic waterfall. The limestone rocks, sculpted by centuries of flow, have a rough surface that allows you to climb easily.
This place is popular with both tourists and locals. You can swim in the natural pools located at the foot of the waterfall or climb to the top to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view. Additionally, near the waterfall, you will find a variety of restaurants and shops to enhance your visit.
Here are some tips for visiting Bua Thong Waterfall:
- Wear hiking shoes or water shoes as the rocks can be slippery.
- Come early in the morning, when the waterfall is less crowded.
- Respect nature and don’t leave waste behind.
Giraffe women village (long neck Karen village)
I want to share with you my incredible visit to the Giraffe Women Village, also known as Karen Long Neck Village, Thailand. This experience really amazed me. The Karen women of this village are famous for their elongated necks, which they adorn with beautiful brass necklaces.
I had never had the opportunity to see this in person, and I can tell you that it was even more impressive than I could have imagined from watching television. Brass necklaces are truly fascinating, and they give Karen women a unique and elegant appearance.
In addition to contemplating this incredible tradition, I had the chance to meet a few Karen women. They were incredibly warm and welcoming, generously sharing their lives and culture with me.
During our discussions, I discovered that the tradition of elongated necks goes back centuries. Karen women wear these necklaces for aesthetic and cultural reasons.
My visit to the Giraffe Women’s Village was an unforgettable experience. It’s a unique place where you can experience a fascinating culture, meet great people and broaden your horizons. I can only highly recommend visiting this village if you have the opportunity. It is a unique and fascinating experience that will allow you to immerse yourself in the heart of a rich and captivating culture.
Chiang Mai travel guide – Tha Phae Gate
When exploring Chiang Mai, it is essential to make a stop at the Tha Phae Gate. This iconic gate reflects the city’s history and rich culture.
Tha Phae Gate was once one of the main gates of the wall that encircled the old city of Chiang Mai. It served as an entry and exit point for travelers and goods. Today, it has become a symbol of the city and a must-see place for visitors.
Here you will find shops, restaurants, bars and plenty of options for immersing yourself in the local culture.
Tha Phae Gate is also the starting point for many local festivities, including the annual Yi Peng Festival, where thousands of lanterns light up the night sky. It is a spectacular event that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Wat Umong Suan Puthatham
The temple of tunnels and Buddha Dhamma Garden
During your trip to Chiang Mai, be sure to visit Wat Umong Suan Puthatham, a hidden treasure that embodies the serenity and spirituality of Thailand. Located a few kilometers from the city center, this temple offers a peaceful experience surrounded by nature.
Unlike the traditional temples of Chiang Mai, Wat Umong is nestled in the middle of a lush forest. The word “Umong” means “tunnels” in Thai, referring to the temple’s underground tunnels that lead to secret meditation rooms. It is a unique place to recharge your batteries, meditate and connect with Buddhist spirituality.
The temple is also famous for its pond, where you can feed the fish and relax by the water. The calm and tranquility that reigns here make it a popular retreat for Buddhist monks and visitors seeking inner peace.
Wat Umong Suan Puthatham is a peaceful haven that offers you a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the perfect place to meditate, stroll through the peaceful gardens and recharge your batteries amid nature. During your visit, take time to explore the temple tunnels and appreciate the spiritual beauty that permeates this special place.
Chiang Mai travel guide – San Kamphaeng hot springs
A relaxing oasis in northern Thailand
San Kamphaeng Hot Springs is a natural hot spring located about a 30-minute drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The hot spring is popular with tourists and locals for its therapeutic properties. Hot water is believed to relieve muscle and joint pain, improve blood circulation and reduce stress.
There are several hot water pools at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, of different temperatures. Some pools are warm enough for cooking, while others are warm enough for swimming. There is also a geyser which emits hot water to a height of several meters.
Besides bathing in the hot water, you can also enjoy a traditional Thai massage at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs. There are also several restaurants and shops on site.
Tips for Visiting San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
- Wear a swimsuit and swim shoes.
- Bring a towel and drinking water.
- Apply sunscreen before bathing in hot water.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Respect other visitors and the environment.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai
The best places to sleep in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a bustling and diverse city with something to offer everyone. Here are five of the best neighborhoods to stay, based on your interests and budget:
The old town of Chiang Mai (old city)
It is the historic heart of the city, surrounded by a fortified wall. Here you will find numerous temples, bustling markets, shops, restaurants and accommodation options of all categories.
Nimman is a trendy neighborhood in Chiang Mai, known for its stylish boutiques, art galleries, trendy cafes and vibrant nightlife. It is an excellent choice for lovers of contemporary culture.
This neighborhood runs along the Ping River and offers great water views. It is home to luxury hotels, riverside restaurants, night markets and easy access to the old town.
Located south of the Old Town, Hai Ya is a peaceful neighborhood with a mix of affordable and mid-range accommodation options. It is close to many attractions and easily accessible.
Just east of the Old Town, Chang Moi is a quiet residential area but close to the hustle and bustle of the city center. It offers an authentic local atmosphere and varied accommodation options.
These neighborhoods offer a variety of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets, from affordable hostels to luxury hotels.
The best things to do in Chiang Mai
What to do in Chiang Mai?
Although I’ve already shared some of the best things to do in Chiang Mai on this page, it’s full of exciting opportunities for you to discover. Here are some of my favorite suggestions for getting the most out of your trip to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai travel guide – Formalities for travelers
For travelers wishing to stay in Chiang Mai, here are 10 important points regarding formalities to take into account:
Valid passport: make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned arrival date in Thailand.
Tourist visa: nationals of many European countries, including members of the European Union, can enter Thailand without a visa for tourist stays of up to 30 days by air. However, check current regulations before you leave, as policies may change.
Multiple entry visa : if you plan to stay more than 30 days or intend to leave and return to Thailand during your trip, you may need to obtain a multiple entry tourist visa before your departure.
Land visa waiver: the 30-day visa waiver is generally granted to travelers arriving by air. If you enter by land, the duration can be reduced to 15 days.
What documents to go to Chiang Mai
Proof of finances: it is advisable to have proof of sufficient financial means to cover your stay, although this may rarely be requested.
Return ticket: thai authorities may sometimes ask you to present a return or onward ticket to prove that you will be leaving the country at the end of your stay.
Travel Insurance: it is recommended to have travel insurance covering medical treatment in Thailand.
Visa extension: if you plan to extend your stay, you can apply for a visa extension at the local immigration office in Chiang Mai.
Respect local laws: respect local laws and regulations, including respect for the Thai monarchy, which is a sensitive subject.
Current entry requirements: check current entry requirements with the Thai embassy or Thai consulate in your country before traveling, as regulations and requirements may change.
Be sure to check official, up-to-date information on Thailand’s entry requirements before you go, as rules may vary depending on your nationality and recent regulatory changes.
Thai vocabulary for travelers in Chiang Mai
Learn a few words before my stay in Chiang Mai!
Here are some useful words and phrases in Thai that will help you communicate with locals in Chiang Mai:
- Try to learn some basic Thai phrases before your trip. This will help you communicate with locals and find your way around the city.
- Don’t hesitate to ask locals for help. They are very welcoming and helpful.
- Be patient and respectful of Thai culture.
When to visit Chiang Mai: complete guide
When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
Deciding when to visit Chiang Mai depends on your personal preferences regarding weather, tourist crowds, and specific activities you would like to do. Here is a complete guide to help you optimize your trip depending on the season:
High season (november-april)
- November to February: This is the most pleasant time to visit Chiang Mai. Temperatures are mild, precipitation is rare, and the weather is generally sunny. It’s ideal for sightseeing, outdoor activities, and day trips.
- March and April: These months are also pleasant, although warmer. You can enjoy the sun, but it can be more crowded.
Low season (may-october)
- May to October: This is the rainy season, but it does not rain all the time. Precipitation is generally short and intense, followed by sunny periods. This time is ideal for travelers looking for lower fares and fewer tourists.
Shoulder season (april-may and september-october)
- April-May and September-October: These are transition periods between seasons. You can find great prices and enjoy decent weather. However, there may be some showers.
- Loy Krathong (November): It is an annual festival that celebrates the full moon in the month of November. People make flower boats and throw them into rivers and lakes.
- Songkran (April): Thai New Year is celebrated with water fights in the streets, making it a time of lively festivities.
- Chiang Mai Flower Festival (December): This festival celebrates the city’s flowering. The streets are decorated with flowers and there are parades and shows.
Tips to optimize your visit :
- Book your accommodations in advance if you are traveling during peak season, as hotels fill up quickly.
- If you prefer a quieter vacation and lower rates, consider visiting during the low season.
- Plan activities based on the weather. The months of November to February are perfect for sightseeing, while the rainy season is good for cultural activities and relaxation.
By choosing the season that best suits your preferences, you can optimize your trip to Chiang Mai and make the most of it.
MTT wishes you the most wonderful trip to Chiang Mai