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Buddhas left, right and centre. Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai’s holiest temple. Its gabled chapels shelter all manner of Buddha statues. Chief amongst them is Phra Singh (lion Buddha), a highly revered figurine who sits cross-legged and serene. During the Songkran Water Festival, it’s paraded around the city on a flowery dais, as locals sprinkle it with water for good luck.Accommodation near Wat Phra Singh
Babble with Buddhist monks! At this temple, marigold-robed monks invite visitors to chat about Buddhism, monastic life and much more. Chedi Luang is a perfect setting for profound conversation, too. The centrepiece is a huge 15th-century “chedi” (stupa). Its stained stone and half-crumbled tower conjure ancient images of mediaeval meditation and inner peace.Accommodation near Chedi Luang Temple
A kilometre of commerce. This weekly market is one elongated opportunity to fill your suitcase with souvenirs. It was once the home of the country’s finest silversmiths, and now brims with local crafts. It’s also tip-top for street food – nibble on a twisted helix of seasoned potato on a stick, chomp on a juicy dumpling or crunch into a deep-fried grasshopper!Accommodation near Saturday Walking Street
A bazaar of the bizarre, the orthodox, the tasty and the counterfeit. In the warm glow of countless lanterns, this after-dark market throngs with souvenir shoppers. On offer is a smorgasbord of carved-teak jewellery, miniature silken elephants, knock-off watches, “muay thai” boxing shorts and designer shirts of dubious provenance.Accommodation near Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
The locals’ local market. For Chiang Mai residents, Warorot is the go-to shopping spot for pretty much any item. This three-storey building dazzles with a dizzying floor-plan and equally dizzying array of goods. Stalls are squashed side-by-side, and alleyways shoot off in unfathomable directions. Go with the flow and lose yourself among the spices, fabrics and miscellanea.Accommodation near Warorot Market
What is it about pandas that makes them so adored? Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui are definitely this zoo’s star attraction, mesmerising kids and adults alike. Once you’ve had your fill of panda cuteness, explore the rest of the animal kingdom in the zoo’s geographic-themed zones. Then glide along on the cable car to survey nature’s rich tapestry from on high.Accommodation near Chiang Mai Zoo
This golden temple sits on the mountainside, surrounded by a sea of foliage. Its gleaming stupa peeps out of the leafy canopy like a gilded finger pointing at the sky. As you climb the long staircase, the metallic sound of prayer bells grows ever louder. At the summit, you are greeted by a paradise of glowing holy statues, sweet incense and stunning panoramas.Accommodation near Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Parlay with porcupines! Banter with bears! At Chiang Mai Night Safari, you can get up close and personal with these animals… and much more. Pick up a packet of food at reception, then hop on the safari tram and pootle past giraffes and zebras, who lope up to be fed. It’s not just doe-eyed herbivores here – watch white tigers hunt their prey by night in the Night Predators show.Accommodation near Chiang Mai Night Safari
Come rain or shine, umbrellas are always a handy accessory. At Bo Sang, there are plenty of umbrellas to choose from. This village is dedicated to the manufacture of artisanal umbrellas out of bamboo and “saa” mulberry paper. Follow the process, honed over the centuries, from bamboo stick to finished article. You can even get one personalised by the on-site craftsmen.Accommodation near Bo Sang
He shoots, he scores! He trumpets in celebration! At this elephant sanctuary, athletic pachyderms take to the field to play footy for cheering visitors. After the final whistle, they wheel out a series of easels and paintbrushes, and these talented creatures only go and paint landscape canvasses! Don’t miss the chance to meet Mae Sa’s troop of true polymaths.Accommodation near Mae Sa Elephant Camp
21 October 2016
20 October 2016
21 October 2016
21 October 2016
21 October 2016
20 October 2016
21 October 2016
21 October 2016
8 Very good
Score from 416 reviews
£89Average price per night
Vestiges of the past abound in Old Town. Remnants of the mediaeval city walls are dotted with grand gates. All around, temples waft incense onto the street. Inside, stupas, statues hark back to the glory days of the Lanna Kingdom. Grab some old-school fodder at Huen Phen, before zooming back to the 21st century at Zoe in Yellow Nightclub.Accommodation in Chiang Mai Old Town
Busy busy! Chang Khlan’s streets buzz with mopeds all day long, and tourists mill round Wat Chai Mongkol’s rows of sitting Buddhas. Head to Art in Paradise for extra-funky holiday snaps – this optical-illusion museum’s distorted wall paintings place you in various amusing scenes. Finish your day with a seafood feast at Anusarn Market.Accommodation in Chang Khlan
Work your body! This residential district is a favourite of sporty locals. Lanna Golf Course is a 27-hole sports extravaganza, with tennis courts and a pool to keep non-golfers entertained. Join the joggers in the 700 Years Stadium, or practise your breathing exercises in Wat Jed Yot, one of Chiang Mai’s most underrated temples.Accommodation in Chang Phueak
Cool cats prowl in “Nimman”. This trendy district is a hit with hipsters, who nonchalantly flick their iPads in 9th Street Café and sip rare brews in House of Beers. Coffee connoisseurs should seek out Ristr8to for its array of caffeine-infused treats. When the sun goes down, Warm Up Café is where bright, young things come to let their hair down.Accommodation in Nimmanhaemin
Riverside living. Wat Ket follows the Ping River as it winds south. The best way to see the area is by boat. Set a course for Wat Sri Khong pier and cast off. Cure your sea legs with a “salapao” (steamed bun) from Wikun Panich. Then cap it off with sunset-soaked dinner at riverfront restaurant Good View, which more than lives up to its name.Accommodation in Wat Ket
Buy buy buy! Chang Moi is a market wonderland. Locals pick up all and sundry at Warorot Market, a baffling four-storey labyrinth of stalls, while floral fanatics browse Ton Lamyai Market for a bouquet. Kasem Store is a local favourite – this family-run joint that has stocked waffles, muffins and rare Western groceries for over half a century.Accommodation in Chang Moi
Thapae follows the ancient road into town. Once upon a time, oxcarts rumbled along this thoroughfare, as the thick city walls of Chiang Mai hove into view. Follow this well-trodden path, and stop off at Wat Bupparam temple, whose crazy gables gleam in gold and orange. Then duck into Slamong Osot and knock back a bracing medicinal tea.Accommodation in Thapae
Music graduate, Wawa always keeps an eye out for when her favourite musicians are in town.
This unique venue plays host to jazz bands each evening. Make sure you get there early to grab a good spot and an ice-cold drink from the bar, which sells blends from various breweries.Accommodation nearby
Friends often refer to him as a walking encyclopedia, Ruamyot is a connoisseur of Thai history.
Doi Inthanon National Park is one of Thailand's treasures. Known as the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon has plenty of natural wonders, from waterfalls to nature trail. Despite the location of the park, it's totally worth the effort once you reach the top of the mountain.Accommodation nearby
A former flight attendant, Pratthana has an impressive collection of stamps in her passports.
Located on the hillside, Mon Jam is famous for its unparalleled scenery of lush green, sunset and sunrise. While people come here for the amazing view, the highlight of Mon Jam is actually the restaurant. Visitors can enjoy Thai dishes made with fresh vegetables from the on-site farm.Accommodation nearby
Always on the latest trend, Pailin loves shopping for stylish accessories, as well as long brunches.
Don't always believe what you see. At Art in Paradise, your 20/20 will be tested by over 130 optical illusion wall paintings. Visitors can interact with each one of them and take creative photos. It is a great place to go with friends and let your imagination run wild!Accommodation nearby
Green-fingered Ampon spends much of his time on the internet looking for exotic plants.
Huay Kaew Waterfall is 6 km from the city centre. There is a 6-km trekking trail awaiting nature lovers to witness the diversity of flora and fauna on the way up to Pha Ngerb. This area is one of the locals’ favourite picnic spots. Snacks can be purchased on the way up to the waterfall.Accommodation nearby
An outdoor enthusiast by nature, Phon captures wonderful photos and publishes them on Instagram.
The Giant is a tree house for adults. Built into a gigantic banyan tree, you have to walk across a small suspension bridge to get to the café. You can enjoy a cup of coffee with spectacular views of luscious green forest. It only accommodates 20 guests a day so a reservation is a must.Accommodation nearby
Part-time graduate student Nichapat is fond of travelling and experiencing new cultures.
Perhaps the most overlooked temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Lok Molee is one of the oldest temples in the city. This hidden gem was built 500 years ago in a traditional Lanna style, which is a rare sight these days. As soon as you go in, you can feel the calmness and the temple's rich history.Accommodation nearby
Smiley Thanutra likes to read novels and discover local food from different neighbourhoods.
The park was originally created for a short-term exposition. However, it was so popular that it is now open all year round. The highlight of the park is the international gardens where you can see traditional gardens from different countries like Kenya, Spain and China.Accommodation nearby
Eternal optimist Waranya loves being outdoors, as well as checking out new cafés in town.
Take a day off to zip-line through the forest just like a real gibbon! Situated an hour's drive from the city, the adventure includes 5 km of zip-lines (with Asia's longest single 'flight' of 800 metres) and experts to help you spot all the wildlife in this gibbon conservation!Accommodation nearby
Diminutive Keadkeow loves eating deep-fried food, although you'd never know it.
If you are looking for souvenirs or unique handicrafts for your loved ones, then Baan Tawai is the place to go. The village offers a wide selection of handmade items such as wooden sculptures and teak furniture. With the right price and great quality, this place is a real bargain.Accommodation nearby
Born and raised in Chiang Mai, Ilada enjoys golfing with her family on the weekends.
Can't sleep but you want to go out? Want to plan your next trip at 2 am? C.A.M.P is one of very few 24/7 cafés in Chiang Mai. Whether you're alone or with a group of friends, enjoy a cup of coffee, free WiFi and lounge around on the artificial grass and cushions at this funky café.Accommodation nearby
Warit’s passionate about the outdoors and dreams of travelling the world, accompanied by his cats.
After being abandoned for many years, the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon is now open to visitors. You have to see this amazing piece of landscape for yourself. You can rent rafts, or take a dip in its emerald-coloured waters.Accommodation nearby
Booking.com asked travellers...How can you enjoy the sights in Chiang Mai while avoiding the crowds?
Low season is good to avoid the crowds. The weather is fairly good, a bit hotter than in winter but there's refreshing showers every day, which keep all the vegetation lush green and beat the dust down. Even in high season I wouldn't say that there are crowds in Chiang Mai, like you would see on Great China Wall in China. Only in the markets which is typical for any market in the world.See all 8 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...Tell us a bit more about an adventure you experienced...
Chiang Mai is a perfect spot for anyone wanting adventure travel. We went to an elephant camp and did some trekking.See all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...Describe the spiritual atmosphere in the temples of Chiang Mai.
United Arab Emirates
Visit one of the temples that are off the beaten track - like Wat Umong for a better spiritual experience.See all 32 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...What makes the people from Chiang Mai so friendly? Tell us your story.
I think the people are more easygoing than in Bangkok and in Pattaya.See all 7 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...Describe what other people like you would like about shopping in Chiang Mai.
The night bazar and walking market has anything you could needSee all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...Tell us about your most relaxing moments in Chiang Mai.
To be in Chiang Mai is relaxing.See all 9 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...What's the secret to sampling all the diverse food Chiang Mai has to offer?
Have lots of time and money.See all 9 answers
Booking.com asked travellers...Is there more to shopping in Chiang Mai than main street stores?
Souvenir shoppingSee all 7 answers
To get into town from the airport, you can take a taxi or hop on a bus. The taxi ranks are on the first floor of the passenger terminal, just outside the arrivals section. There are fixed-price airport taxis (around THB 160 to the centre), and standard meter taxis, which are generally less reliable. It is always advisable to agree a price with the driver before getting in. The cheaper option is the red minibus, but you’ll have to walk to the main road to hail it.
For many people, exploration of Chiang Mai has to be on two wheels. Despite the lack of bike lanes and somewhat chaotic traffic, travelling by bike can be very rewarding. A certain amount of experience of road cycling is a must if you’re taking on Chiang Mai by bike. However, if you’re exploring the Old Town’s temples, it’s a great way to move around while experiencing the city in its authentic state.
Chiang Mai’s red modified pick-up cars (“song taew”) are something of a transport institution. They run 24 hours a day, but with no routes or schedules. You just have to hail them in the street and ask the driver if he’s headed towards your destination. It’s always best to negotiate the price before getting on. Prices range from THB 20-40 within the city centre to THB 60-100 for further-afield destinations.
Only for the brave. Car travel in Chiang Mai tends to be tricky for foreigners, as most street signs are in Thai, and the traffic can be pretty lawless. Many streets are very narrow, particularly in Old Town, and street parking is limited. It is recommended not to drive in Chiang Mai unless you’re planning to travel outside the city.
Many locals choose motorbikes as their preferred mode of transport. This is because they’re nippy, and you can zig-zag through Chiang Mai’s many traffic jams with relative ease. Parking is also a lot easier than with a car, with plenty of roadside parking spaces around the city. When renting a motorbike, make sure to ask about the company’s insurance policy, and don’t leave your passport with them. Also be sure to wear a helmet!
In Chiang Mai, taxis can’t be flagged down in the street. You need to arrange a pick-up by phone, or grab one at designated taxi ranks (at shopping centres and certain other popular areas). It’s important that you establish a price with the driver before getting in. You can also hire all-day taxis, if you’re on a whistlestop tour of the city. Prices range from THB 1500 to 3000, depending on the number of passengers and the distance required.
If you’re after an authentic experience, you could do worse than hop on a rickshaw. These man-powered vehicles used to rule the roads in Chiang Mai, and they're still used by plenty of locals. They’re not very fast, and the drivers can’t manage very long trips, but for a quick journey near the Thapae Gate or Warorot Market, a rickshaw (“Sam lLor”) trip offers a great taste of old Chiang Mai.
Tuk tuks are motorised rickshaws. They are popular among both tourists and locals, and there are always plenty around the most popular tourist attractions. They tend to be relatively pricy since they can take you straight to your destination. Prices usually start at around THB 50 per person. Always agree on a price before getting on.
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