Top Things To Do in Chiang Mai Thailand

This is it! This is your guide to the top things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand. Included here are temples to visit, hikes to explore, ethical elephant sanctuaries, lantern festivals, and great day trips from Chiang Mai. Let’s get to it!

Krista Suletic Things to do Chiang Mai Thailand

Things to do Chiang Mai: Temples

These are the top temples in Chiang Mai.

  1. Wat Phra Singh- the golden temple
  2. Wat Chedi Luang
  3. Wat Chiang Man
  4. Wat Suan Dok
  5. Wat Lok Moli
  6. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep- on Mountain, above the city. Perfect for sunrise.

Chiang Mai Temple Locations

In the first map below you can see the 4 temples that are in the or next to the old town city center area. The second map shows a zoomed-out view with the same 4 temples on the right. To the left of them is Wat San Dok and then in the Mountains further left is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Things to do Chiang Mai: Hikes

  • Wat Pha Lat- hike the monk’s trail.
    • This trail is about 3.8 miles there and back with about 1900 ft of elevation. You will see small waterfalls, temple ruins, bamboo bridges, and city views.
  • Bua Tong Sticky Waterfall
    • This is not really a hike. There is a parking lot near the falls. This is a popular destination because you can actually climb the falls rather easily- hints, the name!

Things to do Chiang Mai: Elephant Encounters

The most important thing to remember when booking your elephant encounter is to be sure it is an ethical sanctuary. Please do not support organizations that let people ride animals and keep animals in pens or cages. This goes for other animal encounters as well- please do not support the caging of tigers and breeding of tigers for your entertainment.

Here are some Ethical elephant sanctuaries:

  • Elephant Nature Park
    • They have several options to visit. Many full-day options ranging from 2,500 to 6,000THB. There is one half-day visit available for 2,500THB and one 2-nigh, 1-day visit for 5,800THB.
    • Visit their Website
  • Boon Latt’s Elephant Sanctuary
    • This is a hand-off experience. There is a limit to 8 guests and it is an overnight experience. Prices are 6,000THB per night this does include all meals.
    • Visit their Website
  • Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary
    • This is a one night or multinight volunteer opportunity. You will be able to spend time with elephants and doing other community volunteering. Contact for pricing.
    • Visit their Website
  • Happy Elephant Home
  • Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
    • Half-day visits are 1,600THB, full-day are 2,000THB, and a 2-night visit is 5,500THB.
    • Visit their Website

Things to do in Chiang Mai: Day Trips

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is a perfect day trip and a must-visit when in northern Thailand. The top sites here are the White Temple and the Blue Temple. It will take about 3 hours to get to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai so you can also do an overnight stay. You can get there by hiring a driver, rent a car, or taking the bus. However you get there, just be sure to go! You don’t want to miss out on these gorgeous temples!


Pai is a backpacker’s haven and is a lovely addition to any northern Thailand itinerary. In Pai, there are hiking, waterfalls, great restaurants and a famous bamboo bridge over rice fields. This is about 2.5 hours from Chiang Mai so again, you can also do an overnight stay.

Tea Plantation

There are many tea plantations you can visit in the mountains around Chiang Mai. I recommend 101 Tea Planation. It is a beautiful spot up in the mountains with a delicious tea. Also, I recommend renting a car and enjoying your drive through the mountains. We discovered many beautiful lookouts and temples along the drive.

Lantern Festival Chiang Mai

This happens once a year in November, the actual date does vary depending on the full moon. It is definitely worth planning your trip to coincide with this festival. It is truly a breath-taking experience.

Read this blog post on the Lantern Festival to learn more.

Lantern Festival Chiang Mai Thailand

Still, overwhelmed planning your Thailand adventure? You can get my FREE Thailand Itinerary and Guide HERE or let me help! As a professional Travel Advisor, it’s my job to design you the perfect Thailand escape. Visit my travel planning page or planning process page to learn more.

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Krista Suletic
Krista Suletic

Full-service, luxury Travel Advisor/Agent. Travel Blogger. Married, dog mom, plant-based. Based in San Jose California but often traveling the world.

Find me on: Instagram

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