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Best Attractions in Chiang Mai

Steeped in history and surrounded by incredible scenery, there is an endless array of both man made and natural attractions to keep visitors to the rose of the north satisfied.  This is our list of the 10 best attractions in Chiang Mai with some well known and others not so well known based on our years of experience of living in Chiang Mai, many of which being free or the cost of a small entrance fee.  Also check out our top 15 adventures in Chiang Mai!

The List of  Top 10 Attractions in Chiang Mai

1. Admire the Majestic Doi Suthep

    Why we like it:

    Chiang Mai’s most famous attraction is undoubtedly Doi Suthep temple. Perched on a bluff overlooking the city at approx. 1000m ASL the beautiful temple with its golden stupa is best seen early morning or evening. The easiest way to visit Doi Suthep is to take a red truck from outside Chiang Mai zoo for approx. 50THB each way or rent a scooter and driver the 12km to the temple.

      Doi Suthep
      Doi Suthep Chiang Mai
      Chiang Mai Temple

      2. Relax at Wat Chedi Luang

        Why we like it:

        Wat Chedi Luang is among the most majestic of Chiang Mai temples located in the center of the old city. It used to house the emerald buddha but after an earthquake damaged the temple in 1545 the buddha was moved to Luang Prabang. The temple is still active today and you will be able to watch monks prey every day.

          Wat Chedi Luang
          Chedi Luang Temple
          Chiang Mai Temple

          3. Cool Down at the Grand Canyon

            Why we like it:

            About 30 minutes drive south of Chiang Mai is an old quarry which over time filled with water and is now known as the ‘grand canyon’.  Whilst not quite as dramatic as the real grand canyon it’s a nice place to visit for a few hours for a swim or even wakeboarding.  There are various floating attractions for kids of all ages and restaurants lining the canyon.  The price varies depending on what area of the canyon you visit with a number of packages available.

              Things to do In Chiang Mai
              Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
              Grand Canyon Chiang Mai

              4. Explore Warorot Market

                Why we like it:

                There are plenty of markets in Chiang Mai but our pick for the best is Warorot market, situated next to the Ping river. Prices remain reasonable and not inflated for tourists and you can find just about anything here. The market is a great place to wander around for an hour or two, sampling the local delicacies and getting lost around the small alleyways. 

                  Market in Chiang Mai
                  Chiang Mai Market
                  Warorot Market

                  5. Have Lunch at Huay Thung Tao

                    Why we like it:

                    Huay Tung Tao is a man made lake just 20 minutes north of the city and lies in the shadow of Doi Suthep-Pui mountain. There are several attractions in the area such as a King Kong made of straw and a sheep farm. Restaurants line the lake and serve delicious local food at reasonable prices and is hugely popular with locals. Entrance is 50THB per person and last orders in the restaurants is 6pm. If you arrive around 4 or 5pm you can watch the sun setting behind the mountain making for a stunning backdrop.

                      Chiang Mai King Kong
                      Huay Tung Tao Lake
                      Huay Tung Tao

                      6. Mork Fa Waterfall

                        Why we like it:

                        Mork Fa waterfall is one of the more beautiful waterfalls in Chiang Mai and one of our top 10 attractions in Chiang Mai. Its relatively accessible being an hour drive from the city and because it’s not particularly well known, you may have the place to yourself! From the parking area it is a 10 minute walk to the waterfall and there is a shallow pool at the base for a cool down.   If you look up and to the right from the waterfall you can see a small cave, there is a short nature hike from here to the parking area along a different route.  The national park entrance fee is 100THB per person.  

                          Chiang Mai Waterfall
                          Mork Fa Chiang Mai
                          Mork Fa Waterfall

                          7. Wander Around Mae Kampong

                            Why we like it:

                            This picture postcard village is nestled among stunning rainforest at 1300m ASL an hour’s drive east of the city.  Home to various cute coffee shops and souvenir stalls, as well as the popular Flight of the Gibbon, Mae Kampong is a perfect city escape for a day as visitors can not only enjoy the village but a 2km nature trail and the nearby Mae Kampong waterfall. 

                              Mae Kampong Hike
                              Mae Kampong
                              Mae Kampong Village

                              8. Climb the Sticky Waterfall

                                Why we like it:

                                Sticky Waterfall or Bua Tong waterfall as it’s known in Thai is so called because of the build up of mineral deposits on the rocks that the water cascades over allowing visitors to scramble up the steep face.  The water comes from a nearby spring and is amazingly clear and refreshing making for a great place to cool off.  It’s currently free to visit but as of 2020 there was talk about charging a 100THB fee to enter.  To get there you can take one of many tours or hire a motorbike and drive 90 minutes via Mae Kuang reservoir.

                                  Sticky Waterfall
                                  Bua Tong Waterfall
                                  Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai

                                  9. Hike the Pilgrim’s Trail

                                    Why we like it:

                                    The most accessible hike for those short on time but wanting to experience some nature is the Pilgrim’s trail which starts at the back of Chiang Mai University.  The 3km hike is up a steep but easy to navigate trail and ends at Wat Pha Lat, a stunning temple with views of the city and a waterfall trickling through the grounds.  If you’re feeling energetic there’s an additional trail that continues up to Doi Suthep temple which is another 3km hike. 

                                      Wat Pha Lad
                                      Hiking in Chiang Mai
                                      Pilgrim's Trail

                                      10. Shop in a Luxurious Mall

                                        Why we like it:

                                        Even if shopping mall’s are not your thing sometimes its nice to pop in and cool down in the AC, watch a movie or wander around the super modern shops.  There are some older malls such as Central Airport and Central Kad Suan Keaw and a couple of uber modern malls such as Maya and Central Festival which are our recommendations for visiting.  Maya has the added benefit of having a rooftop bar so head over for sunset and enjoy great views of the city. 

                                          Central
                                          Central Festival Chiang Mai
                                          Shopping Malls Chiang Mai

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