Chiang Mai is favored by visitors for its cool climate - and, surrounded by mountains, the city offers a unique setting to enjoy Thailand’s culture and natural beauty simultaneously. It is a go-to destination for hikers and mountain climbers, but Chiang Mai has also experienced an artistic renaissance, giving the city a reputation for being a hub of the arts.
Over 700 years old, Chiang Mai was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Evidence of the city’s history can be found on every street, where ancient architecture has stood the test of time. Stroll around the Old City to explore temples, statues, and monasteries. To learn more about Chiang Mai’s history, step into the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre.
Take an afternoon excursion to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a gold-encrusted Buddhist monastery that affords gorgeous views of Chiang Mai. The city itself holds hundreds of ancient temples, and both Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, and Wat Phra Singh are not to be missed.
Chiang Mai is famous for its street fairs, which offer the opportunity to enjoy regional cuisine and crafts. The city is famous for its spicy curries, and make sure to try khao soi, a local specialty. Don’t miss out on the famous Night Bazaar - and save room in your suitcase for jewelry, paintings, and other treats.
The city is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, and offers a wide array of boutique hotels and elegant eateries. This is matched by an abundance of hostels and street vendors, making Chiang Mai an accessible destination for any budget. Loi Kroh Road is a favored nightlife destination for tourists; the Ping River waterfront also offers a lively atmosphere thanks to its proximity to the university.
Many parts of the city are easily accessible on foot, though taxis and tuk-tuks are plentiful to make getting from here to there a breeze. Elephant tours offer a chance to see Chiang Mai from a unique perspective, but make sure to do your research that the animals are being humanely treated.
The city is serviced by Chiang Mai International Airport and offers hourly flights to and from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. A direct train line also runs between the two cities.