So what's Chiang Mai all about?
Chiang Mai is a quiet-ish city in the north of Thailand with temples, elephants and a ton of outdoors getaways. It is surrounded by mountains and has a distinctively chilled out vibe. Most of the travelers here are discerning and more connected with the land.
It is not big on nightlife at all, so don’t expect to party like in the south. It does have a few nice places to get a beer and live music to go with it.
Lastly, it is a great launchpad for a ton of places and activities in the North like the Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Pai and the Mae Hong Son loop.
Cool things to do in Chiang Mai
Doi Pui to Doi Suthep (Climb down from the mountain peak to the temple), Doi Inthanon nature trail (highest peak in Thailand), Huay Tung Lao (waterfall, helipad and views of the lake).
Doi Suthep (30min moto ride away), Doi Inthanon (2 hours away), Wat Chedi Luang (bang in the city).
Museum District (Arts and Culture center, Historical museum, Lanna heritage museum), Markets (Don Phayam market, Farmer’s market, Sunday walking market), Zoo (has a panda).
Bars and Pubs (lots of options on Loi Kroh Rd), Live Music (some great jazz, rock and pop joints on Charoenrat Rd) and scattered nightclubs and some gay bars (Chiang Mai is big on gay tourists).
Elephant interaction sessions (check for mistreated animals before booking), Flight of the gibbon (ziplining), Chat with a monk (sometimes they know the answers to our universe), bamboo rafting (you’re gonna get wet doing this).
Day/Half Day Tours
Hill tribe trekking (2 – 5 day tours, hike through the jungle and visit native hill tribe villages), Motorbike trips (Huay Tong Tao – lake with amazing sunsets, San Kamphaeng hot springs – hot natural bath!), National Park (Ob Khan – 1 hour ride and camping by the river, Doi Inthanon – 2 hour ride and spectacular temple hike).
Here’s the deal with Chiang Mai. If you just like hitting top tourist spots then it’s not a good choice for you. If you like getting into the feel of a place with rustic charm, you should definitely visit!