The Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai

Presented by Panumart Tattoo

Chiang Mai is beloved by tourists for offering a quiet, perfect mix of Thailand’s modern aspects with its natural beauty. In and around the Old City you can find all the modern comforts you need, with English-speaking locals and fellow tourists all around you. And just a hop, skip and jump away you can find yourself amongst lush nature and villages rarely visited by foreigners.

Chiang Mai is beloved by tourists for offering a quiet, perfect mix of Thailand’s modern aspects with its natural beauty. In and around the Old City you can find all the modern comforts you need, with English-speaking locals and fellow tourists all around you. And just a hop, skip and jump away you can find yourself amongst lush nature and villages rarely visited by foreigners.

1. Get a Tattoo

Thailand is known for its wonderful tattoo artists and Chiang Mai is home to some of the best. Getting a tattoo here in Chiang Mai is a great way to bring a memory of your trip back home with you.

Recommendation: Panumart Tattoo of course! We’ve got a team of talented artists and we have an amazing track record of over 300+ 5-star reviews. Plus our safety protocol was taught in person by an American doctor.


2. Explore the Old City

The heart of Chiang Mai lies in the historic Old City. By exploring the Old City you’ll encounter lot’s of what Chiang Mai has to offer: delicious food, exotic culture, cute cafés, relaxing massages, beautiful temples, Buddhist monks and more!


3. Eat Local Delicacies

Sampling authentic Thai food is a must for any visit to the country. Chiang Mai is flooded with options for great tasting Thai food and local northern specialties. Your taste buds will tingle in every setting, with street food, markets, restaurants, cafés and malls providing food that will have you coming back for more!


4. Visit a Day Market

Day markets are open-air foodcourts slash supermarkets. Thais go there to grab a bite to eat, as well as buy meat and produce. Visiting a day market is a great way to experience Thai culture hands-on. You’l leave with some cool pictures and a happy stomach. The food there is also very cheap (roughly ฿30-60).

Recommendation: Siri Wattana (Tanin) Market.


5. Waterfalls

Any nature lover would be remiss to visit Chiang Mai and not visit one of the province’s many waterfalls. There are huge waterfalls, small ones with pools, some with natural slides and even one unlike any other you will ever find!

Recommendations: Mork Fa Waterfall, Huay Keaw Waterfall, Sticky Waterfalls


6. Temple Hop

Chiang Mai is famous for its vast amount of Thai Buddhist temples. They are great for sight-seeing, but if you plan on seeing more than one consider a tour guide. Having a charismatic local show you around can really add to your day’s enjoyment. Otherwise you are prone to stepping into a temple, snapping some pictures and being left with nothing more to do but leave.

Recommendations: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Umong, Wat Phra Lat



7. Get a Massage

Get pampered and feel amazing for as little as ฿150 baht per hour! Thailand is famous for the quality of its massages:

  • Thai massage – a type of deep-tissue massage that can be as painful as it is pleasureable.
  • Oil massage – a superficial body rub that is painless and feels incredible.
  • Herbal compress – an absolutely amazing massage that utilizes herbs wrapped in a cheese cloth. They are then steamed and placed on your body, melting your muscles like a hot knife thru butter.
  • Tawksen – The most painful Thai massage, involving a mallet and a wooden spoon.

Recommendation: Lila Thai Massage and IDI Thai massage school


8. Go Bamboo Rafting

One of the most relaxing activities you can do in Thailand. You’ll definitely feel like you’ve been transported to an exotic location as your slowly cruising thru the jungle on a raft made out of bamboo.

Recommendation: In Mae Wang an entire raft can be rented for 400 baht, with a driver included in that price.


9. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

For many people the visit to an elephant sanctuary is the highlight of the trip. In fact, we’ve had so many customers come to us asking for an elephant tattoo simply because of the love they felt following their trunked encounter.

At a proper sanctuary there won’t be any riding of the elephants. No chains will be used, nor hooks/prods.

Recommendation: Elephant Nature Park

10. Go Camping

Get outside of the city and get closer to nature. Camping offers the opportunity to slow and really relax while in Thailand.

Recommendation: There are no shortage of camping options around Chiang Mai, but Mon Cham is the most popular option amongst locals.

11. Go Trekking

Chiang Mai and northern Thailand are known for their sprawling mountains and thick jungles. Trekking is a great way to see Thailand’s trees, flowers, fungi, birds, lizards and possibly even snakes.

Options range from cheap to free in done by yourself. Or you could splurge for one of the amazing guided trek options.

Recommendation: Ang Ka Nature Trail and Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail in Doi Inthanon National Park and the Monk’s Trail in Doi Suthep National Park

12. Night Market / Walking Street

Night markets, similar to day markets, are great places to eat, although the food options are different. That’s why it’s a must to visit a night market. Depending on which market you go to, you may be able to buy clothes as well.

Chiang Mai’s biggest night markets by far are the Saturday and Sunday night walking streets. In addition to loads of food options, you’ll also find tons of souvenirs.

Recommendation: Kad Manee Market and Sunday Walking Street

13. Muay Thai

Here in Chiang Mai you have the option to watch a fight in person or to learn how to box yourself. Both are nice experiences, but I really recommend taking a private class for yourself – it’s a great workout and a lot of fun to hit the pads.

Recommendation: Spirit of Siam Muay Thai

14. Watch a Movie

Within Chiang Mai’s modern malls are a collection of really nice movie theaters. With stadium seating, personally picked seats, premium sofas and various popcorn flavor options, it’s well worth a visit to the cinema.

Recommendation: Major Cineplex in Central Airport and SF Cinema in Maya

15. Drink With the Locals

ZOE IN YELLOW is the go-to place for backpackers to drink, but if you want to rub shoulders with the locals then head on down to Tha Chang or Warm Up. However, I’d recommend Nophaburi Bar.


16. Binge on Video Games

Gaming computers, large monitors, gaming chairs, high-speed internet, the entire Steam library, food you can order and open 24 hours a day! For only about 15 baht per hour you can dive right into gaming and never come out.

Recommendation: iPlay Net Cafe – map

17. Ladyboy Show

Gender is much more fluid in Thailand than it is in the west. Ladyboy cabaret shows are a great way to experience this culture. They are high-energy, costume-filled extravaganzas.

Recommendation: Chiang Mai Cabaret


18. Go Running

Doi Suthep mountainNong Buak Hard Park, Royal Park Rajapruek and the Old City’s moat are all great places to get a sweat going if you’re into running.You also have the 700 Years Stadium and Muang Chiang Mai Stadium.

19. Enjoy a Flower Garden

Royal Park Rajapruek, located just 20 minutes outside of the Old City provides a nice walk with tons of beautiful flowers.

Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, located just under an hour outside of the Old City, is another great option that also provides a canopy skywalk.


20. Eat the Extreme

Are you into Bizarre Foods? Feel free to try Century Egg, fermented pig, bugs, chicken hearts and pig intestines, fermented fish pastes, durian and more.


21. Learn to Plant Rice

At Ginger Farm you can get your food muddy in a rice paddy while having a great day. They also have a cooking class where you can hand-pick your ingredients from the farm.

22. Meditate

Chiang Mai is one of the consciousness capitals of Southeast Asia. If you are looking for some inner peace you won’t be short of options. There are locally run Buddhist meditation centers and many run by foreigners as well.

Recommendation: International Vipassana Meditation Centre at Wat Phradat Sri Chomtong

23. Yoga

Yoga has become a big part of Chiang Mai’s local and tourist cultures. There are many studios offering drop in classes, there are free classes in the park and there are teacher training courses as well.


24. Rock Climb

If you’re looking for an adventure why not scale the face of a mountain or rappel down into a cave? Or if you’re simply looking for a fun exercise, how about doing some indoor bouldering or rock climbing? Chiang Mai has it all! Recommendation: Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures

25. Zip Line

More than an adventure, with zip-lining you get a one of a kind look at Chiang Mai’s lush jungles.

Recommendation: Flight of the Gibbon or Eagle Track Zipline


26. White Water Rafting

Travel outside of the city to experience Chiang Mai’s nature in a heart-pounding fashion.


27. Souvenir Shopping

From elephant pants to handmade handicrafts, it’s nice to bring back a piece of Thailand home with you.

Recommendation: Night Bazarre, Saturday and Sunday night walking streets


28. Cafés

Locally owned Cafés are a huge part of Chiang Mai culture. They are places to drink tea and coffee, places to eat cake, and places to take lots and lots of selfies. Cafés are scattered throughout the city. They can also be found atop mountains and along lakes. They are some of the best places to relax here in Chiang Mai.

Recommendations: Phufinn Lake, Goodvibes Cafe-CNX, iberry Garden, Doi Pui Research Station (yes, the name is correct – it has one of the best views around)


29. Cooking Class

Cooking classes are a favorite activity amongst visitors to Chiang Mai. Many cooking schools take you to local markets to purchase the ingredients, which adds a cool cultural aspect to the class. Others are located on farms and have you pick the ingredients yourself.


30. Go on a Homestay

One of the coolest ways to get a rural Thai experience and to interact with those locals is to go on a homestay. Many of the homestay options take place in hilltribe villages, which is really cool, as you get to meet people of other ethnicities.