Sometimes referred to as the “rose of the north”, Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. It’s also a temple haven, with over 300 Buddhist temples all over the city.
Which is why my lovely friend suggested this city to be my first stomping ground in Southeast Asia.
Arriving at the international airport, I decided to take a shared taxi for 40 Baht. I had to wait a bit, but for a fraction of the price of a private taxi, I thought it was well worth it. It also dropped me directly at the doorstep of my hostel.
So what did I fill my days in the city doing?
Rent a bike
You can check out most of the old city temples by foot, but with it being over 30 degrees, I decided to rent a bike for a day instead. Bikes are really inexpensive, ranging from 50-80 baht. Just remember to bring your passport and some places also require you to provide a deposit.
Oy! and don’t forget about a working lock. You’ll be wanting to park it from time to time.
I didn’t really stick to the map, just followed the roads I liked, which gave me such a great feel of the city.
This is Wat Chedi Luang, one of my favourite sites. It was especially lovely at night, with the site empty and lite up.
Rent a scooter
Sitting at the top of the hill, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is worthy of a trek. I decided to rent a basic automatic scooter with a couple others for around 150 baht. Again, they’ll need your passport and probably several thousand baht in deposit too.
I went during dry season, so the view wasn’t the clearest, but still lovely. There’s also a “sticky waterfalls” on your way to the temple. Again, with it being dry season, it wasn’t really much of a waterfalls.
Get your shopping on
Along with temples, markets are everywhere! Unfortunately, they mostly sell the same things (clothing, accessories, wood work, souvenirs, you name it). Bargaining is ritual here, so make sure you bring your A game.
Night Bazaar (night)
Before hitting the streets for some shopping, stop by the food stands. It’s not the cheapest place to get food, but the variety is plenty – and there’s always someone performing live!
Anusarn Market (night)
This market is super close to the Night Bazaar. It also sells similar things, the only difference is that it’s under a giant tent and the sides are lined with restaurants.
Warorot Market (day)
With stalls both on the street and inside, I have no idea how big this market actually is. I found this market mostly focused on clothing -(more than just elephant pants and Chang shirts) and food. I noticed starting prices were often lower than the Night Bazaar too, which was nice.
I didn’t get a chance to visit the Saturday and Sunday Market, but had heard great things about them.
There’s so much to do in this city, here are some other activities:
Visit the Grand Canyon
Take a cooking class
Visit an elephant sanctuary
Though I’d caution which one to visit as many are not very humane. From what I’ve heard, any sanctuary offering elephant rides are a huge red flag.
The one most people have researched and said are actually there to protect the elephants is callee Elephant Nature Park.