We are of the opinion: Chiang Mai should not be missing from any Thailand tour. Chiang Mai is something like the Cultural Capital of Thailand. There are more temples here than you will ever be able to visit: To the 200 Temples are said to tower in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai has seen us a few times now: Somehow we feel so comfortable in the second largest city in Thailand that we have already spent several weeks there.
So if you are looking for Tips for Chiang Mai are looking for, then you’ve come to the right place on our travel blog. We’ll show you which highlights await you and which temples you shouldn’t miss. We also tell you our favorite cafés and restaurants. There are a lot of them in Chiang Mai. Here we go!
1. Chiang Mai: Information & things worth knowing at a glance Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. Seen in this way, it is surprising how comfortable it is in Chiang Mai in comparison. In some corners of Chiang Mai, you really feel like you’ve landed in a small rural town. (Sometimes, however, especially in the rush hour, there is little of the cosiness to be felt. That also has to be said.)
What is Chiang Mai next to the many holy temples is its location: Hardly out of the city, you are surrounded by beautiful nature. For example, the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, is located just outside Chiang Mai.
First orientation in Chiang Mai: Old Town & trendy district Nimman Chiang Mai makes it pretty easy for you in terms of orientation: The old town is inside a square , surrounded by the old city wall and a moat. Within this quadrangle are most of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. (We’ll get to the exceptions later.)
One of our favorite areas within the Old Town is around Ratvithi Road Soi 2 (in the northeast of the square). It is very cozy here and in the alleys you will find many nice bars and cafés. In general, the old town has almost a village character in some corners. The best thing to do is just start running and wait and see where you end up – that works great in the old town of Chiang Mai.
Outside the square, more precisely in the north-west of it, is the Trendy district Nimman (also called Nimmanhaemin). Many hip cafés, restaurants and hotels have settled here. Nimman is located approximately 16 until 30 Minutes walk from the old town. (Depending on where you’re headed.) Nimman has few classic sights, but the area is perfect for hopping from one cafe to the next.
How much time should I plan for Chiang Mai? The optimal travel time is such a difficult thing can generalize. Nevertheless, we try to leave our recommendations to you. Our tip: It’s best to stay…
3 nights if you really only want to see the main sights. 5 nights if you like to visit temples and want to take a little more time. A week or longer if you would like to go on a few relaxing trips and attend one or the other course (e.g. massage course, cooking course). 2. The Most Important Sight: Chiang Mai’s Temple No doubt: The most important sight in Chiang May are the temples of the city. There are a lot of them – to the 300 supposedly they are. Of course, all of them can never be visited, so in this chapter we will tell you our favorites and tips.
We have tried to make a selection that includes both the top temples of Chiang Mai taken into account, as well as those temples that we personally really liked.
Important tip in advance: When visiting the temple, make sure you wear appropriate clothing. Knees and shoulders should be covered as much as possible. Shorts for men are usually fine, but mini-skirts for women are not welcomed. Kathi’s recommendation is clearly long dresses (also because they protect very well from the sun). If necessary, you can also borrow a cloth to cover yourself at most temples.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Probably the most important temple of Chiang Mai is not in the city at all. He is enthroned just outside on a mountain the Doi Suthep. The temple is one of the holiest in the region and is also popular with Thai pilgrims. The rush is correspondingly large – but with the gigantic golden chedi no wonder, right?
We would recommend that you visit the temple in the (later) afternoon if possible to visit. Versus 17 it’s getting quieter and the light is on then particularly beautiful. If you have time, stay until after sunset and watch the chedi light up. Monks usually gather at this time of day to pray at the temple.
Information on Getting there The temple is about a half hour’s drive from the center away. Roughly speaking, you have three options to reach the temple: With your own scooter, with a red shared taxi (Songthaew) or with a private driver.
We ourselves recommend that you take the Songthaew to drive. It’s pretty cheap and definitely safer than riding a moped. There is a stop near the University of Chiang Mai from which the Songthaews start towards the mountain. From here the price for a single journey is 40 Baht. We leave as soon as the Songthaew is full, which can take a while depending on the time of day.
Entry: 40 Baht
Our additional tip: Doi Pui View Point Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located amidst the beautiful scenery of Doi Suthep Pui National Parks. If you “only” visit the temple, you will not get much of this. That’s why we decided to drive a little further into the national park.
Only about 15 Minutes from the temple you will reach a viewpoint, the Doi Pui View Point. From here you have a wonderful view of the hilly landscape. The view at sunset is particularly worth seeing. We ourselves have rented a private Songthaew for the route (from the temple and back again). We paid for it in total 200 Baht.
It By the way, there are other worthwhile destinations in the national park, including the summit of Doi Pui, which you can only reach on foot. We saved this sunset hike for the next trip.
Wat Chedi Luang Our favorite temple in the old town of Chiang Mai is the Wat Chedi Luang. And with good reason: he really stands out with his looks. There is no shiny gold temple waiting for you here, but a historic temple ruin. Because this temple is so special, you should definitely visit it!
Our personal tip: In Wat Chedi Luang you have the opportunity to chat with a monk. The whole thing is called Monk Chat and is daily between 9 am and possible. Of course, we didn’t let the opportunity pass us by either. You simply take a seat at one of the tables and you can ask the monk any questions that are on your mind. A truly unique experience!
Entrance fee Wat Chedi Luang: 40 Baht
Monk Chat: Free Donation
Wat Phra Singh The Wat Phra Singh is also one of the most famous temples in Chiang Mai. Wat Phra Singh is said to be the most visited temple in Chiang Mai’s old town. The most important Budda statue in the city is located in this temple.
The temple complex is really beautiful and consists of several buildings, some of which are very different. Most eye-catching is the huge golden chedi – wow! You should definitely not miss Wat Phra Singh when you are in Chiang Mai.
Entry: 40 baht
Wat Suan Dok Wat Suan Dok is one of the less frequented temples in Chiang Mai, but we personally like it he very good. Here countless white Chedis rise up. The whitewashed mausoleums are the burial place of the old Lanna royal family.
Wat Suan Dok is located just outside the old town near the airport. (That’s why the plane can also be seen in our photo.) By the way, we were there in the late afternoon, which we can highly recommend.
More Temples in Chiang Mai That’s not all! Want to explore more temples in Chiang Mai? Then here are our recommendations.
Wat Phan Tao A rather small, but really worth seeing temple complex in the middle of the old town. Especially in the evening, the Buddha with the lights becomes a great photo motif.
Wat Chiang Man The probably oldest temples of Chiang Mai. The facility is well worth seeing, even if one real feature is missing. But if you want to visit a typical Thai temple, you’ve come to the right place.
Wat Umong A special kind of temple located in a forest. Here you walk through a kind of tunnel below the Chedi. Somewhat strange and therefore worth a visit.
Wat Sri Suphan The temple is also known as the “Silver Temple”. It lives up to its name: the temple is completely covered with glittering silver. What a pity: women are not allowed to enter the main hall.
Wat Phan Tao Wat Phan Tao Wat Chiang Man Wat Umong Wat Umong 3. Tours and Activities in Chiang Mai: Our Tips Don’t worry if you temple sightseeing gets too monotonous in the long run – Chiang Mai has much more to offer! In this chapter we tell you which tours and activities are recommended in Chiang Mai. Incidentally, we have experienced all the tips listed ourselves.
Food Tour through Chiang Mai Especially at the beginning of your trip, when you are perhaps not too familiar with Thai food, we can highly recommend a food tour. On the tour we did (a bit of) sightseeing was combined with many culinary locations. You can find this highly recommended tour here: Culture Food and Walking Tour.
Since that tour is unfortunately rather expensive, we have selected an alternative for you that still has very good ratings. The food tour lasts about 4 hours and goes to very similar locations that we visited back then.
You can book the tour here: Chiang May Food Tour
Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai We have taken many cooking classes in Southeast Asia, but the absolute best is and remains Sammy’s. The cooking course takes place just outside of Chiang Mai on Sammy’s farm: Surrounded by beautiful nature, you will learn how to prepare Thai dishes.
Here you can find our detailed blog article: Sammys Organic Thai Cooking School
4. Markets in Chiang Mai In Chiang Mai there are countless markets that you can visit can. The most well-known among tourists are the two so-called “walking streets” at the weekend. Then some streets of Chiang Mai turn into lively promenades. In this chapter we will tell you which markets we recommend in Chiang Mai.
Sunday Walking Street The Sunday market, also called Sunday Walking Street, is probably the most famous market in Chiang Mai. It takes place every Sunday from about 17/17 o’clock in the middle of Chiang Mai’s old town, more precisely along Ratchadamnoen Road (and some side streets).
Lots of souvenirs, art, jewellery, clothing, bags and much more are sold. There are also quite a few food stalls where you can try well-known and lesser-known Thai food. Most of the food stalls are in zones around the temples.
The market is extremely busy, so we recommend you come as early as possible . (Don’t let our photo fool you. This was done at the very beginning. It gets really crowded later on!) It’s also important to note that the market is quite touristy. Nevertheless, the ambience is just great.
Opening hours: Every Sunday from 13/13 am to midnight
Saturday Walking Street The Sunday market’s little sister is Saturday Walking Street. This market takes place every Saturday south of the old town on Wualai Road. This market is also incredibly popular, although we have the impression that this one is a shade less touristy – just a slight shade really.
The vendors are pretty much identical to those at Sunday Walking Street. Here you can also buy souvenirs, art, jewellery, clothes, bags and much more. Many food stalls are right along the street. There are also small food courts near the temples.
Opening times: Every Saturday from 13/13 hours until about 23 Watch
Ploen Ruedee Night Market This international Food Night Market always takes place in the evening (from Monday to Saturday). If you are looking for an authentic Thai market, then you are completely wrong here. The market is clearly aimed at tourists.
The Ploen Ruedee Night Market is a bit reminiscent of a street food festival. There are stands with dishes from all over the world: From Thai to burgers to kebabs and also Mexican and Indian, everything is there. We ate very well at the vegan stand called “V Secret”.
There are always tables between the food stands, so that you can usually get a seat without any problems. Touristy or not – the atmosphere is very relaxed and comfortable. We would come back anytime!
Opening hours: From Monday to Saturday from 20 am to midnight
Cad Manee Night Market Thanks to our accommodation (more on that in a moment) we stumbled across this night market and highly recommend it! The Kad Manee Night Market is a very authentic night market, which is mainly visited by locals.
Here you can take a look through the entire Try Thai cuisine . Not everything is written in English, but communication usually works without any problems. You can then take a seat at one of the low tables located around a small artificial pond. The Thai music makes the whole experience even more authentic.
Opening hours: Daily from 15 hours to 17 Watch
5. Our Favorite Restaurants and Cafes in Chiang Mai Chiang Mai is a foodie’s paradise . Honestly, there are far more great restaurants and cafes than one could ever visit in one stay. The concept of many bars is clearly aimed at tourists or expats. For example, there are countless vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
Delicious Smoothie Bowls & Juice Bars Snooze: In the middle of a spacious garden in the old town you can enjoy your smoothie bowl here. The price level is rather high. Nonetheless, a good tip for a delicious breakfast!
Monkey Bowls: This small café is part of a hostel and is located outside the old town in a very quiet beautiful alley. The selection is manageable, but the Mango Smoothie Bowl is really a poem – and quite cheap at that. We went there twice because we liked it so much.
Khun Kha Juice Bar: Probably the best fruit juice of our entire Thailand- trip we drank in this inconspicuous Juice Bar. If you’d rather eat something: They also have smoothie bowls here.
Snooze Monkey Bowls Chiang Mais Specialty Khao Soi The specialty in northern Thailand par excellence is Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a spicy curry soup. Traditionally, Khao Soi is prepared with meat, but there are now also quite a few vegetarian versions. The special feature of Khao Soi is the crispy fried egg noodles, which are placed on top of the soup before serving.
In many restaurants in Chiang Mai you will find Khao Soi on the menu. However, there are also Khao Soi restaurants specializing in this dish.
One of these places is Khao Soi Khun Yai. This very popular and authentic street restaurant is frequented by both locals and tourists. The Khao Soi tastes delicious here. The only downside: There is no vegetarian version. You should definitely try the longan juice, which tastes pleasantly refreshing in combination with the spicy soup.
Hipster Cafes in Chiang Mai The Baristro at Ping River: The word “Instagram hotspot” takes on a whole new meaning at this cafe tucked away from Old Town. The restaurant has been completely styled: one corner is more photogenic than the other. Hardly anyone comes to this café without a camera – interestingly enough, most of the guests are young Thais.
Ristr8to: Pretty hyped, but the coffee just tastes good Well. There are now several locations – there is usually a lot going on everywhere. We would rather go somewhere else for a quiet coffee break.
upto.coffee: Very friendly, hip café in the middle of Chiang Mai’s old town. The espresso tastes excellent and we found the relaxed atmosphere very pleasant.
The Baristro at Ping River Ristr8to Vegan Bars in Chiang Mai Goodsouls Kitchen: A kind of institution when it comes to vegan cuisine. There are now two locations, both of which are reminiscent of an American diner. In the new location (Chang Moi Road, near Thapae Gate) is a very nice place to sit in the garden. On the menu you will find fusion cuisine from all over the world, including pasta, burgers, but also Thai dishes.
Free Bird Cafe: A very nice one , small restaurant that works for refugees from Myanmar. They are trained there and work in the café. The income from the associated shop (where you can buy really great things) also goes to social projects. The menu features creatively inspired Asian dishes as well as countless breakfast options such as pancakes and smoothie bowls.
Goodsouls Kitchen Free Bird Cafe Drinks with a view Would you like to enjoy a beer or a cocktail over the roofs of Chiang Mai? Then the roof terrace of the Maya Shopping Mall is a good choice. There are currently two bars up there, which unfortunately both only open against 18 Open the clock – just in time to catch the sunset.
The view is not overly spectacular, but still quite nice. If you would rather just enjoy the view, no problem: the viewing terrace is accessible free of charge at any time during the opening hours of the shopping mall.
6. Our hotel tip for Chiang Mai During our last trip to Chiang Mai we stayed at a wonderful hotel that we highly recommend: The Tippanet. This boutique hotel is located in a beautifully renovated house, which is spread over several floors.
Our room was not only very spacious, but most of all incredibly clean and very comfortable. The best, however, were the beds: They are sometimes really terrible in Thailand, but here both the mattress and the bed linen were a dream. By the way, our room category was “Executive“. We felt so comfortable in this bright room that we even extended our stay. (Good to know: There are also rooms with only a “corridor window”. This is stated when booking.)
The hotel is around the corner from the well-known Saturday market. You can walk to the old town in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no breakfast, but free coffee, tea and small snacks are offered every morning. In addition, you will find so many great breakfast places in Chiang Mai that it didn’t bother us at all.
Our conclusion: Great value for money -Relationship. The employees are incredibly friendly and accommodating. We felt at home from the first moment and would stay here again at any time.
You can book the hotel here: The Tippanet
7. More tips for Chiang Mai: Travel time, travel guide, transport & Co. The best travel time for Chiang Mai Roughly speaking, the climate in Chiang Mai is divided into two parts in the rainy season and the dry season. The best travel time for Chiang Mai is the beginning of the dry season (= the cool dry season ), which is approximately between November and February reigns. Then comparatively little rain falls and the temperatures are pleasant. (Don’t worry: It’s still tropically hot during the day, but it cools down a bit more comfortably at night.)
The cool dry season is followed by the hot dry season, which in our opinion is the most unfavorable for a trip to Chiang Mai and we would personally avoid. The reason: From around the end of February (often earlier) the dreaded burning season begins in northern Thailand. Around Chiang Mai (and also in other provinces) slash and burn is taking place. In combination with the standing heat and the already prevailing smog, this means that Chiang Mai often sinks under a haze . The burning season usually lasts until April, often peaking in March.
The rainy season finally brings the redeeming downpours from May. Most precipitation falls in August and September. We ourselves have been to Chiang Mai during the rainy season. As everywhere in Thailand, you can be lucky or unlucky. From short rain showers to days of continuous rain, everything is included.
Our travel guide recommendation for Thailand For Southeast Asia, we prefer to use Stefan Loose’s travel guides. These are aimed at individual travelers. They are characterized by the fact that they are quite detailed and very well researched.
Stefan Loose’s Thailand travel guide has been around for decades. The new edition was released in December 2019 and is therefore quite up-to-date. The guidebook covers the whole country well. In any case, you can tell how experienced the authors are when it comes to travel. You can’t go wrong with this guide.
You can buy the guide here: Stefan Loose Thailand
Arrival: From Bangkok to Chiang Mai Your journey will probably take you from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Roughly speaking, you have three options for getting here: the plane, the train and the bus.
Plane: Countless flights operate daily between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The flight time is less than an hour. Chiang Mai Airport is very close to the old town. A one-way taxi ride from the airport to the old town costs about 150 Baht and takes depending on Aim just 02 until 16 minutes.
Train: If you have enough time, we recommend that you take the train. There is both a night train (approx. 11 hours) as well as a train during the day (approx. 12 Hours). Here you can search for connections and book your ticket: 11go.asia.
Bus: Bus travel tends to be the cheapest option to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The journey takes approximately Hours. Personally, we would prefer a train ride.
Transportation within Chiang Mai: From A to B Chiang Mai is one of those cities where you will make many kilometers – you can actually walk to most of the sights in the old town to reach. For some distances, however, a means of transport is necessary. Here we can especially recommend these two:
Songthaew – the classic in Chiang Mai You will see the famous red shared taxis called Songthaew pretty quickly. They are a bit reminiscent of oversized tuktuks and are omnipresent in Chiang Mai. With the songthaews you can get from A to B in Chiang Mai comparatively cheaply. They represent something like the public transport network in Chiang Mai.
An all Thailand newcomers who might have a bit of fear before the first ride: don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than you think! Songthaews do not have a fixed route, but instead collect guests depending on the route and let them get off at their desired destination.
This is how it works: You wave all the way just off the roadside a songthaew approaching. Then you tell the driver or co-driver your destination. If you’re allowed to ride – great, then just get in the back and take a seat. If not, then your destination is unfavorable for the driver and you try your luck at the next Songthaew. Within the old town, a ride with the Songthaew always costs fixed 23 Baht. A surcharge is only due for longer distances. To avoid any nasty surprises, we always ask the price before we get in.
Grab – the most comfortable option The most comfortable option For getting around within Chiang Mai is Grab. Grab is an app comparable to Uber. You enter your desired destination directly in the app. The price will then be displayed to you. Then you confirm your details and a driver in your area accepts the order. It usually takes less than five minutes for the car to arrive.
Speaking of cars: Even if you usually order a normal, private car with Grab, you can actually choose a Songthaew. We did that when we drove it to the airport. The price for a Grab ride (regular car) in Chiang Mai is around 100 Baht – sometimes a little more, depending on the destination.
Our tip: In order to find your driver, you can easily orientate yourself using the number plate. We really drove with Grab very often and never had any problems.
23625 Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Chiang Mai? Do you have any other recommendations? Please leave us a comment. We look forward to your additional tips and experiences!