When people tell me they are heading to Chiang Mai I always start smiling. As I have already been in Chiang Mai for three times it might be obvious that I really like this city! Actually I can’t even tell why – it’s just a nice, cozy place to stay. Everything you need is close by and you can spend easily two weeks there without getting bored.
The old town of Chiang Mai is surrounded by remains of the former city wall, several gates as well as a canal. The most famous one is the Tha Phae Gate (east gate).
Walking down the Tha Phae Road you’ll reach the Nawarat Bridge – a nice viewpoint spot.
Oh look, a temple!
No doubt that Chiang Mai is a paradise for temple lovers as there are temples literally everywhere. Just while walking around the city you’ll get to see the most important sightseeing spots.
Chiang Mai is a lovely place to see a lot of culture as well as for enjoying the backpacker side. The residents in Chiang Mai are totally used to all the travelers and you will find a lot of travelers got stuck there. You will find them in hostels, restaurants and shops.
Nighttime – get ready for the markets!
There are several night markets in Chiang Mai to get souvenirs, delicious food and too much stuff nobody really needs. Usually they start around 6 PM and closes around 11 PM or midnight.
This night market is every day and can be found on Changklang Road. Just follow Tha Phae Road to the Nawarat Bridge and then take a right turn on Changklang Road. You will find the Bazar in the whole street and especially the courtyard next to the Pantip Plaza is amazing. This is the night market I like the most!
Saturday Night Market
According to the name this Night Market takes place every Saturday down the Wua Lai Road southernly from the Old Town. Every time I’ve visited this market it was totally crowded and it was almost impossible to see any of the stalls. But nevertheless you can wander around to watch the crowd passing through.
Sunday Night Market
Every Sunday it seems like the whole Old Town turns into a Night Market. It’s quite crowded as well but you might find a place in one of the backyards to enjoy your amazing street food. A good starting point for a tour over the market is the Tha Phae Gate.
Around Chiang Mai
If you feel comfortable on the scooter it’s definitely the easiest way to visit the spots outside the city centre. Just watch out for the police as they likely stop tourists to check there international drivers license. You will only get 125 ccm scooters which means you need to have a motorbike drivers license. Otherwise you might pay a minor fine (recently 500 Baht) and you won’t have any further problems with this ticket for the next 3 days. I was lucky not being fined but even if, it’s worth renting a scooter anyway!
Bo Sang Umbrella Village
About 15 km east of the old town you will find a magic place called „Bo Sang“. The famous Umbrella village. Here you can see the different production phases of the umbrellas. Watching the locals painting and designing the umbrellas in every possible color and size is just fascinating! They even design phone cases.
It’s a wonderful half-day-trip!
Chiang Mai Canyon
I’ve been at the Canyon last year and I feel like I want to mention it at this point as well.
I remember enjoying the day at the Canyon a lot as it is perfect to cool down while staying in the city. There are two different entries to the canyon. One is called ‚Grand Canyon Water Park Chiang Mai’ and is more of a funpark to jump in the water from 10 meters or even higher. The entry on the right side is more like a place to relax.
There are floats and some Kajaks you can use to cross the lake in the Canyon,
tubes to float on the water and a small beach to lay down.
Friends of mine who have visited the Canyon this year told me it’s not like this anymore… as it is not that far away from the city I think it’s worth taking the risk to check it out.
The so called ‚roof of Thailand‘ with its 2565 meters height is the highest peak of Thailand. We made our way up to Doi Inthanon last year in November. Although it is quite far to away from Chiang Mai it is possible to get there by scooter. It took us about 1,5 hours one way to get there but we stopped as well to see some of the waterfalls around.
I heard about some jerks getting up there in shorts and tank top. As it is quite cold up there in 2565 meters, make sure to bring warm clothes!
Huay Tung Tao Lake
We went there for having a swim as we were told it’s a nice place for a hot day. Indeed it’s a nice spot but we actually skip the swimming part. As we got welcomed by a dead fish in the water we decided just to relax on the gras. I wouldn’t name it a ‚Must See‘ but it presents a different side of Chiang Mai Province.
Loi Krathong & Yi Peng Lantern Festival
This is actually the reason for two of three trips to Chiang Mai. It’s a festival taking place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th months in the traditional Thai-calender. Loi Krathong is the floating of the small self-made baskets on the river Mae Nam Ping. The most famous part – the rising of the sky lanterns – is called Yi Peng and is actually only one element of the whole festival. Doubtlessly this is the most amazing ceremony of the weekend. You will find a sky full of lanterns for hours and it’s amazing to watch all those people making a wish while rising their lanterns.
Okay to be honest it’s also really funny as some people might never understand that it’s not the smartest idea to inflame the lantern under a tree or next to wiring. But that’s for entertainment I guess.
Although a lot of people talking about the Mae Jo University as the place2be for this event I haven’t been there so far. There are so many different information about the festival and especially where to go for joining the mass. It’s just confusing. You can participate the festival right on the campus which seems to cost around 100€ or you can stay in the surrounding area of the university which is for free. I heard it’s a nightmare to get there and back (15 km drive from old town) as a huge crowd is heading there. But by now I also got told it’s definitely worth it as the whole crowd on the campus rises their lanterns at 8 PM.
Memo to myself: Next time DEFINITELY attending at the university!
Instead we walked to the Nawarat Bridge and turned left to the Postoffice to a nice spot to rise our lanterns. But wherever you’ll settle down for the festival it’s an amazing experience. The whole city gets covert with lanterns and colorful accessories everywhere.