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Chiang Mai City Guide

You should visit, Chiang Mai,  It is one of those magical cities that you truly never want to leave. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with gorgeous nearby jungles and waterfalls. Plus, the city has some of the most delicious (and often very fresh and healthy) places to eat as well. That is why I had to make a Chiangmai travel guide.

Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

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Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Chiang Mai Tours: Click here to check out the top Chiang Mai tours
Best Chiang Mai Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Chiang Mai
Best Chiang Mai Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Chiang Mai

Top 10 Things to do In Chiang Mai

There are plenty of incredible things to do during your Chiang Mai travel for any type of traveler. Whether you want to adventure and explore the natural sights or hang around town for some relaxing yoga and a massage, you will find something great to do while visiting Chiang Mai.

Without any further ado, here are the What to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand – Top 10 List:

Chiang Mai City Guide | Sticky waterfall Chiang Mai


Travel Chiang Mai and explore its natural wonders, such as the Bua Tong “sticky” waterfall. This was hands down one of the best things I did in my Chiang Mai travel, and possibly on my whole trip to Thailand.

Visiting Chiang Mai and going to Buang Tong Sticky Waterfall is the best decision ever. The waterfall surrounds the area and it is so gorgeous, and it’s fun to climb up and down the falls! Be careful though, some of the areas are more treacherous and can still be slippery, so it might be best to go with a Chiang Mai travel guide that knows which parts of the waterfall “stick” and are safe to climb around on.


When you visit Chiang Mai, you should explore the temples. As we know, Thailand is full of gorgeous temples, and Chiang Mai makes no exception. Travel Chiang Mai by wandering the city to view the many temples, and make sure to check out the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Suan Dok Temples.


This Chiang Mai travel guide will definitely include Doi Inthanon, a national park near Chiang Mai. This national park is known for having the highest mountain in all of Thailand. Doi Inthanon is also home to more species of birds than anywhere else in Thailand.

The twin pagodas are the most iconic sight in the park and house some historic relics. You can also hike the trails and go waterfall hopping.

What to do in Chiang Mai Thailand if we visit Doi Inthanon National Park? Well, you can explore the waterfalls, watch the bird (such a relaxing activity right?), enjoy the flora fauna, and many others!


Include Yoga as one of the activities during your Chiang Mai travel. There are plenty of places to find a yoga class that suits your abilities and interests. Your hostel or accommodation might host yoga classes, or you can try visiting the Nong Buak Hard Park where free yoga classes are offered daily from 9:00-10:15 am and you can rent a straw mat for 15 baht.



Make sure to visit Chiang Mai markets, Chiang Mai is teeming with markets just around every corner. Many of them are night markets, though you can check out the Warorot Market next to the Ping River which opens early in the morning and closes when the sunsets. Shopping should definitely be included in your Chiangmai travel guide.


A lesser-known Chiang Mai travel attraction, the Huay Tung Tao Lake is popular with locals and expats. Include this in your what to do in Chiang Mai Thailand activity list, try to catch the sunrise over the lake or take a walk or hike around one of the many surrounding trails. Take a hike to the Taab Mook waterfall for a beautiful sight!


This couldn’t be left out of my Chiang Mai travel guide. Visiting Chiang Mai Thailand for food is the right thing to do. I took a cooking class at my hostel in Chiang Mai where we made Thai soup (Tom Kha Gai), but there are plenty of places to do more extensive cooking classes around the city.

A few cooking schools stand out as some of the best places to try your hand at making traditional Thai dishes: Thai Farm Cooking School, Secret Thai Cooking School, and Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School.


Travel Chiang Mai and you’ll find many incredible temples. The Wat Pha Lat Temple is especially incredible because it is hidden in the Thai jungle and can only be reached by hiking to it. For your Chiangmai travel guide information, The Pilgrim’s Path is an easy 30 to 40-minute hike through the bamboo forests, jungle trees, and past waterfalls to reach the temple.


Enjoy your Chiang Mai travel by spending a day on the Mae Ping River and see Chiang Mai from the water. Take a 2-hour river tour or a dinner cruise and enjoy views of the greenery, teak houses, and farmlands.


Grand Canyon is a must in your Chiang Mai travel guide. The Hang Dong Canyon has been called the “Grand Canyon of Thailand” and is an incredible Chiang Mai travel location to visit. Beyond the magnificent views, it’s the perfect place to cool off and spend the day swimming! Take a jump into the water from the platform on the edge, swim in the lounge area, or take an inner tube or surfboard to float around.

Chiang Mai City Guide | Chiang Mai temples

The best Food to try in Chian Mai

When you visit Chiang Mai you will be in food paradise. It’s known for having delicious vegan and healthy foods, plus of course incredible Thai food. Curries, soups, and noodles are some of the staples of Thai food, and northern Thai cuisine has a slightly different palate that is especially delicious.

Try Khao Soi when you visit Chiang Mai. It’s the most popular Chiang Mai food, a noodle soup made with coconut curry and served with chicken or beef. You can try Khao Soi in many places such as Khao Soi Khun Yai. But, note this in your Chiangmai travel guide, it’s best from the market off Huay Kaew road.

Another dish to try when you’re visiting Chiang Mai is their roast chicken, it’s incredibly flavorful and tastes different than many “typical” roast chicken dishes. Try out Cherng Doi Roast Chicken located in the Mueang Chiang Mai District.

If you love noodles and you Travel Chiang Mai, You can try out any number of street vendors in the markets. They will have some of the most delicious dishes to try the popular dishes Pad Thai and Pat See Ew.

Money Saving tips For Chiang Mai

Fortunately, visiting Chiang Mai Thailand is very affordable. To save some extra money, stay in the cheaper (and typically still very comfortable) hostels. Street food vendors will be cheaper than dining at a restaurant. If you stay somewhere you can cook, going for groceries can be added to your What to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand List, you can find plenty of fresh produce and groceries.

Chiang Mai City Guide

Packing advice For Chiang Mai

I think this is one of the most basic yet important information in your Chiang Mai travel guide. It’s typically hot in Chiang Mai, so make sure to pack plenty of light, breathable clothing. You will also likely be doing a lot of walking or exploring the surrounding jungle, so bring comfortable shoes and perhaps some that you can get wet if you plan to go through any waterfalls or swimming spots.

If you plan to visit Chiang Mai and visit the temples, make sure to pack appropriate clothing. You will want to have your shoulders covered so avoid bringing tank tops, or you can bring a shawl to wear inside the temples. You will want to cover your knees (and ideally ankles as well) on days that you plan to be in the temples. We have to understand and respect the culture and norms applied during your Chiang Mai travel.

For a full insight, take a look at this Thailand Packing Guide.

Quick Tip: View my full Thailand packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Thailand Essentials shopping list here.

Accommodation in Chiang Mai

There are plenty of great places to stay all over Chiang Mai. Hostels are popular for younger travelers and budget travelers. I stayed at the Hostel Lullaby and loved it! They offered yoga and cooking classes for free and were very helpful in recommending where to eat and what to do in Chiang Mai Thailand.

For a hotel and a bit nicer accommodation option, check out Shangri-La Chiang Mai or Na Nirand Resort.

Visit Chiang Mai Old City and you’ll find the cheapest area to stay in and where you will find most of the popular hostels. Nimmanheamin is the best area to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife and the remote worker scene. If you want somewhere a bit less touristy and a slower pace, but still near the Old Town and best attractions, try looking in the Santitham area.

A street market in Bangkok, Thailand, offering a taste of the vibrant culture and local delicacies that make this travel destination so captivating.

Map of Accommodation in Chiang Mai

How to Get to Chiang Mai (and how to get around)

This is probably one of the most requested things to talk about when you are traveling to Thailand, that is why I included it in this Chiang Mai City Guide. To get around and to the attractions near Chiang Mai, you will likely take a tuk-tuk or taxi. If you stay within the Old City, it’s fairly easy to walk most places. However, if you want to get across town, you should take a tuk-tuk and if you are leaving town for one of the nearby sites, you will likely take a taxi.

Visiting Chiang Mai is easy. To get to Chiang Mai, there is an airport you can fly into. Or, depending on where you are coming from, train, bus, or renting a car is an option as well.

If you are traveling solo as a woman, Chiang Mai is comparatively a very safe city. If you can, find a group of people to join and try not to walk around alone at night. 

Regardless of the safe environment, it will be considered safer when you’re visiting Chiang Mai in a group. 

Working in Chiang Mai

Your Chiang Mai travel Guide will also include information about remote job. Chiang Mai is an incredibly popular location for people looking to work remotely abroad. There’s a strong expat community here, so there are plenty of resources. For workspaces, Punspace is a popular choice that is open 24/7 and has three locations. Or the WAKE-UP franchise is a coffee shop and coworking space that is popular across Thailand.

Chiang Mai Travel Guide planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Thailand?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Chiang Mai which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Chiang Mai on Amazon here.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance. I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go to flight searching platforms.

🚗 Where can I book rental cars or private transportation?

I strongly recommend using 12Go or Bookaway. There are many transport options available such as train, bus, and ferry.

I would strongly advice against driving a car in Thailand but you can easily rent a scooter locally.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Thailand?

First and foremost check out all of the amazing Thailand tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company and they have some really special experiences.

For everything else I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are,, and Expedia. They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals. However, Agoda is highly recommended in Thailand and it has the most selection.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack

The Best Time To Visit Chiang mai

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is between October and April. These months tend to be a bit cooler and it’s quite pleasant. The hottest months are April and May, and the rainy season lasts from June to October. Though quite honestly there is not necessarily a BAD time to visit Chiang Mai. Even when I was there during July, I found the weather to be decent and the rain was minimal and not bothersome. 

Chiang Mai is one of the best cities in Thailand, especially if you are someone who enjoys being out in nature and living a more “earthy” lifestyle. The culture and feel of the town are quite peaceful and very enjoyable. Most people who visit Chiang Mai quickly fall in love with this incredible Thai city! 

Author Bio: 

Janelle Axton

After traveling to over 25 countries and living in Dublin, Janelle created Make the Trip Matter –  a travel blog dedicated to helping budget travelers and remote professionals travel more, live abroad, and discover a more meaningful experience from their travels.

Creator or Make the trip matter


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