Chiang Mai is definitely a must-visit when you are in Thailand. But what do you do when you have arrived to this Northern Thai city? Here is a list of things you shouldn´t miss when you are in Chiang Mai.
1. Night Bazaar
Whether you are looking for something to eat, shopping for clothing and souvenirs or you just want to hang out and listen to some great music, the Night Bazaar provides it all!
The whole Bazaar is actually quite big so it might take some time figuring out where you are but, to be honest, every corner has something to offer. There are various little squares and places where people are playing music, from traditional Thai things to classic rock cover bands.
If you are into Muay Thai, you will definitely find a show around somewhere.
If you are more the relaxing type, you can get a massage pretty much anywhere for a decent price. If you want to try something a little bit different you might like the fish pedicure. I tried it and although the experience and feeling itself is well, weird, to say the least, the results are oddly pleasant.
The Night Bazaar is such a big part of Chiang Mai that it is hard to miss, but I still had to put it on the list. Make sure you don´t miss it!
Ps. At the Night Bazar you can also find the Caberet Show (point nr. 5)
2. Thai Cooking School
If you like Thai food as much as I do, there is no better way of spending your money than learning how to make it. I booked with the Thai Cookery School before hand and I had the best experience. I am not lying when I say the best Thai food I had during my whole trip was actually the food I made myself, all because of the amazing classes they provide.
Not only do they bring you to an amazing location and explain in detail how to make your favorite Thai dishes, but every day has a different theme. They might take you to the local market and show you how the products are kept and made, or they might explain what ingredients are used in the Thai kitchen. This means you can go for a full week and learn something new every day! But don´t worry, going for only one day will already be worth it.
They will also hand you a free book full of all the recipes they make during the week. Every day has different dishes and another theme.
TIP: Another reason I highly recommend Thai Cookery School is because of their amazing teachers. Our instructor was incredibly helpful and involved. Ask your cooking instructor what restaurants they recommend in Chiang Mai, and if you are lucky they might even take you to their favorite places, not only providing you with amazing food but also a wonderful experience in the non-touristy parts of Chiang Mai
Elephants are truly amazing creatures and a big part of Thai culture. Not only can you see them on all the backpacker shirts and pants (yes, we all know you have them), around Chiang Mai there are over 100 parks where you can actually meet the elephants and hang out with them! How cool is that?
To tell you the truth, not always that cool. Please don´t ride the elephants or support a park that does since most of the animals in these parks are suffering a lot of trauma. Click here to get more information on why you shouldn´t ride an elephant.
However, around Chiang Mai there are also loads of parks that actually take care of elephants that have been mistreated in other parks, or provide a safe space for the elephants. One of these is the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) where they provide “care and assistance to Thailand’s captive elephant population through a multifaceted approach involving local community outreach, rescue and rehabilitation programs, and educational ecotourism operations.”
Another example is the Elephant Retirement Park where they take care of elephants who were formerly used in for example the agrarian business in Thailand, but there are many more. Before you book a tour with your hostel/hotel or any other agency, make sure to do some research online. They might advocate they are taking care of the animals, but when they ride them, chances are their well-being is debatable.
4. Surrounding Areas
Not only is Chiang Mai a beautiful city, the surrounding area is also more than astonishing. You can go up the mountain and check out the rice fields, or take a hike up to the highest point of Thailand. It doesn´t matter what weather it is, even on cloudy days it´s incredibly beautiful, although for the better views sun is desirable.
There are some wonderful pagoda´s to visit, for example the pagoda on Doi Inthanon, on top of the mountain. Not only are these pagoda´s wonderful to visit, it will also give you an amazing view of the valley.
Besides hiking there are also lots of activities you can do such as zip lining or special wildlife tours. I personally haven´t done any of these, but you can consult your hotel/hostel to see what they have to offer.
Honestly there are countless things to discover in the mountains around Chiang Mai, so make sure you don´t just stay inside the city. Get out there and explore!
5. Cabaret show
And last but certainly not least; the cabaret show! Probably my favorite part of Chiang Mai! We have all heard about the infamous Thai Ladyboys, but if you want to see them in the flesh and assist a Vegas-worthy show, check out the Caberet show at the Night Bazaar. It starts ever night at 20:30 and costs about 200 baht.
I don´t know what to say about it besides that you HAVE TO GO! I was taken the first night, not knowing what to expect but I ended up going every single night and actually taking people there because the show is AMAZING! These ladies are able to pull off anything, from Tina Turner to Rihanna and other world class acts.
Definitely try it out because this show will not disappoint!
This was my top 5 of things to do in Chiang Mai! What were your favorite things there?