Things to do in Chiang Mai

Whether you're a backpacker or a seasoned traveler, the 300 temples and lush mountains here won't fail to inspire.

Our most recommended things to do in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai: Waterfall, Elephant Sanctuary and Bamboo Rafting

1. Chiang Mai: Waterfall, Elephant Sanctuary and Bamboo Rafting

Embark on a one-of-a-kind experience and visit an ethical rescued elephant sanctuary in the jungle outside Chiang Mai. Cool off in a waterfall, savor a traditional Thai lunch, and become a caretaker for the day as you interact, feed, and observe the gentle giants in their natural environment.  Begin with a pickup from your hotel or accommodation in downtown Chiang Mai. Take a scenic drive southwest of Chiang Mai and see local farms, hill tribe villages, and rice fields along the way.  Journey to the Mae Wang Waterfalls, where you'll relax and take a dip in the water. Arrive at the Secret Elephant Sanctuary located deep in the jungle. You'll be welcomed to the sanctuary by a guide who will lead you through the experience. Get dressed into Karen hill tribe clothing like the ones elephant caretakers wear. Next, get a briefing on Asian elephants and the background of the sanctuary. Come and meet the friendly rescued elephants and feed them bananas. Walk up the hill with elephants through the forest and watch the elephants forage for food in the wilderness. Observe elephants interacting between families in their natural environment. Head down to the river and enjoy bathing with the elephants. Walk with the elephants back to the sanatorium and embrace the memories and have time to say goodbye to these marvelous creatures. Finish off with a scenic bamboo rafting trip along the Mae Wang River before you get dropped off at your hotel in Chiang Mai.

From Chiang Mai: Doi Inthanon National Park Full-Day Tour

2. From Chiang Mai: Doi Inthanon National Park Full-Day Tour

Get picked up from your hotel in Chiang Mai city center for a day to explore one of Thailand’s original national parks and highest mountain, Doi Inthanon. This tour will feature picturesque landscapes, remote villages, and incredible viewpoints. After getting picked up from your hotel in Chiang Mai, head to your first stop, one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in the country, Wachirathan Waterfall. Over 80 meters high, the power of this waterfall creates a refreshing mist that feeds the surrounding vegetation.  Next, stop at the stunning 50-meter cascade, Sirithan Waterfall, which is fed by the Mae Klong River.  Then, stop at the famous twin pagodas: the Napamatanee Don and Napaphon Bhumisiri. Built for the Royal King and Queen, they are located at the highest point in Thailand.  Round out the tour with a visit to the Karen Tribe locale. Learn a bit about the hill tribes people’s culture and way of life in their village of Sobhad.

From Chiang Mai: Chiang Rai Famous Temples Small Group Tour

3. From Chiang Mai: Chiang Rai Famous Temples Small Group Tour

Experience Chiang Rai on a full-day trip from Chiang Mai to White Temple, Wat Rong Seua Teb, and Baan Dam Museum. Travel in a comfortable car and choose from a group or private tour. Enjoy the convenience of being picked up from your accommodation in Chiang Mai. Sit back and relax on the air conditioned drive. Stop at the Mae Khachan Hot Springs to relax, dip your feet into steaming mineral water, have a snack, or walk around the gardens. Continue to the modern architectural masterpiece known as the White Temple. Explore this fantastical space that was designed and built by a local artist, Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Head to the Wat Rong Seua Ten (temple of the dancing tiger) to uncover the secrets of this religious site that was built where tigers were said to have leapt over the river. Admire the stunning blue and gold colors of this temple. Make your way to the Baan Dam Museum (Black House Museum). Explore a cluster of nearly 40 shadowy structures exhibiting art dating back to the Ayutthaya period. See preserved animals and a collection of bones. Travel by car back to your accommodation in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai: Elephant Sanctuary & Waterfall Small Group Tour

4. Chiang Mai: Elephant Sanctuary & Waterfall Small Group Tour

Take a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. Start with a convenient pick-up from your hotel in the city center of Chiang Mai and take a drive to the elephant sanctuary. Learn how to make healthy snacks for elephants and see the rescued animals. Go for a swim at Mae Wang Waterfall. Relax as you are picked up from your city center accommodation in Chiang Mai. Sit back as you are driven southwest of the city on a scenic 1.5-hour drive. Encounter local farms, hill tribe villages, and rice fields. Receive a warm welcome when you arrive at the Pupha Elephant Sanctuary. Put on your traditional Karen Hill tribe clothes to look like an elephant caretaker. Listen to a briefing on Asian elephants and the background of the sanctuary. Gain new knowledge as you are taught how to make healthy snacks for the elephants. Feed the rescued elephants as you walk up a hill in the deep jungle. Watch the elephants foraging for food and see elephant families interacting with one another. Bathe in the river with the elephants and walk them back to the sanctuary, where you will be taught how to make elephant medicine balls. Take a shower and pack up your belongings. Eat a traditional Thai lunch and fresh fruits. Leave the elephant sanctuary and stop at Mae Wang waterfall for a quick swim before transferring back to your hotel in Chiang Mai city center. Finally, return to your starting point after the tour.

Chiang Mai: Elephant Care at Elephant Retirement Park

5. Chiang Mai: Elephant Care at Elephant Retirement Park

Meet and feed elephants on this elephant sanctuary tour from Chiang Mai. Watch these majestic creatures up close and learn about them from specialists. Sit down to an authentic Thai lunch and stay hydrated with complimentary water. Start your journey in the morning with a hotel pickup from Chiang Mai city center. Take the 1-hour ride to the countryside of Mae Tang district. Get changed into the local clothes and be ready for the fun activities. The experienced guide will provide information about the elephants' behavior and how to provide proper care for them. Then, prepare food and healthy treats for the elephants and feed them afterward. After that, you and the elephants will walk to play in the mud and sand spa. During this time, you will have a chance to observe their behavior, in beautiful natural surroundings. After your time with the elephants, change your clothes, shower, and then enjoy a delicious traditional Thai buffet lunch, which is suitable for vegetarians. After lunch, relax on the 1-hour journey back to your hotel in Chiang Mai city center.

Chiang Mai: Small Group Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Tour

6. Chiang Mai: Small Group Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Tour

Meet elephants on this guided day trip from Chiang Mai to the Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary, located in the middle of a lush national park. Here the elephants are able to roam freely in a large green space. Keep your clothes clean by wearing local clothes and boots. Feed and interact with rescued elephants before sitting down to a freshly cooked lunch.  Depart Chiang Mai aboard an air-conditioned van and journey into the mountains of northern Thailand to visit the ethical Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary (approximately 1-hour drive from the city center). Upon arrival, learn about the elephant conservation program and benefit from an introductory talk, and the chance to interact with the rescued animals. Get the chance to give them a hug and discover how to prepare a healthy meal to feed them. Go for a walk around the sanctuary with the elephants and stop to give them a mud bath to keep their body temperature down and protect them from parasites. Feed them before enjoying a homemade lunch at a restaurant inside the sanctuary.

Chiang Mai: Grand Canyon Water Park Ticket

7. Chiang Mai: Grand Canyon Water Park Ticket

Spend the day exploring the only outdoor water park in northern Chiang Mai with an area of over 35 acres. The park offers various outdoor activities including giant sliders over 10 meters in length. Experience canoeing and kayaking and marvel at the panoramic view of Grand Canyon Water Park. Enjoy the zip line that has 2 lines, over 400 meters in length, which cross over the Grand Canyon water. Experience the only wakeboarding in Chiang Mai and the Northern part of Thailand. The park ensures safety and convenience with life jackets for all swimmers, as well as certified and well-trained lifeguards on site. 

Doi Suthep, Wat Umong & Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Small-Group Tour

8. Doi Suthep, Wat Umong & Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Small-Group Tour

Begin your morning tour by climbing the 306 steps up to Doi Suthep Temple with your local guide. Bask in the golden rays of sunrise after conquering the staircase and take photos of the unrivaled view of the city of Chiang Mai.  Then, stand in the shadow of the golden Kruba Srivichai Monument, named after the Thai Buddhist monk and engineer of many temples and roads. Gain an insight into how the monks live and choose to make a merit (offering) with them.  Head to Wat Pha Lat, a hidden temple in the lush jungle. Admire the serene statues, shrines, and surrounding nature.  Wrap up your half-day tour with a stop at Wat Umong, a 700-year old temple built back in 1297. Explore the forest and underground tunnels. Marvel at the architecture of the chedi.

From Chiang Mai: White Temple & Golden Triangle Day Trip

9. From Chiang Mai: White Temple & Golden Triangle Day Trip

Uncover the secrets of Thailand's famed Golden Triangle on this day trip from Chiang Mai. Travel aboard an air conditioned van from a centrally-located meeting point. Visit the Mae Kachan hot springs and the White Temple.  Explore the Mekong river on a longtail boat and enjoy a tasty lunch. Enjoy a pickup in central Chiang Mai, depart for Chiang Rai, stopping for a short break at Mae Kachan hot springs. Visit Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, before continuing to the Golden Triangle area. Go to Wat Phra That Chedi Luang (limited access). See the Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar borders from the Golden Triangle viewpoint. Stop for lunch before spending time at House of Opium. Enjoy a long-tail boat trip on the mighty Mekong River. On the way back to Chiang Mai, take a break to stretch your legs in Mae Suay or Wiang Pa Pao district and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. The estimated arrival time in Chiang Mai city is 8:30 PM. 

Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit

10. Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit

Learn how to make authentic Thai dishes with this fun, small-group cooking class in Chiang Mai as you prepare classic dishes using ingredients from a local market. Choose between a half-day class during the morning or the evening and cook five dishes, or go for the full-day class to cook an extra two courses! Get picked up at your hotel within Chiang Mai, then meet up with the rest of your group and choose what you want to cook from the menu. Visit a local market and buy the necessary ingredients, and tour an organic farm filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Once you're done, head to the classroom and prepare your individual cooking stations for the lesson. Follow the instructions of your professional English-speaking guide as you cook a variety of authentic Thai dishes such as mango sticky rice, pad thai, and curry, and make curry paste with your own two hands! Enjoy the fruits of your labor by sharing a meal with your group. Exchange stories as you sample each others' cooking before you head back to your accommodation.

Frequently asked questions about Chiang Mai

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chiang Mai

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What people are saying about Chiang Mai

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 4,927 reviews

We almost missed our tour because we mistook it for the wrong date. But our guide made sure they called us before and on the day of departure. This goes to show how dedicated and committed they are. In the end, we had such a great time in this tour. It had a good combination of activities, down time and travel time. Our guide Pisut was very knowledgeable and had such a high commitment towards eco sustainable tourism.

This is an excellent tour trying out local delicacy which I may not know how to find it as a tourist. Our guide, Ms. Sunny is very knowledgeable, speaks good English and extremely passionate about her job. We are very happy to have her guiding us through the lanes in Old City and introduce us many other places that we may visit on our own. Additionally, she also helps us takes amazing photos too.

This tour was definitely a highlight of my long weekend in Chiang Mai. Our tour guide, Amy, was fantastic! I learned a lot about Buddhism. The sunrise was spectacular. There were only 6 of us on the tour, so it was the perfect amount. I would highly recommend this tour. I would not have had such a wonderful experience visiting the temples on my own.

It’s a smaller tour company and they provide you excellent service. Boyd was a very friendly and knowledgeable guide. I highly recommend it.

Very nice moment with a gentle herd of rescued elephants