Chiang Mai City Attractions

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand Probably the most visited attraction in the northern capital is the temple on the hilltop 15 km east of the city. If you are energetic, climb the steep stairway, all 290 steps. If not, take the funicular railway.

The golden center chedi of the temple is spectacular. Before leaving the temple area, enjoy the commanding view of the Chiang Mai Basin.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

The major tourist attraction everyone will hit at least once has to be the night market. A whole road of street stalls, restaurants, bars, roofed plaza-style areas offering a wide variety of food and consumer goods, Internet cafes, foot massage joints, designer label retail outlets, fast food, you name it.

Get your bargaining head on and join the foray. Open every night rain or shine.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

27 km from Chiang Mai on the mountainous Mae Rim - Samoeng loop road you will find the Queen Sirikit Botanical garden. It covers a total area of 2,500 acres and takes in elevations ranging from 550 to 1,270 meters.

The garden's layout is divided into flowering trees, shrubs, creepers, bamboo, palms, rattan and biennials. The garden also boasts a large greenhouse for plant species not suited to mountain climate, a botanical museum, an orchidarium with more than 400 species indigenous to Thailand and a visitor center.

The botanical garden is quite accessible since the Mae Rim - Samoeng road is an established tourist route. Attractions such as a snake farm and an elephant camp can also be found on this road.

Phu Ping Palace

Located near Doi Suthep, the royal palace has beautifully landscaped gardens are open on weekends and holidays when the royal family is not in residence.

Chiang Mai Zoo

If you like animals or are traveling with children, the zoo at the edge of town has a good collection of bird life, fish, reptiles and mammals. Feature exhibits are the Humboldt penguins, fur seals, Gibbon Island and a children's zoo.

Orchids & Butterflies

These nurseries and aviaries in the Mae Sa Valley are commercialized but still offer a pleasant afternoon. But commercial or not, the orchids and butterflies are beautiful.

Chiang Mai National Museum

The museum has a Lanna Thai art collection, ancient Buddha images and weapons of war. Closed Monday, Tuesday and for lunch.

Temples of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city of temples, with around 373 Buddhist temples located within the city district. There are also a number of Christian churches and a mosque.

With such an overwhelming number it would be impossible to list them all here. However, we can give you the low down on a few of the more notable sites.

  • Wat Chiang Man The oldest temple in the city and a fine example of Lanna architecture. Founded by the much revered King Mengrai in 1296, the temple has some impressive teak columns and boasts two world famous artifacts, one of which is a white crystal-seated Buddha image only 10 cm in height. The other is also a Buddha image believed to have originated from Sri Lanka. Both are thought to be more than 1000 years old. Within the grounds there is also a stone inscription giving information regarding the construction of Chiang Mai and Wat Chiang Man. This site is very popular with visitors to Chiang Mai.
  • Wat pra Singh This temple was constructed in 1343 AD. Noted for its ancient scriptures and chedi (a large structure resembling a pyramid)
  • Chedi Luang Named so due to the enormous chedi that stands within its grounds. Built to house the remains of the ancient king Phaya Khuena. The intention was that the chedi could be seen in any direction within a radius of 4000 meters. Thought to incorporate styles borrowed from Sri Lankan architecture. The very top of the chedi was destroyed in an earthquake in 1545.
  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Nearly every visitor will end up here at some point. Even if you're not into temples It's worth checking out just for the excellent view of Chiang Mai.
  • Wat Suan Dok This temple is situated in a natural setting and is a great place to escape the hectic city environment. Of particular interest because it is a good place to observe the monks (mostly apprentice) during their morning alms rounds. Get there early because by 07:00 it's all finished and the traffic kicks in.

    Remember to tread lightly, don't make yourself too conspicuous. Might be an idea to leave the camera back at the hotel. There's also a tribal museum at the front
  • Wat U Mong Situated behind the zoo at the base of Doi Suthep. Famous for it's densely wooded environment and fish lake at the very back. Believed that Yunanese influence went into the construction of a man-made meditation tunnel dug into the side of a hill.

Attractions Outside Chiang Mai City

Doi Inthanon

(60 km) When it's hot in the city this mountain park is cool. To the pleasing climate add beautiful waterfalls, diverse wildlife, forests, wild orchids, hill tribe settlements and visitor facilities and you have a great destination.

Mae Klang Waterfall

(60 km) At the base of Doi Inthanon and regarded as Chiang Mai's most photogenic waterfall. Take lunch and have a picnic

  • Mae Sa Elephant Training Center (30 km) Elephant skills demonstration each morning. Gallop through the jungle atop one of these fellows ... okay, ride one on a walk through the forest. Riding an elephant is a unique and singular experience
  • San Kamphaeng Hot Springs (35 km) Trees, hills and hot mineral water baths are the attraction of this resort. A swimming pool, dining facility and accommodations for overnighters. Tel 661 510-0418
  • Taeng Dao Elephant Camp (55 km) Elephant demonstrations and rides as well as river rafting and trekking hill tribe villages
  • Chiang Dao Caves (70 km) Actually a network of caves extending deep inside Doi Chiang Dao. It has sacred Buddha images as its primary attraction. Hired guide can take one deeper into the tunnels. The cave has an interesting @ legend of Chiang Dao caves
  • Doi Ang Khang (160 km) A royal agricultural station which is a research and demonstration site for flowering plants, temperate zone fruit trees, vegetables and crops. The station enjoys patronage from His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
  • Fang Hot Springs (160) As many as 50 hot springs flow out of this 10 acre plot of forest. Three of the springs boil continuously at 90 - 100 degrees Celsius and smell of sulfur
  • Ob Luang Gorge The Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai province, surrounded my mountains and a teak forest
  • Tribal Research Center Part of Chiang Mai University. A cultural exhibition of northern hill tribes. Closed weekends and lunch time.