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Best things to do in Chiang Mai

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Where in the world: Asia  /  Thailand  /  Chiang Mai Province  /  Chiang Mai
Whether you like exploring quaint restaurants offering local delicacies or mystic hilltop temples, you'll find many engaging things to do in Chiang Mai. History buffs flock to Chiang Mai's historical center, where they can marvel at traditional architectural ornaments of Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan, a Buddhist temple. For something completely different, choose from numerous revitalizing treatments at one of the city's spas, getting yourself ready for the rest of your vacation. If you're looking for exciting activities that'll give your muscles a good workout, go for a guided nature and wildlife tour with one of the local operators.

Chiang Mai is best known for its Nature & Wildlife Tours, Spas, and Flea Markets.

Top 15 things to do in Chiang Mai

1. Nature & Wildlife Tours

Explore rural Thailand and enjoy an up-close encounter with local wildlife by taking a nature tour from Chiang Mai. This exciting outdoor adventure will take you to a number of the area's top attractions, which include the country's highest peak and one of its oldest tea plantations. As your journey continues, you will have a chance to visit an elephant nursery, zipline through the jungle, learn how to pick tealeaves, climb an ancient staircase on the way to a sacred temple, ride a mountain bike past paddy fields and rural villages, and much more. You can choose between half-, full-, and multi-day tours.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. Spas

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan

Admire the traditional design and reverential atmosphere at Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan, a Buddhist temple located in Chiang Mai's historical center. King Saen Muang Ma initiated construction in the 14th century, intending to bury his father's ashes here. The project wasn't completed until the mid 15th century, and since then the temple has been rebuilt, refurbished, and redesigned on numerous occasions. Originally three separate temple areas, the sites were joined up to create the place of worship you see today, making it an area of impressive scale as well as architecture. Visit the grounds to discover its interesting and volatile history; look for the replica of the famous Emerald Buddha once housed here and the city pillar surrounded by three dipterocarp trees.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Doi Suthep

Climb the 309 steps up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a sacred Buddhist temple set on top of a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. Take in extensive views of the city below before admiring the impressive artistry of the temple's main buildings and decorative flourishes. Said to have been established in the late 14th century, this well-maintained place of worship remains the subject of many myths and legends, with the truth of its construction and development still a mystery. The evocative design and enigmatic heritage create a powerful atmosphere in the secluded mountaintop location. If you'd rather skip the stairs, take advantage of the efficient tram service.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Elephant Rescue Park

The Elephant Rescue Park is a newly established sanctuary in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand, created to be a forever home for homeless and abused elephants. In Thailand, we have a long and deeply traditional relationship with these magnificent animals, however, much of this relationship has been based on the exploitation of elephants by humans in the form of circus shows, the tourism industry, the logging industry and elephant back riding, among others.

Our primary objective is to provide a safe, loving and secure environment for the elephants that come to us, which we are able to do with your help, through visiting our beautiful sanctuary and supporting us through adoptions, donations and various fundraising projects.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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6. Zipline

A guided zipline tour in Chiang Mai will keep you active and excited for at least one day of your vacation. With a trained guide by your side, you'll be able to rappel from cliffs, navigate hanging bridges, and fly down extensive zipline courses. In between your acrobatic endeavors, you will have a chance to hike or bike through the region's picturesque countryside, admire local Thai temples, and learn about the area's distinctive culture. Some adventure courses have height, weight, and age restrictions. Most tours last 7 to 9 hours.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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7. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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8. Siam Rice Thai Cookery School

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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9. Wat Phra Singh

Walk around the grounds of a 14th-century Buddhist temple at Wat Phra Singh. With impressive buildings setting an atmosphere of royalty and reverence, this site has been officially deemed a temple of the first grade since 1935. An ornate Buddha statue reputedly from Ceylon, with a complex and rather mysterious history, takes pride of place in the main temple building. Admire the delicate artistry of the many murals and the simple beauty of the quiet grounds as the monks go about their daily routine.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Chiang Mai Zoo

See the variety of animals living at Chiang Mai Zoo, including the beloved panda bears. The first zoo of its kind in northern Thailand, the institution houses over 400 species, offering plenty to see and do--especially for younger visitors. Among the many mammals, birds, and reptiles kept here, the main attractions are undoubtedly the giant pandas. Tourists flock in great numbers to see these magnificent creatures, which remain a rare sight outside of China.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. River Rafting & Tubing

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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12. Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai 3D Art Museum

Delve deep into the imaginary realm at Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai 3D Art Museum, a gallery displaying interesting exhibits of illusionary art. With full wall murals designed as optical illusions, this innovative art and cultural space will involve you into the artwork in convincing and humorous ways. Playing with sensory perception, the works here create a wide variety of 3D scenes, where each setting comes to life and draws you into its environment. Make sure you head to the gift shop to pick up a memento of your time here.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Tiger Kingdom - Chiang Mai, Mae Rim

Get up close and personal with Thailand's most iconic natural inhabitants at Tiger Kingdom - Chiang Mai. The park provides a home for these gorgeous cats, and the skilled staff will help you to decide which one you want to pet and have a photo with. Heed the advice and guidance of the keepers: tigers are wild animals and their docile, welcoming behavior from one moment to the next is not something to be taken for granted.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Food Tours

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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