Thailand is one of the most sought after and visited tourist countries in the world, due to its scenic sites, exotic beaches and luxury resorts. Another reason for the popularity of Thailand is the rich culture imbued in history. Food is one more thing that brings people from all over the world to travel here and spend their time vacationing in this beautiful city.
Considered to be the most culturally developed and enriched city of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the largest city of Northern Thailand. Formerly the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is now the capital city of Chiang Mai Province. The city is in between mountains and right next to the Ping River. Chiang Mai has been names one of the “25 Best Destinations in the World” by TripAdvisor in 2014 as far as tourism is concerned. This is because there are literally a lot of things to do in Chiang Mai for tourists. There is something for everyone in this beautifully situated city of Thailand. From historical sites to modern architecture, beaches to museums, amusement parks to natural scenic spots, there is everything here in Chiang Mai. This is the reason why it has become a hit spot for all people travelling during the summers especially. Be it adults or children, men or women, seniors or bachelors, people will find that they have plenty of things to do in Chiang Mai. Even though the city is much more quiet and peaceful as compared to Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, it still holds a particular appeal for families. The naturally green city is also known as the “Rose of the North”.
Chiang Mai is situated between the rolling mountains of Himalayas and since there is also a river in between, people could only reach the serene city by taking a boat ride or on the banks of an elephant. Modern times have changed the transportation mode, but people can still take boats and elephant rides in Chiang Mai. Since the city is full of wonderful things to do in Chiang Mai and places to visit, some of the best ones that simply cannot be missed include Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium, Chiang Mai Night Safari, Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Wat Chiang Man, Elephant Nature Park. These are the places that bring life and vitality, showing the history, culture and the most vibrant expressions of Thailand. One starts to wonder about the power of nature along with the struggles of man in order to create wonders where man could enjoy and become one with nature as well as nurture. There are also many other attractions in Chiang Mai, but these are the most visited and loved tourist attractions of the times.
Wat Chedi Luang is located in the centre of the city Chiang Mai. It is one of the most cherished things to do in Chiang Mai. The historic remains of a Buddhist temple, construction of Wat Chedi Luang started in the 14th century. But it wasn’t until the middle of the 15th century that the temple was finally and majestically completed. Standing 82 m high with a base of 54 m, it was considered to be the tallest building of the Lanna Empire. One of the reasons why this temple gained so much fame was the placement of the Emerald Buddha inside in the year 1468. But in 1545, the 30 m structure of the temple, from the upper side collapsed due to the occurrence of an earthquake. After that the emerald Buddha was removed.
In the 199o’s UNESCO, along with the Japanese government, decided to reconstruct the ruined temple. Some of the people were highly critical of the end result because the structure looked more like Central Thai Style instead of its original Lanna style. Things to do in Wat Chedi Luang include visiting the temple itself, checking out the city pillar and having a look at the Buddha statue known as Phra Chao Attarot.
Another Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra Singh was bestowed with the status of Royal temple of the first grade by King Ananda Mahidol in 1935. This temple is also one of the top most visited things to do in Chiang Mai. The temple was started in the 1345 by the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty.
Other buildings were added over the years and it was in the year 1367 that the Phra Buddha Singh statue was placed in the temple, on whose name it was created in the first place. When restoration began in 1925 three historic urns were discovered which were believed to contain ashes of the royals. The urns then were lost and still have not been found. During the 1920’s the temple and its surrounding buildings were reconstructed by the monk Khru Ba Srivichai. It was again reconstructed in 2002.
Things to do in Wat Phra Singh range from checking out the location and site, as well as Phra Bhudda Sihing statue, Wihan Luang, Wihan Lai Kham, Ubosot (a monastery for nuns and monks), Ho Trai (the temple library), the Phrathatluan, the Kulai chedi, and the many paintings and murals found inside the various architectural feats.
This is another famous temple that is always in the things to do in Chiang Mai list for most visitors to the city of Chiang Mai. Since the temple is situated on a mountain, sites from the temple are truly magnificent. No concrete dates of the construction of temple are there but it is believed by most that the temple was created in 1383. There is a very interesting legend attached to why the temple was created in the first place.
A monk dreamt that he was required to go to the Pang Cha where he would find a relic. The relic turned out to be a bone that was thought to be the shoulder bone of Gautama Buddha. It was said to be magical with powers of vanishing and glowing. When the king of the time heard of the relic, he asked to see it. But when he saw it, there seemed to be no magical powers attached. So the monk then took the bone to King Nu Naone of Lanna. The relic broke there, the larger piece was placed on a white elephant, who was then left in the jungle. The elephant is said to have run to the mountain, trumpeted three times and then died on the spot. That spot is where the temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was created.
When it comes to things to do in Chiang Mai Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is another must visit places. Most often than not, the mountain peaks are covered in cloud, giving it a soft luminous and imaginary aura that is adored by most people who live there and those who come to visit. The site has been designated as a national park. There are more than 300 bird species and 2000 ferns and flowering species found in the forests. The park mostly comprises of forest and pools of water created by the many thundering waterfalls.
Things to do in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park can range from taking the biking trails for rides to going on actual hunting and mountain bike riding. People, who haven’t seen the temple, can also take a look at the majestic temple. Rainfalls, swimming options are also some options that can be enjoyed. Hmong village and the winter palaces are another choice that people have of checking out in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. When it comes to accommodations, there are some bungalows for the tourists where they can stay for as long as they wish.
If a tourist is visiting Thailand and their things to do in Chiang Mai list does not include visiting the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium then it would be a huge loss. It is a one of a kind zoo that looks more like a safari, that is spread across the slopes of the mountain Doi Suthep. There is a monorail as well as a shuttle bus that families or individuals can take according to their requirements. There is also a choice of driving own car or taking one’s own taxi if the tourists or locals are not in the mood to use the shuttle bus.
Things to do in Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium include visiting the panda house, the magnificent aquarium, the snow dome and many other special exhibits that change according to season. Perhaps the most interesting, or scary thing to see is the crawling of giant bugs from the surrounding jungles. People also have the choice of feeding animals like the emus and other special species of animals placed there. There are also quite a few cafes and eateries that can be of service to tourists.
When in Thailand and looking for things to do in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Night Safari is one of the top priorities for most visitors. A nocturnal zoo, the safari was started in the year 2006, along with the Royal Flora Expo 2006. Being the second night safari in the world, Thailand gained a lot of tourism because of the construction of Chiang Mai Night Safari. It contains more than 200 species of animals from all over the world. The best thing is that it becomes more interesting to check out during the night time.
Things to do in Chiang Mai Night Safari include taking the rides offered there, tourists can check out all the freely roaming animals in fenced off areas. Most of the predatory animals are kept behind security bars. The safari contains the zoo, musical fountain, along with a pavilion and a restaurant. Divided into three zones, tourists can visit the Savanna Safari zone that contains animals from African region; Predator Prowl Zone that has all the carnivorous animals like tigers, lions, black bears etc; and the Jaguar Trail Zone that contains smaller animals ad beautiful flower gardens. There are also 5 resorts in the forest for the visitors who want to stay the night or the whole day.
Since Chiang Mai is known as the “Rose of the North”, the city holds a flower festival for three days in the month of February. Flowers that are only grown in Chiang Mai like the Damask Rose, yellow and white chrysanthemums are displayed in colorful arrays. The festival is held in the Suan Buak Haad public garden. The festival is one of the most superb sites in Thailand and people from all over the globe visit in February so that they can fulfill their wish of all the things to do in Chiang Mai list.
For people visiting the festival, there are some other things to do in Chiang Mai Flower Festival as well. This includes having fun in the children’s play area with their kids, take refreshments for the local stalls and also watch displays of landscapes created by specialists that include patios, waterfalls and other kinds of garden decorations. There is also a flower parade that tourists can check out. Schools and local drumming groups are a part of this flower parade. There are traditional Thai dances and flowers are handed out to the audience. It is a very entertaining occasion of the locals and tourists alike.
Another temple in the old city limits of Chiang Mai, Wat Chiang Man is said to be the first temple of the city, built by the Mangrai in 1297. It is another must things to do in Chiang Mai. A stone slab engraved in 1581 has the markings of the earliest known reference of the city. There is also situated in the temple an image of Buddha that is said to be one of the earliest creations, dated as far back as 1465.
Things to do in Wat Chiang Man include taking a look at many of the old buildings that are situated around the temple. Some of the most important places include Chedi Chang Lom, which is also known as the Elephant Chedi; the Mian Wihan, which was renovated a famous Buddhist monk Khru Ba Srivichai and also contains the oldest standing statue of Buddha; the New Wihan; The Phra Sae Tang Khamani, which is also known as the Crystal Buddha or the Phra Kaew Khao; the Phra Sila, a statue of Buddha taming an elephant; the Ubosot; the Lotus Pond and the Ho Trai. It is believed to be one of the most awe inspiring temples of Thailand.
When in Thailand things to do in Chiang Mai include visiting the elephant nature park. The place is not just a park, but a rescue sanctuary for elephants. It is about 60 kilometers away from the city of Chiang Mai. It is located in a valley that contains forests on one side and a river on the other. This elephant shelter was created once the Elephant Heaven Nature Park was closed in 2003. The main idea behind the creation of the park is to keep elephants secure from hunting or dying out. The philopshy does not lie in training the elephants or using them for shows.
The notion goes beyond the elephant to trees as well. Individual trees have sacred saffron clothes tied around them to preserve them. The locals fear their cutting down because they believe they would disrupt the spirit of the jungle and bring the wrath of nature on them. Things to do in Elephant Nature Park range from seeing the elephants, getting too feed and touch them as well as roaming around the forest. People are also allowed to stay overnight and become a part of volunteer programs. These were some of the best places to visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand.