Northern Thailand is home to some incredible cities like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai. While these destinations are pretty well-known, there are plenty of sights and activities in these places that the average traveller has never heard of.
Instead of following the typical tourist track, why not break away and get off the beaten track? Experience northern Thailand the way the locals see it!
Sure, you’ll want to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai, participate in the Yipeng Lantern Festival, and explore Doi Ithanon, one of Thailand’s most famed National Parks.
But after you’ve checked these hot spots off your list, why not venture a little further – to places most travellers don’t even know they’re missing!
This list of 25 unique attractions will help you uncover some of the best-kept secrets in northern Thailand. From the breathtaking and remote temples of Wat Chaloem Pra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn…
…to the hidden emerald waters of Lampang…
…and stunning views from Chiang Rai’s distant mountain tops!
1. Indulge in tea, scenery and more in this quaint little Chinese Village – Baan Rai Thai, Mae Hong Son
How would you like to be transported to a lovely Chinese village complete with a signature tea experience during your Chiang Mai trip?
Baan Rai Thai is a small village with a population of just around 1,000 who are mainly Chinese-born or Thai-Chinese. With a heavy Chinese influence on its signboards, buildings, and even the local language, Baan Rai is now stealing travellers’ attention with its unique charm, cool weather, Chinese food and locally grown Oolong Tea.
Originated from China, the famous Oolong Tea is grown right in these plantations. You can learn all about its production and harvest, and enjoy a hot cuppa tea yourself, while taking in the tranquil and green surroundings.
The best time to visit Baan Rai is from October to February, especially in February when an annual Tea Tasting Festival takes place. In addition to a tea-licious holiday, you can also trek, cycle or do horse-riding around the scenic village, while staying at the most popular accommodation, Lee Wine Ruk Thai Resort, for that authentic Baan Rai experience you won’t get elsewhere in Thailand.
Baan Rai Thai, Mae Hong Son (5 hours from Chiang Mai)
Location: Moo 6 Tambon Mog Jum Pae, Amphur Muang, Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Coordinates here.
Lee Wine Ruk Thai Resort
Address: 3 Moo 6 Tambon Mokjampea Amphur Maung, Other, Mae Hong Son, Thailand, 58000. Coordinates here Phone: +66 89-950-0955, +66 89-262-1335
2. Unprecedented location and the most breathtaking temples and pagodas in all of Thailand – Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn, Lampang (2.5 hours from Chiang Mai)
Also known by the names Wat Phabatpuphadang, Wat Phrabuddhabat or Wat Doi, these spectacular temples and pagodas are truly one of a kind. Clinging to the jagged cliff face at the top of a mountain, the temples overlook a sheer drop close to 1,000 meters below!
An hour’s drive from Lampang deposits you at the first level, where you can wander around the main temple, and meet the monks who live in this area.
The second level is farther up the mountain, and can be accessed by tuk-tuk or on foot. Here you will find the famous footsteps that are believed to belong to Buddha.
Leading to the final level of the temple complex are 800 extremely steep steps that bring you to the most magnificent mountain top in Thailand. This third tier is known as Doi Prat Bet – and here you’ll find the golden pagoda, prayer hall, and many white stupas scattered along the rocky surface of the mountain top.
The 360 degree views from the summit are incredible; the Thung valley below, the hills in the distance, and the temples surrounding you. Located in the Lampang province (112km from Chiang Mai), this magnificent, 3-level Buddhist tribute may be a little difficult to get to, but more than worth the journey.
Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn (2.5 hours from Chiang Mai)
Price/entrance fees:The entrance fee is 200 Baht. In addition to this, it will cost USD $2.80 / approx. 100 Baht for a round trip tuk-tuk ride from the first to the second level. There is no transportation provided between the second and third level; you will need to climb on your own. Address: Mueang Pan, Mueang Pan District, Lampang 52240, Thailand Getting there: It’s a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai. Otherwise, the easiest option is to take a domestic flight to Lampang Airport and then take a local bus or shuttle into Chaehom. From here you will need to hire a tuk-tuk or taxi to take you to the temple’s ground level. Coordinate here
3. Glide through the rainforest, experience a free-fall, or race around the rollercoaster tracks – Pongyang Zipline & Jungle Coaster, Chiang Mai
This Chiang Mai adventure park has something for everyone. Pongyang sets itself apart from the other zipline parks with its freefall bungee jump and Jungle Coaster.
Whip around the treetops in a rider controlled rollercoaster at speeds reaching 40km/hr! If you’d prefer to take it easy, not to worry; you have a brake system inside each cart which allows you to control the speed of the ride.
Jumps, twists and turns will keep adrenaline junkies happy, while the lush green scenery appeases the rest of the riders.
For zipliner enthusiasts, there are 36 different platforms to choose from. Fly through the jungle and over the trees on a variety of zip lines, ranging anywhere from 400-800 meters long. There are also various sky bridges included in the zip line packages.
For those looking for something other than ziplining, check out the 14-meter QUICKjump. A winding staircase takes you up 14 meters to a platform built around the strength of a sky-scraping tree. From here you will be harnessed in, permitted to jump, and experience an exhilarating freefall.
Pongyang Zipline & Jungle Coaster, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:Jungle Coaster: 300/1 round, 700/3 rounds, full zip line pre-booking package: 2,550thb (smaller packages available for walk-in customers). Address: 99/9 Moo 2, Pong Yeang Sub-district, Chiang Mai, 50180. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 93 142 8998, [email protected] Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm, Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 8:30am-5:30pm
4. Bird-watchers, trekkers and photographers are in for a treat – Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai
Spanning 482 square kilometers, Doi Inthanon National Park is part of the Himalayan Mountain range, nicknamed “The Roof of Thailand”. It has the highest peak in Thailand, reaching 2,565 meters!
Doi Inthanon’s summit provides incredible views especially at sunrise, and there are multiple treks around the park – some of which lead to beautiful cascading waterfalls *.* – like Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail that starts from the main road and winds 2.5 kilometers into the thick of nature!
If you visit in January or February, you’ll even be lucky enough to see the Siamese Sakura flowers covering the trees in a blanket of pink!
See if you can spot these waterfalls!
1. Mae Ya waterfall, the tallest cascading waterfall in the park that stands at an impressive 250 meters high!
2. Mae Pan Waterfall, the tallest non-cascading waterfall in the park. (It’s more difficult to access due to the slippery trail and remote location. If you’re up for the challenge – you will surely be rewarded by some strikingly unforgettable scenery.)
3. The multi-tiered 60 meter Wachirathan Falls are immensely powerful during the rainy season… And during the dry season, the water level drops and makes it possible to walk behind the falls! (A lovely place for photo ops and a dip in the cool waters on the way to the top!)
Apart from that, don’t miss a visit to The Great Holy Relics Pagoda – breathtaking twin monuments honouring King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and Queen Sirikit on their 60th birthdays.
There’s also another gorgeous area that resembles Taiwan’s famous Cingjing Green Green Grasslands, that’s called Simon’s Sheep! This is where you’ll get to interact with free roaming sheep and take photos with them.
PS: The park is also very popular among bird watchers due to the number and diversity of species; 362 different types of birds have been recorded in the area.
PPS: Camping information and equipment is available at the park’s headquarters should you be interested. 😀
Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:USD $8.50 / approx. 300 Baht (for foreigners), USD $4.20 / approx. 150 Baht (for children); 50 Baht (for locals), 20 Baht (for local children) Address: 119 Moo 7, Ban Luang Sub district, Doi Inthanon National Park, 50160 Contact: +66 53 286 730 Getting there (if no address): The main entrance is at KM 8 off road 1009, which is accessible from highway 108 running southwest from Chiang Mai. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 5.30am to 6.30pm
5. Incredible views of northern Thailand, the Mekong River and even Laos! – Doi Pha Tang, Chiang Rai (3 hours 19 mins from Chiang Mai)
Doi Pha Tang (literal translation meaning “hill cliff standing vertically”) lives up to its prophetic name.
Hidden away in the northern hills of Thailand, the summit of this secluded mountain allows for all-encompassing views of two countries, one river, multiple valleys, indigenous villages, and an infinite amount of natural beauty.
One of the best things about Doi Pha Tang is the cool, fresh air. Enjoy the ocean mist and cooler temperatures as you stand 1,638 meters above sea level.
Reach the summit at sunrise and you can literally watch the fog roll through the valleys as you sit above the clouds. If you visit between December and February, you’ll be lucky enough to witness the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Camping is allowed, so you can enjoy the privacy and tranquility of this secret mountain top as long as you’d like. Remember to buy local produce on the road side.
Fruits like apricots, plums, peaches, cherries, and Chinese pears thrive in these lower temperatures, and are often hard to come by in other areas of Thailand. In Doi Pha Tang, they are fresh and plentiful!
Doi Pha Tang, Chiang Rai (3 hours 19 mins from Chiang Mai)
Address: Chiang Kreat, Thoeng District Chiang Rai 57230 Contact: +(66) 53 717 433, +(66) 53 744 6745 Getting there: From Chiang Rai city take Highway 1020 (Chiang Rai-Thoeng) to the Mae Korn intersection. Turn left onto Highway 1021 (Thoeng-Chiangkam). Drive 64km to Thoeng and continue 6 km through Thoeng to highway 1155. Turn left onto Highway 1155 heading toward Phu Chi Fa and Doi Pra Thang. Continue for 25km until you reach Highway 1023, then continue another 25km. You will see an entrance sign for Doi Pha Tang. 160 km in total. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
6. This canyon is seriously impressing and provides dynamic views! – Pha Chor, Chiang Mai
The main attraction inside Mae Wang National Park is Pha Chor; a naturally occurring canyon carved by the Ping River.
The shift of the river forever changed the topography of the area. Over time, impressively high pillars were formed, reaching down to what was once the river bed.
The yellow sandstone cliffs surrounding the canyon are a staggering 30 meters high! The height of the cliffs is even more imposing when you descend the stairs to the bottom of the canyon.
The best photo opportunities are from the viewpoint, which is a 20-minute walk along the path to the pillar’s edge.
After getting the perfect bird’s eye view, head down the stairs to the canyon depths for the opposite perspective, gazing up the cliffs to the bright blue sky.
Pha Chor, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:USD $2.80 / approx. 100 Baht (for foreigners), USD $0.50 / approx. 20 Baht (for motorbike parking) Address: Mae Wang National Park, Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai province. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 88-434-3199 (My Chiang Mai Tour company), [email protected] Getting there: From Chiang Mai city, take Highway 108 (21km), follow the signs and turn right for Mae Wang District on Highway 12039 (36km). This will take you straight to Pha Chor.
7. Thailand’s version of one of America’s claims to fame does not disappoint – The Grand Canyon, Chiang Mai
The name, perhaps borrowed from the original Grand Canyon, U.S.A, perfectly defines the Thai version of the natural wonder. Looming orange cliffs flow into still emerald waters, painting a picture of peaceful perfection.
The canyon water is actually the remnants of an old quarry where fresh water has since been trapped, creating tranquil pools thought to be 40 meters deep.
It’s a beautiful place to spend the day swimming, sunbathing and (for those who dare) cliff jumping! There are three different levels of cliff jumping options, the highest being almost 20 meters.
Start small and work your way up. If you don’t fancy a jump, the cliff tops are a nice place to camp out for the day to take in the views of the valley, and watch the daredevils take the plunge.
For those who prefer chilling to adrenaline-pumping cliff leaping, inner tubes and lifejackets are available to rent from the restaurant (50 Baht and 25 Baht, respectively). Food can be purchased from the café or the outdoor grill, as well as water, juice, smoothies, and beer.
PS: For those interested, there’s a water park situated right in the middle of this natural wonder aptly named The Grand Canyon Waterpark!
The Grand Canyon, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:USD $1.40 / approx. 50 Baht Address: 244 M.3, T. Namphrae, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai Contact: +(66) 81 960-4087, +(66) 81 020-2167, [email protected] Getting there: From Old City Chiang Mai, take the 108 South, turn right on 121, then turn left onto 1269. Keep going straight until you pass the Hang Dong Golf Club – the canyon will be your first right after the golf course entrance. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 8.30am to 10pm
8. Experience Thailand’s unique ethnic hill tribes! – Karen Long Neck Village, Mae Hong Son (3 hours 18mins from Chiang Mai)
Also referred to as the Karen Long Neck Village, this ethnic tribe is located north of the Chiang Dao caves (another interesting attraction in its own right) at the northern border of Thailand and Myanmar.
The tribe’s people (known as Padung) are originally Burmese, and fled Myanmar two decades ago during a civil war. They were granted asylum in northern Thailand where they stay today.
One of the traditions of Padung women is to wear gold rings around their necks. They typically begin this ritual when they are children, starting with a few rings and increasing the number every year.
As the number of rings increase, so does the weight, which decreases the shoulders and chest of the women who wear them. This creates the illusion of an elongated neck. This sight has been used to attract tourists to their villages since the 1980s!
Karen Long Neck Village, Mae Hong Son (3 hours 18mins from Chiang Mai)
Price/entrance fees:From USD $7.10 / approx. 250 Baht Address: Mae Hong Son Province. Coordinate here
9. Escape the city heat and bask in the beauty of thousands of blooming flowers – Mon Cham Chiang Mai
Located about an hour north of Chiang Mai city are the beautiful, sprawling flower fields of Mon Cham. The local hillside tribes (supported by the Nong Hoi Royal Project) use sustainable farming methods to produce a variety of vibrant flowers, as well as cooler-weather fruits and veggies such as strawberries and lettuce.
The flower and produce gardens in the hills are very well tended, and create cheery and colorful scenery. The panoramic views that stretch beyond the fields are just as pretty; gaze over the farms to the villages, valleys, and hills in the distance.
Wander through the flower fields or visit the mountain-side café for a drink or meal, and unwind in the soothing atmosphere of uninterrupted nature. Sounds just like a dream, doesn’t it?
Mon Cham Chiang Mai
Address: 22/8 หมู่ 7 Tambon Mae Raem, แม่ริม Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50180, Thailand. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
10. The frosty fairytale temple with a glimmering aura fit for an ice queen – Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai (3 hours from Chiang Mai)
Also known as the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is Chiang Rai’s most famous temple. The intricate design has been planned down to every minute detail. The immaculate white color is incredibly striking, and some of the features and sculptures are downright creepy!
Taking an ordinary temple design one step further are the thousands of pieces of white glass embedded in the walls and sculptures. When the sun reflects off the glass, a glimmering aura surrounds the whole complex.
The white color is said to represent the purity of Buddha, and the glass stands for His wisdom. The temple’s overall whimsical appearance creates the illusion of stepping into a fairy tale.
The temple has been under construction for 10 years, and the project is still ongoing. The Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, who is credited with creating this structure, says he plans to continue to build for many years to come.
Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai (3 hours from Chiang Mai)
Price/entrance fees:Free! However, donations are accepted. Address: Pa O Don Chai Sub district, Chiang Rai, 57000 Contact: (+66) 053 673 579 Getting there: Wat Rong Khun is located 15km southwest of Chiang Rai and 170km from Chiang Mai. It can be found on Highway 1 (Phahonyothin Road). Opening hours: Daily from 6.30am to 6pm
11. Watch thousands of lanterns all aglow in the sky – Yipeng Festival, Chiang Mai
Yipeng is a festival that corresponds with another Thai holiday, known as Loi Krathong, which is celebrated throughout the country.
Yipeng Festival is more of a tradition in Northern Thailand, and takes place the night before the Loi Krathong celebration.
Yipeng Festival is characterised by releasing Lanna-style paper lanterns into the sky. The purpose of the display is to show respect to Buddha, as well as to attach good luck wishes and prayers to the lantern.
Lanterns are released all over Chiang Mai on the days leading up to and on the day of the festival – and thousands of lanterns all aglow in the sky at once is a sight not to be missed!
Yipeng Festival, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:Free entrance to the grounds. However, if you want to participate you will need to purchase a lantern which is around USD $5.70 / approximately 200 Baht. Address: The largest display of lanterns is released behind Mae Jo University (AKA Lanna Dhutanka grounds) Opening hours: The festival is held on the eve of the full moon in the second month of the Thai Lunar calendar, which is usually sometime in mid to late November. The lanterns are usually released between 6pm-7pm.
12. Dine at cafes with giant birds’ nests, waterfalls, and river hammocks! – The Giant Treehouse, KhaoMao-KhaoFang, Phuffin in the Lake
Nestled in the nurturing branches of a gigantic tree, you’ll find The Giant Treehouse once you cross suspended bridges leading into the lofted deck. Isolated within the jungle, The Giant Treehouse is an idyllic place with a spectacular view of the surrounding hills.
If you’re looking for something a little more romantic, head to KhaoMao-KhaoFang. With its koi ponds and small pools, a seriously impressive man-made waterfall, and hundreds of colorful orchards adorning the grounds – this is one of Chiang Mai’s most romantic dining experience.
Otherwise, Phuffin in the Lake is the supreme chill-out sanctuary if you’re looking for a casual place to visit with friends. A wide deck runs along the lake where framed hammocks have been strung in a continuous line over the water – and the comfortable cushions and tranquil scenery makes it easy to lounge lakeside for hours!
The Giant Treehouse, Chiang Mai
More info (tap to expand)
Price/entrance fees:Drinks from USD $1.80 / approx. 65 Baht Address: Baan Pok Village, Huaykaew, Mae On, Chiang Mai province, 50130, Baan Pok Nai Contact: 053-317677 or 086-7762946 Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week. Best to call ahead and make a reservation!
13. Experience a mystical natural wonder with legendary holy water – Emerald Lake, Lampang (2 hours 40 mins from Chiang Mai)
Located in the Ngao district of Lampang in the Tham Pha National Park, lies a natural wonder shrouded in mystery. The Emerald Lake is a massive body of still, sparkling green water of depths unknown.
The lake is an actual sinkhole, perhaps created from the collapse of an underground limestone cave. The lake is surrounded by tall trees and steep limestone cliffs, mirrored flawlessly in the silent waters.
Legend has it that the water is holy. The local people honor the Emerald Lake waters annually with offerings of flowers and candles they float out on the water.
Just beyond the lake is Tiger Cave, another attraction worth visiting. The limestone cave is quite impressive with the floors and ceiling covered in stalagmites and stalactites.
Visitors who come to admire the Emerald Lake are asked to be respectful of this sacred place. Fishing, littering, swimming or even entering the water is prohibited.
Emerald Lake, Lampang (2 hours 40 mins from Chiang Mai)
Address: Rural Road 6053, Ban Pong, Ngao District, Lampang, 52110 Contact: +(66) 83 203-7330, +(66) 05 422-0364 Getting there: The park is located almost equidistant between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. From Chiang Mai, take Route 11 south (10km) until you hit Route 1 (156km), which will take you east, straight into the park. From Chiang Rai, head south of Route 1 (160km). Coordinate here
14. See just how creative Chiang Mai can get with concerts and artistic goods – Thapae East, Venue for the Creative Arts, Chiang Mai
The purpose of this establishment is to provide a place for those who have been bestowed with a musical or artistic talent to express themselves. People from all walks of life gather here to meet, talk, eat, drink and enjoy one another’s performances.
The live music performed at this venue encompasses every corner of the globe, from a Japanese instrumental acoustic duet, to a Brazilian one-man-band!
Opened in 2015, both local and foreign performers and patrons flock to this cosy establishment because of the unique ambiance and exceptional entertainment. The building is brick and the grounds are made of an open-air lawn and outdoor red steel structure that serves as the backdrop during film screenings, parties, and live performances.
Leading into the lawn area are a variety of shops run by artists displaying their craft; jewelry, book binding and other hand-made items.
Thapae East is known for hosting concerts of different musical genre every month. No matter your musical preference, there is something for everyone from jazz, to classical, to Latin – even orchestra.
This venue is trendy, alternative, and up-and-coming, making it something special in the northern Thailand region.
Thapae East, Venue for the Creative Arts, Chiang Mai
Address: 88 Thapae Road, Soi 3, Chiang Mai, 50320 Contact: (+66) 81 765 5246 Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm to 11pm (closed on Sundays)
15. Go on a waterfall hunt or drift to sleep in a floating resort – Sri Lanna National Park, Chiang Mai
This National Park has it all; jungle waterfalls, dam, reservoir, trekking, wildlife, and accommodation ranging from campsites to private floating bungalows.
There is an abundance of activities to occupy every adventurous traveller. Visit the 9-tier waterfall, Mon Hin Lai, in the Mae Ngat Forest – and if you’re up for it, the Mae Ngat Sombun Chon Dam is famous for white-water rafting.
There are numerous other waterfalls to find, caves to explore, and trails to wander. You can also kayak the tranquil waters, mountain bike the rugged terrain, or arrange fishing trips and boat tours. There are restaurants and facilities inside the park as well.
Accommodation in and around the park is a happy mix of basic and comfortability. Natural beauty and modern conveniences align, creating an exceptional experience in a breathtaking natural environment.
Book a stay in a raft house on the Mae Ngad Reservoir and drift to sleep, while you literally float on the water. Or if you prefer a more rustic option, campsites are also available.
Sri Lanna National Park, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:100thb for adults, 50thb for children Address: Amphoe Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai Contact: +(66) 53-317-495, +(66) 25 62 0760 Getting there: Take highway 107 north from Chiang Mai city (Chiang Mae-Faeng route), turn right onto Sombun Chon Reservoir and continue for 12 km. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 6am to 6pm
16. Visit one of the Royal projects! – Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station, Chiang Mai
The Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station is private project initiated by the King and Queen of Thailand in 1969.
While visiting the Phak Phai Village, the King and Queen saw how difficult life was for the farmers, who grew opium poppies as a means of income. Their Majesties saw the potential in the village as a location for growing fruit trees, and funded this special project out of their own pockets.
The plan started with a few experimental trees. Once it proved successful, the local farmers used the initial plants as a model for producing more! The idea was to teach the farmers in the village to be self-sufficient, thus giving them the ability to earn a profitable income.
Today, fruits, vegetables and flowers are grown on the land by the farmers. The Agricultural Station is also used to conduct research, organise trainings for and promote the livelihood of the hill tribe farmers.
Visitors can tour the grounds, take in the scenery and purchase the locally grown products!
Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station, Chiang Mai
Address: Ban Khum Village, 1 Moo 5, Mae Ngon Sub district, Fang City, 50320. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 53- 450-1079, Visitor Center +(66) 53-969-489 Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
17. Rugged nature compliments beautiful views – Pai Canyon, Pai (2 hours 50 mins from Chiang Mai)
Kong Lan, as it’s known by the locals, is 8km from the city of Pai and is definitely worth a visit. Steep dirt roads carve through a plunging canyon in the middle of untouched nature, creating a spiritual setting unlike any other.
Great for a day trip exploring the canyon and taking pictures, enjoy awesome 360° panoramas of the surrounding mountains and landscape from the various trails. The scenery is impressive with jagged cliffs, steep ridges, giant rock walls, and trees for as far as the eye can see!
The narrow, elevated trails are not for the faint of heart. Some paths are only a few feet wide, with a 50meter drop on either side. Thrill-seekers will love exploring these trails, but proceed at your own risk; there are no safety nets or bars to prevent a potentially dangerous fall.
If you’re not feeling so brave, don’t worry. There are still plenty of fabulous views if you choose to play it safe. There are other trails that are not as risky, but still yield a great reward.
Pai Canyon is a serene and peaceful place to watch the sun dip below the horizon, and enjoy the coloured aftermath of the sunset (or sunrise, if you’re an early bird!).
Pai Canyon, Pai (2 hours 50 mins from Chiang Mai)
Price/entrance fees:Free! Contact: +(66) 915 412 3544 Getting there: Located off Highway 1095, close to the World War II Memorial Bridge, in the Ban Rong Yang Village, 8km south of Pai. Coordinate here
18. Swing, zip, crawl and clamber your way through nature in this thrill-seekers paradise – Eagle Track Zipline, Chiang Mai
Hill tribes, rice paddies and waterfalls on either side and a rushing river below makes this the most exciting and scenic adventure park in Thailand.
There are countless daring activities inside Eagle Track; sky bridge, climbing net, zig-zag walkway, balancing beams, flying skateboard, and of course, multiple zip line routes throughout the park.
Eagle Track is a community-based, eco-tourism operator. They work in collaboration with the local villages and support hill tribes in the area – and Eagle Track provides employment opportunities and comprehensive training for local villagers.
Staff are well-trained in all imported equipment and safety procedures, and different packages can be purchased depending on your interests.
Experience bits and pieces or everything the park has to offer!
Eagle Track Zipline, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:From USD $45.70 / approx. 1,600 Baht Address: 41/1 Tambon Mae Raem, Amphoe Mae Rim, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50180, Thailand. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 85 722 9090, +(66) 53 231 151 Opening hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
19. Visit and explore the “City of Stars” for spectacular trekking and camping – Doi Luang Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve, Chiang Mai
Chiang Dao is a charming, sleepy little village found at the foot of Doi Chiang Dao mountain.
The area is known for its limestone hills, which are over 200 million years old. The wildlife reserve is also home to the 3rd tallest peak in Thailand, and is a popular destination for hikers and day-trippers!
There are several trails that lead to the summit, which average around 7km one-way. It’s recommended that you hire a guide if you plan to make the trek. This feat is usually accomplished in two days (one day up, one day back down).
Spend the night at the top and you’ll be treated to some seriously stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below. Not to mention, a magnificent sunrise! It is possible to summit in just one day, if you are relatively fit.
The surrounding valleys are an attraction of their own, hosting a plethora of nature’s finest. Rare flowers, birds and butterflies are just some of the wildlife you can encounter in the area.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:USD $5.70 / approx. 200 Baht (for foreigners), 20 Baht (for locals) Address: O Bo Cho Chiang Mai 3232 Rd., Tambon Chiang Dao, Amphoe Chiang Dao, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50170, Thailand Contact: +66 25 612 947 Getting there: Take Route 107 north 65 km toward Mae Rim/Mae Taeng. There will be signs to direct you to the small city center. Coordinate here Opening hours: Daily from 6am to 6pm
20. Rolling green rice terraces for as far as the eye can see – Ban Pa Pong Pieng (บ้านป่าบงเปียง), Chiang Mai
Ban Pa Pong Pieng is located within Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem sub district, and sits 1,000 meters above sea level in the crisp mountain air. After a 90-minute drive from Chiang Mai and another 2-kilometer walk through a muddy trail, beautiful emerald rice paddies emerge and span as far as the eye can see.
The local hill tribes farm and harvest rice, corn and other vegetables that thrive in the cooler elevated temperatures.
Combine the infinite amount of layered terraces with the rolling hills and mountain backdrop and you’ve got a photographer’s dream.
Tip: If you want to check out a truly spectacular view, visit in September or October (harvest season) during sunset. However, this is also rainy season in the north, so don’t forget your raincoat!
Feel like spending a night or two away from the city? Homestay bungalows overlooking the rice terraces are available to rent!
Ban Pa Pong Pieng, Chiang Mai
Address: Ban Pa Pong Pieng, Mae Chaem sub district, 50270, Chiang Mai. Coordinate here Getting there: Take Route 1013 for 74.5 km, turn right onto Route 108, after 6 km turn right onto Route 121 for 2km, turn left onto San Pa Tong Dong bypass and carry on for 17.5km, turn right back onto Route 1013, after 37.2km turn left. This road will bring you into Mae Chaem center.
21. A resort, restaurant and animal farm rolled into one – Small Farm, Chiang Mai
Get in touch with your country roots and visit Small Farm, located 58km outside Chiang Mai on the road to Doi Inthanon National Park.
The farm is home to a variety of animals such as alpacas, sheep, goats, pandas, horses, ponies, and ostriches! Activities include horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage tours, farm tours, and animal feeding.
If a rustic theme is what you’re after, you can even rent the space for a down-to-earth pre-wedding photo shoot. Small Farm also hosts seasonal events with special activities on Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day and other holidays.
Accommodation at Small Farm follows the “cowboy-ranch” theme with adorable log cabin style rooms with charming décor and bedspreads – complete with front porches and rocking chairs. The private and cosy atmosphere is guaranteed, due to the small number of available rooms (13 to be exact). Personal pets are also welcome!
The restaurant serves up yummy, home-made dishes, like fried rice, steak, pork ribs, and sandwiches. All ingredients are carefully selected, fresh and organic – as refreshing as a day spent here will feel!
Small Farm, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:USD $2.30 / approx. 80 Baht (for adults), USD $1.40 / approx. 50 Baht (for children) Address: No. 99 Moo 21 Tambon Ban Luang, Chom Thong, Chiang Mai, 50160. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 53 033 068, [email protected] Opening hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
22. One of the newest and longest attractions in Thailand – The Canopy Walk, Chiang Mai
Suspended inside Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens is Thailand’s longest canopy walkway. It stretches 400 meters in length and 20 meters high.
It is one of the newest attractions in Chiang Mai, opening its doors to the public in December 2015 – and is the longest suspended sky bridge in all of Thailand!
The bridge runs through the jungle canopy, with beautiful views overlooking the lush forest and the mountains in the distance. There is even a glass-bottomed section of the walkway; a little nerve-wracking, however it makes for a cool photo op!
The botanical gardens themselves are worth a visit as well. It’s one of Thailand’s major scientific research hubs as well as being home to some rare and indigenous flowers and plant life.
Some of these flowers (like orchids and lotuses) can only survive in the cooler temperatures of this elevated environment, making them an unusual sight in Thailand.
The Canopy Walk, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees: USD $2.80 / approx. 100 Baht (for foreigners), 40 Baht (for locals) Address: QSBG (Queens Sirikit Botanical Gardens), 100 Moo 9, Mae Rim, 50180, Chiang Mai Contact: +(66) 53 – 841-234 Opening hours: Daily from 8.30am to 5pm
23. Shaded nature trails, dense jungle, and wide open panoramic views – Simon Hill, Chiang Mai
This location in Thailand is a place that few foreigners know about, putting it high on the list of places to see which are “off the beaten track.”
Locals sometimes refer to the Simon Hill area as the Savannah of Chiang Mai, due to the long, straw-like grass that grows in the area, covering the hills.
Immerse yourself in nature as you explore the far corners of Mae Ping National Park. Simon Hill is a challenging but doable trek through forest, with nature and wildlife galore. At the end of the hike, you will be rewarded with some pretty amazing views from the top!
Reach the summit just before dark to take in the setting sun, before you set up camp for the night. Pitch your tent on a grassy knoll and in the morning, roll out of your sleeping bag to start your day with the mesmerising sunrise.
Simon Hill, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:Free! Address: Rural Rd Chiang Mai, Mon Chong, Omkoi District, Chiang Mai 50310. Coordinates here Getting there: Highway 1095 South (if you’re coming from Pai or Mae Hong Son region) will take you into the National Park. Opening hours: Always open!
24. This is one Starbucks you’ve surely never seen before! – Kad Farang Starbucks, Chiang Mai
Kad Farang Village is a 400-square foot area filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets.
Naturally, there is a Starbucks located inside, but this is one is not quite like the others! It has been designed to authentically reflect the culture of Thailand.
The building design mimics a temple, and the architecture follows the traditional Lanna-style. The interiors have been beautifully decorated in Thai temple style, with arched ceilings, tall windows, and pretty gold accents.
This specific branch opened in September 2558 (2015) and has been a hit ever since!
You won’t want to miss the opportunity of getting your Starbucks fix in a Starbucks unlike any other!
Kad Farang Starbucks, Chiang Mai
Price/entrance fees:From USD $2 / approx. 70 Baht Address: Boutique Lifestyle Mall, 225km. 13 Moo 13, Chiang Mai-Hod Road, T.Baan Waen, A. Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, 50230. Coordinate here Contact: +(66) 53-430-555, [email protected] (Kad Farang Village)
25. Visit thee mysterious tall, eerie, sandstone pillars towering above a canyon – Pha Singh Liao, Chiang Mai
Just over 110km south of Chiang Mai, you will find striking and mysterious looking pillars surrounding a deep sandstone canyon. Locals refer to the unique shape of the pillars as “bouquets.”
Resulting from natural erosion hundreds of years ago, these strange looking cliffs are quite a spectacular sight; especially once you descend the stairs into the canyon and look up!
The height of the walls is both daunting and humbling. Gazing up at the sky from the deep and narrow canyon floor makes you realize how small you really are!
Pha Singh Liao, Chiang Mai
Address: Tambon Ban Tan, Hot District (Amphoe Hot), Chang Wat, Chiang Mai, 50240. Coordinate here Getting there: Take Route 108 from San Pa Tong Hang Bypass road,for 102km, then drive another 7km on Ban Tan Road. Destination is on this road.
Now that you know all the best things to do in Chiang Mai, it’s time to take a trip to experience it all for yourself!
Let us know which activity you’d most love to visit in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 🙂
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PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you! Tell us
Fiona is an American who has lived and worked abroad in South East Asia for four years. Passionate about travel, food, culture and adventure, she has spent her free time backpacking through Thailand and neighboring countries.
She first worked as an ESL teacher in Surat Thani, Thailand, which she credits as the most genuine Thai experience she's had since living abroad.
Lucky enough to turn one of her most beloved hobbies into her profession, Fiona currently resides on the island of Koh Lipe, Thailand, where she works as a Dive Master.