The Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city located in the mountainous region of Northern Thailand. Since this was one of our favourite cities in Thailand, we’ve created this blogpost to highlight the top must see spots in Chiang Mai!

Temples Temples Temples

They are so many temples in Thailand, however our top favourite would have to be Wat Chedi Luang (..and you will understand in a second why it was our fav).

Chedi Luang

Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang

This gorgeous temple is located centrally, with an entrance fee of only 40 baht. It is a very ancient temple, built in around 1385-1402 - hence all its charm and beauty.

We would highly recommend visiting around closing hours, as the sunset view by the temple (around 7pm) was absolutely magical. The temple grounds is also less crowded at this time and the heat is much more bearable.

The architecture of the temples and sculptures are beautifully detailed, and the whole ambience was so peaceful and calming. Something we have never experienced before. 

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Elephant Hospital

No trip to Thailand is complete without seeing some adorable elephants. Chiang Mai is the perfect place to experience these gentle giants. We would strongly discourage you from visiting any elephant sanctuaries as well as riding elephants. Often times places like these claim to be “sanctuaries” even though the elephants are overworked and have constant human interaction. It is unnatural for the elephant to be constantly fed by humans and bathed it causes them to undergo a lot of stress. Although these places are better than circuses or riding facilities, we would love to encourage you to visit this very special and amazing Elephant Hospital called Friends of the Asian Elephant.


It is located just an hour outside of Chiang Mai. You can easily access it by hiring a driver to take you there. We used a van service and paid around $25 round trip for 6 people. The hospital itself is free entry, however a donation at the end of the tour is much appreciated.

The Elephant Hospital treats and cares for weak and injured elephants that have been through landmine explosions, overworked, and even stabbed by circus workers. At the hospital, they are taken care of emotionally and physically, with the goal of rehabilitating them and providing them a home where they feel safe and happy. This is also the first elephant hospital that has created prosthetic’s for these elephants.

We would have to say that visiting this hospital has been one of the best highlights of our whole Thailand trip. It was such an eye-opening experience, and we are so grateful to know that places like this exist in the world.

Sunday Night Market

If possible, find a way to readjust your trip itinerary to fit in the Sunday Night Market. This market is one of the largest markets in Thailand. It is conveniently and perfectly located in the Old Town centre of Chiang Mai, and stretches 1km down the full length of Ratchadamnoen Road. 

The market starts at 4pm and runs until midnight every Sunday. Entrance is free but keep in mind that alcohol is prohibited. So get your pre-drink on at Bodega Hostel!  

Here you can find many goodies; from tasty and crazy foods, to a variety of elephant pants, classic souvenirs, fashion items, home goods, and even individualized vendors that are selling unique and handcrafted items (so etsy-esque). 10/10 experience. 

Some Spa Action

Feeling a bit sore, or in need of just some relaxation - Old Town Chiang Mai is the place to be. Massage and spa parlours are located on almost every street corner. These Thai massages provide some amazing muscle relief and are certainly not going to break your wallet. It’s a win-win. They range from 200-500 baht depending on the length and service selected. 

Chiang Mai is also a great place to get a fish pedicure. Yup you read that right. Visit a fish foot spa and get your feet cleaned. However beware…. it does get VERY ticklish, so go at your own risk (lol). 

Quick Drive 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

This temple is about a 30 minute drive from Old Town (about 15km), located on Doi Suthep mountain. We took a Tuk Tuk to the base of the mountain because we found it to be the best and cheapest option. And with those Bodega pub crawl hangovers, the last thing you would want to do is hike a mountain.  

This temple is again gorgeous like any other, and offers stunning views from the mountain. We would recommend going on a day where the sky looks clear, as we got slightly unlucky with the view (still incredible though!!). Also, due to the higher altitude, don’t forget to pack an extra jacket or sweater, as it can get a bit chilly up there.

There is an option to hike the mountain and it takes about 3 hours. Since we were a bit tight on time, we decided to take another TukTuk from the base of the mountain - and it was still reasonably priced. 

Bua Tong Sticky Falls

Just an hour outside of Chiang Mai, deep in the beautiful forest, lie the Bua Tong Sticky Falls. A unique experience as the water flows over the calcium-rich rocks, it gives the rocks a sticky texture and thus providing an incredible natural grip. There are various spots/levels where you can hang out and even sections that you can climb.

Besides the falls, there’s a large park area to chill and relax with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. There are many cab companies that will take you there, wait for you and drive you back for a fair price and the admission to the falls is free. It's the perfect afternoon trip to cool off. 

There you have it! Our favourite spots in Chiang Mai. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

FourBroadsAbroad xoxo