Bordered by rich mountains and speckled with notable temples, Chiang Mai is the most popular tourist destination in northern Thailand. You won’t run out of things to do in Chiang Mai. This city has a unique mix of nature, adventure, history, food, culture, and present-day comforts, a combination that makes it one of the popular urban communities in the world. Popularly known as the ‘Rose of the North,’ Chiang Mai is the second biggest city in Thailand and is situated 700km north of Bangkok.
There are many cost-effective things to do in Chiang Mai, on account of how the average cost of living there is extremely low. All things considered, if you are planning on traveling with an extremely tight budget, it is beneficial to think about the things to do for fun and do around town for a minimal expense.
Therefore, we’ve collected this rundown of the cost-effective, fun activities to do around Chiang Mai. This guide is packed with insider tips and hidden treasures, so you will definitely want to bookmark or pin this page! You can trust this guide to help you plan your trip and things to do in Chiang Mai.
1. Walk around the Old City of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Old City is essentially a living gallery. Its cramped roads are fixed with magnificent temples, old shophouses, and historical structures, all encompassed by the moldering ancient walls and the moat. It is a small but important place in the city, so go for a stroll around and simply appreciate the city’s carefree atmosphere and fascinating landscape.
2. Visit Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai Old City
Doi Suthep is perhaps the most notable temple in Chiang Mai and quite possibly the most visited tourist spot in Thailand, so do not miss out on seeing this place! Tickets are free for Thai residents and are only 30 Baht for non-residents. So it fits perfectly into any itinerary of cost-effective things to do in Chiang Mai.
It takes an hour to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Kicking off by climbing more than 300 steps on the way to the temple, circulating the stupa at least three times for best of luck, and afterward laying on the balconies offering extraordinary scenes over the city. Take a shared red vehicle, also known as Songthaew, up the mountain for 60 Baht. You may ask help from your hotel on where to find a Songthaew. But if you like strolling, you may walk or climb up the mountain at no cost.
3. Shop at the night markets in Chiang Mai Old City
Chiang Mai is well-known for the Sunday Night Walking Street Market, where the main street inside the old city shuts down, and road stalls are filled with vendors selling beautiful handmade presents, home stuff, garments, and numerous other exceptional gifts.
The Sunday night market is the largest in Asia, covering more than 3 km. Each Sunday night, a huge number of people, both locals and foreigners, walk the tiny rear entryway between the stalls searching for bargains. The Sunday night market is a beautiful spot to see a portion of Thailand’s great hand made products, and you can still have fun even if you do not purchase anything!
4. Talk to a monk
Large numbers of temples around Chiang Mai hold chat sessions with monks every day or every week. This offers you a chance to converse with a Buddhist monk about basically anything, and this also provides the monks an opportunity to practice their English. These are free sessions; however, gifts and donations are very welcome.
Among the better places to experience this is Wat Sri Suphan, also known as the Silver Temple. Aside from the beautiful surroundings, being hidden down a rear entryway to the South of the Old City isn’t just about as occupied as the talks at the more acclaimed temples.
5. Have a great meal at the Street Food Market
Thai food is well-known for its spicy dishes. However, they also have a wide variety of other selections that could suit your sense of taste if you’re not a fan of hot food. Thailand’s street food is incredible, and Chiang Mai is known as Thailand’s best place to eat exquisite food for pennies. You can discover street stalls everywhere in the city, with the North and South entryways of the old city having night markets loaded with delicious local street food, freshly picked fruits, and snacks.
Most street stalls showcase just a couple of various dishes, yet this will be the sort of food they practice exclusively. If you don’t find any English menus, you can attempt the well-established procedure of taking a gander at what other customers are eating and pointing!
6. Visit the Grand Canyon at Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Grand Canyon is a waterpark underlying a deserted limestone quarry. The quarry was unfilled for a long time and was normally loaded up with water brought about by monsoon rains. It turned into a well-known swimming spot due to the natural charm of the ravine. The water is turquoise blue, and the canyon walls are steep. You could go cliff-diving from the highest point of the canyon into the water in the old years.
In previous years, this old quarry was a sanctuary for hikers searching for a way to spend the day. A little bistro was situated in the location, and it cost 50 baht to enter, along with a complimentary beverage.
In August 2016, the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon water park was established. It provides locals and tourists an inflatable training course, slides, wakeboarding, and a little zipline. Though things had changed since they opened, the Grand Canyon is still a great place to visit with increased entrance fees!
7. Have fun at Think Park
Established back in 2014, Think Park is a fantastic assortment of individual shops selling garments, cleansers, high-quality merchandise, and remarkable woodworks. This is the best spot to look for presents or stroll around and experience the absolute quality handcrafted things in Chiang Mai.
If you are craving some sweet treats, visit a local cafe that offers some stunning desserts and cakes. You can also sit outside the cafe and adore the cat with a tote that is a 3-meter tall statue. There are a couple of bars offering free live music for locals and tourists to enjoy at night!
Recommended reading: 15 Fun Things to Do In Bangkok
8. Climb the Sticky Waterfall
Bua Thong Waterfall is a small, charming, and multi-layered cascade made along with beautiful limestone and aqua-marine deposits. It has been nicknamed ‘the Sticky Waterfall’ because the limestone makes enough grating to prevent you from slipping, making it simple to climb up the cascade with the assistance of ropes. The limestone is coarse, but it isn’t painful to step on, and it forms an amusing pattern of bubbles. Going to the waterfall is for free; however, it is entirely far north of the city.
9. Enjoy the river with a bamboo raft
Like river tubing, you can chill on a hot day by skimming on a bamboo raft! Imagine drifting on a rustic raft made of bamboo on a river that ruptures through the countryside of Thailand. Though this experience is less than an hour from Chiang Mai, you will feel a world away from the city. There are a couple of cheap bamboo rafting day trip tours that you can search for on the internet. They will specify the steps on how to get there, the amount it costs, and what things to bring!
10. Party with locals at the Songkran celebrations
Songkran, also known as Thai New Year, is commended in April. However, the specific date of the celebration changes, as it adopts the lunar calendar. In case you want to visit Chiang Mai for Songkran, prepare for a celebration you will always remember! Songkran goes on for three days, and the entire city cooperates.
Everybody brings water guns and containers. It is absolutely impossible to stroll down a road in the city without getting wet! Just grab a waterproof phone pouch, and you are in for an extraordinary time! You can hear music played on every corner, and impulsive dance parties will blow up in the city, and everybody, including tourists and local people, meet up with happy faces.
Start Your Journey In Chiang Mai!
What are you waiting for? Book a flight and pack your bags now! Chiang Mai is waiting for you, and this city never fails to amaze its tourists. From its notable majestic temples to its jungle-like countryside and its exquisite street food!
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