Thailand’s northern capital, Chiang Mai, is the country’s second most-visited city, yet in terms of size it does not compare to Bangkok. With its smaller size and population, Chiang Mai, has a lot in its favor for tourists and expats alike. The Ping River runs through the town and Chiang Mai has over 300 Wats, or Temples, to explore.
Home to the prestigious Chiang Mai University, the city has quite a cosmopolitan feel when compared to other Thai provinces and a lively entertainment scene accompanied by some of the best eating in northern Thailand – you will never be hungry in town!
The best way to explore Chiang Mai is with a motorbike. If you have never driven one, take some time to learn and be safe. Most of the places listed in this book are easily reached with a motorbike or in case you’re in a group by Tuktuk or Songthaew (Red pickup Trucks).
1) 2,000 People Buffet Experience
Address: Sukontha Buffet – 46/1 Huay Kaew Road . MAP
Sukontha Buffet is a massive hot pot restaurant located behind the Hillside Condo Plaza. It is said that over 2,000 people can eat here at the same time, and there will be almost no foreigners in sight. Just you, 2,000 locals, and a lot of delicious hot pots cooking under your nose. If you are a big fan of hanging with locals and eating street food together, then this is the place for you. A live band entertains diners with Thai country music and jokes. Tip: If you can’t find this place, tell your driver: Sukonthan MOO-GA-TA.
2) Climb Up the Sticky Waterfalls
Address: Bua Tong Waterfall, MAP
You have probably swam in several waterfalls during your life, but have you climbed up one? Bua Tong Waterfall, or the ‘Sticky Waterfall’, is unlike any waterfall you have ever seen. The high levels of calcium carbonate in the water give the rocks traction, and while they look slippery, you can actually walk up them with no problem. There is grassy park area at the top of the fall to sit, eat and drink. You can access the fall from the top, but it is better to take the stairs down to the bottom then climb up – the view of the treetops and mountains is much more rewarding when you work for it a little! The waterfall is about an hour outside Chiang Mai on highway 1001 heading toward Phrao, inside the Mae Taeng National Forest Reserve.
3) Blues Open Mic Night
Boy Blues Bar is located inside the night bazaar on Chang Klan Road near the Ping River. A very pleasant place to spend an evening. Boy and his Band are great musicians, and everybody who joins them knows how to play just as well. Lots of older farangs hang out here, and Monday is open mic night, so if you want to hear some good players, then find the Boy Blues Bar and enjoy. Not all blues, it is an eclectic mix of classic and soft rock, reggae and blues all thrown together. Really friendly vibe, comfy seats and reasonably priced drinks.
4) Tantric Sex Workshop
According to Tantric teachings sex for less than two hours is a quickie and not to be tolerated. Get your Sting on and partake in a week-long tantric course at Chiang Mai’s Body and Mind Healing School. They have courses for both men and women with extremely professional teachers. This may be a great place to improve yourself and lead to a more happy and powerfully fulfilling life. Contact the school in advance or check the website to know the dates for the next courses.
5) Become a Panda Keeper
One of the main attractions of the Chiang Mai Zoo are the incredibly cute pandas. If you are a big fan of these incredibly sweet animals you can apply to become a keeper and help to take care of them at the Zoo for two days. For 5000 Baht you will be allowed to feed, clean and play with them.
6) Chat With a Monk
Address: Wat Chedi Luang – 103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh ,MAP
An amazing opportunity to interact with Buddhist Monks is through the many Monk Chat programs at different locations around Chiang Mai. Monk Chats are informal discussions where you sit at a round table and talk with prep school age Monks who are usually accompanied by their teacher. Monk Chats is a great way not only to be part of a fun exchange, but is also important in helping the young Monks get better at speaking English.
You can talk about anything you want as there is no set script. Most of the boys will have cheat sheets to ask you questions since they are still learning English and do not quite have the confidence yet.
Wat Chedi Luang’s location and constant availability makes it one of the best places to join a Monk Chat. It is very easy to find and takes place at the outdoor tables on the Northside of the Temple Complex. There are typically six-seven large tables and up to fifty young Monks waiting to talk.
Chat Hours: Daily 9 A.M. -6 P.M., most abundant on Saturday & Sunday Mornings.
7) Breath of Nature and Visit Cherry Blossom
Address: Khun Chang Kian – Highland Research and Training Center, Suthep-Pui National Park, MAP
This is where the Cherry Blossom or Sakura flower can be seen in Thailand. This place is very well known among Thai people to see the Cherry Blossoms during the Winter months. Khun Chang Kian is also good to explore the nature and relax when it is not blossom season but be mindful that the the road to get there is very narrow and dangerous year around.
The Research Center on site planted over a hundred of Cherry trees to attract tourist visits during cold season in January till the end of February. The Center is under operation of Agricultural Faculty of Chiang Mai University and has a Coffee plantation that focuses on the research of Arabica Coffee.
If you are heading to Chiang Mai get your local travel Guide here.
We selected 55 places we consider that are some of the essential areas to visit while in Chiang Mai. Aside from sightseeing, the best places to visit for meals and nightlife are also included.
We hope you enjoy your trip to Thailand and that this book will help you see this unique destination from the eyes and perspective of a local.