Chiang Mai is a northern city located in the mountainous regions of Thailand. Compared to Bangkok, it is much more easy-going, peaceful, and beautiful. We spent our three days in Chiang Mai visiting temples, conversing with monks, observing elephants in their natural habitats, and simply enjoying our laid back itinerary.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about spending three days in Chiang Mai without rushing your way through your visit.
Where To Stay
We stayed at a nice little hotel called The Inside House. It was in the perfect area of Chiang Mai – walking distance from pretty much everywhere we went. I loved the boutique design and all of the intricate details that made the place so pretty, and of course the rooftop pool which we visited every day. Oh… and their breakfast is delicious! I would definitely recommend staying here while in Chiang Mai.
Sights & Activities
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was one of my favorite parts of the trip and a place that made Chiang Mai so special to me. This temple, about a 30-minute taxi ride up a winding mountain, is a complex of luminous Thai structures, with golden buddhas and decorative ornaments scattered around. Everywhere you look is gold! You have to walk up a huge flight of stairs to reach the temple itself, which felt so sacred. There was also a beautiful lookout at the edge of the temple, overlooking the city and all of the nature surrounding it.
Wat Chedi Luang
We woke up bright and early to go to Wat Chedi Luang. Unlike other temples in Chiang Mai, at Wat Chedi Luang there is a place where you can chat with monks and ask questions about their daily routines, their studies, and anything you’re interested in. In return, they can ask questions about our life and we found that they are particularly interested to know what living in America is like. This was a really cool experience for me to be able to connect with someone who has a totally different life than me. I would absolutely recommend this.
The architecture of the temple was beautiful and different from all of the other temples we’d visited in Thailand so far.
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh is yet another amazing Buddhist temple complex to walk around. Here you can find more incredible Thai architecture, tilework, and paintings. I especially loved the ancient drawings of Thai history on the wall.
Elephant Nature Park
Elephant sanctuaries are possibly what makes Chiang Mai so famous. Of course, we wanted to visit one, but we did research to make sure we were going to one that treats their elephants respectfully and with total care. The Elephant Nature Park is a rescue center for elephants who come from bad situations to get treated and cared for to get back to full health. In the park, you are guided to different areas, taught how to feed the animals, get a chance to be close with them during their daily activities, and in the end, you’re offered a completely delicious Thai vegetarian buffet. The best part of this experience to me was just getting a chance to observe these creatures in their natural habitat. It was the perfect way to see elephants in Chiang Mai.
May Kaidee Cooking Class
There’s no better way to indulge in the amazing Thai cuisine than to take a local cooking class. Our cooking class run by May Kaidee was entirely vegetarian and we learned how to make a variety of traditional Thai dishes. It was really fun to learn the different recipes, methods, and ingredients that go into making some of the tastiest dishes in the world.
Where To Eat!
David’s Kitchen was the only upscale restaurant we went to during our trip. It had exceptional food, but the thing about the place that stood out most was how each and every guest was treated like a VIP by David himself. We were asked about our travels, given recommendations in Chiang Mai, and just had a delicious meal.
Kat’s Kitchen is a super local hole-in-the-wall. We walked to the place from our hotel and had the most delicious khao soi and papaya salad, which are the dishes Chiang Mai is known for. I loved this place because it was very down-to-earth and was the neighborhood favorite. This is a great place to stop by for lunch if you want a true experience.
Woo Cafe was a great little dinner spot nearby our hotel. We all had delicious food and enjoyed looking inside the flower market which was attached to the restaurant. All in all, it’s a nice restaurant for a casual night.
Ginger & Kafe
As our last meal in Chiang Mai, we went to Ginger & Kafe, a very decadent restaurant that served great local dishes. I was very pleased with my khao soi, which had become one of my new all-time favorite dishes.
On Cloud Nine
Unlike all of my other food recommendations, On Cloud Nine was an Instagram worthy cafe my sister found when doing research on the city. The place itself is very out-there (it’s painted entirely pink), and their drinks and little treats are very extra. My sister and I both got a unicorn boba that steamed, thanks to the dry ice. It definitely wasn’t the most local place, but it sure was delicious.
Cheevit Cheeva is another little cafe we found while walking down the street. Because of the heat, we wandered inside and treated ourselves to a delicious glass of boba. It was the best way to deal with the weather.
That wraps up my guide to Chiang Mai! Stay tuned for upcoming posts on other incredible cities in Southeast Asia.
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