Chiang Mai is a gold mine of experiences, there are thousands of options vying for your attention. From overindulging on Khao Soi to cliff diving at Hang Dong be sure to schedule extra time here– it’s easy to want to stay! I love the city and there is always something different to do.
Visiting the Temples of Chiang Mai
“…The magical relic was placed on the back of a sacred white elephant who wandered the jungle until he reached the top of the mountain. It then trumpeted three times, knelt down, and died. The process marked the spot where the temple was later founded.” Learning legends like this is what makes visiting the temples of Thailand so worth while, and with over 300 Buddhist temples, Chiang Mai is the perfect place to start.
The city is surrounded by ancient walls that once fortified the old town and this is where you will find many of the temples including Wat Phra Singh,Wat Bupparam and Wat Chedi Luang. All within relative walking distance, however if you wanted to speed things up there are plenty of tuk-tuks and songthaews around.
The most iconic of all the temples being Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. You would have undoubtedly have seen those touristy photographs standing at the bottom of the 306-steps.
I would highly suggest visiting this temple very early in the morning, to avoid the crowds especially if you want some decent photographs. As apart of the *viator tour, I was here at 6.45am and you can already see a few people ahead of me in the photo.
In order to fully experience Wat Phra That Doi Suthep book a guided tour, your guide may even take you to amazing lesser known temples afterwards.
I’m incredibly happy that i booked a guided tour of this temple, my guide eloquently described every aspect, described the legends and offered to take my photograph, and then laughed at my awkward poses.
Overall i think we spent over an hour and a half here, whereas if I came independently I could imagine myself spending 20 minutes wandering around aimlessly, admiring the architecture but not really appreciating the history.
See a full account of my time at Doi Suthep here
Shopping at the Night Bazaar
With cashmere scarves, scented candles and corny “I ♥ Thailand” shirts galore, Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is the ideal place to pick up your souvenirs and gifts for people at home. Stalls straddle Chang Klan Road selling almost everything you can possibly think of.
While I’m not a huge shopper, I did enjoy strolling through the Chiang Mai market streets, decorated with pretty lights and colours, people-watching and picking up haggling techniques.
Haggling Technique #1
The Trojan Horse
Achieved by hiding the price you want to pay in an outrageously low price. Then when this is rejected, proceed to walk away from the stall. Nine times out of ten, the owner will stop you and will “compromise” to the price you really wanted all along.
The Night Bazaar is open every night from 6pm and this market is particularly geared towards tourists. The Anusarn Market is located near the Night Bazaar and is open from 5.00 p.m. until midnight, it hosts even more stalls, massage parlours and also a lady boy show every evening.
I found the night markets in Chiang Mai much more relaxed compared to Bangkok, where vendors were a little more pushy.