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Chiang Mai is a city full of adventure and wonder. It's got great food, affordable drinks, a hopping nightlife, and fascinating cultural attractions. And it's all available for a price that's hard to beat! In a nutshell, Chiang Mai is a dream come true for low-cost travellers and nomadic workers. But what if you wish to venture outside the city borders but need help knowing where to start? Well, you're in luck!
The best day trips originate from Chiang Mai. This is because incredible destinations are within easy transport distance of this northern city that is surrounded by thick forest and situated on the banks of the Ping River. This being understood, we had to compile a list of the top day trips you can take from this incredible Thai city.
There's something for everyone in the following recommendations, whether you're in the mood for a wild outdoor adventure, a close encounter with friendly animals, or something entirely out of the ordinary. Pick any experience here, and you're bound to have a great day!
Take a full day away from the city to explore the beautiful Chiang Dao Valley and all it offers. This excursion is a quadruple whammy - water fun, jungle immersion, caves and a temple sightseeing experience all in one! On this fun tour, you'll take a kayak out on the Mae Ping River and float through the jungle, taking in the breathtaking views of Chiang Dao before descending into a spectacular cave system to visit the Buddhist temples of Chiang Dao Cave.
Sunrise is already stunning over the mountains of Chiang Mai, but it's on another level, seen from the basket of a hot air balloon! On this adventure, you'll start your day with a hot air balloon ride over Chiang Mai's beautiful landscape at sunrise, then round off the experience with a relaxing massage in a spa's tropical garden.
Flying over Chiang Mai's picturesque countryside, you'll take in the sights before landing for a Champagne toast and breakfast buffet after floating above rice farms and forests from above. Then, proceed to a spa in ancient Chiang Mai for a consultation, treatment, and lunch in the spa's café. The company will accept only groups of 12 to guarantee each guest receives the individualized attention they deserve.
Take a half-day or full-day cooking lesson in Chiang Mai, where you'll be picked up and dropped off at your hotel, and taught how to prepare delicious, traditional Thai dishes.
As part of the experience, you'll go with the instructor to pick out ingredients at the local market. Then, your teacher (a skilled chef) will guide you through each step. And you can enjoy the dish you prepared at the end of the class.
Enjoy a guided hike around Doi Inthanon National Park, stopping to see a waterfall and the Twin (King and Queen) Pagodas and visit a Karen village and Hmong Market on this small-group excursion from Chiang Mai. It also includes a delicious complimentary Thai lunch.
With this tour, you get three popular attractions for one incredible price.
First, they take you to the Meaklang Elephant Sky Camp (Living Green Foundation), a 5-star rated Ethical Elephant Sanctuary, where you can meet several sweet elephants. You'll have a chance to admire the cute animals up close. (Hint: you should bring extra clothes and a towel if you plan on participating in the elephant bathing activities.)
Second, you'll go to Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest point, and see the majestic King and Queen pagodas, then visit a nearby Hmong (a mountain people) settlement.
Third, you'll take a stroll along the Kew Mae Pan nature trail, named "Heaven Trail" by locals for its breathtaking scenery. (Note: Kew Mae Pan is closed to visitors between June and October, so you'll go hiking at Pha Dok Siew instead.)
Take in the fantastic vistas of Chiang Rai and let yourself be fascinated by their beauty. This temple tour shows you one of the reasons the lesser-visited Thai city is well worth your time and effort.
Chiang Rai Province's noteworthy White Temple (Wat Rong Khun ) and Blue Temple (Wat Rong Sear Tean) mark a significant departure from the traditional Thai golden temples. They are a fascinating addition to the province's rich cultural heritage.
After seeing these stunning structures, you'll visit the Baan Dam Museum to learn more about the wooden art that gives this modest village its prominence (The Black House). The Black House was designed and built by renowned Thai artist Thawan Duchanee, and it features an extensive collection of the artist's orthodox and unorthodox Buddhist sculptures, exhibitions, and installations.
If you love Thai food, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. Join a native for a street food tour of Chiang Mai's vibrant night markets. This small-group excursion is done by walking and songthaew. You will go to the night market and try several different types of Thai food. It includes pick up and drop off at your hotel. A vegetarian version is available.
View a Muay Thai fight in Chiang Mai at Thapae Boxing Stadium, where you may choose from regular, ringside, or VIP seating. The stadium hosts world-class boxers, and if you book in advance, you avoid the long lineups that usually form outside. You may even get a chance to take selfies with fighters ringside after their battles.
Located just outside Chiang Mai, the Skyline zipline tour is a unique way to see the northern Thai jungles from a unique perspective. This tour is perfect for adventurers since it provides access to 24 ziplines and four suspension bridges! Also included are hotel pickup and drop-off and a delicious Thai lunch.
If you're more of a terrestrial thrill seeker, you can satisfy your need for adventure with this attraction. It entails exciting ATV tours suitable for novice and seasoned riders. Riding an ATV allows you to explore remote areas inaccessible to larger vehicles. All necessary safety gear, a Western-style lunch and transportation to and from your accommodation are provided.
The ziplines cover aerial adventurers, while ATV tours cover grounded thrill seekers. This tour covers the aquatic folks. On this full-day rafting trip from Chiang Mai, you get to experience some of the country's best whitewater rapids. So strap your life vest on and enjoy the day in the wilderness of Northern Thailand. Relax and know you're in good hands. The professional guides will keep you safe while you raft down class III and IV rapids through the jungle.
So, this option is not a day trip choice, but it's so amazing we had to add it to the list. This tour is for those that adore being in nature and want to experience authentic Thai culture.
The Chiang Dao mountains in the highlands north of Chiang Mai are famous for their spectacular natural landscape and traditional hill tribal communities. This rigorous 3-day journey takes you away from the typical tourist routes, through beautiful mountain scenery, bamboo groves, and jungle trails, and into the quaint towns and communities of the Maetang River valley, where you'll stay in locals' homes and feast on authentic Thai cuisine.
During this journey, you'll row a kayak for two hours (six kilometres) down the river at night to reach the heart of Chiang Mai. From the comfort of your kayak, you can see the city of Chiang Mai come to life after dark.
The distorted reflections glittering beneath your watercraft will enchant you as you glide over the water. The play of light rays is fascinating. Restaurants and nightclubs along the riverbanks are decked out with lighting, and music reverberates off the water as you pass under festively illuminated bridges. It is a unique and beautiful experience not to be missed.
These recommendations are just some of the many tours and attractions you can experience from Chiang Mai. If you have time, you should do as many as you can! Take advantage of the possibilities and your choice to visit this wonderful Thai region.