Top 5 attractions in Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep, photo by Cindy Andrie

Bangkok is usually considered to be the cultural and (definitely) the nightlife capital of Thailand, but not all travelers enjoy the constant flurry and clamor of the city, the bright neon lights and the rush. If you want to experience a quieter, more down to earth facet of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to start. The fifth largest city in the country is large enough so that anyone can find something to their tastes, but much greener and less agitated than Bangkok. With its walled historical center, temples, museums and gardens, Chiang Mai is a delightful travel destination where you simply can’t get bored. Here are our picks for the top 5 attractions in Chiang Mai.

Doi Suthep

Although this magnificent Buddhist Temple is not located within the bounds of the city proper, it is one of the most important landmarks to see for everyone visiting Chiang Mai. Perched on the slopes of a mountain, the temple is plainly visible from the city, and is reachable by climbing 300 steps. There are several other attractions near Doi Suthep, like the Bhuping Royal Palace and a hilltribe village.

Hilltribe Research Institute Museum

photo by RubyGoes on Flickr

If you’re interested in the culture and history of Thailand’s hilltribe people (Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Yao, Hmong, Karen, Lua, Khamu, and H’tin), the this anthropological museum will answer your questions. The museum has exhibits of photographs, tools, clothes, musical instruments, etc that describe the day to day life of the hilltribes.

Dokmai Garden

There are many interesting parks and gardens in this green city, but Dokmai is very possibly one of the most alluring places in Chiang Mai. There are over 120 fruit plants and trees in the garden, about as many types of vegetables, some of which you’ve probably never seen before, and about 200 orchid species.

Elephant Nature Park

photo by Eli Duke on Flickr

Not far from Chiang Mai you can find one of the most interesting and responsible elephant sanctuary in Thailand. The gentle animals of the sanctuary are not the kind of creatures who perform tricks of entertain visitors, and you have the chance to know them as they are, with their different personalities and preferences. You can visit the sanctuary for a day, but you can even volunteer for a week or more.


Even if you don’t want to buy anything, a visit to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is a must. This huge outdoor market has everything you could ever dream of, from counterfeit jeans to electronics, souvenirs and hand crafted objects. however, if you want to see where most of the locals do their shopping, head to Warorot Market where you will find an astounding array of fabrics, dried fruit, tea and spices. If you want to pick up some souvenirs while sightseeing, Warorot is definitely one of the top 5 attractions in Chiang Mai.

Muay Thai at the Thapae Boxing Stadium

photo by superwebdeveloper on Flickr

Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, it is similar to Indochinese kickboxing, and to the uninitiated it might look like regular boxing. If you like combat sports, Thapae Boxing Stadium hosts matches several times a week, and it is usually packed with spectators. Grab some food and a drink, lay back in your seat and watch the fights along with the cheering crowd.

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