The fact that Chiang Mai has plenty to of things to offer is no secret. Whether you’re looking for romantic or action-filled activities, cultural sights or historical places, Thailand’s second city got it all. But are there also free things to do in Chiang Mai?
The answer is simply, YES! Unlike Bangkok for example, where you have to pay an entry fee for almost everything, Chiang Mai enjoys the liberty to offer many free things for its visitors and residents. From cultural spots over events to parks you can find yourself easily enjoying a day without paying a baht. But always remember, as long as sights and places are respected and no one takes advantage of it, the city of Chiang Mai can continue offering lots of free things to the people.
Let’s jump right in – here are the 5 best free things to do in Chiang Mai:
That may sounds odd first, but once you start travelling to other places around Thailand, you will quickly notice that an entry free for temples is common. With over 300 hundred temples scattered around town plus the lost ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, it’s hard to decide where to go first. We recommend starting with the Silver Temple at Wualai Road and Wat Umong near Canal Road.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the shiny temple on top of the Doi Suthep mountain, is currently the only temple where you have pay entry (45 THB), followed soon by Wat Chedi Luang located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old Town
Love exercising outdoors? Then Chiang Mai is the right place for you. Chiang Mai’s mild temperatures (except February to May when the hot season strikes) allow flawless outdoor workouts especially during mid-mornings and afternoons. Almost all parks, regardless what size, offer gym machines for free usage. In addition, the city offers many trails that are perfect for running. Buak Hard Public Park at the southwestern corner of the Old Town or the reservoir at Chiang Mai University, are two great places for exercising.
- Monk Chat
Monk Chats are offered at several temples around town, encouraging young monks to practice their English in exchange to teach foreigners about Buddhism. Everyone is welcomed to try, there is no requirement to set an appointment; just stop by and say hello. Wat Suan Dok (located at Suthep Road to the west of the Old Town) or Wat Chedi Luang (right in the centre of the Old Town) are two fantastic places, as both temples also share their grounds with Buddhism universities where young Thais study Thai culture and religion.
- Doi Suthep Pui National Park
You don’t have to travel far to get into the green, just take a Songthaew or your own scooter and drive to Huay Kaew Waterfall near Chiang Mai Zoo where the park starts. While you can of course drive around the mountain and park why not planning an epic hiking day? Start at the above mentioned waterfall and follow the trail up to the top of Doi Suthep. You will hike along smaller and bigger trails, some dense jungle at times, the hidden temple Wat Palad, several waterfalls and great viewpoints that offer fantastic vistas of Chiang Mai. The hike can be a bit demanding at times, therefore take lots water and snacks with you.
- Enjoy Jazz
Love the combination of live music and meeting cool people? Welcome to Northgate Jazz-Op. This rather small but extremely popular bar sits near the north gate and has nightly live music with occasional jam sessions. The artists here are a mix of new and established folks, mainly from Chiang Mai and its surrounding. Since the entrance is free, the bar is quickly packed; don’t be wondered if you arrive and see crowds partying on the sidewalk, it happens almost every night. Entry is free but booze not.
- (Bonus) Children’s Day
Every year on the second Saturday in January, Thailand celebrates nationwide the Children’s Day and offers free or massively discounted entry to many places like parks, museums, zoos and theme parks. Chiang Mai’s main draw on Children’s Day is undoubtedly the action-filled air show that is held around the airport and yes, it’s free to visit.