Chiang Mai, Thailand’s cultural hub, is a wonderful place which you shouldn’t miss on your travels around Thailand. Although three days may be not enough in order to explore the city and its surroundings properly, it’s still possible to get a glimpse of the fantastic sights and its unique culture here. So, let’s get down to the point, here is our action-packed itinerary on how to spend three days in Chiang Mai:
Day 1 – Discover the former Lanna Kingdom
Your first 24 hours have to be spent around all the cultural highlights of Chiang Mai. Start the day early in the morning with a trip to Chiang Mai Gate Morning Market; sample local dishes from the vendors and immerse to the vibrant atmosphere the market offers. Whether you are a buddying -or professional photographer, this market offers plenty of photo opportunities for you. Continue your trip towards Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where the city’s best vantage point awaits you. The temple is not one of the most beautiful Chiang Mai has to offers but it’s also one of the city’s signature landmarks and among the top attractions here. Your temple experience continues with a visit to Wat Chedi Luang which is from significant importance as it housed the mystic Emerald Buddha in in the 15th century for a brief period before it was taken to Laos (it’s now at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok). You can even participate at a ‘Monk Chat’ here and ask a monk anything about Buddhism (it’s free). After such as busy morning, it’s time to relax and indulge to northern Thai cuisine at Aroon Rai, near Thapae Gate in the Old Town (tip: try its signature dish ‘Khao Soi’). Spend the afternoon by strolling around the old town before rounding up your first day with a tantalizing Khantoke Dinner at Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre.
Day 2- Get a glimpse of local life in Chiang Mai
Your second day starts again early; this time with a Muay Thai training session at one of the various gyms around the city. Also known as ‘’the art of the eight limbs”, Muay Thai is for Thais what soccer is for other nations. Classes usually start around 07:00 am and last for 90-120 minutes. After the training, it’s time for a quick recovery – what would be better than a real Thai massage? Although Chiang Mai is filled with plenty of massage parlours, we recommend a special one for you – a ‘Blind Massage’. A blind massage is a traditional Thai massage conducted by blind therapists. The difference here is that the pressure is way more different (and stronger) than from ‘normal’ therapists. The spa is located near Rachdamnoen Road (where the Sunday Night Market happens) and although not of the fancy variety, it’s definitely a unique (and healing) experience. After gaining enough energy for your next endeavours, it’s now time to take a trip to Chiang Mai’s Chinatown with the dynamic Warorot Market as its centre piece. The Chinatown here is not comparable in size with those in Bangkok or New York, but still worth a visit. It’s bustling and colourful and provides on top thousands of great opportunities to take pictures. Try some of the delicious fresh dishes which are cooked, fried and grilled here such as Sai Oua, a spicy sausage, typical for the Chiang Mai region. Moreover, you can get many items and souvenirs here which are significantly cheaper than elsewhere around the town. Complete your day with an unforgettable dinner experience at Sukonta Moo Kata, Chiang Mai’s biggest restaurant – it can fit up to 2000 people!
Day 3 – Discover the unique experiences of Chiang Mai
Start your final day with a cappuccino and waffles at Ristr8o, a small but absolutely stunning coffee shop at Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai’s hip and trendy area. Don’t be wondered if you may think at first you’re wrong and landed in a bar – the rock music and bar atmosphere is what Ristr8o is all about. Once you get enough caffeine for your day, continue walking around Nimmanhaemin Road and its ‘sois’ (alleys or sideroads). The scenic area is filled with lots of boutiques and small souvenir shops, perfect to purchase a few more gifts or souvenirs. And if you should feel hungry, this area provides an abundance of restaurants and bistros. At noon, head over to Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim, a small town 20-25 minutes north of Chiang Mai. Tiger Kingdom provides you the once-in-a-lifetime-chance to encounter these fantastic creatures up close. Choose between baby tigers, medium sized or adult ones (or all together). You have about 15-20 minutes with the tigers in their cage (of course with a keeper) but feel free to walk afterwards around the rest of the compound at your own pace. Once finished, just walk over to the Elephant Poopoopaper Park an exciting museum park where you can learn about the recycling process of elephant poo into paper (yep you read right). Back in Chiang Mai, visit the legendary Ladyboy Cabaret Show at Anusarn Market at night – but don’t worry these shows are full of comedy and music and a guaranteed great way to end your three days in Chiang Mai!