Huay Kaew Road is a long stretch which connects the Old Town with Doi Suthep and is one of Chiang Mai’s main roads. Not only can you find numerous apartment complexes here but also a variety of markets, shops, cafés and an array of other attractions. Let’s take closer look at what expects you there:
At the foot of Doi Suthep, just a few meters after the entrance of Chiang Mai Zoo, comes a small park with a waterfall as its centrepiece. This little park is especially popular among local families that come around in the afternoon or on the weekend to relax or to have a picnic. This wonderful waterfall consists of several tiers with many smaller pools, just big enough to sit around and dip your feet inside. There are many eateries around the park’s parking place.
Location: a few metres after Chiang Mai Zoo entrance. Open: always.
Although this market seems to solely target young fashion oriented Thais, it’s also an interesting yet not well-known market for foreigners. You can find dozens of vendors selling everything from T-Shirts, sunglasses, slippers, bags over shoes and pants to undergarments and beachwear. A large dining complex with various food stalls offering Thai and western cuisine can be also found here. It is commonly referred to as a student market, so you can be certain that the things sold here are reasonably priced. As soon as the stalls open, the seats are quickly filled with hungry university students and locals. Spending time here provides an excellent opportunity to interact with locals.
Similarly to other Thai marketplaces, food plays an essential role here. There are a large number of Thai, Korean, and Japanese vendors selling great prepared food at low costs. Thais adore dessert, so it should come as no surprise that numerous merchants would invite you to indulge your sweet craving.
Location: Huay Kaew Rd, opposite entrance of Chiang Mai University Open: 18:00- 22:00
Kad Suan Kaew Mall
One of Chiang Mai’s largest shopping malls. It’s by far not the most modern one and the selection of shops is more okay than satisfying. This shopping centre has a department store, supermarket, bowling alley, and a multitude of specialty retailers to meet all of your shopping requirements. Nevertheless, if you’re in need of a mobile phone, tablet or any electronic gadget / accessories, go to the third floor where dozens of shops and vendors can be found with reasonable prices and room for haggling. The mall’s front square is often used for markets and shows.
Beginning on the ground floor of Kad Suan Kaew, there is a Tops Supermarket, pharmacies, massage parlours, and other food merchants. There is a large food court that provides a variety of inexpensive Thai meals. Ascend the stairs to find an abundance of retail establishments, including businesses selling men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, shoes, luggage, and handbags, as well as hair accessories, jewellery, and makeup. A major Watson’s drugstore is present. Central Department is a huge department store located in Kad Suan Kaew. This three-story store carries apparel, bags, and footwear, as well as housewares and electronics. Central Department sells kitchenware, pillows, bedding, fans, and hairdryers in addition to all other home furnishings.
A bowling alley with around 20 lanes is located at the top of the mall and is open between 11 a.m. and midnight. Three games cost approximately 120 THB, including shoe rental. There are beverages available for purchase, and you should bring your own socks. In addition, there are numerous eateries in Kad Suan Kaew, such as Pizza Hut, Sizzler, KFC, and Black Canyon Coffee, to name a few.
The zoo is one of the largest in Thailand, taking several hectares around the slopes of the Doi Suthep hill, just a few metres after the entrance of Chiang Mai University. Chiang Mai Zoo reminds one more of a safari park than a traditional zoo not only because of its size, but also due to the lush forest terrain. It is divided into several areas and is home to animals such as zebras, elephants, penguins, giraffes, flamingos, orang-utans, elephants, koalas and even a panda. The huge panda Lin Hui is one of the most popular attractions.
The zoo is best visited on foot due to its mountainous terrain; nevertheless, there are shuttle buses that transport visitors from one portion of the zoo to the next. There are two free shows scheduled throughout the day at the Chiang Mai Zoo, including a Seal show at 10.30am and 2pm (Monday through Friday) and 10.30am, 1.30pm and 3.00pm (Saturday and Sunday), as well as an Animal Show at 11am and 3pm (Monday through Friday) and 11.00am, 2.00pm and 3.30pm (Saturday and Sunday). The zoo also contains a large aquarium with a world-famous 133-meter-long water tunnel that simulates life under the sea. This aquarium offers an abundance of entertaining activities, such as Koi feeding, stingray feeding, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
It should be noted that paying the zoo’s admission ticket does not grant access to every attraction within the zoo. The following attractions are subject to a surcharge: Panda costs 100THB, Snow Dome costs 150THB, and the Shuttle Bus costs 20THB. The aquarium is also priced at 520THB. From the ancient city, you can take a red truck (songthaew) to the zoo for approximately 40THB. Otherwise, a tuk-tuk will cost approximately 100 THB, depending on your ability to negotiate. If you are driving your own scooter, parking is available for approximately 20THB per day per bike.
Location: 100 Huaykaew Road Open: daily, 08:00-17:00 Entry: 150 THB per adult, 70 THB per child.
Covering an area of 265 square kilometres, this park is mainly famous for Wat Doi Stuthep, a magnificent temple on the top of Doi Suthep. There are two further peaks, Doi Buak Ha and Doi Pui, whereat the latter one is the highest at 1685m. The park features several waterfalls, trails for trekking, lush forests and great viewpoints. Visit the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park waterfalls, including Huai Rap Sadet Waterfall, Monthathan Waterfall, and Dtaat Mook Waterfall, while you are there. Additionally, many people visit the national park to go hiking or camping. Yod Doi Pui Campsite is located roughly 4 kilometres north of Bhubing Palace and is an ideal location for campers. There are restrooms, food stands, and an information centre that hires out mountain bikes.
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is not too much of a drive from Chiang Mai’s Old City, making it an ideal destination for a day spent outdoors.
Location: from Huay Kaew Waterfall onwards, up the mountain. Open: daily, 09:00-17:00
Huay Kaew Arboretum
Located between the entrance of Chiang Mai University and Chiang Mai Zoo comes this lush garden with a wide array of trees and flowers. The Huay Kaew Arboretum is a nice place for walking and relaxing. It is a popular location for jogging and running among the locals due to the vast grassy spaces and tropical plants and trees that provide shade from the blazing heat. This park is a wonderful location to unwind even if you do not jog or run!
The park also contains built-in exercise equipment, such as pull-up bars, balance beams, sit-up platforms, and step-up pillars made of concrete. There are signs around the equipment that depict the proper way to utilise each piece of equipment. In addition, there are vendors at the park’s entrance that serve inexpensive Thai appetisers and refreshments. There is also a covered seating area with benches, perfect for guests who want to relax or joggers who need to take a break.
Ang Kaew Reservoir
This beautiful lake is situated on the grounds of Chiang Mai University but open for visitors as well. The surroundings are great for walking, relaxing and to simply watch the world pass by. A popular café, Coffee Man, is located right by the lake and serves various coffee hot and cold specialities. This manmade lake is a favourite morning jogging route for residents and expatriates due to its flat roads and ethereal, quiet atmosphere.
A visit to this location will also get you a view of the magnificent Suthep Mountain, which stands out against the greenery. This location is highly recommended for anyone seeking a tranquil place to unwind. Bring a picnic blanket, drinks, and snacks, and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. You do not need to jog or run along this path to appreciate its tranquilly.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Also widely known as just Wat Doi Suthep, this magical place is Chiang Mai’s most popular temple and offers fantastic views over the city. The temple is open to visitors, and Red Trucks (songthaews) make regular journeys there. Uber drivers will also make the 20-minute trip to the summit of the mountain from Chiang Mai. You can reach it easily from Huay Kaew, just continue driving the road straight on and up the hill for about 15 minutes, you can’t miss it. Otherwise, park your bike around Huay Kaew Waterfall and take a red Songthaew for 50 THB.
Since the 14th century, Wat Pra That (a “Wat” is a temple) has functioned as a Buddhist monastery atop Doi Suthep (the mountain). From the parking lot, 300 steps lead to the temple. Take the elevator trolley from the carpark (placed to the right of the steps) for around 50 THB to avoid the ascent (includes admission). Once you reach the summit, take your time exploring the grounds and taking in the vista. You will have an unimpeded, panoramic view of Chiang Mai city, and there are multiple levels to explore surrounding the temple.
Location: top of Doi Suthep. Open: 06:00-18:00 Admission fee: 30 THB, Trolley Elevator: 20 THB
Bhubing Palace serves as the winter residence for the Thai Royal Family and is located on Doi Buak Ha, not far from Wat Doi Suthep. The palace consists of several buildings and beautiful gardens. This royal home attracts travellers from all over the world, giving them a glimpse into the Thai royal lifestyle and highlighting the rich cultural legacy of the inhabitants. In addition, the royal family remained here during official visits to the northern region of the country. The palace also serves as a royal residence for international state visits.
Built in the middle of the 20th century, Bhubing Palace began with only the guest rooms and the royal house, but additional rooms were built over time to make it the tourist destination that it is today. A tour of one of the most sumptuous settings in northern Thailand will suffice in lieu of an overnight stay at the royal palace. Due to the fact that this is still an official residence, basic manners must be respected. This includes using moderate tones when speaking and dressing appropriately. This involves covering the shoulders and knees. If you do not have the proper attire, you can rent it from stands stationed outside the mansion. Tickets are available daily, with the exception of January through March, when the Bhubing Palace is closed to the general public due to royal visits.
Location: near Wat Doi Suthep Open: daily, 08:30-16:30 Entry: 50 THB
Doi Pui Tribal Village
This Hmong village can be found just a few kilometres after Wat Doi Suthep and should be part of your itinerary when visiting the temple. The village offers a glimpse of the day-to-day life of this ethnic hill tribe and how rural life in Thailand is. The villagers live from selling handmade souvenirs to visitors and various types of agriculture. If you’re not certain how to get there, take a red Songthaew from Wat Doi Suthep.
Location: few kilometres after Wat Doi Suthep.
Phra Kruba Srivichai Shrine
This shrine was built in honour of Phra Kruba Srivichai who was famous for his humility among the residents of Chiang Mai.
Looking for the biggest restaurant in Chiang Mai? Welcome to Sukonta Moo Kata. Well known among locals, yet only a small number of tourists actually know about it. Sukonta Moo Kata has a sitting capacity for 2000 people. Yes, 2000! It offers a large variety of food, while some dishes are prepared and others ready to be grilled on your table, Shabu-Shabu style. There is live entertainment throughout the evening.
This quirky coffee is a paradise for cat lovers and coffee enthusiasts. The entire café is space themed, from the décor to the names of the cats like Luna, Apollo or Obi Wan. Bring enough time to play with the cats and of course, to try their coffee and sweets like cakes and crepes.
Location: 233/5 Huaykaew Road Open: daily, 10:00-20:00
Update: Catmosphere Cat Cafe opted not to reopen after COVID.
Located within the Ang Kaew Reservoir at Chiang Mai University (CMU). Great place to chill and relax and sip hot and cold coffees.
Location: enter CMU and turn right towards a small parking lot. Open: daily, 09:00-17:00