10 Top Tourist Attractions in Chiang Mai

Martina Rosado
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Wat Umong

This temple is an example of the blend of art and architecture that began in the Ayutthaya period, when Ayutthaya was called the Golden City. This is evidenced by the cast plaster work integrated with traditional carved and sandblasted wooden decorative elements.

It is also the oldest wiharn (a building housing monks’ living quarters) in the city. The main wiharn has a simple and open, flat roof, and the roofs of the monastery comprise a unique array of brightly colored terracotta spires and tiered roof components that contrast sharply with the green surroundings of the compound. Wat Umong is a great place for a peaceful getaway and offers gorgeous views of the city.

Wat Phan Tao

Walking distance from the bus station.

Wat Phan Tao is the latest attraction to have opened in the old town area of Chiang Mai. The temple is made up of eight temples built into one that was closed for many years. Many people living around Chiang Mai have helped to restore buildings and make the temple into what it is.

On the way up the street you will see signs indicating which temple you are looking at as you walk the cobbled streets.

This temple is perfect for a lazy afternoon as many people come here and sit inside to relax. Wat Phan Tao is built into an old Chiang Mai house and is very inviting.

The temple is free to enter and is likely to have few people. As you can rest and admire the beautiful architecture, you can get a real feel for the old house that is transformed into a splendid temple.

Royal Park Rajapruek

The Royal Park has become the popular place to take a stroll, walk the dogs and enjoy a picnic among the trees at the river (avoiding the crocodiles at the river’s edge), and to participate in the many morning and evening running and walking events organized throughout the year. The park’s large, well-maintained, open green spaces, filled with tall trees and bushes, add to the charm of the area. It is also a nice place to relax after a hard day of hiking and playing golf. In addition to the Royal Park’s theme park, an open-air theatre and a water show are also attractions in the park, providing a variety of entertainment and activities for visitors, especially during weekends and holidays.

Talat Warorot

A really beautiful temple on the hill and surrounded by nature. This temple has a long history. It used to be one of the main temples of Chiang Mai before Wat Phra Singh was build.

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh Temple is one of the most popular temples in Chiang Mai. It is located 10 km away from the city’s old city, which makes it a nice retreat on the way to the bus station or tourist information point.

The complex of temples has been in use since the 15th century. Originally it included a monastery and a wat run by Vietnamese monks.

The other attractions are Wat Chiang Man, Wat Hin Lat, a wat of the Mahawongsa School and Wat Mahathat, called the temple of the golden Buddha.

I’ll admit; when I came here I wasn’t expecting much, but ended up having a really great experience. Wat Phra Singh is one of the very few temples I’ve been to in Chiang Mai that has a Chinese influence, and seeing the temple in all its criss-cross layers of Chinese-style architecture made my jaw drop.

Secondly, Wat Phra Singh is a great place to get some good photos, and these are definitely a good selection. You can buy a postcard at the gate to take pictures there.

The wat itself is quite big, and is surrounded by a moat. I was also surprised by the mixture of pagodas and chedis at the wat.

Elephant Nature Park

Although the elephants of Thailand are becoming a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to their starring role in the hit TV show Kingdom, Elephant Nature Park is still one of the best places in the country to see elephants in their natural habitat.

Situated in the valley of the Lampang and Tak streams, this is the largest elephant reserve in Thailand, and it is a popular destination for tourists. In addition to elephants, the park also includes other animals, such as lions, tigers, bears, and birds.

Elephant Nature Park has rescued many elephants over the past fifteen years, and they are all now well cared for. Unlike some other elephant reserves, the animals are not sent to live a second life as tourist attractions. Most of the elephants are still used to work on the nearby farms.

Other elephants, like "Chee" and "Soi", live in the campsites at the park, which are located at the same time and in the same vicinity as the elephants’ work on the farms. The campsites provide much of the elephants’ daily living space, including calves, food, water, and a lot of rest.

Though the elephant campsites do not contain physical barriers, the elephants do still keep their distance from humans. If you do want to interact with them, you can do so in the campsite at the park.

Wat Chedi Luang

Located in Old Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Luang is a Buddhist temple built in 700 AD and is one of the oldest temples in the city. The temple was originally built by Khun Chang Khun Pha, who later ruled the Khmer Kingdom.

Today the temple is an active place of worship, with many flowers and trees surrounding the ruins of the temple, basalt, and Ananta Surya (a Sanskrit term for serpentine guardian deities) towering over the entranceway.

The temple houses over 200 Buddhist statues within its walls, which includes a statue of Vishnu and other Hindu idols, as well as a giant statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. This statue is by far the most recognisable feature to the temple that represents the Hindu gods.

Points of interest in Wat Chedi Luang include:

Thai Cooking Classes

Teach you how to cook authentic Thai dishes.

If you still have a cultural appreciation for Thai cuisine but you want to learn to cook authentic meals, then Chiang Mai is the perfect place to do it. The most popular temples here are built in the traditional Thai style to accommodate a physical requirement for Thai people.

The ancient design has enabled them to step in and out easily and required little space to operate. A traditional wooden Buddhist chapel in the Thai style has a hall that is built with an open top instead of a roof.

In addition to the physical requirements, Thai cuisine grew out of a necessity to find easy-to-organise ingredients and meals that other cultures were unfamiliar with. Eggplants are an excellent example of this.

In Thai cuisine, eggplants are sliced into rings and cooked perfectly before tomato is added to the dish. Tomatoes are considered to be an exotic fruit and are only successfully grown in Thailand.

Thai cooking has a strong emphasis on colorful vegetables as well as meat in spicy and tangy combinations. Lighthouse is Chiang Mai’s smallest temple. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the main city.

The blue and white color scheme of the design adds to the beautiful structure that clearly distinguishes this temple from the nearby conical-shaped one. This temple plays an important role in the Buddhist culture of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep