A beautiful golden colored temple with round bushes lining the walkway up to it and a pool of water off to the side.
No other province in Thailand has more temples than in Chiang Mai.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Be Absorbed by Adventure in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The List of Things to Do Is Endless

Chiang Mai draws in visitors by the thousands while still retaining its calm and blissed out atmosphere. Spending time here is a complete change of pace from Bangkok.

If you’re making a stop here while traveling Northern Thailand, you’ll want to spend more time here. If you’re visiting for a couple weeks, you’ll still want to spend more time here. The lush surroundings, delicious food, medieval history and elaborate temples in Chiang Mai will so absorb you in Thai culture you’ll never want to leave.

One of the best things about Chiang Mai is that while it has all the conveniences of a modern city, you can drive for less than an hour in any direction and be surrounded by rainforest or be able to wander through a tiny rural village. With all of this adventure at your fingertips, you’ll never run out of things to do in Chiang Mai.

If you’re looking for a adventurous family vacation, things to do as a couple or even a solo journey you can start by crossing these incredible adventures off your list.

Be an Explorer for the Day in Chiang Mai’s Temples

Chiang Mai is synonymous with graceful and mysterious temples. In fact, no other province in Thailand has more temples — there are more than 300 wats dotted around the city and its surrounds, so you are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a few to visit.

The temples in Chiang Mai are nearly all Lanna style, meaning they were built between the 13th and 18th centuries — you’ll recognize them by their distinctive curved wooden roofs. The most famous is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, located on a mountain overlooking the city, and Wat Chedi Luang, situated within the old city walls.

Whichever ones you choose to visit, though, you won’t be disappointed.

A woman holds out her hand for an elephant to place his trunk in.Make sure you are picky about which sanctuary you visit.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Have an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Experience

Having an elephant experience is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, but make sure you choose carefully. Responsible tourism can help protect the elephants in Thailand — which are listed as endangered — but only if the elephants are given the proper care, nourishment and entertainment they need.

Sadly, many are exploited and poorly treated. Remember that the elephant’s welfare is more important than tourists’ entertainment though, so keep a few things in mind when you go see them.

When you choose a place to go for your elephant experience, do your research first to make sure it is reputable. Elephant sanctuaries are places that put the needs of the elephants above tourists (you won’t see them performing tricks, painting or working for hours on end), so these are the best places to go to see and interact with the animals in an ethical way.

If you want to go for a ride on an elephant, the best way to do so is to sit on their necks, just behind the ears. The trekking chairs you often see strapped to the elephants’ backs can be heavy and uncomfortable, so are best avoided if possible.

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Two cables run out of the forest into the foliage down below.Take a zip lining tour through the forests of Chiang Mai for an exhilarating experience.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Discover Your Inner Flying Squirrel and Go Ziplining

One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the rainforests surrounding Chiang Mai is to take a zip-line tour, whizzing through the canopy and admiring the stunning natural setting as you get a serious kick of adrenaline.

This is an activity anyone in the family can enjoy. There are several operators around the Chiang Mai area, so you can pick the one that offers the adventure that appeals to you the most — some have things as crazy as zip-wire skateboards, sky bridges and Tarzan mega jumps.

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