Chiang Mai

10 Best Tours You Should Not Miss in Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai is a city for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This city is filled with historic temples and tranquil mountainous terrains. Since Chiang Mai was once the capital of the illustrious Lanna Dynasty, it still upholds its old charm and also has adapted to the changing present. These are the major reasons to visit Chiang Mai.

There are so many amazing things to see and do in Chiang Mai and it might be very tough for you to choose and draft your itinerary for Chiang Mai day tour. Hence to make your vacation easier there are pre-organized tour packages which have been composed keeping in mind all the details of what you might want to see in a wonderful city like Chiang Mai. However, you can also customize them as you want too.

Below are some of the tours which are the most preferred ones through which you will be able to also know about the city of Chiang more.

1.  Temple Tour:

Thailand mainly follows the preachings of Lord Buddha and then comes to other religions. They have built many spectacular temples all over the country. Chiang Mai Temples are especially known for their construction of ‘Lanna Style’ temples. And hence the temple tour definitely tops the Chiang Mai day tour list!

There are over 100 temples in Chiang Mai which are both artistically brilliant and religious sacred as well. Their temple architecture is exemplary and the serene nature they are set against is like nowhere else. There are some temples which are considered to be extremely sacred as they believe some parts of Lord Buddha are imbibed in the temple and hence they have sacred powers that help in need. Each of them has its own significance and stories behind them.

However, there are strict rules of attire and timings followed in all the temples. On average they open by 6:30 in the morning and close by 6 in the evening. And you should be extremely mindful of what you wear (covering shoulders and legs is a must) as they consider it disrespectful to the monks and the God.

Some of the most famous temples are ;

  • Wat Doi Suthep
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Phan Tao
  • Wat Sri Suphan
  • Wat That Doi Kham
  • Wat Phra Singh and so on

2.  Doi Inthanon National Park Tour:

Nicknamed – The Roof of Thailand, Doi Inthanon National Park houses Thailand’s highest summit. This National Park is like no other. There is everything you wish for in this nature’s abode and even a small village settlement complete with lush green rice fields. From beautiful natural trails to bubbling waterfalls, you get to see everything you wish to see in one national park which definitely qualifies it to be one of the best Chiang Mai day trips’ itineraries. 

This national park has soothing cold weather all through the year due to its altitude. The rainy season is from May to October with most rainfall around July to September and the rest of the year is quite dry with November to February being the cold seasons. The waterfalls always have gushing water due to the rain. And the most beautiful time to visit this park would be during late January and early February. Because this is when the most beautiful and elegant pink flowers, the Siamese Sakura flowers bloom giving the whole forest a fairy tale look. Famously known as the Cherry Blossom flowers, one tree has the charm to turn a whole street into a beauty, then imagine how a whole forest would look!

There are many spectacular sightseeing spots inside the national park, and choosing to walk to every one of them is definitely not advisable as they are at quite a good distance from each other and you will be missing out on some. They have the option of renting out cabs, and private tour guides to go around this national park.

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the below tourist attractions for an unforgettable Chiang Mai day trip.

  • The Summit
  • Two Natural Trails – Ang Ka Luang and Kew Mae Pan
  • 2 Stupas – Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Naphamethanidon
  • Bird watching spots (best time being from February to April)
  • Waterfall – Wachirathan, Sirithan, Siriphum, Mae Klang, Mae Ya, Mae Pan
  • Mae Klang Luang Village
  • Royal Project Inthanon flower garden

3.   Mae Ping River Tour:

All the civilizations always take birth on the banks of rivers. And Chiang Mai, once a glorious Lanna Capital also was born on the banks of the river Mae Ping. This river has seen the growth of Chiang Mai city to what it is today. 

Called as the “Lifeline of the Province”, this river is about 570 km in length and is sourced from the mountains of Chiang Dao. The river flows through some wonderful woody forests which then widens rich and fertile rice fields, mesmerizing flower gardens. You can also find coffee and tea plantations, strawberry farms, and many other orchards. This river also helps in irrigation and is one of five rivers that make northern Thailand such a rich center of wet rice farming.

There are plentiful options and pre-organized tours of the Mae Ping river which allows you to really enjoy its beauty. There are many cruise operators, leisure boat rides, and there is also an evening boat ride along with dinner that can be booked to have a romantic supper on the river with some delicious Thai cuisines. 

There is also an option of taking the land route to explore the Mae Ping River. Both these Chiang Mai day tours are extremely unique and very adventurous as well as romantic. You can also see that the prices of the goods, from provisions to gift items are almost half the rate of what you might pay in Chiang Mai City.

So, just pack a bag of snacks, sunglasses, a camera, and plenty of water. You are all set!

4.  Hill Tribes Tour:

Thailand has many indigenous and unique tribes living across its lands. They have their own lifestyles, occupations, food styles, attires, rituals to name a few. Chiang Mai also houses many such tribes who have settled along the rivers and hilly areas. 

These people are mostly migrants or refugees who have settled ages ago. Unfortunately, the development of these tribal regions has not yet been on par with the city. Hence, the government has undertaken many projects to help develop their education systems, eco-friendly technology, farming techniques, and much more. The development of tourism has helped gain another source of income for these tribes apart from farming, weaving, handicraft, etc. 

Each of the tribes has their own way of living; including from language, houses to marriage rituals. There are different day trips from Chiang Mai concentrating on different tribes. There are some tours that tend to mix these up with some other tours like the temple tour or national park tour etc. So see which ones are more suitable for you and have fun!

The most important village tribes have been mentioned below for your convenience. 

  • Karen Long Neck Tribe
  • Hmong Tribe
  • Lahu Tribe
  • Lisu Tribe
  • Akha Tribe
  • Palong Tribe
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5.  Golden triangle tour:

The place where  Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet is called the Golden Triangle. However, locals call it the Sop Ruak because this is the area where the confluence of rivers Mekong and Ruak happen. These rivers form as the borders between the three countries – East of Mekong is Laos, Myanmar is to the north of the Ruak, and Thailand is to the west of the Mae Khong river. 

The Golden triangle was known for its opium cultivation. But later after a clean-slate protocol by the government, this place has now become a tourist magnet. Its hilly terrains, the sight of the merging rivers, different village tribes, the magnificent temples, and the viewpoint from where all the three countries are visible at once is what attracts tourists from all over the world. 

When in Thailand you can get there by songthaews from Chiang Mai. This is a perfect destination to have a Chiang Mai Day trip to. There are many Buddhist shrines, you can also take up a tour of the tribes, hike on the plush forest trails, visit the Chiang Saen’s ancient Buddhist ruins. However the most famous of them all is the Opium Museum. There is even a small plantation of opium inside the museum. 

There are many cruises, boat rides along the rivers which will even take you across to Myanmar at the border town of Mae Sai, while some trips let you enter Laos via the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge. 

PS: 

  • Please carry your passport and some US currency (in addition to Thai Baht) with you when you are on this tour
  • You will be allowed only to a certain distance in Laos, and to go further into the place you need an approved visa

6.  Elephant parks tour:

Thailand is the land of Elephants. The amount of care and energy they put into rescuing and sheltering these humongous yet gentle animals are to be highly appreciated. Every city in Thailand promotes Elephant welfare. And Chiang Mai is one of the most well-known places for Elephant sanctuaries all over the world.

They save and bring in ill-treated, unwell elephants, and give them an environment that is safe and healthy and very similar to their habitat. They call them Ethical sanctuaries. This is one of the most sought after Chiang Mai day tours and is one which will be there on everyone’s bucket list.

All you have to carry are sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen lotion, your prescribed medicines, first aid kit, a camera, and an extra pair of clothes. There are many kinds of tours offered in the sanctuaries and in all of them, you will be escorted by their shots who know not only about the elephants but also the personal history of each and every elephant present in their sanctuary. You can trek with them, feed them, bathe them, and take care of them. This is bound to be one of the most eye-opening experiences of your entire vacation.

Some of the best Elephant Sanctuaries of Chiang Mai are-

  • Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
  • Hug Elephant Sanctuary
  • Kanta Elephant Sanctuary
  • Happy Elephant Home
  • Elephant Nature Park 

7.  Cycling tour:

One of the simplest modes of transport and the most satisfactory one. This joy ride on two wheels is the most efficient way of eco-friendly travel. This is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of your destination. And this is very popular among the tourists as well. 

Depending on your taste and comfort you can choose from a range of pre-arranged group cycle tours led by a guide or you can choose to rent a cycle of your own and roam around wherever you wish. Guided tours are advisable for the first-timers as the maps are usually written in the Thai language and sometimes the route might get confusing. 

For cyclists, it’s heaven, as the trails of Chiang Mai are extremely diverse and cater to all kinds of travelers. From narrow streets to canopied forest trails and tough mountainous paths, all can be found in Chiang Mai. There are even night city-tours available. All you need to do is select an operator, check out the trials suitable for you, and get going.

The most famous routes for Chiang Mai Day Tours are – 

  • The Eagle route
  • The Eliminator route
  • The Hunter’s Escape route
  • The Old Smuggler’s route

There are many operators as well. Best known among them are – 

  • Grasshopper Adventures
  • Chiang Mai Bike Adventure
  • Chiang Mai Cycling
  • Araiwah Chiang Mai Bicycle City Tour
  • Recreational Chiang Mai Biking etc

8.  Adventure Tours:

The land of Chiang Mai is such that one can experience a wide range of adventurous outdoor activities. From the thrilling ziplining to white water rafting, you can have all the adrenaline rush you can get. The forests and the mountains provide some of the best spots for adventure sports. 

Know the best outdoor activities in Chiang Mai before you plan your trip.

Most of the adventure rides are set in the Doi Suthep National Park region and it provides the ultimate fun. All the rides and the activities can speak for themselves as this is an adventure lover’s hotspot. The most popular among all is the 

  • Ziplining
  • ATV Rides
  • White water river rafting and Bamboo rafting
  • Trekking into the wild
  •  Night Safari

What’s more to say? Just keep an extra pair of dress and some medical kit with you and you are all set!

PS: Some activities are restricted to people with heart conditions and BP issues.

9.  Thai Food tour:

Who hasn’t heard about Thai Food? The specialty of Thai food is its variety, color, and aroma which automatically instigates saliva in your mouth. They are strong on flavor and quite spicy compared to the Wester food and hence most of them find the flavors extremely vibrant than they are usually used to. 

These world-famous cuisines are definitely on the Must-Try list of each and every vacationer. The gastronomical tour of the food world is always exciting and popular. The street food here is to die for. The stalls in the markets are the best ones to give your taste buds a treat.

To make this experience a notch up Chiang Mai also has some classes where they teach to prepare Thai cuisines. You could also enroll in one and enjoy the authentic food from the comfort of your home post your vacation too.

Some of the well-known cookery classes are –

  • Thai Farm Cooking School
  • Thai Akha Cooking School
  • May Kaidee’s Cooking School
  • Sammy’s Organic Thia Cooking School 

10.  Experiencing the Local Chiang Mai:

You would have definitely charted down a tight schedule for your Chaing Mai vacation as there are so many places to visit. However, it is also important to know about the place as well. And hence, for once you can say sayonara to your hectic itinerary and just go on a Gastronomical and cultural tour.

There are many pre-organized food tasting tours, traditional dance shows, and many more, however, you can also customize it to your liking, with Dimaak. You can head to the markets like Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and Sunday Walking street to experience the authentic Thai street food that is so famous all around the world. You can also club it with cultural visitation to the Hill Tribe villages of Chiang Mai where there are shows exclusively arranged for tourists where they showcase their unique traditions, cuisines, and even sometimes dance shows. These show us the diversities Thailand has and how each of them is unique to each other.

Looking for more activities to do in Chiang Mai? Check these 25 best things to do in Chiang Mai for a memorable trip.

Final Thoughts:

Chiang Mai is a very diverse city that is accommodative of every kind of traveler. Instead of breaking your head on your itineraries, just lookout for the most suitable tours and book yourself one to have a tension-free holiday.

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