Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai Attractions

chiang mai attractions

Loi Krathong


Chiang Mai attractions include Loi Krathong festival takes place once a year during a Full Moon in the 12th month of the Thai Lunar Calendar (Normally November on western calendar) to persuade Phaya Nok (a local Surpent ruler) to end the monsoon/rainy season. Although this festival is celebrated nationwide Chiang Mai attracts a large crowd of tourists and Thai locals to be involved in the event normally held on the Ping River. The festival is said to have originally started in Northern Thailand’s Sukhothai in 1863 and is by far the most romantic of Thai celebrations. The word Loi means “Float” where the word Krathong can mean “a decoration”, thus making the Loi Krathong festival consist of floating a decorated Basket on a bed of water.

Traditionally a slice of a banana tree trunk is used to be decorated with banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense but in modern age bread or foam will be used.  The release of the Krathong symbolises letting go of anger, grudges and problems so that life can start fresh for the year by making an offering to the river spirits. The festival’s opening ceremony will occur at the “Tha Pae Gate” and will also consist of Traditional Lanna music and dancing, Fireworks display as well as a lantern parade.


Doi Suthep

A must do when travelling to see Chiang Mai attractions, best to book a tour while in Chiang Mai Doi (mountain) Suthep is part of one of Thailand’s National Parks and looking over Chiang Mai you will be amazed by the beautiful views over Chiang Mai city. Doi Suthep tours will normally consist of a stop at one of Chiang Mai’s Hill Tribe villages, where you can by locally made souvenirs and Thai treats. You will then move on further up the mountain to see Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and learn of the history of the Kingdom of Lanna. This temple is known as one of the most holy sites in Thailand and becomes very busy on Buddhist holidays. The Temple site is also home to a Gold-plated Chedi, 24m in height which acts like a beacon shining the sun over the city.

Warning – The road up the mountain is not the best for people who suffer from travel sickness. You can purchase travel sickness medicine in Chiang Mai prior to the tour


Chiang Mai Zoo


Located at the foothills of Doi Suthep, the zoo is 200 acres in sizes and with over 400 species on display you may want to pay the small fee to use the parks monorails or open-air trams to get around. The zoo is home to Koala’s, Thailand’s only Rhino, Hippos, Camels, Lion, Tigers, 2 Elephants, 3 giant Pandas, many reptiles and many other animals. The zoo also has the world’s longest aquarium tunnel, Asia’a largest marine aquarium and the Nakornping walk-through aviary. You can a tour to include the Chiang Mai Zoo or you can buy tickets at the entry.

Opening hours of 8:30am and 4:30pm, 7 days a week.


Tiger Kingdom


Tiger Kingdom is located just out of Chiang Mai and can be visited my Motorcycle if you know the area or take a taxi/Tuk Tuk. Tiger Kingdom is a Tiger Park where you can see, sit with, or play with a selection of different Tigers ranging from cubs to adult. You can pay to have photos taken and receive them on a CD or take your own photos. There is always a handler in the tiger enclosure with you and they have total control of the tigers for your safety. This is great as you will get up close and person with this giant beast.


Doi Inthanon National Park


Doi (mountain) Intanon is the highest point in Thailand at 2565m above sea level. As this is very high up it is highly recommended that long pants and a jacket are worn as it gets very cold. Doi Intanon National Park consists of mountainous terrain covered in tropical forest with a variety of Waterfalls. If you are to book a tour to see the national park it will normally consist of a few stops along the way to the top of the mountain. You will see some breath-taking waterfalls and views many species of birds and a good stop-over at the Royal Chedi’s dedicated to the current King and Queen.


Chiang Mai Night Safari


Located near the Chiang Mai Airport it is best to catch a Tuk Tuk or Taxi to the Night Safari. The Chiang Mai Night Safari is modelled after it older cousin in Singapore. At the Safari you will have 3 trails to tour and explore. As well are the 3 trails you can hand feed the animals, take photos with tiger cubs, Shop til you drop, play in the dancing fountain and after dark watch the memorable Laser Light show.

  • Savanna Safari (open 18:00-23:00)The 2.4 km trail is inhabited mostly by herbivores and prey animals, such as giraffes, zebras, antelopes, lamas, rhinoceros, elephants and various species of Asian and African wild deer. This trail will take 30 minutes, in an open-sided tram.
  • Predator Prowl (open 18:00-23:00)The 2.4-km trail is the carnivorous animal zone which has approximately 27 species and over 200 animals such as tigers, lions, Asiatic black bears, crocodiles etc. The tram ride will also take 30 minutes
  • Jaguar Trail (open 11:00-23:00) A nice 1.2km walk around Swan Lake has over 50 species of 400 smaller animals in an environment of flower gardens. Animals in this zone include white tigers, jaguars, capybaras, clouded leopards, fishing cats, Brazilian tapirs, squirrel monkeys, miniature horses, crowned cranes etc.


Chiang Mai Night Bazaar


One of the biggest attractions in Chiang Mai is the Night Bazaar. Once the sun sets til around 10 – 11pm the streets of Chiang Mai come to life with markets where you can make a good few purchases of clothing, handcrafts, Toys, Jewellery, CD and DVD’s. Located at the end of Loi Khro Rd along Chang Khlan Road across approximately 2 blocks, the market stalls will line both sides of the street. running. You will also have a great select of foods and drinks


Wat Chedi Luang


Originally built to be the resting place of King Saen Muang Ma’s father remains in the 14th century was not completed until mid 15th century. At a total width of 54m and 82m in height it was the Largest building of all Lanna at the time. In 1468 it became the home to the Emerald Buddha. In 1545 the top 30m of the structure collapsed due to an Earthquake and not long after the Emerald Buddha was relocated to Luang Prabang. Wat Chedi Luang is located in the Centre of Chiang Mai city.


Mae Sa Elephant Village


Mae Sa Elephant Camp has been around since 1976, as a conservation centre for domesticated elephants. These Elephants used to be used for heavy logging until they were replaced by heavy machinery. Once they were no longer required, they were left to roam the streets, begging for food . Mae Sa Elephant Village has given these Elephants a new lease on life. Located 30km out of Chiang Mai in the Mae Tang region , it is best to book a day tour of the Elephant village where transfers will be included. Currently home to over 70 domesticated Elephants, their daily routine consists of eating, bathing, performing and the occasional painting task in their very own village, surrounded by natural habitat.


Wiang Kum Kam the Underground Ancient City


Located just outside of Chiang Mai City along the Ping river. A popular way to view the site is by a Horse and cart, or if you are feeling energetic you could rent a pushbike or just walk the large site. Wiang Kun Kam Ancient City at one stage was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, later on Chiang Mai became the capital due to the area constant flooding. Not long after the city was conquered by the Burmese Army in the 16th century the city was fully submerged by flooding and full abandoned. It was not until 1984 that the ruins were re-discovered and unearthed.


Flight of the Gibbon


Less than an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai is the Flight of the Gibbon. This can be done at a few locations across Thailand but in Chiang Mai you have the longest zipline in Asia. Flight of the Gibbon is a course of ziplines throughout the Thai Rainforest. With 33 Platforms, 3 hanging bridges and 2 repel descents you will be sure to have a great time. Fly through the rainforest learning of the local wildlife and vegetation. Many different tours are available out of Chiang Mai with meals and travel often included. Be warned that there is a weight limit 126kgs and a minimum height of 1m tall, but no age limit. This is not for those who are afraid of Heights.


Karen Long neck Tribe


The Karen Long Neck Tribe is exactly how it sounds. For many, many years the Burmese people of these tribes will place brass rings around their necks to create the look of having a long neck, which is recognised as a symbol of beauty. You can visit these people in Chiang Rai or organise a tour from Chiang Mai where you will visit a Karen Long Neck tribe. You will be able to see how they live, interact with the tribes and shop in there locally run stalls.


Golden Triangle


The Golden triangle was originally one of two of Asia’s biggest opium producing areas. The area overlaps three Countries including Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Closer to Chiang Rai you can book a tour of the Golden triangle from Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai. If booking a tour from Chiang Mai, expect a long day and try to get as much in the day as possible. A common tour would be to Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Mae Sai (border-crossing to Myanma), Doi Tung/Mae Fa Luang and the Golden Triangle.  While at the Golden Triangle site you can opt to get a Longtail boat ride along the Mekong River and venture over the border into Laos where you can shop at the local market. No passport is required, just a small fee when stepping onto Laos land.

Tips – you can buy items with Thai Baht at Laos market. If crossing into Myanmar you will need your passport and $20US


Wat Rong Khun – White Temple


Personally my favourite Temple and the favourite amongst most tourists, with a mixture of good and evil, it is a very unconventional temple. This temple is located in Chiang Rai but like the Golden Triangle can be seen on a tour from Chiang Mai. The Temple is all White and surrounded by water with large gold or white Koi fish. On the site you will also find what is described with the world’s most beautiful toilet. In May 2014, the Temple was damaged due to an earthquake and was closed to Tourists. It has since been opened but Tourists cannot go inside the temple for their safety. The designer has promised to rebuild the Temple and has promised to devote his life to the work.


Doi Tung – Mae Fa Luang Gardens – Royal Villa


Doi (mountain) Tung is located near Chiang Rai on the way to the Thailand-Myanmar Border but can also be seen in a tour from Chiang Mai. Doi Tung is home to the Royal Villa at which the Current King’s Late mother used to reside.  You can view inside the house and the breath-taking views looking over Thailand and Myanmars Border from the private balcony. You can also find the Mae Fa Luang Royal Gardens which are filled with colour all year round.