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What to see in Chiang Mai, the city of 300 temples

Chiang Mai is located in the north of Thailand and is a place full of ancient culture, nature and very magical places.

There are many trekking routes that will take you to get lost in nature, rice fields, waterfalls and its natural environment in high mountains.

Chiang Mai is known as the city of 300 temples, in this post I add a list of the essential places to visit in Chiang Mai and the most impressive temples, where to stay, how many days to dedicate to the destination, how to get around the north of Thailand and some more travel tips.


How to get to Chiang Mai

You have several different ways to get to Chiang Mai. If you want to add the north to your Thailand itinerary, you can take a bus, mini van, to Ayutthaya, making your first stop here. Then another bus or mini goes to Sukhothai, to finally reach Chiang Mai.

Another alternative is to take an internal flight from Bangkok, for around 30 euros, and fly to Chiang Mai. It is the most comfortable option and the one I recommend.

International flights also arrive in Chiang Mai. With what if you want you can start your trip from here.

The north of Thailand has a lot to see, on my last trip to Thailand I spent two weeks just in the north and it was not my first time.

How to get around Chiang Mai

If you are only going to visit the city of Chiang Mai you can take taxis, mini vans, excursions to visit the outskirts and tuc tucs.

If, on the other hand, you want to add days to get to know some areas of the north such as Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, Pai, the Doi Inthanon National Park... it is best to rent a car. They are usually very cheap, and if you go as a couple per person it can cost you about 7 euros per day at most.

Driving in Northern Thailand is easy. The roads are usually in good condition, there is no excessive traffic... and it is the most comfortable way to get to know the north of Thailand on your own.

How many days to dedicate to Chiang Mai

Minimum 3 days. If you want to add the north of Thailand to your route, and get to know the most essential places, I recommend adding to your route at least: 3 nights Chiang Mai, 2 nights Chiang Rai, 2 nights Sukhothai, 1 night Pai.

You can go to the main page of Thailand on the blog to download complete guides and itineraries where it is very well detailed what to do per day, and thus make the most of your days in Thailand.


The ancient city of Chiang Mai

The old city is a walled enclosure with a large water moat measuring 2km x 2km. Its streets are narrow, full of small restaurants, some small hotels and hostels, there are several shops, massage centers, cafeterias... It is an area with a lot of atmosphere throughout the day and well into the night.

You can explore it on foot or by bicycle. There are many accommodations that have the option of free or paid bicycles.

Within its walls are some of the most important temples in Chiang Mai; Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang.

Every Sunday afternoon, Ratchadamnoen Street and the surrounding streets are closed to traffic for a huge night market, filled with stalls selling local crafts and food.

Chiang Mai temples

Doi Suthep

The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is located on the Doi Suthep mountain, and is one of the essentials to visit in Chiang Mai. It is one of the most beautiful places in Chiang Mai.

To get to the temple you will have to climb the 309 steps. It is a very long staircase flanked by two sacred serpents.

At the top you will find the figure of a white elephant that hides a great legend. At the top there are also several buildings and other temples, Buddhist statues, prayer bells and a viewpoint with beautiful views of Chiang Mai.

The entire enclosure is in gold, to the point that it ends up hurting your eyes when the sun shines.

It opens at 5 am and closes at 9 pm. If you come shortly before dawn, apart from. you will not find tourists, you will see the monks doing their prayers. You must have a lot of respect at this time and not disturb.

Since you are going to Doi Suthep, nearby is the Wat Pha Lat temple, situated among nature. You can also make a stop at the Huay Kaew waterfall and the gardens of the Bhubing Palace.

To get to Doi Suthep, if you don't want to rent a motorbike or a car, you can take a Songthaew, a shared minivan, for about 80 baths per person from the walled area of ​​Chiang Mai. You can ask at your hotel, since many offer the service with pick up at the hotel reception, for a little more money. Another more comfortable option to do this tour can book an organized excursion, with a guide in Spanish.

Wat Phra Singh

Among the more than 300 sanctuaries in the city, Wat Phra Singh is one of the essentials that you cannot miss. Is beautiful.

This Buddhist temple was built in the year 1345 and is in the center of the historic city. It stands out for its Phra Singh Buddha statue located in the Wiham Lai Kham building.

The huge golden chedi does not go unnoticed either. You should also visit the Wihan Luang with a large Buddha sitting inside, the prayer room where there is a copy of the Emerald Buddha, the beautiful monastic library and the garden area where there is a small temple with a reclining Buddha.

This temple opens at 9 am and closes at 6 pm.

Wat Chedi Luang

The Wat Chedi Luang temple is located in the historic center and stands out for its enormous 50-meter stupa. Although originally the stupa reached 80 meters. Formerly this temple housed the most important Emerald Buddha in Thailand.

The complex has other interesting places that you must visit, such as the main temple where there is a large golden standing Buddha, the library, another small temple with a reclining Buddha and a sacred tree.

The temple opens at 8 am and closes at 5 pm.

Wat Chiang Man

This temple is the oldest in the city. And it was founded by King Phaya Mengrai in the year 1296.

In it, the Chedi Chang Lom pagoda stands out with its elephant statues and the main temple.

This temple opens at 5 am and closes at 9 pm. Before sunrise if you get close you can see the monks come to do their prayers.

Wat Umong

This temple is located in a natural forest environment on the outskirts of the city, which makes it much more impressive.

This temple impresses with its tunnels and caves with different images of Buddha and a large stupa.

It is a Buddhist temple over 700 years old that is characterized as one of the most unknown, peculiar and different temples in northern Thailand.

This temple opens at 7 am and closes at 5 pm.

Wat Sri Suphan

This temple is built entirely in silver, with spectacular carvings on all its walls. It is spectacular and an essential stop! The whole temple itself is a bit quirky. It is very small and has great detail in its sizes. You can spend a lot of time looking at every detail.

If you are a woman, you do not allow yourself to enter inside, although you can still see the outside, which is really incredible.

It is a common thing that women are not allowed to enter several of the city's temples, and not only in Chiang Mai, but in many places in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia.

This temple opens at 6 am and closes at 5 pm.

Wat Ched Yot

This temple is inspired by a Hindu temple. It has a total of 7 chedis. It is one of the less popular temples in the city and therefore it is not so crowded. Although at first glance it may seem simpler or less careful, therein lies its beauty. If you approach the Chedis, many of them have engravings, Buddhas... Personally, it is one of the ones I liked the most. It is a very quiet area, and walking around here fills you with peace.

This temple opens at 6 am and 6 pm.

Wat Lok Molee

This Buddhist temple is located next to the wall of the historic area, and mainly stands out for its ancient stupa from the 14th century.

The temple itself is beautiful, with a very elaborate architecture and full of details.

It is not a very popular temple, so we did not find almost any tourists and we were able to tour the entire temple without haste and appreciating every detail.

It opens at 6 am and closes at 8 pm.

Wat Suan Dok

It is one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai. It is a Royal Temple of the Third Class.

It stands out for being different from the temples that I have already told you about.

This temple is located outside the old town, and is notable for having a large number of small white chedis and a huge 48-meter-high chedi in gold.

This temple opens at 6 am and closes at 9 pm.

In Chiang Mai there are many temples, that's why they call it the city of 300 temples. Many of them you will get to know throughout your walks, several of them even form complexes where you can visit more than one temple in the same enclosure.

Many temples in Chiang Mai have free access. In some, you have to contribute a small amount as an entrance fee, which is used to maintain the temple and make reforms.

Massages in Chiang Mai

Getting a massage in Thailand is something "almost" mandatory. In Chiang Mai you have the opportunity to enjoy quite cheap massages. There are several massage centers, where prices can range from 5 to 25 euros, depending on the massage or treatment.

There is a very nice project in Chiang Mai and, if you can and want to, it's cool that you contribute.

It is a project that is carried out in the Massage Center of the Women's Prison. In a small wooden building surrounded by gardens next to the women's prison.

These women have been trained in the Thai art of massage, and they offer body massages at a very low price.

It is a reintegration plan for those women who are about to serve their sentence, and so that when they leave prison they have preparation and training, in addition to having saved some money. Since part of the money you pay for a massage, goes to them.

The massage rooms are common, with comfortable beds and a relaxing atmosphere, ideal for unwinding at the end of a long day touring the city.

Chiang Mai Night Market

The daily night market is located along Chang Khlan Road. It is the most famous market in the area and one of the areas of Chiang Mai with the most atmosphere.

This market from 6 pm until midnight, is filled with lights and thousands of stalls where all travelers go to find souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes... or simply to walk, enjoy the atmosphere, eat something at one of the stalls. of food.

In the same market, there are also some restaurants. Where you can eat sitting down if you feel like it. On the way to the night market do not miss the opportunity to visit the Wat Bupparam temple. At night everything is lit up, and it's beautiful.

Visit the lost city of Wiang Kum Kam

Wiang Kum Kam is one of the secret places in Chiang Mai. Although it is true that it is no secret, hehe, but it is a very little known place. And I was able to verify it myself, when the hours passed and there were barely four cats.

Wiang Kum Kam is a collection of ruins and other active temples scattered in a southern suburb of Chiang Mai. It was the place chosen by King Mengrai to establish the Lanna capital in the year 1286. They soon realized that this area was prone to flooding, and 10 years later to the current Chiang Mai.

After the transfer of the capital, this settlement continued to be active until the 16th century, when the Ping River changed its course, damaging it, and that was when they decided to abandon it completely. Its ruins were discovered in 1984 and since then a very important rehabilitation work has been done.

Formerly it is supposed to have been a square-shaped piece of land delimited by moats, very similar to today's Chiang Mai. Currently you find a total of 43 ruins and temples, forming a route of about 3km. You can do this tour on foot or by bicycle.

Visiting Wiang Kum Kam is not only perfect to learn more about the history of Chiang Mai, but it is also the perfect complement to get away from the masses and enjoy a very quiet and very unknown area.

Hidden temple in Chiang Mai; wat pha lat

One of the coolest temples in Chiang Mai is Wat Pha Lat. Also known as the leaning rock temple. We discovered this temple by pure chance and that is well hidden. On the way to Doi Suthep, we stopped at a small detour to take some photos, and we realized that some of the motorcycles were entering that way. And we thought there had to be something there. And we were not wrong. I tell you much more about this temple and how to get there in the post:

Rice fields in Chiang Mai

One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is to hike through the rice paddies. There are several areas and if you have the opportunity to make a road trip to the north of Chiang Mai, do not hesitate.

Rice fields in Chiang Mai are often left out when travelers arrive in this part of Thailand. There are so many temples to visit and places to discover that it is often off the beaten track and few go ahead to discover this part of Chiang Mai.

To know the rice fields you will have to leave the city. There are several plantations and terraces, personally the ones I liked the most are the Ban Pa Pong Pieng rice terraces.

You will find the Chiang Mai Rice Terraces at Ban Pa Pong Pieng at the foot of the mountains of Mount Doi Inthanon.

If you can, try to spend the night at Ban Pa Pong Pieng. So you can enjoy the spectacle of watching sunset and sunrise on the rice terraces.


In Chiang Mai there are more than 1500 accommodations, so searching for one can be simple or a real nightmare. I tell you about 10 cool and cheap accommodation options in the post:


I hope you enjoy your trip to Thailand very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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