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March 26, 2018
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June 26, 2018

Chiang Mai Itinerary Ideas

Are you trying to plan your Chiang Mai itinerary? There’s so much to see and do in this vibrant city, it can be hard to figure out what to do in Chiang Mai and how to fit it all in. So we’ve come up with a few sample itineraries to give you an idea of what is possible. We’ve listed a ‘Touristic’ option if you’re interested in the mainstream activities and a ‘Non Tourist’ option if you’re looking for something a little off-the-beaten-path.

Day 1 Itinerary (Touristic option)

By Day) Visit Elephant Camp

At the top of most Chiang Mai itineraries is a visit to the elephants. Spend a day, learning and interacting with these majestic mammals in the lush sub-tropical outskirts of Chiang Mai city. Elephant camps and sanctuaries have recently followed increasing pressure not to offer elephant rides, so there has been a shift away from riding elephants to taking care of them through activities such as bathing and feeding them. Most elephant camps and sanctuaries provide complimentary transfer to and from your hotel, and may include lunch.

Popular elephant camps in Chiang Mai include;

Elephant Nature Park (053 272855, 053 818932)
Karen Tribe Native Elephants (087 182 8959)
Elephant Rescue Park (053-273124 )

To help you decide which one to visit, why not check our other posts  Best Elephant Camps in Chiang Mai and How to choose which Elephant Camp ? 

Visit an Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai

Visit an Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai

By Night) Thai Massage

After a long day with the elephants, why not spend the evening indulging in a Thai Massage? Lila massage  is a  unique social enterprise, whose massage parlors provide training and jobs to former prison inmates. It provides key employment opportunities for women, who might otherwise find themselves back in prison. It has various locations across the old city.

Tel: 053-279 403
Open Daily : 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Mon-Sun)

By Night) Night Bazaar

For a spot of souvenir shopping head to the Night Bazaar. From local snacks to souvenir t-shirts and local handicrafts. Vendors start opening up stalls around 5pm and close around 11pm. It’s also a good place for dinner with a variety of food vendors serving local delicacies and international food.

Google Map location:


Day 1 Itinerary (Non-Touristic)

Visit Authentic Hill tribe villages

An important cultural part of Chiang Mai are its colourful hill tribes (ethnic minority groups). There are lots of touristic hill tribe villages in Chiang Mai, who regularly see large tour groups trekking through, but for a non-tourist experience its best to opt for a small private tour. Why not check out our 1 Day Hill Tribe Tour  which visits authentic Karen and Hmong hill tribe villages in an authentic and ethical way

Tel: 0855480884


1 Day Hill tribe tour

1 Day Hill tribe tour

Day 2 Itinerary (Touristic option)

Use your second day in Chiang Mai to enjoy the other tourist highlights in the city. The recommended time you should allocate to each activity is in brackets

Borsang Handicrafts (2-3 hrs)

Watch and learn how local artisans a work, as they create traditional northern Thai handicrafts such as lacquerware, mulberry paper umbrellas and silk (2hrs).  The easiest way to get there is by tuk tuk or red songtaew (local pick up truck). Google Map Location:

Cooking class (Full Day – Half day)

Learn how to cook northern Thai dishes in a private or group setting. Most cooking classes start with a trip to the market, to buy and learn about the local ingredients to be used. And some include a visit out into the countryside to a farm, with a focus on using organic produce. Popular cooking schools include: Thai Farm Cooking School  (tel:081 288 5989), Sammy’s Organic Thai Cooking School (081-5709279/ 087-6596438) 

Doi Suthep Temple (2 hrs) – a religious landmark of Chiang Mai, this sacred temple is located on a hill north of the city. To avoid the daytime crowds and heat, visit at sunrise or sunset

Ancient Temples in the old city (3 hrs)

A hallmark feature of Chiang Mai’s old city are the ancient Buddhist temples scattered across. With variations in architecture, some are bigger with grand and golden glistening roofs. Whilst others are older, smaller tucked away in a soi (small alley). The most famous temples are Wat Phra Sing, Wat Chedi Luang (053 248604), Wat Phan Tao

Adventure activities (2 hrs) –  in the the Mae Rim valley include ziplining, ATV riding and a shooting range

Insect Zoo (2 hrs) – Great for kids and anybody interested in the tropical creepy crawlies of Thailand.  Open Daily (9am-5pm), 891848475 / 089-7550849 , Siam Insect Zoo



Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang


Day 2 Itinerary (Non-touristic option)

Here are some ideas for non-tourist places you can visit on the 2nd day of your Chiang Mai Itinerary.

Bua Tong Waterfalls – Nicknamed ‘Sticky waterfalls’, this natural limestone waterfall is a great fun day out and especially great for kids. Hire a red songtaew (local pick up truck) or tuk tuk to take you there

Pa Pong Pieng Rice Terraces – One of the most photogenic beauties of Chiang Mai, this little known area is located around 1 hours drive from Chiang Mai. The view of  rolling rice terraces against a backdrop of mountains is certainly worth a visit. Pa Pong Pieng is not accessible by any public transport, so its recommended to have your own private car to reach there.

Wat Phratat Doi Kham – Located 30 minutes south of Chiang Mai city, this hilltop temple has wonderful sweeping views of Chiang Mai. Its next to the Rajapreuk Flower gardens and Night Safari, so you could combine a visit with these top attractions too. Flag a red songtaew (local pick up truck) or tuk tuk from town to take you there.

Pa Pong Pieng rice terrace

Pa Pong Pieng rice terrace



Related Posts:

Trips from Chiang Mai

7 Day Trips from Chiang Mai


  1. I love the rehabilitation ideas in Thailand. We saw the massage school in Bangkok near the Grand Palace that had a similar rehabilitation plan to turn convicts into therapists. In the US, a criminal record needs to be considered on a case by case basis to deny your licensure. I think Thailand has the right idea.

  2. Jenia says:

    That rice terrace! Been to Thailand but still haven’t made it to Chiang Mai. I can definitely see the appeal.

  3. Erica says:

    Chiang Mai is such an incredible city, and it’s really become a huge hub for digital nomads over the last few years! Although I haven’t worked directly with ENP, I spent a few months at one of their sister projects – the Surin Elephant Project – and it was absolutely incredible! Doi Suthep is one of my favorite temples in Thailand and I LOVE the night market. The Pa Pong Pieng Rice Terraces look stunning, I’ll definitely have to check those out the next time I’m out there!