Bucket List of 18 Things To Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

18 Things to Do in Chiang Mai

Thailand’s Northern city of Chiang Mai is many traveler’s dream destination due to its delicious food, hundreds of temples, rich culture and budget travel opportunities. It is also the second largest city in the country and filled will bucket list worthy experiences.

Bucket List of 18 Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

1. Eat a Hundred Year Old Egg

A century egg, also know as a thousand or hundred year old egg is an Asian tradition in which an egg is preserved for several weeks or months using a process that combines, clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. You can typically find them in the food markets around Chiang Mai, I tried mine at Somphet market just off of Moonmuang Road. The century egg smelled like ammonia and boasted a moldy green color, though tasted like a warm, old hard-boiled egg.

Read > Eating a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market.
Century Egg (aka: hundred year old egg) in Chiang Mai     Annette White Eating a Century Egg in Chiang Mai Thailand

2. Get a Foot Massage by a Prison Inmate

Chiang Mai is home to the Womens Correctional Institution where they have set up a massage rehabilitation program in order to help the inmates easily integrate into society. There was an hour wait when I went to get my foot massage, but they have a little café  with tasty beverages and an outdoor patio to enjoy while you wait. 

Read > Get a Foot Massage by an Inmate in Chiang Mai
Womens Prison in Chiang Mai, Thailand

3. Take a Thai Cooking Class

From Pad Thai to Red Curry to Som Tum, the foods in Thailand are worth learning how to duplicate on your own. With dozens of cooking schools in Chiang Mai to choose from, we selected the Thai Orchid Cookery because it was just a couple doors down from our hotel, the 3 Sis, and it had rave reviews on Tripadvisor. We weren’t disappointed.

Thai Orchid Cookery1/1 Soi 8 Prapokkloa Road Prasing, Chiang Mai, Thailand | Map

Read > Learn to Make Pad Thai in Chiang Mai.
pad thai in Chiang Mai

4. Ride in a Tuk Tuk

There are a few modes of transportation throughout Chiang Mai, but none more well known that the tuk tuk. A tuk tuk is a 3-wheeled motorized vehicle that you will see zipping all around the towns of Thailand and a one of the most popular things to do. The fares typically run from 60 – 100 baht, but make sure to confirm this price before hopping on!

Read > Traveling by Tuk Tuk & Other Transportation
Annette White in a Tuk Tuk in Chiang Mai, Thailand

5. Chat with a Monk

While exploring the amazing wats of Chiang Mai, there is an opportunity for a very unique experience. A few of the temples in the city have a “Monk Chat” program where curious visitors are able to speak to the monks about almost any aspect of life. This is the perfect opportunity to get insight into their lifestyle and beliefs.

A popular place to do these chats is at Wat Chedi Luang.

Book a Tour > Chiang Mai Temple Tour
Chiang Mai Thailand Monk Chat | Bucket List

6. Snack on Insects

Though not on the dinner table in a typical Thai home, eating insects was on my bucket list and you can definitely do it in Chiang Mai. At the famous Sunday night market, I found an entire booth dedicated to edible bugs. All sorts of varieties were there; crickets, cicada, mealworms and whirligig beetles. How will you choose?

Read > Eating Insects at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market
Edible Insects in Chiang Mai, Thailand

7. See a Muay Thai Boxing Match

Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) is known as the national sport, is one of the hardest of the martial arts and is one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai. As you walk through the city center at night you will encounter people on the streets handing out flyers and yelling “Thai boxing tonight”.

There are several stadiums to see a match at, which usually costs 400-600 baht, but Kawila Boxing Stadium and Thapae Boxing Stadium are amongst the most popular.
See a Muay Thai Boxing Match in Chiang Mai - Bucket List

8. Drink Thai Iced Tea

Also known as Cha Yen, a Thai iced tea is one of the most refreshing drinks in the city. This strongly brewed Ceylon tea is sweetened and then topped with condensed milk (or half and half). You won’t have to look far to find one, they can be ordered at almost any restaurant in Chiang Mai.

Buy > Traditional Iced Tea Mix for Home
Thai Iced Tea in Chiang Mai, Thailand

9. Indulge in Sticky Rice With Mango

When I first heard that sticky rice with mango (Khao Niaow Ma Muang) was a popular dessert in Thailand, I thought ‘where’s the chocolate?’. But, after tasting this classic made with Thai sweet rice I forgot all about its lack of cocoa.

It is served at many restaurants around Chiang Mai, but my favorite one was at Brown Rice Organic Bistro.

Recipe > Sticky Rice with Mango from Epicurious
Mango with Sticky Rice

10. Get a Thai Massage in Thailand

On my last day in Chiang Mai, I realized that I had had an embarrassing amount of foot massages, including one by a prison inmate, but had not indulged in a traditional Thai massage. There was no way I could possibly leave this country without being able to say  “I got a Thai massage in Thailand”

I headed over to the hoity toity Fah Lanna Spa and where a one hour Thai massage for 400 baht ($12.00 usd). Expensive by Thai standards, but worth every penny.

Fah Lanna Spa | Wiang Kaew, Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District | Map

Read > Get a Thai Massage in Thailand
Thai Massage Room at Fah Lanna

11. Eat Khao Soi

Khao soi, a northern Thai coconut curry soup, is an iconic part of the regions cuisine. It is made with a red curry, a splash of coconut milk, chicken and crunchy noodles on top.

I ate this delicious bowl at Ginger & Café.

Ginger & Cafe |Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand | Menu | Map
Khao Sui in Chiang Mai

12. Hail a Songthaew

I was a bit hesitant to try my hand at hitching a ride on a songthaew. These shared taxi trucks took a bit more understanding to master than the tuk tuk. You will see dozens of them throughout the city of Chiang Mai and they basically have no scheduled routes. You wave one down, tell them where you are going and they either nod their head indicating to get in or shake it to non-verbally say that you are out of luck.

The standard charge is 20 baht, unless you actually ask how much they charge, a sure sign of a tourist, then they will immediately quote you double. Don’t ask.

After you get the hang of it, it is the most practical and economical way to go, as long as you are clear about where you are heading.
songthaew truck in Chiang Mai

13. Bathe an Elephant

The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation camp where visitors can get an elephant education, plus feed and bathe these majestic creatures. The park is located just an hour from the Chiang Mai city center and they will even pick you up at your hotel to take you there. This was one of my favorite things to do near Chiang Mai.

Read > Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand
Annette White Bathing Elephants in Thailand

14. Shoot a Beebee Gun

There are a dozen reasons to go the Chiang Mai’s famous Sunday night market and shooting a beebee gun is one of them.

A round will run you a whopping 10 baht (0.30 cents USD), but it may cost you significantly more to actually hit the bull’s-eye.
Annette White Shooting Beebee Gun

15. Have a Meal at a Wat

On the grounds of Wat Suan Dok you can indulge in a delicious meal at Pun Pun. This organic restaurant is a project aimed at supporting local organic farmers and farmer networks. Using the freshest ingredients you will find everything from a mixed vegetable salad to deep fried shitake mushrooms.

Pun Pun |  321 Charoenrat Road, Chiang Mai | Map
Chiang Mai Food Restaurant at Wat Suan Dok

16. See a Pure White Temple

After traveling for a week in Chiang Mai, I was just about all templed out. But, that was before a short trip to the peculiar White Temple in Chiang Rai. The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, is an unconventional Buddhist Temple located about 2 1/2 hours north of Chiang Mai. And it is a vision of pure white. Go figure. The Wat Rong Kuhn is decked out in white, meant to symbolize purity.

Read > Make Wishes at the White Temple in Chiang Rai.
Book a Tour > Chiang Golden Triangle Tour
The White Temple of Chiang Rai

17. Tour an Umbrella Factory

About 8 km Southeast of Chiang Mai, the umbrella factory at Bo Sang Handicraft Centre is a bare-bones production factory, with workers scattered about making every part of the umbrella, from start to finish. Even the paper was created on premise and meticulously applied by a single woman.

Bo Sang Handicraft CentreBo Sang, Bo Sang, San Kamphaeng,Thailand | Map

Read > Learn to Make Handicraft Umbrellas in Chiang Mai
Umbrella Factory Chiang Mai Thailand

18. Explore Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang is an eye-catching Buddhist temple that is centrally located inside the Chiang Mai city walls. It is worthy of your bucket list to explore its large viharn (sermon hall), naga dragons at it’s doorstep and the ruined brick chedi that sits behind the grand assembly hall.

Wat Chedi Luang | 103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Muang District, Chiang Mai | Map

Read > Explore a Temple Inside the City Walls of Chiang Mai.
Book a Tour > Chiang Mai Temple Tour
Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai Thailand

What’s on your Chiang Mai bucket list?

You Might Also Enjoy

Get a Thai Massage in Thailand
Eat Insects at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market
Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand
Wat Chedi Luang: Explore a Temple Inside the City Walls of Chiang Mai
Learn to Make Handicraft Umbrellas in Chiang Mai
Get a Foot Massage by a Prison Inmate in Chiang Mai
Traveling by Tuk Tuk in Chiang Mai & Other Transporation
Make Wishes at the White Temple in Chiang Rai
Tour an Insect Museum in Chiang Mai
Thailand Elephant Sanctuary: 5 of the Best Rescues in or Near Chiang Mai

Helpful Resources

Map of Chiang Mai

2018-12-27T13:20:42+00:00June 20th, 2014|Categories: Asia, BUCKET LISTS, Thailand, TRAVEL|Tags: , , , |


  1. rebecca June 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    These are fantastic! 100 year old egg… snack on insects…. hmm don’t know how I feel about that, however they are all going on the bucket list!

    • Annette White June 21, 2014 at 2:40 am - Reply

      Eating just one, tiny little bug won’t hurt you. Just pretend it’s popcorn 🙂

  2. Paul Mostowyj June 21, 2014 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Bath an elephant is on my mum’s bucket list. We’re currently trying to make it happen, but she wouldn’t fly to Thailand!

    • Annette White June 21, 2014 at 6:39 am - Reply

      How sweet it would be if you competed that goal with your mum 🙂 I hope you are able to find a closer location or get her to fly!!

  3. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 21, 2014 at 5:41 am - Reply

    Brilliant post! I will use this when I go to Chiang Mai!

  4. David June 22, 2014 at 4:40 am - Reply

    Love Chiang Mai and this piece really gets under the skin of the place. Really want to eat Mango andSticky Rice now…..

  5. Cindy June 23, 2014 at 2:34 am - Reply

    You can also rent a bike to go to Chiang Rai, riding on the road right in-between Burma and Thailand, sort of a no-man-land between two check-points ! Amazing view !

  6. Christopher Wallace June 23, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

    We got bicycles when we were in Chamg Mai, It was a bit cooler up there compared to Bangkok but If you go out in the evening time as the sun goes down then it realy is a sight to behold.

  7. Marcia @ CuracaoVacation June 25, 2014 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Excellent article. I didn’t know you could do a lot of things in Thailand. You did some of the most incredible things. But I’m not sure how that 100 year old egg tasted!

  8. Mark June 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    I was there 15 years ago … really fascinating destination. I remember also a Spanish retaurant in the middle of the city; there we meet a grup of spanish people coming from the same city than us 😉
    Congrats, excellent post!

  9. Mellisa June 28, 2014 at 5:56 am - Reply

    What a great list of things to do in Thailand. I really hope to make it there someday but I am not sure I will be eating a preserved egg!! You are one brave lady.

  10. jennifer July 17, 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Great list! Will have to try out a few on my next visit.

  11. suree February 26, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Thai food make me drool so much. Feeling hungry when I am writing this and that white temple look awesome!

    • Annette White February 26, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

      I agree! Thai food is one of my favorites. As a matter of fact I may go and get a papaya salad right now.

  12. Gabriel June 11, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Awesome. I’m going to Thailand for Thanksgiving. Do you know how far of a drive Chiang Mai is from Bangkok?

    • Annette White June 11, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      What a great way to spend Thanksgiving! It’s quite a lengthy drive between the two, about eight hours. Though, you could probably find a night bus and sleep through it 🙂

      • Gabriel June 12, 2015 at 2:49 am - Reply

        Gosh after seeing your list. I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed I changed my itenary. I was originally going for 15 days, which included Chiang Mai as one of the stops. I wanted to visit the long neck village and get a picture exactly like you have with the neck piece on. I had to change my itenary because of another trip I’m taking. So I switched it to 9 days instead, which eliminated visiting Chiang Mai. Sounds like it will be too far to squeeze in. So I’ll go cry myself to sleep now

        I love your blog by the way. I’ve never really found a blog that has caught my attention or sparked any interest but I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted to yours. Keep up the amazing work, awesome post, and travels. I hope to get as many stamps on my passport as you, one day.

        • Annette White June 15, 2015 at 10:38 am - Reply

          Thanks for the kudos and I hope you make it to Chiang Mai one day. It was one of my favorite places to travel to.

  13. shara June 29, 2015 at 4:02 am - Reply

    I”ve always been in Thailand, and yes it’s wonderful as you imagine and There are many things to do there while having a vacation but this Thai boxing…!!?I never gone watching this. It’s a bit funny but I really want to watch this boxing in Thailand. Maybe in my next come back. I will try this one.. Thank you for including this in your post.

  14. Maxime December 12, 2015 at 5:03 am - Reply

    Cool post! Lots of yummy food experiences to add into my list! I am going there for Xmas and planning my itinerary now. Chiang Mai has also beautiful nature surroundings.

    Almost ready for my trip !

    • Annette White December 12, 2015 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      It should be beautiful weather there for Christmas!! Have a wonderful time.

  15. Surender @ Thailand Holiday January 20, 2016 at 4:57 am - Reply

    Thailand is known for its spectacular scenery, hospitality, historical monuments and traditions. I felt a visit to this fascinating country will leave you wanting repeat Thailand holidays. when we talk about Chiang Mai, Its not only Thailand’s fifth largest city but is also the main tourist hub for the country’s northern region.

    Thanks for sharing great bucket list of things to do in Chiang Mai with us.

  16. Dr. Alan February 16, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Really nice job. Looking forward to it.

  17. Mercy March 27, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    What was your method of transportation from Chaing Mai to the white temple?

    • Annette White April 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      I booked a tour through my hotel and they had a shuttle that did door to door service.

  18. Padam Kumar sethia May 5, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    It’s nice to see Thailand Chiang mail visit

  19. Micah Suarez June 10, 2016 at 2:20 am - Reply

    Hi, have you thought of visiting the Philippines lately? I highly recommend you take a walk in our metro, please usethis as your reference if ever. I’d love it if you can spare some thought here too.

    • Annette White June 11, 2016 at 6:22 am - Reply

      I have never been to the Philippines, but it’s definitely on my list!

  20. Jan July 19, 2016 at 5:26 am - Reply

    The white temple is really impressive! got it in my top 25 as well:P https://www.thecrazytourist.com/top-25-things-to-do-in-chiang-mai/

  21. Chiang activites October 7, 2016 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Meals in Chiang Mai is excellent and on the Weekend Evening Industry there LOADS of delightful road food, regional and worldwide .I’d look for Pad Chinese (touristy but good) and Khao Soi exclusively, but nothing better than a food preparation category to get you introduced!

  22. Rina November 3, 2016 at 12:07 am - Reply

    will be here soon, thanks for the reccomendation 🙂

  23. Pierce November 20, 2016 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    hopefully going with my mom, it looks great. also I’m trying to pursue photography, would you say its one of the most visually stunning places you’ve been too?

    • Annette White November 21, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      What a wonderful experience it would be with your mom. I love photography too and I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually stunning, but there are definitely a lot of wonderful photo opportunities! You will walk away with lots of pictures!

  24. Rhea December 4, 2016 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Wow great post! I already tried 5 on ur list around bangkok krabi and phuket..will cross out the others when i visit Chiang Mai soon. Good job!?

    • Annette White December 4, 2016 at 8:27 am - Reply

      Good job!!! I hope you get the rest checked off in Chiang Mai!

  25. Stephanie January 19, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    What about the Grand Canyon?! Arriving tomorrow night to chiang mai for the second time but this time I’m definitely checking out this canyon 🙂

    • Annette White January 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon (only in Arizona!), but the pictures look incredible. Let me know how it is!

  26. Lisa September 30, 2017 at 4:08 am - Reply

    You support Elephant Nature Park? Their is from nature only title on the name. Only for marketing. Terrible place, only for collect money from tourists and zero nature… Same cruel treatment of animals as in many other places… The last time there were more than 60 people with us. And only 5 elephants. Others stood tied up in stables. I could not even take a photo. Faster, faster, faster! Go! It’s time for us to leave!

    • Annette White September 30, 2017 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the Elephant Nature Park. Mine was a positive one, and I would hope that others would be the same.

  27. Tita December 19, 2017 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Hello Annette! Lovely report 🙂 🙂
    I’m going to Chiang Mai and I wanted to do a shared tour to the Chiang Rai white temple and the Karen Long Neck village (WITHOUT the golden triangule). Do you think it’s possible? all the tours that I see online is with the golden triangule included.
    Thanks so much,

    • Annette White December 19, 2017 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Hello! Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen one without the golden triangle. It may be best to ask your hotel when you get there. Have a GREAT time, it’s an amazing place.

  28. HL Thailand April 24, 2018 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    Super love how you were able to do lots of things in Chiang Mai! My favorite is probably taking a short cooking class since you’ll learn how to cook the Thai dishes in the authentic way plus you’ll get to know more about our culture.

  29. Eddie A August 30, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    This is a great list – I wish I did all of these while we were there. We (family of 3) went to Chiang Mai last December and loved every minute of it! We did bathe an elephant at a different elephant rescue, took a cooking class, and did the Monk Chat at Wat Chedi Luang, as well as many of the other things you mentioned, but not all. We also spent a couple days in Chiang Rai, rather than making a day trip out of seeing Wat Rong Khun. I highly recommend spending a little more time in Chiang Rai. It’s a lovely little city, with it’s own flavor that you can only get by staying for a few days. I wished we had stayed longer. We spent a month in Thailand – one week of that in Chiang Mai. While we loved every place we went, I would have to say Chiang Mai found a special pace in our hearts.

    • Annette White September 7, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Sounds like you had an absolutely amazing time! I agree that there is something very special about Chiang Mai and I hope to return very soon 🙂

  30. Iina September 17, 2018 at 3:34 am - Reply

    I love Chiang Mai, but even better was our 3 night stay in a hill tribe village. We cooked and ate with the family, and participated in all village’s daily life. And made some friends for life. Truly recommended! Village experiences that are done together with the locals (not) are organised for ex by Duara Travels.

    • Annette White September 18, 2018 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Wow! What an incredible experience you must have had.

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