How to Spend 1 Day in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city, is a blend of ancient temples, modern hotels, busy night markets, and some of the country’s most crave-worthy cuisine. Whether you’re looking for an active vacation or relaxing getaway, there’s much to do. Here are some suggestions for how to spend 24 hours in the former Lanna kingdom.
Morning: Essential Chiang Mai
Start your day in Chiang Mai with a breakfast of pad thai followed by a walking tour of the walled city. Explore some of the city’s most famous Buddhist wats and temples, markets, and lively streets. To cover more ground, opt for a cycling tour, which allows you to go beyond the city walls to take in some of Chiang Mai’s ancient ruins and serene landscapes.
Afternoon: Adventure or Relaxation
Now that you have your bearings in the city, get out and stretch your legs at one of Chiang Mai’s most famous attractions, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Most tours to this temple on a mountain just outside Chiang Mai include visits to other area temples and hill tribe villages, or a hike in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. If you’re in the mood for something more relaxing, opt for a traditional Thai massage instead. Options include couples massages, foot reflexology, or a traditional full-body massage.
Night: Night Market
Chiang Mai is famous for its night markets, and even the shortest trips wouldn’t be complete without a visit. The most colorful mix of shops and stalls can be found at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, where the atmosphere remains lively from sundown to around midnight. Do some shopping and fill up on Thai street food at some of the market’s many stalls. The choice can be overwhelming, so join a street food tour to sample several local favorites—noodles, dumplings, stewed pork, and sweets—with insight from a foodie guide.