10 cool things to do in Chiang Mai

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Avator By Lauren Noakes
Marketing Assistant
Published 12th August 2022
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10 Cool Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Take a walk on the wild side in Chiang Mai with our travel insurance team’s top things to do whilst visiting the Thai city. Dive into Chiang Mai life and venture off the beaten track – this list is for travelers who do things differently.

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1. Coffee and Chill at the Cat Café

After its popularity skyrocketed across China and Japan, the cat café concept landed in Chiang Mai at the appropriately named Catmosphere. Designed to inspire a cat-filled adventure across the universe, the café features spaceship décor with cats in space covering the walls. Here you will make friends with the fifteen cats calling the café home. As you may expect, drinks are a tad more expensive than in other hospitality outlets in Thailand, but where else can you chill out with a coffee surrounded by cats? Busy periods translate to a two-hour maximum slot, but that’s often enough to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a brew.

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2. Unwind at Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm

Orchids are the symbol of Thailand and are very popular throughout the country. Just outside Chiang Mai, visitors can admire these beautiful intricate flowers year-round at Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm. For something different, head to the gift shop, where you’ll find fresh orchids dipped in gold and lovingly crafted into unique jewelry. Before you leave, stroll over to the Butterfly Farm to immerse yourself in a world surrounded by thousands of butterflies in their natural environment.

3. Meet the Long Neck Karen Tribe

Native to Myanmar, the Karen are a tribal group that fled to Thailand during the ongoing political unrest in their homelands. Located outside of Chiang Mai is Mae Rim, one of the small villages where you can meet members of the tribe who open their homes to tourists for an income. The best way to experience the tribe is alongside a local tour guide, as they’ll be able to chat with the locals and ask them any questions you may have. It’s also essential to be as respectful as possible during your visit and go with a tour company that prioritises ethical and responsible tourism.

4. A Massage to Remember: Traditional Thai Massage from an Ex-Prisoner

Massage parlours are popular throughout Thailand but receiving a massage from an ex-prisoner is an experience very few can say they’ve had. The Woman’s Prison in Chiang Mai has a variety of programs where the soon-to-be-released women are educated with practical life skills, and one such program is the ex-prisoner massage parlour. Don’t worry; security is always at the site, ensuring the women adhere to all the rules. This is a unique chance for women to find their way into work after prison life.

5. Jump from The San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

Nestled in a small forest and surrounded by breathtaking mountain views, the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs are a perfect escape from a hectic adventure through Thailand. Being submerged in a mineral bath swimming pool is the ultimate in natural pampering. Why not indulge in a local tradition of boiling eggs in the water lunch for a totally different experience?

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6. Become a Meditation Master at Wat Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai is synonymous with becoming at one with yourself. Most famously, the Doi Suthep Vipassana Meditation Centre is located on the lush Suthep Mountain. Every day thousands of visitors silently walk through the temple as speaking is forbidden. Take part in a meditation course and learn from a true master as you focus on your breathing and clear your mind.

Songkran Celebrations

7. Get Wet at Songkran Celebrations

A festival like no other, Songkran – Thailand’s water festival – is an experience you’ll never forget. Lasting for three days, the whole city of Chiang Mai is animated with excitement as people soak each other with water guns and buckets in this fun-filled event. Don’t forget to protect your valuables before stepping outside, as you’re in for a thrill. Patiently waiting around every corner are residents who are ready and waiting to douse unsuspecting passers-by with shed loads of water. You’re in for a wild time!

8. Jump Around at the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon

Only 20 minutes outside Chiang Mai, the Hang Dong Quarry, otherwise known as the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon, is a stunning swimming spot. For years it was only visited by a few locals and ex-pats but has now been transformed into a tourist attraction. The main attraction is cliff jumping, where you can dive into the tranquil blue waters below. For those that don’t fancy catapulting themselves off a cliff, the canyon is still an awesome spot to hang out with friends, enjoy the sunshine, and chill by the water. Remember, there are lifeguards, and cliff jumping is only allowed in designated areas.

9. Floating Along Mae Ngat Dam

Sticky Waterfall is a top tourist attraction in Chiang Mai, but why not make a night of it by staying at Mae Ngat Dam? For the ultimate authentic experience, sleep in a floating house. Here you can watch the world go by on the house decks as you work on your tan and enjoy the company of the locals. Offering the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Northern Thailand, Mae Ngat Dam is a hidden gem of the region. It’s not every day you spend the night in a floating house on a Thai river!

10. Remember Chiang Mai Forever with a Sak Yant

If you’re done with Chiang Mai sightseeing and would like to commemorate your Thailand adventure – get a sak yant. Bamboo tattoos, known as a sak yant, have become synonymous with backpacking in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is the place to do it. A sak yant is a traditional, sacred tattoo in the Buddhist religion that is performed by an Ajarn or tattoo master. All over Chiang Mai there are many places you can get one of these souvenirs – but make sure you have a high pain tolerance first!

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