Top Chiang Mai Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Chiang Mai Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

70 Chiang Mai trips. Compare tour itineraries from 20 tour companies. 356 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.

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Top Chiang Mai Attractions & Experiences

Top Chiang Mai Experiences

  • Climbing the steep cliffs of a mountain to reach the secluded Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a golden Buddhist temple-monastery.
  • Spending an evening at Chiang Mai’s colorful Night Bazaar, shopping for local crafts and trying street food.
  • Going on a challenging but rewarding trek through the countryside, and spending your night with the Karen hill tribes in their rustic villages.
  • Enjoying and learning to cook traditional Thai food and make the regional specialty khao soi, a dish of noodles served in a delicious curry broth laced with hot chilis.
  • Getting soaked at the annual Songkran Water Festival during Thai New Year, and enjoying the celebrations without the tourist crowds of Bangkok.
  • Exploring the old walled city of Chiang Mai and its dozens of ruins of ancient wats (temples).
  • Volunteering at an elephant sanctuary and learning about these incredible creatures, and how they have lived in harmony (and in conflict) with humans in Thailand for centuries. You leaeve feeling rewarded, knowing visit will help support the conservation efforts of these incredible creatures!
  • Attending a fast paced Thai boxing match (Muay Thai) with locals, where competitors strike with feet as well as hands.

Chiang Mai Tours & Travel Guide

Chiang Mai Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The City of Chiang Mai

Surrounded by mountains, the ancient northern Thai city of Chiang Mai has long served as a temperate getaway from steaming Bangkok. Affectionately dubbed the “Rose of the North” for its flowers and foliage, it’s also a place to tour mountainside temples, visit hill tribes in nearby villages, pursue a range of outdoor activities, sample regional culinary specialties, and do most anything you can do in Bangkok, but on a smaller, more peaceful scale – making it a must-stop on most Thailand tours.

Mostly cut off from the rest of the world until a century ago, the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai – which dates from the 13th century – has retained a fair amount of its traditional charm, despite growing to a population of 170,000 and attracting tourists and expats for decades.

Western travelers have long regarded it as the “real Thailand,” -- though maybe a better way to put it is that Chiang Mai is a better reflection of what all of Thailand used to be. It’s a respite from the traffic, noise and bustle of Bangkok, but a much more authentic experience of a typical Thai person’s life than the beach resort areas of southern Thailand – and it’s still just as nice as those are!

Chiang Mai Cultural Tours

A cultural tour to Chiang Mai would be incomplete without a visit to the regional hill tribes. You can visit hill tribes in their villages in the Chiang Mai area, though be aware that many of the closest hill tribes are used to tourists and sometimes feel a little “less authentic” than the very remote ones.

However, these villagers are not putting on a show. They are true (and often government-protected) hill tribes, and no, the rings on their necks are not fake! These people (formally called the Kayan people) are discriminated against by the Thai government, and as a result are not allowed to take traditional jobs.

Whether or not you believe visiting the hill tribes is an ethical form of tourism, selling goods and taking photos with visitors is one of the few ways these people are able to make money.

Many men of the hill tribes work as mamouts (elephant handlers) at the nearby elephant sanctuary, so you will likely be greeted by the local women and children. They will be happy to show you the various aspects of how they live their life, and will likely be glad to sell you their crafts.

If you want to see a hill tribe that is totally unchanged by the tourist boom in Thailand, than you are better off finding a trekking tour. In exploring Thailand’s more rural corners, you are likely ot have to have a homestay in one of these remote villages. However, you are also still likely to at least  fly into Chiang Mai and given time to experience the city.

Another activity on your cultural tour is almost certainly to visit the beautifully decorated Buddhist wats (temples) to your heart’s content. Other popular activities include to dine on a wide variety of Thai and Western foods, enjoy Thai massages or soaking in nearby hot springs, and patronize boxing matches and bazaars, all in a green, mountainous setting.

Visiting Chiang Mai Wats

Wats – Thai Buddhist temples – are prominent landmarks, many of them lavishly decorated and reflecting a variety of architectural styles. Of the 300 or so local temples, here are some of the most interesting to visit:

1. Wat Phrathat Doi SuthepThis 14th-century gold-plated temple-monastery, is perched on a mountaintop overlooking the city from several miles away. You can climb hundreds of steps to reach it, or take the easy route by road or cable car.

2. Wat Chiang ManThe old city of Chiang Mai, once entirely surrounded by walls (portions of which remain), harbors about 30 temples within walking distance of each other. Wat Chiang Man, dating from the late 13th century, features two Buddha statues said to be at least 1,800 years old, while Wat Phra Singh contains a number of invaluable ancient Buddhist artworks.

Visiting Chiang Mai's Hilltop Villages

While some are now tourist-oriented, hill tribe villages are still among Chiang Mai’s top attractions. You can shop, of course, for local crafts and trinkets, but you can also view authentic traditional dress and houses and even experience a homestay. Many village residents originally came from other countries such as Laos, Burma, and even Sri Lanka, forming an array of ethnicities.

Traditional Thai Cuisine in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s regional cuisine is somewhat different than you’d find in other parts of the country, with more influences from neighboring countries. This is most noticeable in the popular local specialty khao soi, a yellow wheat noodle soup employing a Burmese-style curry broth, often stocked with chicken or beef, and traditionally served with hot chilis, pickled vegetables, and crispy noodles sprinkled on top.

Other Things to See & Do in Chiang Mai

You can find plenty of relaxation at outlets offering traditional Thai massage for much less than you’d pay back home. And you can view traditional Thai dancing at evening dinner shows. (The dancing typically surpasses the food, but the graceful moves and lovely costumes make up for the culinary deficits.)

Muay Thai – Thai boxing – is on display at various arenas. Muay Thai competitors are lightning quick with both hands and feet, since they can land blows with both.

If you’re in Chiang Mai in mid-April, you won’t want to miss the Thai Water Festival (Songkran Festival), held to celebrate the Thai New Year. Since April is Thailand’s hottest month, it’s the perfect time to douse your fellow tour companions with buckets of water or spray them with water pistols. Year-round, though, you can soak in local hot springs or swim in a number of waterfalls – your guides will know their locations.

Chiang Mai’s mountainous surroundings are good for outdoor activities such as trekking and hiking, mountain biking, floating down rivers on bamboo rafts, hot air ballooning, and ziplining.

Chiang Mai Reviews & Ratings

4.8/5  Excellent
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J

Jayson

Dec 2019

Written on

Above our expectation

It was a marvellous trip for us in Indochina. Everything was above our expectations except for the vegetarian food for my wife. The itinerary was perfectly organised...

F

Florence

Oct 2019

Written on

Good choice to South East Asia

I will HIGHLY recommend this tour to my family, friends and work colleagues who are thinking about travelling to Vietnam and South East Asia – and will personally re...

K

Keith

Aug 2019

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Fanstastic itinerary

Wow!  I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!  Thank you so much. The cities were fantastic as were the rural and water based adventures. The tours and gu...

C

Carly

May 2019

Written on

Warmest greetings from Australia

We made it back to Australia and our home town safe and sound. It is a three hour drive to my home town from Brisbane and I didn’t think it was safe for me to make ...

J

Jacob

May 2019

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Best travel consultant ever

All of the tour guides were brilliant – Tony in Hanoi and Sody in Cambodia were my personal faves. All the guides spoke very good English, were very friendly, court...

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