When I wrote my first Chiang Mai post, we’d seen very little of the city beyond our neighborhood and done very little to experience Thailand beyond participating in Songkran. We found much more time for fun exploration in our last three weeks in Chiang Mai. We definitely didn’t do everything (we skipped the elephant sanctuaries and the night zoo and some hikes and tons of the temples and the Thai cooking classes and probably much more). But, we had a lot of fun experiences during our time in Chiang Mai that I’d definitely recommend to other visitors.
Lots of Wats and Walks
Our time in Chiang Mai was very hot – over 100 degrees Fahrenheit – but we really enjoyed walking around the town and seeing all the wats (Buddhist temples). We saw the main three wats in the Old City, the wat atop Doi Suthep, the wat at the end of the Monk’s Trail, and our favorite, Wat Umong, the forest wat. All were worthwhile. You have to dress conservatively for the wats (shoulders and knees covered) but they really are beautiful and serene. Photos show far better than I can tell.
Logistics for anyone looking to visit these wats – we took a Grab to and from the Monk’s Trail (actually getting dropped off about a kilometer from the trailhead to save a couple of bucks), we did a private songtheow up Doi Suthep but joined a group back, and used Grab again for Wat Umong. We walked to the city walks.
We did a full-day private tour out to the Sticky Waterfall booked through Get Your Guide and it was a great experience. Our guide picked us up from our apartment and we learned that she loves waterfalls and the Sticky Waterfall especially. It was about an hour drive to the national park where it is located. It is called “sticky” because the limestone where the water runs so fast to prevent moss from growing is not at all slippery.
I would have been terrified to climb up and down the waterfall without our guide but she showed us exactly where it was safe to step (where the water runs fastest) and how to get past the slippery parts. After some fun time exploring the waterfall with her and on our own, she took us for lunch and then to a cave temple where she brought an offering of food. It was an unforgettable day and very much worth doing.
Huay Tung Tao Lake – We went out to this reservoir to the north of Chiang Mai. We took a Grab (Asian Uber) out to the lake and walked around. We went on a weekday and it was pretty empty, though I understand on the weekends a lot of locals go out there. There are plenty of restaurants ringing the waterfront, though we didn’t stay long enough to eat (it got really hot in the late morning). The highlight, I think, was a sculpture park of hay king kongs and other animals – quite unique. It was all really nice and a fun way to spend a morning in nature.
Chiang Mai Zoo – We love zoos and it is fun to see how they differ across cultures. Chiang Mai’s was worth seeing, especially for the close up views of the giant pandas.
Lanna Traditional House Museum – This was a fun affordable attraction that really heightened our appreciation of traditional architecture. After visiting we looked at many of the buildings in the Old City in a whole new light. We didn’t end up going to any of the other culture museums, but learning a little bit about Lanna life was very interesting.
We really enjoyed our time in Chiang Mai and definitely want to go back (probably in November some year when it is cooler). Our quality of life there was really high and it was definitely the most affordable place we’ve been thus far. Chad really wanted to stay longer (though the Thai government limits you to 30 days without a longer visa), but four weeks was enough for me for now. We’ll always look back fondly on our time in Chiang Mai.
We had a great 4-week stay in Candy’s apartment. She was very friendly and responsive, even providing transportation from and to the airport for us, which is such a kind gesture. And, since we were there for Songkran, she gave us a pair of super soakers so we could join in the fun! The apartment is very spacious for a studio with plenty of cookware for cooking some meals in. The balcony was very nice in the mornings to enjoy coffee and breakfast. We thought the location was perfect – very close to Maya Mall for the best 50-baht lunches and a bus stop out front for the RTC line making it easy to get to Old City. Traveling by Grab to anywhere was also very affordable. The building is near to a Makro for discount groceries (even western items). We loved the big pool and having a washer in the apartment. This apartment also had one of our best Airbnb showers ever with both hot water and good water pressure! We found the bed to be comfortable too. The wifi was fast, although there were a few times the Internet went out in the whole building. This tended not to last long and I think fairly common in Chiang Mai. Everything else was absolutely perfect. We highly recommend this apartment for any length of stay in Chiang Mai.