What to see in Chiang Mai in 3 days

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and many people who have visited this country say it deserves even more than Bangkok, the capital.

But what is it that makes Chiang Mai so fascinating?
Its historic center, the numerous temples and the beautiful surroundings certainly help to fascinate the many tourists who come to this city every year. On the other hand, there will be a reason if it is called the Rose of the North.

Among its night market, the famous temple of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the Sanctuary of the Elephants, the historic center enclosed within the ancient walls, there are so many things to do and see, which perhaps a week would not be enough!

Have we intrigued you? Are you ready to set out to discover this Thai destination? Here an itinerary on what to see in Chiang Mai in 3 days!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. How much does a weekend in Chiang Mai cost
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Suan Dok Gate, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang

First day dedicated to the discovery of the old city and its beautiful temples, moving on foot, while the second and third day you will get to know the surroundings, it will therefore be necessary to rent a moped or use a taxi.

To start the day stop and do breakfast at Blind Coffee, where you will have a wide choice of desserts at great prices. An Iced Latte, for example, costs only 35,00 THB (about € 1,00).

Here you will be very close to the Suan Dok Gate, one of the entrance gates to the historic center, which still preserves the ancient walls. This is the western gate and dates back to 1296, the year in which the city was founded.

From the door walk along the main street and in just 400 meters you will arrive at the first attraction of the day, Wat Phra Singh, the most important temple in the center historic city, also called the Golden Temple. It is always very crowded, but inside there is silence and a sense of sacredness. Inside is a large golden statue of the Buddha. It is open from 6:00 to 22:00 and admission is free, in case you want to enter the main viharn the cost is only 50,00 THB (about € 1,50).

Another beautiful temple is just 650 meters away, the Wat chedi luang. Its golden and shimmering roof stands out on the other roofs of the city and inside you can admire several rooms and be enchanted by its monumentality. Admission costs only 50 THB (approximately € 1,50) and is open from 8:00 to 17:00.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Wat Phan Tao, Three Kings Monument, historic center

It is time for lunch and we advise you to stop at Baan Tem Aim Thai Cuisine, enjoy a good Pad Thai or other traditional dishes, you will not go to spend more than € 5,00 per person.

It is time to continue the discovery of the city. Go to the Wat Phan Tao, one of the oldest temples, located right next to Wat Chedi Luang. You will immediately notice that a lot of wood has been used inside, which makes the gold color of the statues stand out even more. Admission is free and is open from 6:00 to 17:00.

After that, head to the Three Kings Monument, the monument dedicated to the three founders of Chiang Mai: King Mengrai, King Ramkhamhaeng and King Ngam Muang. The bronze statue is located in the center of the square just in front of the entrance to the cultural center. This is a real meeting point. The square and the monument are always accessible and free.

Stroll through the alleys, admire the magnificent palaces and their architecture, this is absolutely the best way to get to know Chiang Mai and fully enjoy its atmosphere.

3 - Evening: Dinner, Night Bazaar

And between one visit and another it will be time for price. Exit the historic center from Tha Phae Gate and head towards the Night Bazaar, the incredible night market, full of stalls of everything, including food!

This is an excellent opportunity to taste the much famous Thai street food. In fact, it is said that you cannot really claim to have been in Thailand if you have not tried its street food.
A peculiarity of street food is that besides being delicious it is really very cheap! With less than € 5,00 you will eat a lot and be fully satisfied.

Enjoy a tour of this huge market. It will be impossible to see it all in one evening due to its extent, but it is definitely a must see not to be missed.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 4,5 km / 56 min
  • Places visited: Suan Dok Gate (free), Wat Phra Singh (free), Wat Chedi Luang (50 THB / € 1,50), Wat Phan Tao (free), Three Kings Monument (free), Tha Phae Gate (free), Night Bazaar (free)
  • Chiang Mai: Old Town 4-Hour Bike Tour Chiang Mai: Small Group Cultural & Temples Tour Chiang Mai: Local Food Market Evening Tour
  • breakfast at Blind Coffee (Get directions); lunch at Baan Tem Aim Thai Cuisine (Get Directions); dinner at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar (Get Directions)

2 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Hmong Village

Get out of the city to discover one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, 12 km from the city. To achieve it, you can rent a moped, with an average cost of € 5,00 per day, or rely on a taxi, and maybe rent it for the whole day, so it can take you to various places.
Be prepared to bargain, because they will offer you high amounts, but you should get away with paying around 450 THB (about 15,00)! Alternatively, you can take part in a organized tour which will take you to discover both the temple and the nearby Hmong village, so you don't have to worry about transport - book your tour online

Once you arrive at your destination, you can have breakfast at the Organic coffee and tee, choosing between tea or coffee and a good dessert.

Il Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is the most important temple in northern Thailand! Of course, it will always be crowded, so the sooner you get there the better. To get to the top, you will have to face a staircase of over 300 steps, a grind, but it will definitely be worth it! The temple is open from 6:00 am to 18:00 pm, admission costs THB 50,00 (approximately € 1,50).

Once the visit is over, head to the neighbor Hmong village, which is located within the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Inhabited by a tribe known primarily for its own colorful and handmade costumes and for its incredible artisan traditions. Stroll through its little shops, taste the red fruits, very famous in this area (here you will find the Pan Dow Strawberry Farm), and relax for a moment in this corner of paradise. The village can be visited every day from 8:00 to 17:00 and admission is free.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Bhubing Palace, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

Stop at lunch in the village of Hmong, at Saline thai food, and enjoy traditional dishes, surrounded by nature and in an atmosphere of calm and serenity. You will spend an average of € 5,00 per person.

After recovering your energy, set out to discover the beautiful Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.
A must see is the Bhubing Palace, a residential complex of the king of Thailand, also known as the Winter Palace. The palace is open from 8:30 am to 16:30 pm and admission costs THB 50,00 (approximately € 1,50). It is closed from January to March, when the royals move here.

As for Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, the park stretches over 261 square kilometers and hides many small wonders. One of its main attractions is the Huey Kaew waterfall cascades, which are only a hundred meters from the main road. Another famous waterfall is that of Mon Tha Than, which is spread over 9 different levels.

The park is always accessible and it can be discovered freely, without paying entrance fees. The only cost to be charged is the transport (always remember to bargain).

3 - Evening: Dinner, Chiang Mai Center

Once your tour of this beautiful area is over, return to Chiang Mai for the price. We advise you to head to the river area and stop at Ton Goom River Front, a restaurant open until midnight where you can eat traditional Thai dishes, in order to continue your journey also in the discovery of flavors. Frequented mainly by locals, you will eat very well spending an average of € 7,00 per person.

And for the evening, we recommend you enjoy one nice walk through the streets of the city or stop for a drink in one of the many clubs on the other side of the river, near the Night Bazaar, for example at the Boy Blues Bar, a club with live music.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 40,3 km / 1 h 38 min with the vehicle
  • Places visited: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (free), Huai Rap Sadet Waterfall (free), Doi Suthep-Pui National Park (free), Bhubing Palace (50,00 THB / € 1,50),
  • Doi Suthep and Hmong Hill Tribe Tour from Chiang Mai
  • breakfast at Organic coffee and tee (Get directions); lunch at Saline thai food (Get directions); dinner at Ton Goom River Front (Get Directions)

3 day

1 - Day trip: Elephant Nature Park

You absolutely cannot get lost a day with the elephants!
In fact, at 60 km north there is theElephant nature park, a place where you can see elephants up close, feed them and play with them.

Before leaving, do breakfast in the center at the Cafe de Thaan Aoan, which is located in a strategic position in the center and is open as early as 7:00, so you can leave early to reach the Elephant Nature Park.

For this activity it will take a day off, it is absolutely worth it. Indeed, it is one of the reasons why many tourists decide to stop in Chiang Mai.

Many depart from the city every day organized tours, which also include transport. Moreover, the "Single Day Ticket" also includes lunch and transport. The cost is THB 2.500 (about € 75,00) for adults, THB 1.250 (about € 37,00) for children.
Taking part in tours is the easiest way, as you don't have to worry about anything - book your tour online from € 77,00.

Divided into groups, you will go to the discovery of the reserve, you can feed the elephants and play with them. The guide will provide you with all the information on their behavior, on how they live in a group and on the elephants you will meet, as well as the rules to follow to approach them. Furthermore, she will be ready to answer all your questions and curiosities. An experience absolutely to live.

2 - Evening: Dinner, historic center

Once the beautiful day with the elephants is over, you will be dropped off directly in Chiang Mai by your driver, so you don't even have to worry about calling a taxi. To travel the 60 km, it will take you about an hour and a half.

Once you reach the center, you will surely be hungry. Stop at price at The River Market Restaurant, a beautiful restaurant serving traditional Thai cuisine, overlooking the river.
The perfect place to end your stay in Chiang Mai. On average, you will spend no more than € 10,00, a little more than average, but the place and the quality of the dishes are absolutely worth it.

And after dinner, here you will find yourself at the gates of the historic center and near the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and Ploen Ruedee Night Market, the choice is yours on how to end your last evening in Chiang Mai!

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 115 km / 2 h 32 min with the vehicle
  • Places visited: Elephant Nature Park (single day ticket 2.500 THB / € 75,00), historic center (free)
  • Chiang Mai: elephant care at Elephant Retirement Park Chiang Mai: elephant sanctuary visit
  • breakfast at Cafe de Thaan Aoan (Get Directions); lunch included in the Single Day Ticket of the Elephant Nature Park; dinner at The River Market Restaurant (Get Directions)

How much does a weekend in Chiang Mai cost

Chiang Mai, like the rest of Thailand, it is a very economical destination!

Of course, in some areas the prices may seem a little higher than average, this is because the city is at the center of tourist routes and every year so many tourists come to visit it, leading to a rise in prices.
But there are many places to eat for less than € 5,00, not to mention the many types of accommodation. And if you are good at bargaining, you can also save on transport.
The only thing that will cost more will be the excursion to the elephant sanctuary, but it is absolutely worth it!

We see how much does a weekend in Chiang Mai cost based on the itinerary we propose:

  • Costs to eat: about € 15,00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Costs for museums and attractions: about € 6,00 per person following the itinerary suggested by us + € 75,00 for the excursion to the Sanctuary of the Elephants (including transport to / r and lunch)
  • Transportation: about € 30,00 per person
  • Hotels, accommodation and b & b: Hotel and b & b starting from € 20,00 per room -
  • Fun: from € 15,00 per person (including snacks, coffee, aperitifs, drinks, ...)
  • Total cost of a weekend in Chiang Mai: from € 211,00 per person (excluding flights)

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Chiang Mai: the best period is from December to February, that is the dry season, when the temperature is mild even if the night is lower; from March to May the temperatures are very high, on average around 37 °; from May to mid-October is the monsoon period, with numerous rainfall
  • the city is served by Chiang Mai International Airport, is 4 km from the center, reachable: by taxi, average cost of 150,00 THB (about € 4,50); by tuk tuk, at an average cost of THB 120,00 (about € 3,60, remember to bargain if they ask for more!); with the shared taxi, per person you will spend about 30,00 THB (about € 0,90), but the journey times are longer; with local buses, a ticket costs only 20,00 THB (approx € 0,60) - Compare flights from € 535,00 -
  • you will find a wide choice of accommodation; the best choice is to sleep in the historic center, near the main attractions and temples; a good alternative is Wualai Road, just outside the center and more convenient; if you want to stay in the most modern part, choose the Night Bazaar area - Hotel and b & b starting from € 20,00 per room -
  • Getting around: the best thing is to walk; if you need to reach more distant places, there are taxis or tuk tuks at an average cost of € 2,00, maximum € 3,00 for about 5/6 km, remember to negotiate the price before boarding the vehicle; if you decide to take collective taxis, the price will drop further; in case of local buses, the ticket will only cost you 20,00 THB (about € 0,60) each way; if you know how to use two wheels, we recommend that you rent a moped and move freely in the city and its surroundings, but beware of traffic, the average cost is only € 5,00 per day
  • Street food: it is really delicious and will allow you to take a trip within a trip, the only advice is to always make sure that the food is cooked under your eyes, also the price is really super cheap, around € 1,00 / € 2,00 .6,00; if you decide to eat in restaurants, for a two-course meal you will spend on average only € per person
  • Local currency: Thai Bath (THB) / € 1,00 = THB 33,55

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