15 amazing things to do in Chiang Mai for awesome experience seekers

Instead of hanging out in Namman Haemin road or visiting your little old panda or the wild animals at Chiang Mai night safari, are there any other things to do in Chiang Mai? Where else can you visit without getting packed up with travellers?

As you might already know, Chiang Mai is one of the top destinations for foreign travellers (and the locals of course). Chiang Mai combines both the beauty of nature and all the chic cafes and shopping streets together. Sometimes, it’s hard to find unique activities where you can really enjoy the local experiences. 

Need some ideas? Here are some…

Awesome things to do in Chiang Mai you would absolutely adore

1. Chill out by Pha Dok Siew waterfalls (น้ำตกผาดอกเสี้ยว)

Pha Dok Siew is one of the places you shouldn’t miss when visiting Mae Klang Luang hill. Known by many Thai visitors as ‘Ruk Jung’ waterfall since the 10-level fall was used as one of the shooting locations of a famous Thai movie called ‘Ruk Jung.’

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Once you make it to the 7th level of the falls and gaze down to the ground, you’ll see the stunning scene of the falls, the wooden bridge, and everything.

2. Jump off the cliff and swim at Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai

Grand Canyon has recently been discovered and favored by many foreign travelers. The venue is not very far from the downtown either. The overall site of this place, itself, is already breathtaking, not to mention that you can enter the place to swim for the entrance fee (as small as 50 baht). You can also take awesome photos here for free. One of the most awesome things to do in Chiang Mai.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – As I’ve said, the place is very charming already; red cliffs with emerald green water. You can also go swimming and jumping off cliffs of Grand Canyon.

[Note that you need to check for the ‘No Swimming’ sign around the area you want to jump off first.]

3. Drink a good cup of coffee at Mae Kam Pong village

Mae Kum Pong is a peaceful village where you can observe the local way of life along with vintage houses and beautiful natures. Surrounded by the evergreen forest, the neighborhood offers you one of the best views you should never miss when you visit Chiang Mai.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Imagine you are drinking a hot coffee on this bench while enjoying this view.

4. Support sustainable tourism by learning how to make ‘Poopoo Paper’

Yes. You heard that right. Making paper from Elephant’s poo is one of the most fun things to do in Chiang Mai, if you are a person with the Green heart (and don’t mind with the big pal’s dung dung). You’ll get to learn how to make this pretty paper from the very first step of collecting the waste to the very last process.

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source image from handicrafttourism.com

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – It’s a very fun workshop indeed. You will be grateful that you can help support the locals and promote eco-tourism.

5. Paint your own wooden umbrella at Bo Sang

If you are a big fan of Asian period dramas (like myself lol) you are going to love this village. Not very far from Chiang Mai downtown, you will reach Umbrella ‘Bo Sang’ district where the locals have been producing hand-made Sa paper umbrellas and parasols. Watch the whole process of making the finest handicraft umbrella and how the artists beautifully paint each product.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Not only you can purchase those pretty parasols back home as souvenirs, but you can also ask the artists to hand-paint on any object (i.e t-shirt, handkerchief, book, etc) you like for a small fee.

6. Taking good care of our cutie Dumbo at the Elephant Sanctuary

Looking for a place where you can pamper these little babies, but not exactly sure where to? No worries. TakeMeTour is now offering you a perfect day tour to the local elephant sanctuary. From preparing nutritious meals for elephants to bathing them, there’s no riding and no forcing. Only love them and let them live the lives they deserve.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Everything! Who doesn’t love elephants anyway?

7. Rafting along with a bamboo raft at Lisu Lodge

Moving on for something more adventurous now. Raft along the local ‘Mae Tang’ river, while observe the charming scenery and explore the hill-tribe community of Lisu village, is perhaps one of the best once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I mean…how many places in Thailand that still have bamboo rafting available for visitors, unless you are in lost in the wild and have to make one of your own, right?

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – You’ll be riding on a bamboo raft! It’s definitely going to be fun and challenging for sure.

8. Harvest fresh tea leaves at Araksa Tea Plantation

From this point, I bet you already know there are many awesome things to do in Chiang Mai (not including the touristy ones) yet to be explore. Visiting a tea plantation is one of the most favorite things for many local visitors when traveling to the northern region of Thailand. Araksa is one of my recommended tea plantations here.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – You’ll get to pick some tea leaves back home, drink different types of the local teas, chill out by the green terrain, and observe the local way of life here.

9. Enjoy water activities at Mae Ngat Floating House

You might have never thought that there will be a floating house in Chiang Mai. (but, yeah…apparently we do lol) Mae Ngat Dam is very peaceful and less touristy. Enjoy some water activities like kayaking and swimming and admire stunning view of the evergreen mountains surround you.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Compare this place to the Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai, it’s more serene here since only some locals know Mae Ngat dam.

10. Climb and relax by Bua Tong ‘Sticky’ Waterfall

Located not very far from the downtown, Bua Ting waterfall is a very local place and much less touristy. Unlike any regular waterfalls in Chiang Mai, this limestone waterfall is only 100 metres in height and non-slippery. You can take on this little challenge by making the climb and relax by the river afterward.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Apart from the beautiful scenic and the climb, you can do some picnic there as well.

11. Learn to cook Northern cuisines and local wisdoms at Ban Rai Kong Khing

Award by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in 2015, Ban Rai Kong Khing is an eco-tourism community that support environment and sustainable economy. The village offer many local things to see such as; traditional ‘Lanna style’ massage, community tours, organic garden, herbal goods, etc.

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WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Get to experience the local lifestyle and learn how to make some delicious local dishes from scratch. :9

12. Trekking through a national park of ‘Ob Luang’ 

Probably one of the must-not-miss things to do in Chiang mai. Approximately an hour of driving from the downtown, you will reach Ob Luang where is called one of the 7 wonders of Thailand. The place is breathtaking and a little hard to access without having a local guide/ friend with you, it’s totally worth visiting.

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source image from pinterest.com

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – If you love exploring nature you will sure love this place. The park is indescribably beautiful.

13. Cycle across a Pine forest and enjoy a simple lifestyle of the local hill-tribe

If you are looking for some off-the-beaten things to do in Chiang Mai, then, Galyani Vadhana District is your call. The neighbourhood, surrounded by the largest pine forest of Thailand, has recently become one ecological attraction. You can enjoy many local activities from cycling through the pine forest to hiking thought the natural trail of Huai Hom Waterfall.

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source image from adventure.tourismthailand.org

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Not only getting to immerse yourself into the nature, but having some interactions with the hill-tribe villagers is also fun and lovable.

14. Appreciate the traditional ‘Lanna’ art with Anon Chairat, the Drum Master.

‘Klong Sabat Chai’ is a traditional northern-style drum which was used as a symbol of triumph during the old Lanna kingdom. The performance of the drum has its charm and is an exciting ritual. Anon has been devoting himself for the cultural conservations and awarded as the Local Wisdom Teacher. If you are an arts and history enthusiast visiting Anon and his cultural center is surely inspirational.

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source image from ‘Visit the Village Philosophers,’ tourismthailand.org

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – There are many local activities at Anon’s cultural center. You will get to learn the history of Lanna, while interact with local kids for the drum play.

15. Learn how to weave the local ‘Lanna’ style fabric at Nussara Tiengkate

Last but not least, if you like your the design of your pants you bought from Chatuchuk weekend market Nussara can offer you, with local stories and sustainable material, hundreds of Thai clothes and satchels (with hand-woven fabric and Thai patterns of course!). I bet paying a visit this place is one of many girls’ favorite things to do in Chiang Mai.

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source image from ‘Visit the Village Philosophers,’ tourismthailand.org

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE – Learn the secret of hand weaving along with the textile design and support the local community by purchasing the hand-woven products. They are all very pretty.