Chiang Mai is very different than Bangkok, and I highly recommend you going to Chiang Mai if you’ve never been. It’s rich in culture, and much more of a “small town” feel than Bangkok. If you visit, here are some fun activities to do on a day trip in Chiang Mai.
Day Trip In Chiang Mai – Rent A Scooter
You can walk around in Chiang Mai to get from A to B since it’s not a very big city, but I almost feel safer driving a scooter versus walking. There are sidewalks, but not everywhere and with scooters flying by all the time I prefer to be on a scooter! Besides I love driving around on scooters in the city, it’s much more practical and fun to get around.
250 Baht Per Day
You can rent a scooter in Chiang Mai for about 250 baht per day. This is around US $7 per day which I think is a pretty good deal. They have different types of motorbikes, but for a 125cc it’s about 250 baht per day.
Driving A Scooter In Chiang Mai
It’s quite easy to drive a scooter around in Chiang Mai. The Thais are great drivers, but the ones you have to look out for are the foreigners..! I usually stay far away from any foreigner on a scooter since I never know what they are going to do..!
The one rule you really need to remember when driving is this; do not make any sharp, unexpected turns while driving. There are scooters all over the place, and no matter how fast you’re going, there is always a scooter behind you or about to pop out in front of you. Therefore be very careful when you want to change lanes. Start signaling early on to let everyone know and slowly move in the direction.
Day Trip In Chiang Mai Starts With Coffee At Rist8o
If you’re a coffee lover, you’ll love Ristr8o. It’s by far the best espresso-based coffee in Chiang Mai. It’s located on Nimmanhaemin Road which is a popular place for tourists with all kind of restaurants. It’s pretty awesome and Arnon, the owner, has won multiple awards. You can read my post about Ristr8to here.
Doi Suthep Mountain
Since you’re now on a scooter you need to have some fun driving! Doi Suteph is a mountain near Chiang Mai and only takes about 20 minutes to drive to the top. Doi Suthep is 1,676 meters (5,499 feet) at its highest point. It’s an enjoyable ride with lots of turns which are fun on a scooter.
Wan Buan Ban View Point
Halfway up the mountain, there is a waterfall you can go to and even go for a swim. It’s located at Wan Buan Ban View Point. Please don’t expect a massive waterfall, but since it’s right next to the road, you might as well stop and take a look and enjoy the scenery.
There are multiple viewpoints along the way that you can stop and take pictures. Here’s from another viewpoint along the road.
Doi Suthep Temple
After about 20 minutes driving up Doi Suthep, you’ll arrive at a temple called Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. This is a popular place to visit, and you’ll see loads of tourists and tourist buses going there.
If you continue up the road, you will end up at Bhubing Palace. This place is super beautiful with all kinds of colorful flowers. I was there over 10 years ago, and I’m sure it’s just as beautiful now.
I love Papaya Salad. I really like Mango Salad too, but Papaya Salad is the best! Most food courts and markets have a vendor that sells Papaya Salad, but if you’re up for going to a local market that is not very touristy, then you can try called Siri Wattana Market / Thanin Market. When I lived in Chiang Mai I would purchase food there on a regular basis. The food is delicious and has local prices. I rarely see tourist go to this market, so if you’re up for trying a local market then go for it! It’s only open during the day, and I think it closes around 4 PM ish…
A day trip in Chiang Mai has to include a massage, especially after driving around on a scooter for a few hours! If you have not found a massage place by now in Chiang Mai then you must be in a different city because they are everywhere! Prices range from 180 baht up to 1000 baht for an hour foot massage. As you probably understand a 180 baht massage might not be as great as a more expensive one, but it’s really nice to be able to sit down and rest for an hour in a comfortable chair.
At these low prices, you could get a foot massage during the day, and another massage later in the evening! Remember it’s customary to tip the masseuse 50-100 baht for an hour massage. They don’t make very much money and work long hours, therefore, I highly recommend giving a tip which is standard practice.
Day Trip In Chiang Mai – Grand Canyon
If you’re an early bird, then you can do some more activities during the daytime after Doi Suthep. You can drive to Grand Canyon and jump off their cliff if you’re up for an adventure. I’ve not been there before myself, but I’ve heard it’s quite fun. It’s about a 30-minute drive outside of Chiang Mai.
Here is a fun video by Palapilii Thailand:
Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
Another place that I enjoy going to get out of the city is to Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. It is a charming and peaceful area 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai. I heard now that they charge around 50 baht for foreigners to get in there, but it’s worth it. They have these small huts where you can eat a meal and sit and relax right by the water.
Tapae Gate – Sunday Walking Street
Tapae Gate is a popular place for tourists to visit. Each Sunday there is a walking street where vendors set up their arts and crafts. It’s usually totally packed with people everywhere as you can see in the picture below. But you’ll find some nice things there that are artsier than what you find at Night Bazar.
Tuk Tuk Ride
A day trip in Chiang Mai has to include a Tuk Tuk ride! It’s basically just a scooter with a carrier on it that you can fit 2-4 people inside. Sometimes you’ll get a driver that goes pretty fast and it’s quite fun in the turns. Just remember to hang on!
Here is a video from I ride I took:
To finish your day trip in Chiang Mai, you’ll have to check out Night Bazar. It’s a very popular place in Chiang Mai for shopping. They have vendors set up their carts on the side of the road, and you can walk up and down. They sell all kinds of things at the market. If you want souvenirs, arts and crafts, clothes, t-shirt then this is the place to go. It’s also packed with restaurants and many places where you can get a massage.
If you go to all these places in a day, you’ve seen quite a lot of Chiang Mai. And if you will be staying multiple days then you’ll have a blast exploring Chiang Mai since there is lots more to do!