24 Things to Do & See in Chiang Mai Old City

I love Chiang Mai Old City.

Over 700 years old, you can walk all the way around the ancient city walls and the surrounding moat, witnessing the blend of old and new, with ancient temples coexisting alongside modern shops and cafes

Venturing into the narrow streets of the Old City reveals a quirky, artisanal atmosphere, with a variety of shops, hotels, and cafes that cater to every taste.

The area truly comes to life (and is enveloped in a romantic aura) at dusk when the sun sets and the night markets begin. Street vendors emerge from all directions and you can feast on a wide array of delicious food options, from fried ice cream and pad thai to chicken satay and more.

If you’re a foodie you’ll love Chiang Mai Old City’s street food scene. Khao Soi is the local dish and is probably my favourite Thai dish of all, plus you’ll find Lebanese food, Chinese food, Vegan options, Indian food, Salad bars, Western food, you name it, they have it!

Here are 24 things to do and see inside Chiang Mai Old City.

Things to Do and See in Chiang Mai Old City

1. Visit Wat Phra Singh

white, gold and red building temple structure surrounded by green plants and green grass - things to do in chiang mai

Located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City, Wat Phra Singh is a must-visit for its spiritual significance and architectural beauty. The temple, dating back to 1345, is known for its intricate Lanna-style buildings and the revered Phra Singh Buddha statue, housed within the main assembly hall.

The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds, allowing a more serene exploration of the temple grounds. Remember to dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect in this sacred space.

When planning your visit, consider timing your trip around the Thai New Year in April to experience the vibrant Songkran Festival, where locals engage in water-throwing, symbolizing cleansing and renewal.

Hot Tip: Explore the murals and scriptures inside the temple’s library, showcasing ancient Buddhist texts and delicate art. Capturing photographs without flash is permissible and can help preserve the calm atmosphere.

2. Explore Wat Chedi Luang

golden buddha in the middle with stairs going to a brown concrete structure- things to do in chiang mai

Wat Chedi Luang is a historic site showcasing a monumental stupa that offers a glimpse of the ancient Lanna kingdom. The temple’s massive chedi (pagoda), partially ruined by an earthquake in the 16th century, still stands as a majestic centerpiece, evoking the city’s rich history.

For optimal visiting conditions, aim for early morning or later in the afternoon when the temperatures are cooler and the light casts dramatic shadows over the stone structures, perfect for photography enthusiasts.

Wearing appropriate attire that covers the shoulders and knees is a show of respect for the temple’s religious and cultural significance. Remember to always have bottled water and sun protection, especially during the dry season from November to February when the weather is most favourable for touring.

Hot Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to talk with the resident monks during their ‘Monk Chat’ sessions held throughout the week; these interactions offer a unique chance to learn about Buddhism and daily monastic life directly from practitioners.

3. Stroll Around Tha Phae Gate

brown concrete gate showing entrance of the city- things to do in chiang mai

Tha Phae Gate, a historical landmark and the main entrance to Chiang Mai’s Old City, is a vibrant hub of activity and culture. As a restored section of the ancient city wall, it serves as a focal point for tourists and locals alike.

To experience it with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, consider visiting early in the morning. This time allows for unobstructed views and better photo opportunities of the gate’s impressive architecture without the midday heat.

For those interested in cultural experiences, Tha Phae Gate is often the site of local festivals and events, particularly on weekends. Check the local event calendar to catch performances, markets, and other festivities that provide a deep dive into northern Thai culture.

Hot Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes as you explore the surrounding area, which is rich in shops, cafes, and street vendors. Also, be mindful of your belongings, as the busy area can attract the ‘odd’ pickpocket.

4. Discover Wat Phan Tao

wooden temple with colorful paper tarp on the side- things to do in chiang mai

Wat Phan Tao stands out as a serene oasis amidst the bustling streets of Chiang Mai’s Old City. This beautiful wooden temple, constructed entirely from teak, offers a stark contrast to the more common brick and stucco temples seen throughout Thailand.

The best times to visit are early morning or late afternoon when the soft light enhances the rich, golden hues of the wood and the tranquil ambiance is most palpable. This timing also helps avoid the crowds that can gather during midday.

When visiting Wat Phan Tao, take time to appreciate the intricate carvings that adorn its doors and panels, each telling stories from Buddhist teachings. As always, wear respectful clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, and maintain a quiet demeanor to preserve the peaceful atmosphere of the temple.

While photography is allowed, it’s best to use natural light and avoid flash to keep the serene environment undisturbed.

Hot Tip: The temple is adjacent to the larger Wat Chedi Luang, allowing visitors to easily explore both sites in one trip.

5. Attend a Monk Chat

Participating in a Monk Chat is an enriching opportunity to engage with Buddhist monks and learn about their way of life, beliefs, and practices directly from the source. These sessions are offered in several temples around Chiang Mai, including Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Suan Dok, providing a unique cultural exchange that is both educational and insightful.

To make the most of your Monk Chat experience, come prepared with questions that respect the monks’ lifestyle and religious practices—avoid overly personal inquiries.

Remember to dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, and to act respectfully throughout the conversation. These interactions are not only a chance to gain a deeper understanding of Buddhism but also to reflect on philosophical questions in a serene environment.

Bringing a small donation to the temple, though not mandatory, is a thoughtful gesture that supports the monks and their community.

Hot Tip: The best times to join a Monk Chat are usually in the late afternoon or early evening, when the day’s religious duties are less pressing for the monks.

6. Try Traditional Lanna Massage

things-to-do-in-bangkok-thai-massage

Exploring Chiang Mai isn’t just about visiting temples and historical sites; it’s also an opportunity to experience the deeply relaxing and therapeutic Traditional Lanna massage.

Originating from the ancient Lanna kingdom, which once ruled northern Thailand, this massage technique combines acupressure and stretching to rejuvenate the body and spirit. For the most serene experience, schedule your massage late in the afternoon or early evening, after a day of sightseeing, to help soothe tired muscles and calm your mind.

It’s customary to wear loose, comfortable clothing provided by the center during the massage. Engage openly with your therapist about any specific pain points or areas to avoid, ensuring a massage that is tailored to your comfort and health needs.

Hot Tip: When selecting a massage center, look for well-reviewed establishments that offer authentic Lanna massage experiences, often indicated by the use of traditional herbal balms and the tranquil ambiance of the setting. Ensure that the therapists are certified, which guarantees a professional and beneficial session.

7. Enjoy the Sunday Walking Street Market

people walking in the street market with stall of foods in the side- things to do in chiang mai

A visit to Chiang Mai’s Sunday Walking Street Market is an essential experience for anyone eager to dive into the local culture and artisan scene. Stretching along Ratchadamnoen Road right through the heart of the Old City, this vibrant market comes alive every Sunday from late afternoon until about 10:00 p.m.

The best time to go is early in the evening, around 5:00 p.m., when the stalls are just setting up and the crowds are still manageable. This timing allows you to fully enjoy the array of crafts, art, and food without the peak crowds that gather as the night progresses.

When exploring the market, make sure to try some of the local street food specialties like larb kua (pan-fried spicy meat salad), sai oua (Northern Thai herb sausage), and fresh mango with sticky rice (my husbands favourite).

Wearing comfortable walking shoes is a must, as you’ll likely spend several hours meandering through the many stalls. Don’t hesitate to engage with the vendors; many are happy to share stories about their crafts, providing a more personal connection to the items you take home.

Hot Tip: Bring cash, as many vendors do not accept credit cards (but will accept QR payments from a local bank). While haggling is an accepted practice, be reasonable and ensure not to bid too low for an item.

8. Relax in Buak Hard Public Park

white small bridge over the water and flowers over the water in a park- things to do in chiang mai

Buak Hard Public Park is a peaceful retreat nestled in the southwestern corner of Chiang Mai’s Old City, a perfect spot for relaxation and leisure amidst the city’s bustling atmosphere. This small but beautifully maintained park offers lush greenery, shady spots under large trees, and a serene pond, making it an ideal location for picnicking, reading, or simply enjoying a quiet moment.

To make the most of your visit, head there in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is cooler and the light creates a picturesque setting.

Bring a blanket or mat to sit on and some snacks for a light meal by the pond. The park also features jogging paths and exercise equipment, which are great for visitors looking for a place to exercise or work out.

Remember to bring water and sunscreen, especially on sunny days, to stay hydrated and protected while you unwind in this charming urban oasis.

Hot Tip: On weekends, you might find local events or small markets taking place, adding to the park’s lively community atmosphere.

9. Visit the Lanna Folklife Museum

white building with red roof surrounded by green trees- things to do in chiang mai

The Lanna Folklife Museum, situated in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City in a restored colonial building that was once the Provincial Court, offers a deep dive into the rich cultural heritage of the Lanna region. This museum is an excellent stop for those interested in the art, culture, and history of Northern Thailand.

For an enriching visit, start at the museum’s ground floor and work your way up, following the well-organized exhibits that include interactive displays, traditional Lanna artifacts, and detailed explanations in both Thai and English.

Photography is allowed without flash, so you can capture the intricate details of the exhibits. The entrance fee is modest, and the knowledge gained about the local customs, crafts, and history is invaluable, making it a worthwhile addition to your itinerary in Chiang Mai.

Hot Tip: To avoid crowds and have a more contemplative experience, consider visiting during the weekday mornings soon after opening at 8:30 AM. Allow yourself at least an hour to thoroughly explore the museum’s three floors.

10. Sample Street Food at Chiang Mai Gate Market

different kind of food display in the stall- things to do in chiang mai

Chiang Mai Gate Market, located at the southern end of the Old City, is a culinary hotspot that showcases the flavors of Northern Thailand. As one of the city’s most vibrant evening markets, it springs to life each night from around 5:00 PM, offering an array of local dishes that are both delicious and affordable.

To make the most of your visit, bring cash in small denominations to facilitate easy transactions, as many vendors do not take cards.

Start your culinary adventure with must-try local specialties like khao kha moo (stewed pork leg over rice), kanom jeen nam ngiaw (a spicy noodle soup), and fresh mango sticky rice.

Be adventurous with your choices, sampling small portions from different stalls to enjoy a broader range of tastes. The market is also a fantastic place to observe local life and engage with vendors, who often enjoy sharing the stories behind their dishes.

Hot Tip: The best time to visit is early in the evening when the food is freshest and the atmosphere is just beginning to buzz with energy. Observe and ensure food preparations are sanitary and hygienic before purchasing any to avoid stomach problems.

11. Take a Thai Cooking Class

my family take a cooking class- things to do in chiang mai

A Thai cooking class is a delightful way to experience the culinary traditions of Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai where the cuisine reflects the region’s unique flavors and techniques.

These classes typically start with a morning visit to a local market, where instructors teach participants how to select fresh ingredients, a fundamental step in Thai cooking. Morning sessions are ideal as they not only allow you to use the freshest produce in your cooking but also avoid the afternoon heat, making the experience more comfortable.

Most classes will let you choose your dishes from a menu that includes popular items like Pad Thai, Green Curry, and Mango Sticky Rice. This not only caters to your taste preferences but also gives you practical recipes that you can replicate at home.

Don’t forget to inform the school of any dietary restrictions in advance. At the end of the class, you usually get to enjoy your creations. This makes for not only a fun and educational experience but also a tasty one!

Hot Tip: When choosing a cooking class, look for one that offers a hands-on approach in a small group setting to ensure personalized attention and better learning opportunities.

12. Explore the Silver Temple (Wat Sri Suphan)

silver color temple with silver buddha in front

Wat Sri Suphan, often referred to as the Silver Temple, is a remarkable and unique attraction in Chiang Mai’s Old City, known for its intricate silver decoration that covers almost every surface. The temple was originally built in the 16th century and has since undergone extensive renovations to include the impressive silver craftsmanship that showcases the local silversmiths’ skills.

Visitors should note that while everyone is welcome to explore the temple grounds and the outer areas, the inside of the main ubosot (ordination hall) is only accessible to men, due to old religious rules.

However, there are plenty of detailed carvings and artworks around the temple complex that are accessible to all and are worth examining.

Photography is allowed, so be sure to capture the craftsmanship and artistic detail. Wearing respectful clothing that covers shoulders and knees is required when visiting Wat Sri Suphan, and as always, it’s advisable to speak softly and maintain a respectful demeanor while on temple grounds.

Hot Tip: To see the temple shimmering under the sunlight, plan your visit in the early morning or late afternoon when the natural light accentuates the detailed metalwork and reduces the heat of the midday sun.

13. Photograph the Old City Walls and Moat

old concrete wall in front of the body of water

The Old City Walls and Moat of Chiang Mai mark the historical boundaries of the ancient city and offer picturesque scenes perfect for photography enthusiasts.

For those keen on photography, consider walking along the moat to find various angles and perspectives. The corners of the moat, where the gates stand, often provide compelling compositions with reflections in the water. Be sure to bring a polarizing filter to reduce glare and enhance the sky’s color on sunny days.

Also, exploring different sections of the walls can reveal less-visited spots that offer unique views and photographic opportunities. Always be mindful of traffic and local activities around the moat, and respect any cultural activities or local rituals that might be taking place while you are shooting.

Hot Tip: The best time for capturing these historic structures in their full glory is during the golden hours—early morning or late afternoon—when the soft, natural light enhances the textures and deepens the colors of the stones and water.

14. Attend a Traditional Dance Show

people wearing mask and costume perfoming

Experiencing a traditional Thai dance show is a cultural highlight not to be missed when visiting Chiang Mai’s Old City. These performances, often held in local theaters or as part of dinner shows at hotels and cultural centers, showcase the grace and beauty of Northern Thailand’s Lanna dance heritage.

To get the most out of the performance, consider arriving early to choose a good seat, preferably close to the stage for a better view of the dancers’ exquisite movements and expressions. Many venues offer the option to dine while you watch, providing a taste of local cuisine alongside the entertainment—a perfect pairing to enhance the cultural immersion.

Remember to respect the performers and the tradition by dressing modestly and refraining from using flash photography during the show. This respectful approach ensures a pleasant experience for all attendees and honors the cultural significance of the performance.

Hot Tip: For the best experience, book an evening show, which typically starts around 7:00 PM, allowing you to enjoy a mesmerizing blend of intricate costumes, traditional music, and finely choreographed dances under atmospheric lighting.

15. Browse the Art in Paradise Museum

Art in Paradise Museum in Chiang Mai is a fascinating destination for visitors of all ages, offering an interactive 3D art experience. As one of the largest illusion art museums in the world, it features more than 130 different 3D paintings across themed zones, including underwater scenes, animal encounters, and surreal landscapes.

When planning your visit, make sure to charge your smartphone or camera, as this museum is all about capturing fun and surreal photos with the art. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be moving through various setups and angles to get the perfect shot.

Consider visiting on a weekday to avoid the larger weekend crowds, which can affect your ability to take unobstructed photos. Lastly, don’t rush through; take your time to enjoy the creativity and effort put into each piece, making it a memorable part of your trip to Chiang Mai’s Old City.

Hot Tip: When visiting on a weekend, beat the crowds and have more room to pose with the artworks by going during the morning hours right as the museum opens at 9:00 AM.

16. Indulge in a Local Coffee Shop

two ice coffee in a wooden table

Chiang Mai’s Old City is also a haven for coffee lovers, boasting an array of local coffee shops that serve up fresh brews made from beans sourced from the nearby mountains of Northern Thailand.

These cafes offer great coffee amidst cozy atmospheres that blend traditional Thai decor with modern comforts. For a truly relaxing experience, visit during the late morning or early afternoon on weekdays, when these cafes are less crowded and you can savor your drink while reading a book or planning your next sightseeing stop.

When selecting a coffee shop, look for places that roast their own beans or source them locally to ensure the freshest flavor. Many cafes also offer a menu of light snacks or meals, perfect for a midday break. Engaging with the baristas can also enhance your visit, as they often share insights about the origins of the beans and the nuances of coffee production in Thailand.

Hot Tip: Don’t miss trying a signature Thai iced coffee, which combines a strong brew with sweetened condensed milk for a refreshing treat on a hot day. My daughters favourite stop is the See You Soon Cafe.

17. Visit the Three Kings Monument

Three Kings Monument in the middle of the park

The Three Kings Monument is a significant historical landmark located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City, at the center of the District Administration Office square. This iconic sculpture commemorates the founders of Chiang Mai: King Mengrai, the founder of the Lanna Kingdom; King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai; and King Ngam Muang of Payao.

It’s a popular spot for both locals paying respects and tourists taking photos, with the best times for a visit being early morning or late afternoon when the light is ideal for photography and the temperatures are cooler.

While at the monument, take a moment to appreciate its cultural significance and the role these leaders played in Thai history. The area around the monument is often bustling with activity, including occasional cultural events and markets that allow you to experience local crafts and foods. Remember to show respect by not climbing on the monument and dressing modestly, as it is a revered site for many Thais.

Hot Tip: Visit the nearby Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center, which provides context about the city’s rich history and the monument itself.

18. Explore Hidden Alleyways

people walking in an alleyway

Venturing into the hidden alleyways of Chiang Mai’s Old City is an adventure that offers a glimpse into the less-touristy, everyday life of the area. These narrow lanes, tucked away between the main thoroughfares, are lined with old teak houses, quaint cafes, and artisan shops that showcase the city’s rich heritage and vibrant contemporary culture.

The best time to explore these alleys is in the early morning, when the city awakens and you can enjoy the calm atmosphere before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

As you wander these backstreets, keep an eye out for unique street art and hidden temples that many visitors miss. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes as the paving can be uneven.

Always ask permission before photographing residents or their homes, respecting their privacy. Exploring these alleys not only provides a deeper understanding of Chiang Mai’s layered history but also supports small local businesses that thrive on local and tourist interest alike.

Hot Tip: Carry a map or a GPS-enabled device to help you navigate back to main roads, to avoid getting lost when navigating the alleys. It is very safe to walk around these communities.

19. Join a Meditation Retreat

monk and a woman facing each other and meditating

Joining a meditation retreat in Chiang Mai’s Old City offers a unique opportunity to unwind and delve deeper into the practices of mindfulness and meditation. These retreats, often hosted by local temples, provide a serene environment conducive to personal reflection and spiritual growth.

For those new to meditation, many temples offer short-term retreats ranging from a day to a week, which are especially beneficial for beginners.

When planning to attend a meditation retreat, it’s important to wear modest, loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders and legs, as a sign of respect in the temple settings. Participants should also be prepared to adhere to the temple’s rules, which might include abstaining from talking at certain times or participating in communal chores.

It’s helpful to approach the retreat with an open mind and minimal expectations, allowing yourself to fully embrace the experience. Engaging fully in the retreat’s schedule can profoundly impact your understanding of Buddhist teachings and meditation practices, enhancing both mental and physical well-being.

Hot Tip: The cooler months from November to February provide the most comfortable climate for participating in activities that might include walking meditation and outdoor dharma talks.

20. Shop at Warorot Market (Kad Luang)

woman chatting in  market with variety of display product

Warorot Market, locally known as Kad Luang, is a bustling hub located just a short walk from Chiang Mai’s Old City. This market is a colorful gallery of local products, from fresh produce and flowers to clothing and handicrafts, making it a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike.

When visiting Warorot Market, be sure to bring cash, as many vendors do not accept credit cards. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some light haggling, which is part of the shopping experience here.

Dive into the food section to sample some northern Thai delicacies such as sai oua (Northern Thai sausage) and kanom jeen nam hgeow (rice vermicelli with soybean curry). Don’t forget to explore the nearby flower market and the lanes selling traditional Thai fabrics, which offer great photo opportunities and deeper insight into Chiang Mai’s vibrant culture.

Hot Tip: The best time to visit is early in the morning when the market is at its most vibrant and the selection of goods is at its peak. This is also when you can experience the market like a local, avoiding the larger crowds that gather as the day progresses.

21. Enjoy a Rooftop Drink

cocktail drinks in a tall glass

Savoring a drink on one of Chiang Mai Old City’s rooftop bars offers not only a refreshing escape but also stunning views of the city and its surrounding hills.

These spots are perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring, with the best time to visit being just before sunset. This allows you to catch the breathtaking change of colors in the sky as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the ancient city.

Comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere are key factors to consider for the best experience. Dress codes can vary, so it’s wise to check in advance if there’s any attire requirement.

Lastly, while enjoying your drink, be mindful of the cultural surroundings—keep noise levels respectful and dispose of any waste properly to help maintain the serene ambiance of Chiang Mai’s historic area.

Hot Tip: When choosing a rooftop venue, look for one that offers a mix of local and international beverages to suit all tastes, from traditional Thai herbal drinks to classic cocktails. My husbands favorite drinking spot is the Rise Rooftop Bar.

22. Stroll Around Artisanal Shops at Dusk

handmade crafts and bags for sale in the market

Taking a leisurely stroll around the artisanal shops in Chiang Mai’s Old City at dusk offers a unique shopping experience, as the cooler temperatures and soft evening light create a calm and inviting atmosphere.

This is an excellent time to explore local crafts, from handmade jewelry and textiles to woodcarvings and pottery. Many of these shops are small, family-run businesses where you can often see the artisans at work, offering a more personal connection to the items you may purchase.

Wear comfortable shoes and carry a small bag for your purchases. As you visit each shop, chat with the artisans to learn more about the craftsmanship and stories behind their creations. They’re very friendly.

Remember to bring cash, as many smaller shops do not accept credit cards, and be open to bargaining, which is customary in local markets.

Hot Tip: For the best experience, start your walk as the sun begins to set, typically around 6 PM, when the shops are still open and the streets are less crowded.

23. Eat at a Vegan Restaurant

different kinds of veggies in a plate

Chiang Mai’s Old City is renowned for its diverse culinary scene, which includes a fantastic array of vegan restaurants that cater to both locals and tourists seeking plant-based dining options. These eateries often highlight organic and locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the rich flavors of Thai cuisine in a health-conscious way.

When choosing a vegan restaurant in the Old City, look for menus that offer a blend of traditional Thai dishes, such as vegan pad Thai or green curry, alongside innovative plant-based creations.

Many restaurants are also happy to explain the ingredients and methods used, providing a deeper understanding of vegan cooking techniques. Additionally, these establishments frequently support sustainable practices, so dining at them not only satisfies your palate but also contributes to ethical food consumption.

Remember to check reviews and possibly make a reservation if you’re planning to dine at popular spots, especially during peak tourist season.

Hot Tip: To avoid the lunch rush and enjoy a more relaxed meal, consider dining during the early afternoon or later in the evening.

24. Try a Traditional Khao Soi

khao soi - chiang mai dish in white plate

Khao soi, a must-try dish when visiting Chiang Mai, is a creamy coconut curry noodle soup that perfectly captures the essence of Northern Thai cuisine. This beloved local specialty includes a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, served with pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and ground chilies fried in oil.

To fully enjoy khao soi, complement your meal with a side of Thai iced tea, which helps balance the richness of the curry. Most places will offer a choice of chicken, beef, pork or tofu as the main protein in the dish, catering to different dietary preferences.

Don’t be shy to ask for less spice if you’re not accustomed to the heat typical of Thai curries. After your meal, take the opportunity to explore nearby markets or cafes, immersing yourself further in the local food scene and making the most of your culinary adventure in Chiang Mai’s Old City.

Hot Tip: For an authentic taste experience, visit a local eatery or street food stall specializing in Northern Thai dishes, ideally around lunchtime when the soup is freshly made and the aromatic spices are most potent. You can thank me later for this ‘hot’ tip!

Things to Do & See in Chiang Mai Old City- Summary

Chiang Mai Old City offers an incredible array of activities and sights that cater to every interest, from historical explorations at ancient temples like Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang to leisurely strolls through vibrant markets such as the Sunday Walking Street Market.

It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite cities to visit with it’s only downside for me being no beaches!

But the gorgeous artisanal streets, eclectic food options, markets, the moat and the magical atmosphere more than make up for the lack of ocean views.

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is April through to November. In April you can experience Songkran, the Thai New Year and Water Festival which is crazy but fun (be prepared to get wet or stay indoors!). In November you can experience Loy Krathong and the Yi Peng Lantern Festival which is just beautiful.

For digital nomads, Chiang Mai is a nomad hotspot. Mainly filled with the SEO and blogging crowd, you will find plenty of meetups, co-working events and people of all ages gathering and swapping tips and ideas.

Chiang Mai is of course more than it’s old city and there’s lots more to do in and around the city, but it’s true charm lies within the city gates. You’ll just have to visit for a few weeks and discover it for yourself!

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Things to Do & See in Chiang Mai Old City- FAQs

What is the old town in Chiang Mai called?

The old town in Chiang Mai is commonly referred to as the “Old City” or “Chiang Mai Old City.” It is distinctly marked by the remains of its ancient walls and moats, which historically served as fortifications for the city.

What is the best part of the old town in Chiang Mai?

The best part of the Old City in Chiang Mai is subjective, depending on personal interests. However, many visitors find the area around Tha Phae Gate particularly appealing due to its rich history, vibrant markets, and array of temples, including the famous Wat Chedi Luang. This area serves as a cultural and social hub, offering numerous opportunities to explore local shops, enjoy street food, and participate in cultural events.

Is Chiang Mai Old City walkable?

Yes, Chiang Mai Old City is highly walkable. The area is compact and rich with attractions, cafes, and shops, all closely nestled within the ancient walls. Walking is the best way to appreciate the unique architecture, hidden alleys, and the charm of local life. Additionally, walking allows visitors to easily stop, explore, and take photographs at their own pace.

Why is Chiang Mai famous?

Chiang Mai is famous for its historical significance and cultural richness. It is known for its beautiful temples, traditional Lanna culture, vibrant festivals such as Yi Peng (Lantern Festival) and Songkran (Thai New Year), and its bustling night markets. Chiang Mai also serves as a gateway to northern Thailand’s picturesque landscapes, including mountains and hill tribe villages, making it a favorite among both cultural enthusiasts and nature lovers.

How safe is Chiang Mai Old City for tourists?

Chiang Mai Old City is generally considered safe for tourists. Like any popular tourist destination, it is well-patrolled and equipped with resources to assist travelers. Visitors are encouraged to take normal safety precautions, such as guarding personal belongings against pickpockets in crowded areas and being cautious when crossing streets. Nighttime also remains relatively safe, but it’s always a good practice to stay in well-lit areas and avoid isolated streets late at night.

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