Chiang Mai is the next biggest city in Thailand. The meaning of Chiang Mai stands for ‘new city’ and it was named after its discovery. The city was discovered in an older city of Wiang Nopburi. Chiang Mai is a ideal gateway to relax and run away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and large cities. It was used to be the heart of the Lanna Kingdom in the past. Nowadays, it is a well-liked city for backpackers and travellers.
Chiang Mai is an interesting place and it is very cultural and you will feel that straight upon arrival.If you go on to look at Chiang Mai’s map, you will observe that the city centre lies on the square area called Chiang Mai Old City, since the area is petite you can explore it by foot or bicycle.
Chiang Mai Old City points of attraction
Chiang Mai Old City is one of the apex places of interests for tourists. It is more or less 1.5km square. Centuries before, the old city was bounded by walls and moats to guard it from its nearby enemies. Thus, it was an striking and peaceful centre for Buddhism, merchants, soldier and elephants.
There are a lot of parts of the original city that are left unexplored and you can sense the breeze of the exotic past, as you walk through the original city brick walls. Chiang Mai old town is the spirit of the city where various activities take place.
Local Sightseeing at the Chiang Mai old city
Exploring an old city is always amusing and it brings you to one more dimension. Since, you like the history, culture and admire the beauty of it the old Thailand.
Presently there are four gates to go into the Chiang Mai old city, one gate per each side of the walls. The main gate is Thapae Gate which is on the eastern shore opposite of the Ping River.
If you want to carry out a Chiang Mai old city walking tour, this will be your initial point. The gate was restructured in the 1980s to its original shape, however, once you enter the gate you will feel changed in time. You can take pleasure in great food, ancient temples and meet up many Buddhist monks.
On a day by day basis, you have the opportunity to see and join (if you wish) locals doing aerobics and morning workouts.
Sunday Walking Street
If you walk straight from this gate, you will find yourself on the well-known Sunday Walking Street. Each evening, from 4pm until midnight you can find a lot of interesting things here. There are a variety of food stalls, merchants who sell souvenirs, clothes, jewellery and sculpture. Therefore, it’s the place where Northern Thai people display their handicraft and art.
Remember: haggle, haggle and haggle.
There will also be a group of street entertainers performing for visitors the whole night long. During the Sunday Market, Ratchadamnoen Road is congested by traffic. Thus visitors can enjoy the market without needing to be anxious about the passing traffic. Visiting a market in Thailand is a must so don’t overlook this one.
On your way back home, don’t forget to take a peep of the beautiful Wat Chedi Luang and its attractive night lights.
Lanna Folklife Museum
Not distant from the main gate, on your left-hand side, you will find the Lanna Folklife Museum. The white colonial fashion museum filled with Lanna village life leisure in a series of life-size dioramas explaining the symbols, traditions and Lanna people behavior.
This museum is a good initial point if you want to do the Chiang Mai City Tour on your own. The museum cost 40 THB for children and 90 THB for adults. It’s not costly; nonetheless, if you are concerned in visiting the other museums in the area, you may want to check the combo ticket prices to save money.
Three Kings Monument
Just right in the heart of the Chiang Mai Old City, there is a monument of three beginning kinds of Chiang Mai. Namely: King Mengria, who established Chiang Mai, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Payao.
Therefore, the monuments name is the Three Kings Monument – very easy to understand. According to the history, these are the three kings who built the Northern Thai city in the 13th century. The sculpture is an memorable image representing the city of Chiang Mai, thus around the city, you can effortlessly spot this monument transformed in different forms and places.
Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Hub
Just in the region of the corner from the monument, you can see the Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Centre. The museum is an outstanding start if you want to learn more about Chiang Mai and its history.
The Royal Association of Siamese Architects gave this museum an award in 1999 for its great design. It exhibits the cities expansion and development and shows how Chiang Mai twisted into the modern city. Here you will find historical and educational artifacts’ from the early Lanna Villages.
Usually, the exhibitions comprise of photos, maps, aged artefacts and interactive audiovisual displays that make this museum very interesting to visit. The ticket price costs 180 THB. This price includes access to Arts and Cultural Centre, Historical Centre (just beside the art and cultural museum) and Lanna Folklife Museum.
Walking directly from the main gate leads you to the West gate, called Suan Dok Gate.
If you stroll north along the moat, you will soon discover Sompet Market just on the corner of the street. Here you can find a lot of food stalls. Many of them put up for sale fruits and vegetables fresh from the Thai farms. If you are looking for an authentic Thai market, this is a must-visit place for you.
Not distant from the fresh food, you will find a wide range of Thai snacks, hot dishes and healthy smoothies. Go after the moat and you will soon reach the north gate: Chiang Puerk Gate.
Saturday Market or Wualai Walking Street Market
At the south gate (Chiang Mai Gate) you will locate Wualai Walking Street Market (Saturday Market). Situated at Wulai Rd, you will mark several traditional silver workshops while visiting the market.
Don’t be astonished; Wulai Rd is the old silver-making district of Chiang Mai. Similar to the Sunday Market, here you can come across merchandise like handcrafted ornaments and statues. The size is smaller than the Sunday Market, but the enjoyment is no different. It begins around 4.30 pm and finishes at 10 pm.
Chiang Mai Temples- (Wat in Thai)
Buddhists actively make use of the temples, as they remain important places of worship. There are more than 200 temples in Chiang Mai. Mainly in Chiang Mai Old City, you can discover three main temples that are considered the most significant religious centres of Northern Thailand. The distance between these temples is very small, and you will be able to explore all of them in a day.
Wat Chedi Luang
This temple is exclusive. It was constructed to store the ashes of King Saen Muang Ma’s father. The temple has an unbelievable architectural feature, which is a wonderful Naga staircase on the entrance of the chapel.
Once, it was a abode to the most imperative religious object of the country, the Emerald Buddha, which has now been relocated to Grand Palace in Bangkok. Wat Chedi Luang was once shattered due to a natural disaster then refurbished in the 1990s by the UNESCO.
However, visitors can still see the innovative brick Wat. There is an antique Dipterocarp tree around the Wat. Legend says that the tree and its spirit defend Chiang Mai from evil and disaster.
Wat Chiang Man
This wat is the oldest temple among all other temples in Chiang Mai and it has the oldest Buddha statue in Chiang Mai in the temple. It simply reflects Lanna architectural styles.
In addition to the styles, the annual rain festival is held here every year on April 1st, where locals pray to God in a religious ceremony. The well-known two Buddhas in this temple are Phra Sae Tang Khamani, the White Emerald Buddha, and the marble Phra Sila Buddha. Still, only certain people can access the Buddha chamber.
Wat Phra Singh
Locals call this as Temple of the Lion Buddha. This Wat is recognized as the study centre for young monks. The name was enthused by the unique lion style statue, therefore you will find a lot of smaller lion statues near the temple. as well as in the main grand statue. In this temple, there is an old small library that has a exclusive stone base to guard valuable items from flooding. The temple hosts various traditional Thai festivals throughout the year.
Things to experience in Chiang Mai Old City
Chiang Mai Old City is very well-liked for its amazing museums and markets, but it also offers scores of authentic Thai activities you can do when you visit here.
Travel in the Tuk Tuk
Tuk-tuk is a small three-wheeled customary vehicle in Chiang Mai. Exploring the old town by tuk-tuk gives you more enjoyable experience in the real Thailand. It cost approximately 150 – 250 THB per day depending on what you want to look at. It’s also a total life saver if your feet are a little tired.
Experience a massage
After a extensive walk and a day trip, why don’t you pamper yourself in a massage session in the old town of Chiang Mai? As you stroll down the Chiang Mai old city, you come across various massage parlours that offer a variety of massage packages. Usually 1-hour massage would cost you around 150 – 250 THB depending on the place and the package you prefer.
Study to cook traditional Thai dishes
If you are a genuine food junky, treat yourself and learn how to cook real Thai dishes. There is a few cooking school within Chiang Mai Old City to choose from.
Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre
Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre was the foremost cooking school ever opened in Chiang Mai. You can discover it just a bit outside Chiang Mai old city. In this school, you can choose the dishes you want to learn out of the choice of 78 dished in the menu. Moreover, with each cooking class from this school, you will also find a Thai food market tour.
The workshop will teach you how to choose the right ingredients for your cooking. Once you get home, you can showcase your new skill to your friends and family. Without any hesitation, your Thai cooking skills will be quite remarkable.
Taste from Heaven, a Vegetarian Cookery School
This restaurant and cookery school only offers menus in Thai vegetarian dishes. The restaurant was opened in 2014, and the cooking school started working in 2016. Phayungchit Khidhen (Nan) is the owner, creator and the teacher in Taste from Heaven.
Nan worked in a lot of high-end restaurants in both Thailand and Australia and produced menus for both restaurants and cooking schools. Nan will teach you various vegan and vegetarian recipes based on your individual taste.
Have a conversation with Buddhist Monks and help him be taught English
Many temples across the country offer a exceptional experience for tourists to have a chat with Buddhist Monks.
The programme specializes in helping monks improve their’ English skills, while visitors get to learn more about culture, belief and lifestyle of Buddhist monks. Typically, the session lasts for 2-3 hours.
In the old town, you can meet up and join a Monk Chat at Wat Chedi Luang. Naturally, there are 6-7 tables with around 50 young monks who are coming up to talk. The conversation hours are between 9 am to 6 pm everyday.
Chiang Mai Sightseeing Tours
All in all, you can either arrange a DIY tour or book a group/ private tour guide, by doing so you will put in more flexibility to your trip. As well, you can pursue the list above and travel around the old town by yourself.
Chiang Mai city tour is something you ought to look up if you would like to explore the city with the guide. Sightseeing tours give you with great insight on the cities everyday life, hence some people find them more suitable. In particular, if you would prefer to sit back, relax and take pleasure in the beauty of the city.
The tours vary from a couple of hours, half-day to full day tours. A lot of tours include Chiang Mai City Tour, which covers the whole Chiang Mai city further than the old town.
Personal Chiang Mai city tour
This provider offer a personal half-day Chiang Mai city tour and the main activity is sightseeing both inside and outside the old town. Therefore you will visit all of the most significant wats including Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Suan Dok, Wat Chiang Mun and Wat Ched Yod.
The trip includes hotel transfers, English-speaking guide and entrance fees. What can be nicer than having someone illuminating and arranging your trip?
Offering: Sightseeing Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai city walk
Take pleasure in a walking tour of the old city. You will enjoy using the local transportation and experience every inch of the city by walking. This tour guides you to the major and oldest local street, historical temples and community areas where you can taste some authentic Chiang Mai street food.
Offering: Bonvoyage Thailand
Cycle within the old town
Explore the old city of Chiang Mai by cycling. Grasshopper Adventures bring a innovative, different experience for visitors to travel around the city through the small lanes inside the walls of Chiang Mai. Cycling in a moderate speed, you will find out bit by bit the history and culture of Chiang Mai.
Offering: Grasshopper Adventures
Taste the fantastic street food
Calling all food freaks to Chiang Mai Old City which has various markets and therefore food is something that is always there. Chiang Mai Food Tours present you a food tour guide and make sure you get the most genuine and delicious food in Chiang Mai. In addition to that, you can taste the well-off culture of Chiang Mai through the traditional Thai food.
Compared to other cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a truly exceptional experience. Its rich culture and compassion of Northern Thai people make your trip here memorable. Chiang Mai is not just the small square block you might see on the map. All in all, there are numerous things to see in the interesting city of Chiang Mai and you can begin from the old city and continue outside the city walls.
Offering: Chiang Mai Food Tours