Like Bangkok to the south, Chiang Mai is an indispensible stop for travelers visiting Thailand. This northern capital is buzzing with energy and activity but still retains many of its traditional ways. As a dynamic metropolis surrounded by ancient rainforest and mystic mountain peaks, this is a land of extraordinary cultural riches and natural beauty.
Come here to experience the best of Thai cuisine in restaurants headed by award winning chefs. Explore the mountain trails by foot, bicycle, or elephant. Visit the temples. Go river rafting. See the botanical gardens and learn about the wonders of native rainforest plants. Or explore the city streets and shop for the very latest fashions in the high-end boutiques of Th Nimmanhaemin. After the sun goes down, experience the legendary energy of Chiang Mai's bars, live music venues and nightspots. You'll find new and exciting things to do around every turn in this charming but rapidly growing city.
Here are a few additional suggestions as you plan your trip:
- Meet the elephants of Chiang Mai: Visit the Baan Chang Elephant Park to interact with elephants one-on-one. See the Patara Elephant Farm, a health care and breeding facility. Or visit Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for rescued elephants.
- Take a Thai cooking class: After you experience the traditional cuisine of this area, take a cooking class and learn how to bring these flavors home with you.
- Hike the trails: Go hiking or mountain biking along the beautiful trails of Suthep National Park. Face challenging inclines and see breathtaking natural vistas.
- Go rock climbing: The parks of Chiang Mai are also renowned destinations for rock climbers who travel here from all over the world.
- Take a canopy tour: Take a high-adventure zip-lining tour through the canopy of the rainforest.
- Experience the spas: The spa experience in Chiang Mai is truly world class. Relax for a day and indulge in some serious head to toe pampering.
You'll never run out of things to do here, and you'll also have no trouble finding a perfect place to stay. Look for a vacation rental that offers everything you need and lies within reach of your favorite activities. Find a sleek downtown condo close to the museums, restaurants and nightlife. Or rent an apartment or luxury villa near the art galleries and elegant shops of the fashion district. While you're visiting Thailand, you may want to include a trip to beautiful nearby Laos in your plans.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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