To see and appreciate Chiang Mai properly some have said that you need to spend at least 6 months there. Assuming that you do not have the luxury to stay that long, set out below are a few suggestion for a Sightseeing Itinerary that may help those more pressed for time.
All times and prices mentioned are from travellers since October 2008 and will change over time. Prices are quoted in Thai Baht per adult (roughly 30THB to 1AUD/1USD) (check for kids prices, sometimes the same price, other times a lot less). Prices and times are for a journey starting from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area. You can always go to a travel agent and he will be more than willing to structure trips for you. If you do, then these will give you a guide for things to include in your Sightseeing Itinerary.
For the more adventurous, work out what looks good, grab your camera and a water bottle and go and flag down either a Tuk-Tuk or a Songthaew and take off. You can also bargain with one of the many hire car drivers usually parked along the street. The Night Bazaar area is full of them, especially outside McDonalds.
Sample Half Day or less Sightseeing Itinerary items
- Doi Setup (30mins travel there, 1hr sightseeing, 30mins return = 2hrs = 450THB Red Songthaew)
- Handicrafts Villages, Bo Sang & San Kamphaeng (3.5hrs = 300THB) (Tuk-Tuk or Tour operator driver)
- Mae Ping River Cruise (2.5hrs = 450THB)
- Treetop Adventure Ecotours for an exhilarating 3hrs swinging through the rainforest canopy on zip lines and skybridges high above the forest floor. For more, see the Flight of the Gibbon website. ( 5hrs = 3600THB)
- Tiger Kingdom for the time of your life playing with the tigers from cubs to full size cats. (allow 2 hours minimum) Extremely low cost entertainment. See Tiger Kingdom website for session times and low cost activities.
Sample Full Day Sightseeing Itinerary Items
- Elephant Camp - best done through a tour operator, like Chiang Mai Carnival Tours - pick up and return to your hotel - includes 1 hour elephant ride in jungle, river rafting, ox cart ride, sightseeing local village and visit to orchid and butterfly farm. (8.30am till 4.30pm = 900THB)
- Thai Farm Cooking School - pick up and return to your hotel - includes shopping in local markets for some ingredients, sightseeing tour of farm collecting more ingredients, hands on learning how to cook 6 different Thai meals and then sampling your efforts. (8.30am till 4.30pm = 1100THB)
- Drive to Wiang Kum Kam, Lamphun, Wat Phra That Lampung, Lampang (8.00am till 5.00pm = approx 1500THB total for private car & driver & sightseeing tour. May have to pay extra to enter some places)
Sample Sightseeing Itinerary Day Planners
Sunday - grab a Tuk-Tuk & do a sightseeing ride around town (60-80THB per hour) to get the feel of the place and check out the driving habits of the locals. Visit Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pan Tao, Wat Thung Yu on Ratchadamnoen Road. Visit Sunday Markets (starts mid-afternoon on Ratchadamnoen Road - some good restaurants here for dinner)
Monday - Mae Ping Elephant Camp (all day), Night Bazaar (dinner at restaurant along Night Bazaar street)
Tuesday - Doi Suthep, Warorot Markets, Night Safari (early dinner before Night Safari)
Wednesday - Thai Farm Cooking School (all day - includes meals) (dinner at Kalare Night Bazaar, if you can fit it in)
Thursday - San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, Muang On Cave, Bo Sang Handicraft Centre, Silversmiths, Silk Factory, Gem Gallery (foot massage and dinner at the Anusarn Markets)
Friday - Tree Tops of Asia (Flight of the Gibbon) Zip Lining, Mae Ping River cruise (Kantoke Cultural Dinner & show)
Saturday - Tiger Kingdom, Wat Phra Singh, Wat U-Muong, Wat Chiang Man, drive around old moat, late afternoon - early evening go to the (Saturday only) Wui Lai Markets (numerous food stalls here or go to nearby restaurant)
Sunday - Chiang Mai Zoo (morning feeding session), Wat Jet Yot, National Museum, Sunday Markets (dinner, numerous food stalls and restaurants along Sunday Market street)
Monday - Tuesday - 2 day Golden Triangle tour - Drive to Tha Ton, then 4 hour long tail boat ride to Chiang Rai, do sightseeing including the Night Markets and stay overnight. Next day visit Chiang Saen & Mae Sai on the Burmese border, then visit Akha & Yao hill tribes, drive back to Chiang Mai stopping at the White Wat along the way) (for more info see Vieng Travel - Tours - North Thailand - Golden Triangle) (dinner at Kalare Night Bazaar)
Wednesday - Either ATV rides and white water rafting or for the less adventurous Wat Suan Dok, Hill Tribe Products Promotion Centre, Silversmiths shops on Wui Lai Road, Thai Tribal Crafts Centre (have a river boat dinner)
Thursday - Give food to Buddhist Monks at Wat Siri Soda (5.30am), go to City Arts and Cultural Centre, Tribal Museum, Warorot Markets (have a Kantoke cultural dinner & show)
Friday - Wiang Kum Kam, Lamphun, Wat Phra That Lampung, Lampang (dinner at Anusam Night Market)
Saturday - Chiang Do Caves, Wat Tham Pha Plong, Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens, Wui Lai Market
Recommended Tour Operators (friendly, reliable and economical) Both of these tour operators will help you plan out a good Sightseeing Itinerary to suit the time frame of your visit to Chiang Mai.
Chiangmai Fountain Travel (Mrs Jai)
Ph (66) 53 280 901 - Mob (66) 89 266 3783 - or 089 266 3783 - email email@example.com
Chiangmai Carnival Tours (Mr Tong)
Ph (66) 53 802 089 - Mob (66) 81 7169520 - or 081 716 9520 - email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Pon (air conditioned sedan) - Mob (66) 87 192 1043 or locally 087 192 1043
Sightseeing Itinerary - Chiang Mai