Chiang Mai is certainly not a spectator sport. Sure, it has great food and fantastic shopping but if all you do is sit on the sidelines then you'll miss out on half the fun. The lofty peaks, lush forests and mighty rivers of Chiang Mai offer a wealth of opportunities for outdoor pursuits. Chiang Mai activities are well suited to a range of tastes and abilities, but they all deliver a once in a lifetime experience.
- Wat Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill-Tribe Village
- Doi Inthanon National Park Tour
- Ping River Dinner Cruise
- Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Dance Performance
- Old City Half-Day Bike Tour
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- 2-Day Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour with Lunch
- Aroy Aroy Thai Cooking School & Market Tour
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
Trekking in Chiang Mai
With such picturesque beauty close at hand it's no wonder that trekking tops the list of popular things to do in Chiang Mai. The many trails of Doi Inthanon are very popular places to explore on your own. Doi Suthep also has some great hikes, especially at the annex a little ways north, which is never crowded. Nature trails in the national parks are well marked and easy to follow. Ranger stations nearby can provide maps and guides if you wish. If you want to get a little farther away from civilization you'll need a guide to show you the way. Finding the right guide can make or break your enjoyment of your trek.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) licenses guides and the Professional Guide Association provides accreditation of the most professional. To ensure that your experience is as enjoyable as possible make sure that your guide is approved by both organisations. Trekking companies offer a variety of different types of treks ranging from one day to five day and encompassing an array of secondary activities such as rafting and hilltribe visits. Overnight treks usually include accommodation at a hilltribe village but the facilities are rudimentary. It's a great way to experience these unique cultures first hand as well as help them by supplementing their meagre income.
An overnight stay at a hilltribe village is an incredibly rewarding experience. It's a chance to really experience a unique way of life that has persisted in isolation for centuries. Hilltribes prefer to keep to themselves, far away from the wheels of progress. Of course, this isolationism begs the question "Why do they let tourists stay with them?" The answer, sadly, is money. Life for most hilltribes is desperately poor. Their lack of sophistication, while charming, means that their lives are a daily struggle for survival. Try and remember that while staying at their village and do a little to help these marginalized peoples.
When trekking you will need a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack or day pack, plenty of bug repellent and some sort of light jacket. Toilet paper is also a necessity. The best time to go trekking in Chiang Mai is from November to March when the greenery is spectacular but the weather is clear. From June to September rain is almost a guarantee.