LATE-AFTERNOON: Dinner by the river
The sun is starting to set and your stomach is starting to rumble. Solution: head to Chiang Mai’s picturesque riverside of course! Here, you’ll find a wide range of waterside dining options serving up good food, good views and often live music as well.
One of the most popular spots is the ingeniously-titled ‘Good View’ restaurant which does an enormous selection of Thai dishes with an excellent in-house band every night. Other suggests include ‘The Deck 1’, ‘Riverside bar & Restaurant’ and ‘Comedara Restaurant & Art Gallery’. Find all the information you need to know in our riverside dining guides below.
MORNING - Temple Hopping
Chiang Mai, the once-former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, is a city with a long and fascinating history stretching back some 700 years. The crumbing Old City moat is the most obvious reminder of Chiang Mai’s past, but the best way to fully appreciate the historical and cultural significance of this place is to explore its many temples that are dotted around the city. We suggest you set your alarm clock early and make a beeline for Wat Phra Singh, one of the most spectacular and easy to find (inside the old city at the westernmost end of Ratchadamnoen Road). From there, head over to the magnificent Wat Suan Dok, a white-washed 14th century temple complex (around 5 minutes away in a tuk-tuk). End the morning with a look round the serene Wat Chedi Luang, another crumbling piece of history found right in the centre of the city. All these temples have free entrance and open as early as 08:00 – do remember to wear respectful clothing.
MID-AFTERNOON - Relax with a massage
Chiang Mai is a city famed for its peace and tranquility, so after a busy morning of temple hopping it’s time to take some time out for some pampering. When it comes to massages in Chiang Mai, you generally have two options: swanky spa or budget shop house. Spas normally offer a more inclusive experience, with a vast choice of therapies, lotions and treatments available.
The ‘shop house’ style massage is a better option if you want a traditional, no fuss Thai massage, with rates in Chiang Mai starting from around 250 baht for one hour. We’ve included two recommended spas below if you want the deluxe treatment, or to find a cheaper option, just head inside the Old City to find literally hundreds of parlours – most of which advertise their prices outside.
EVENING: Shopping at the Night Bazaar
One hugely popular area that your ‘one day in Chiang Mai’ hasn’t touched yet is the Night Bazaar, a huge markets stretching across several blocks (found in between the river and Old City). This is your chance to do some bargain hunting, grabbing those all-important souvenirs along the way.
Expect to find everything from fake designer fashion, to handicrafts, local artwork, electronics, fabrics, accessories, and homeware. The back-to-back stalls also offer a good opportunity to grab some street food (if you’re not full from dinner), and there’s also a good variety of bars in the area.
Night: Party time
When it comes to nightlife in Chiang Mai (the variety that doesn’t involve shopping), there’s three general areas to choose from. Take your pick form (1) Around Loi Kroh Road and the Night Bazaar (chilled-out bars with friendly girls refilling your drinks, pool tables – more of an older, male-oriented clientele); (2) Ratvithi Road – some chilled out bars as well as few small clubs welcoming almost an exclusively backpacker crowd. Look for ‘Zoe in Yellow’ and you know you’ve arrived, with around a dozen or so other bars, clubs and reggae hangouts in this small and very fun soi; (3) Nimmanhaemin Road (Niman for short) – an upscale area 15 minutes outside the old city which welcomes a mostly young local crowd with its many bars, lounges and modest collection of late night nightclubs that get packed-out on the weekends.
WHERE TO STAY?
Now we’ve given you the lowdown of what to do with your one day in Chiang Mai, the only question left is ‘where do I stay?’
We can help out on that front too, with our huge inventory of hotels across the capital, from 500-baht-a-night guesthouses, to luxurious five-star riverside retreats.
We have organized them into many different niche categories, from the best luxury and budget hotels, to hotels organized by area and type. Find some inspiration below, and don’t forget you can book a night’s stay directly using the links provided to each hotel.