One Day in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai in 24 Hours

Chiang Mai wasn’t exactly designed for one-day trips. Many of the northern capital’s main attractions (such as Doi Suthep Mountain, Doi Inthanon National Park, jungle treks and elephant camps) require at least a full day of your time, while the many temples, bustling markets and vibrant bars and restaurants within the city could easily take up a week of your time.  

However, with visitors to Thailand often trying to pack-in as many destinations as possible, sometimes Chiang Mai is (sadly) only spared a day or two. 

To make the most of 24 action-packed hours in the city, we have created this full itinerary, giving you the rundown of exactly what to do and where to go in the morning, afternoon, evening and nighttime. Your one day in Chiang Mai starts now!

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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. 

  • Wat Phra Singh

    Wat Phra Singh

    Wat Phra Signh is perhaps the second most venerated temple in Chiang Mai after Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It houses three Read More»

  • Wat Chedi Luang

    Wat Chedi Luang

    Built sometime between 1385 and 1402, during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma, 7th ruler of the Mengrai dynasty, Wat Read More»

  • Wat Suan Dok

    Wat Suan Dok

    Wat Suan Dok, built in late 14th century, houses several structures of historical significance. Among them include the Read More»

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. 

  • The Oasis Spa Lanna

    The Oasis Spa Lanna

    Offering an impressive range of therapies Oasis Spa uses the best of both Asian and international techniques and Read More»

  • Fah Lanna Spa

    Fah Lanna Spa

    The high, white-washed walls and plants that border Fah Lanna Spa in Chiang Mai’s Old Town give you a hint of their Read More»

  • Chiang Mai Spa & Massage

    Anyone who comes to Thailand will be struck by the availability of massage and how reasonable it is to have your weary Read More»

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. 

  • The Good View Bar & Restaurant

    The Good View is one of the most famous restaurants in Chiang Mai and lives up to its name with some particularly Read More»

  • Deck 1 Chiang Mai

    Deck 1 Chiang Mai

    When the night falls in Chiang Mai there’s no better place to be than by the water. Deck 1 is a modern smart-casual Read More»

  • The Riverside Bar & Restaurant

    The Riverside Bar & Restaurant, sitting idyllically next to the River Ping in Chiang Mai, is an absolute tourist Read More»

EVENING: Shopping

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.

  • Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

    Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

    Ground zero of this nightly commerce is located at the intersection of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Khro Road but the whole Read More»

  • Sunday Walking Street Market

    Sunday Walking Street Market

    At Sunday Weekend Walking Street, Chiang Mai comes to life in a vibrant spectrum of art, crafts, music and food – with Read More»

  • Top 10 Night Spots in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

    Top 10 Night Spots in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

    Some of the best bars and clubs are found in and around this area, as well as some of the most risqué, but owing to the Read More»

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. 

  • The Roof at Sala Lanna

    The Roof is a rooftop bar located in Riverside Chiang Mai, on the top of Sala Lanna Chiang Mai Hotel. The Roof offers Read More»

  • Warm Up Cafe

    Big, loud and usually overflowing with local university students, Warm Up Café is the undisputed King of Clubs in Chiang Read More»

  • Zoe in Yellow - Chiang Mai

    Zoe in Yellow is the number one party venue for every traveller under 35 years old in Chiang Mai. It is a bar with a

    Zoe Read More»


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. 

  • 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai

    10 Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai

    The Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai all have a certain charismatic air, a delightful sense of place, top-notch service Read More»

  • 10 Best Value Hotels in Chiang Mai Old City

    10 Best Value Hotels in Old City

    The best budget hotels in Chiang Mai were difficult to narrow down to a list of just 10; this is a city which is simply Read More»

  • 5 Stunning Lanna-Style Hotels in Chiang Mai

    5 Stunning Lanna-Style Hotels

    Lanna-style hotels have become a well-cemented trend in Chiang Mai, with the city now brimming full of luxurious resorts Read More»

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