Chiang Mai is a cheap city despite the amount of tourists visiting yearly, and especially compared to other Thai cities like Bangkok or Phuket. While the cost of living and eating is much cheaper than Europe or North America, some travelers may still be on a budget. Luckily Chiang Mai offers many exciting things for do cheaply – or in some cases absolutely free – so if you are on a budget or want to see the city without spending too much money then check out the following list of 10 amazing and cheap things to do in Chiang Mai.
- 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
Doi Suthep is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai and also one of the most visited places in Thailand so it’s not to be missed. Tickets are free for Thai citizens and only 30 Baht for foreigners so it fits perfectly in any itinerary of cheap things to do in Chiang Mai. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep takes around an hour to visit. Starting by climbing over 300 steps to the temple, circling the stupa three times for good luck and then resting on the balconies offering great views over the city. Take a shared red car (songtaew) up the mountain for 60 Baht (ask your hotel to help you finding the correct songtaew), or if you like walking then you could walk or hike up the mountain for free. Read More...
- Opening Hours: sunrise – sunset
- Location: Doi Pui Mountain, starting at the end of Huay Kaew Road
Street food in Thailand tastes amazing, and Chiang Mai is known as the best place in Thailand to eat delicious food for pennies. You can find street stalls all over the city, with the North and South gates of the old city both having nightly markets full of street food, fresh fruit and snacks. Most street stalls only offer a few different dishes, but this will be the type of food they specialize in. If there is no English menu then you can try the age old technique of looking at what the other customers are eating and pointing. Read More...
- Opening Hours: varies but usually from sunset until midnight
- Location: All over the city in the evenings, with daily markets at North (Chang Puak) gate and South (Chiang Mai) gates.
Warowot Market is a busy and popular market selling clothes, fabrics, souvenirs, snacks and jewellery at wholesale prices. The market is interesting to walk around even if you don’t plan to buy anything, and on the ground floor you can try Sai Eua – Local Chiang Mai sausage. Behind Warowot Market, and close to the river, is the beautiful flower market. Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00 the flower market sells the freshest flowers from all over the North of Thailand. Just walking through the market is an interesting experience as there are many flowers you will see that are native to Thailand only, and the market smells of fresh flowers. Read More...
- Opening Hours: daily 10:00- 18:00
- Location: Chiang Moi Road
Nimmanhaemin Road and the small streets going off Nimman are packed full of interesting cafes, boutique shops, galleries and delicious food. Renting a bicycle for the day is the best way to see the area, which takes 15 minutes to cycle to from the old city. Start by going down Soi (alley) 1, then up the next soi, stopping when you feel like visiting a shop or café. There are so many interesting things to see in the soi’s that if combined with lunch and a coffee break, it might take you 3-4 hours to see all the small streets. Read More...
Chiang Mai’s Grand Canyon is about 40 minutes south of the city and one of Chiang Mai’s hidden gems. An old limestone quarry, the area has been flooded over the years and is now a popular swimming and diving spot. The canyon is no longer Chiang Mai’s best kept secret and there is now a 50 Baht entrance fee that goes towards improving safety in the area. The best way to get there is by renting a motorbike as there is no public transport to that area. Driving south along Canal Road, look out for signs suggesting a right turn to the canyon after about 20 minutes.
- Opening Hours: daily sunrise – sunset
- Location: Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai province
Built back in 2014, Think Park is a cool collection of individual shops selling clothes, soaps, handmade goods and unique woodworks. This is the best place to shop for gifts or to walk around and experience some of the best quality handmade items in Chiang Mai. If you feel like splurging on a dessert then head to Local café which offers some amazing sweets and cakes, or you can sit outside the café and admire the 3 metre tall cat with a handbag statue. In the evenings there are a few bars offering free live music.
- Location: Nimmanhaemin Road and Huay Kaew Road intersection
Chiang Mai’s oldest shopping mall, Kad Suan Kaew looks outdated but has its own charm. Inside the mall there are lots of discount shops including a large sports shop with tents and a golfing range inside, as well as a bowling alley and cinema on the 4th floor and a concert hall on the 5th floor. Kad Suan Kaew has an interesting layout to its floors meaning you can get lost for hours and the outdoor grassy area in the middle is the best reference point to find the exit. Read More...
- Opening Hours: daily 10:00 – 21:00
The SF Cinema at Maya shopping mall offers cheap cinema tickets before 12:00 and after 21:00 Monday to Thursday. All the movies are the latest releases and if you visit on Monday or Tuesday morning tickets cost just 80 Baht. On Wednesday and Thursdays the price rises to 100 Baht, which is still cheaper than many other countries ticket prices. Take a jumper or a scarf with you as the cinema is very cold inside. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 9:00 until last showing
- Location: 5th floor, Maya shopping mall, Huey Kaew Road
Chiang Mai is famous for the Sunday Night Walking Street Market, in which the main road within the old city closes and street stalls selling handmade gifts, home items, clothes and many other unique gifts are set up. The Sunday night market is the biggest night market in Asia, covering over 3km, and every Sunday evening thousands of people (Thai’s and travelers alike) walk the small alley between the stalls looking for bargains. The Sunday night market is a great place to see some of Thailand’s unique hand made goods, and fun can be had even without buying anything. If you aren’t in Chiang Mai on a Sunday then don’t despair – there is a similar Saturday night walking street market as well as the daily Night Bazaar. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Every Sunday from sunset
- Location: Rachadamnoen Rd (between Thapae Gate and Wat Phra Sing temple)
Chiang Mai has two great bars for live music – The North Gate Jazz Bar and Boys Blues Bar. Both places offer free entry and for the cost of a beer you can listen to some of the best musicians in the city. North Gate Jazz bar has an open mic every Tuesday and world famous Jazz musicians have been known to turn up and play while on their holidays. Boys Blues bar also regularly has visiting blues singers and is conveniently located above the Night Bazaar so a visit to the Boys Blues bar can be combined with an evening of shopping.
- Opening Hours: 18:00 -00:00
- Location: North Gate Jazz Bar is on Sripoom Road, opposite the North Gate of the old city, Boys Blues Bar is located on Chan Klan Road