While we were living in Chiang Mai visitors often asked what to see and do. These are some of our suggestions on how to spend 5 Days in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a city where the ancient and modern coexist in harmony. Located in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai’s milder climate and laid back friendly lifestyle makes it a popular destination for tourists.
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Explore the Chiang Mai Old Town
Chiang Mai’s Old Town is an ancient walled city with a water filled moat. Square shaped the Old Town can be entered by five gates the most famous being the Thaphae Gate, which was the main entrance of the old town in ancient times. The old town is a must to see during your 5 Days in Chiang Mai.
North Gate Jazz Club situated just inside the Chang Puak Gate (North Gate of Moat) is for the Jazz enthusiast. Be prepared to be blown away by the talent and get in early as seats are limited. While waiting grab a bite to eat at the numerous market stalls across the road from Chang Puak Gate.
Sunday Night Walking Markets are an Old Town institution. This seemingly endless Market sells clothing, arts and crafts, jewellery, and many other items. Enjoy a snack from the street carts as you wander, but get there early because it gets very crowded. If you miss out on the Sunday Night Walking Market, there are plenty of shops selling interesting wares as you stroll the streets of the Old Town.
Chiang Mai Gate Market at the southern end of the moat is a traditional Thai Market. I walk there every morning for a very addictive spicy noodle dish which I take home to eat. You can try one of the many pre-cooked dishes or buy fresh fruit and vegetables. They have a vast range of Thai sweets which have a more delicate flavour than their Western counterparts. I don’t know the name of anything I buy at the markets due to the language difference but the vendors are very patient and helpful.
Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre, Lanna Folklife Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Centre located near the Three Kings Monument is place to learn more about Chiang Mai’s history and Lanna culture. Here you will discover the roles that religious beliefs and customs play in the daily life of the people of Chiang Mai. Tickets include entry to all three museums.
Wat Pan Tao & Wat Chedi Luang is a very beautiful Buddhist temple complex. Monk Chat is an interesting way to gain knowledge of this peaceful religion. The Monks answer your questions and in exchange they improve their English language skills. Please be advised that women should be modestly attired, shorts are not acceptable and arms must be covered and shoes removed when entering a Wat. If women are participating in Monk Chat they must be modestly attired and be careful not to touch the monks.
Night Bazaar, Kalare Night Bazaar and Anusarn Market
Night Bazaar, Kalare Night Bazaar and Anusarn Markets or Night Markets as they are widely known are constructed every afternoon along Chang Klan Road (not far from where I live). This always amazes me because Chang Klan Road is a very long road and by morning there will be no sign of them. In the afternoon the cycle will begin again. The Night Market area is another must for your 5 Days in Chiang Mai.
The Night Bazaar is a shoppers dream, with a huge array of Art & Crafts, paintings, wood carvings, trinkets and clothing.
The Kalare Night Bazaar has a fabulous food court and the very popular Boy Blues Bar which is across the road from the Night Bazaar building.
Lemongrass is Thai restaurant, turn left between Burger King and McDonalds, and after a short walk you will find the graffiti clad walls of this very popular restaurant. I was introduced to Miang Kham which is made of leaves served with finely chopped ginger, lime, dried shrimp, chilli, shallot, garlic and a sweet tangy sauce. Make a cone with the leaf and add a little of the ingredients and enjoy, it’s like having a party in your mouth. Miang Kham can also be bought in little bags at Warorot Market, (another interesting food, clothing and flower market), which is little further north from Chang Klan road.
Anusarn Market, is home to the Chiang Mai Cabaret Show. I have been to this Ladyboy show a few times now and their talent never ceases to amaze me. The Ladyboys are stunning and their performances is thrilling. The male backup dancers put so much energy into their dance, they leave me breathless.
Black Hawks, a popular heavy metal band, perform at the Thai European Restaurant and Bar in the Anusarn Market. The Thai European Restaurant and Bar showcases many of Chiang Mai’s musical talent. The Black Hawks are my favourite band in Chiang Mai. Being a heavy metal fan, I love to get my fix of the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath to Guns & Roses, Bon Jovi and Nirvana, there is something for everyone.
At Anusarn Market you will be astonished at the range of souvenirs, clothing, textiles, arts and crafts and jewellery that are for sale. With the vast array of restaurants and cuisines on offer you will never get tired of coming here. Why not have a massage or a fish spa, there is no way to describe the sensation of the tiny fish against your skin but it is a lot of fun.
LaVa Café Bar & Grill is located on Chang Klan Road 200 metres from Pantip Plaza before the Shangri-la Hotel. This popular Café Bar and Grill is a favourite with Tourists and Expats alike. With a diverse cuisine that includes Thai, Chinese, Western, Italian and Indian it has something to please everyone. Our favourites are LaVa’s range of Indian and steak dishes.
Other Places to Visit during your 5 days in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Zoo is further out of the city centre, you can get there by hiring a Songthaew (red bus) or Tuk Tuk. Chiang Mai Zoo is huge so instead of walking, opt for a ride on the Zoo’s shuttle bus. Be sure to visit some very relaxed Panda’s in Chiang Mai’s famous Panda enclosure and get up close and personal with a friendly Giraffe.
Doi Suthep can be reached from Chiang Mai Zoo by Songthaew or Tuk Tuk. Hang on tight as the road twists and turns all the way up to Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep). Once there you can either take the 300 steps up the Naga Serpent Staircase or catch a lift up to the Wat Phra That temple complex. Wander around theses peaceful terraces that are surrounded by flowers and trees. Take in the panoramic views of Chiang Mai. Watch the golden Phra That Chedi shimmer in the sunlight. Remember to dress modestly.
Red Chili Cooking School is on the grounds of the River Market Restaurant. The cooking school takes you to a local market where you will learn the names of the exotic vegetables and herbs that go into Thai cooking. Join in the fun of preparing and cooking Thai dishes and remember to leave room to enjoy eating all the delicious Thai food.
River Market Restaurant is on the banks of the River Ping (Mae Ping) overlooking the Iron Bridge. Housed in a tradition Thai style building, it is a lovely place to sit and relax and watch the river flow. The River Market restaurant serves Thai, Asian fusion and International dishes.
What to see near Chiang Mai
Tiger Kingdom is located further out of town but can be reached by hiring a Songthaew (red bus), make sure you get your Songthaew driver to stay as it may be hard to get transportation back to town. Check out the different size tigers and lion. Walking into a tiger’s den is not for the faint hearted but if you do you will be humbled by these majestic creatures, an experience of a lifetime.
Attractions I Missed that you should see in Chiang Mai
I have only touched on the delights of Chiang Mai, there is much more to see and experience. Here are a few that might interest you, if you have extra time during your 5 days in Chiang Mai.
Nimmanhaemin Road a trendy area full of boutiques, cafes, galleries and restaurants.
Muang Mai Market is just up from the American Consulate on the banks of the River Ping (Mae Ping). Here you will find a fascinating wholesale food market. Wandering the streets of this huge market you will be enthralled by the array of exotic produce available. This market is a must to visit.
Elephant Tours are very popular in the Chiang Mai area. There are many tours to choose from, including ½ day, one day and two day tours.
Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Tours are a 55 minute drive from Chiang Mai. This tour enables you to explore pristine rainforest from high in the tree tops.
I hope you enjoyed our suggestions for 5 days in Chiang Mai, and hope to see you soon.