The Charm of Chiang Mai

Icon Share


Advisor - Maggie Pecorino
Curated By

Maggie Pecorino

  • Chiang Mai

  • Thailand

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

A person sitting on a dock at night in front of a light tower.
Curator’s statement

Attention: do not skip Chiang Mai on your Thailand trip. One day in town had me asking… what is it that makes this city so incredible? My answers: a diverse population with distinct local culture and character, welcoming people, rich history, warm weather, proximity to nature, affordability, ease of transportation, variety of nightlife, and of course, top-notch food and drink. Not to mention, the airport is only twenty minutes from the center of town — love it. Welcome to one of my favorite cities in the world.

The Fora Difference

Book with Maggie to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

[object Object]
Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

[object Object]
Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

[object Object]
Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

Unlock perks by contacting Maggie to book your trip.

Things to do in Chiang Mai

Aerial view showing two monuments


Hike “Monk’s Trail” to Wat Pha Lat Temple: 45 minute hike, suitable for beginners. Enjoy lush nature just outside the city.

Namtok Bua Tong-Nam Phu Chet Si National Park: AKA the sticky waterfalls. Large park for exploring, notable for its limestone waterfalls that allow visitors to climb upwards without slipping. Beautiful, trippy, and fun. Good for families.

Motorbike into the mountains: go on a clear day and enjoy the vistas along the way! (Note: if you don’t feel comfortable driving a scooter, there are plenty of group tours available. Ask your hotel!)

Wat Doi Suthep: ornate mountainside temple with stunning views. Walking shoes are a must — be prepared for a lot of stairs. (Tip: Always remember to wear pants/long dresses and cover your shoulders when visiting temples.)

Hmong Village: hillside home to a local tribe. Views, flowering gardens, and artisan products.

Muay Thai

Thailand’s national sport is a perfect night of entertainment. These fights are mainly tourist-targeted, but still worth it! (Tip: arrive early and try bartering down the price by saying you paid less on a different night.)

Loi Kroh Stadium: Intimate arena amidst bars and pool halls

Thapae Stadium: Slightly larger option

Night Markets

Everywhere in Thailand — especially epic in Chiang Mai. Here are some of the most famous.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar (Everyday)

Wua Lai Walking Street (Saturday)… it’s never ending

Tha Phae Walking Street (Sunday)… also never ending

Chang Phuak Gate Night Market: Street food-centric and a bit more touristy. If you’re feeling adventurous, look for the famous Cowboy Lady (wearing a cowboy hat) and try her pork knuckle dish.


Boy Blues Bar: Live music located within the Kalaare Night Bazaar. Fun to socialize at the Monday open mic.

BYB Cafe: I was brought here by a local friend. One of the rare after-hours clubs in the city, so: party vibes.

Candy Club: Popular, bi-level spot with different genres on each floor.

ReD: Great hidden club. Small but mighty. Electronic focus.

Day Trips

Elephant Nature Park: Perfect sanctuary experience. Truly an ethical rescue and rehabilitation center run by loving people. So much space. Includes: making food, feeding, mud bathing, lunch, professional photos, and more. Half/full day tours available. (Volunteer opportunities, too!)

Places to eat & drink in Chiang Mai

White bowl with noodles and yellow cury.


Khao Soi — A creamy, spicy chicken noodle soup — is Northern Thailand’s staple dish. I’m obsessed with it. These are just a few of the go-to spots:

ร้าน สุรีรัตน์ โภชนา: My favorite. A local, 24 hour spot.

Khao Soy Maesai: Probably the cheapest Michelin meal you’ll ever have. Just so good.

Khao Soy Nimman: aApopular, nicer spot. Expect a wait.

Khao Soy Prince Maejo Halal: Legendary old spot outside of the city. Their bowl was slightly different. Worth the trip.


Street Food: just necessary. After your obligatory Pad Thai, please try weird things. (Not weird: but I love the sweet buttered corn.)

Bella Goose Cafe: Wide range of breakfast options. Think: biscuit sandwiches, waffles, smoothie bowls.

SP Chicken: Well-known, Michelin rotisserie chicken spot. Simple and tasty. Go early, they sell out.


Beer: If you get tired of the Big Three Lagers (Singha, Chang, Leo) head to these craft-centric spots. (Note: keep in mind that anything craft is going to seem quite expensive for Thailand but hey, so it goes.)

The Beer Chiangmai: Large selection of international cans/bottles

The Grumpy Old Men (My Beer Friend Taproom): Very chill little spot with a small, tasty tap. They brew some of their own as well.

Wishbeer Chiang Mai: Great staff and bottle selection. Food available as well.


Somewhere Espresso: Cozy spot with kind employees. Nice for relaxing in the morning. Well-priced. Yummy pastries.

Looper Co.: Espresso bar by day, cocktail bar by night. A little pricy, but a must for an inventive cocktail lover.

Hang & Craft: Get a Dirty Coffee. Local crafts and clothing for sale. Nice environment to get some work done.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The First Timer’s Guide to Copenhagen.

Advisor - Maggie Pecorino

Travel Advisor

Maggie Pecorino

Get in touch with Maggie

Did you like this guide? Reach out to customize and book your own experience. Or, just to chat about travel in general.

You can normally expect a response from Maggie within a business day or so. You’ll also be subscribed to our travel newsletter (you can unsubscribe at any time).

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Thailand.