Click on one of the city's sights for more information.
The original town built by King Mengrai lies within a two kilometer square moat. Within the moat was a massive city wall, of which you can still see portions at the corner as well as the reconstructed Tapae Gate. Within the walled city are quiet narrow lanes and some of the city's oldest temples, such as Wat Chieng Man, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang.
Although it lies on a relatively flat plain, the city nestles up to a mountain range to the west. To the east of the old city, the Ping River flows south towards Bangkok. Most of the city's hotels lie between the walls of the old town and the river.
Chiang Mai Sights
There are at least two "must see" sights the visitor to Chiang Mai must tour. The first involves a trip up the winding road to the temple on top of Doi Suthep. The temple is a sight in itself, and its perch on top of a mountain provides a panoramic, if often cloudy, view of Chiang Mai and its environs. For the adventurous, the trip further up the mountains to the hill tribe village at Doi Pui is worth the rather bumpy ride.
The second main sight is the city's famous night bazaar. From about 7:00 pm on to midnight, Chang Klan road between Tapee and Loh Kroh roads is lined with stalls selling a mix of handicrafts and general goods such as clothing, luggage and jewelery. The night bazaar "proper" is housed in a building about midway along the road. Its mostly more of the same, but you'll find some interesting photography shops here where you can have your picture taken in traditional costume. Its definitely an experience!
Other attractions in Chiang Mai include the Mae Rim valley, which has elephant camps, orchid farms and butterfly ranches. A visit to Chiang Mai also typically includes a trip up Borsang road to visit factories where you can see, and of course purchase, silver, nielo, bronze, leather goods, silk, umbrellas, etc. etc.
Chiang Mai is probably the place we've visited most in Thailand, having made too many trips to count over the last 20 years. We have our own list of Chiang Mai favorites, the places we always go back to on return visits.
Tours to many of Chiang Mai's sights can be booked in advance through our travel partners Viator. They offer many half-day, full-day and night tours in and around Chiang Mai which you can book in advance, saving you time and hassle once you get to your destination.
Chiang Mai is rightly famous for its many ancient temples, some of which date from the late 13th century. Its arguably the best place to spend some time examining these places of worship. While the temple on Doi Suthep can be extremely crowded, most of the other temples in and around the city can be relatively deserted.