There is something special about Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand. Vibrant markets, gleaming temples, and many one-of-a-kind experiences make it a must visit when vacationing in Thailand. We have partnered with family travel expert Meagan Wristen of Mommy Travels, who spends most her time traveling the world with her three children and visiting places like Chiang Mai, Thailand.
If you’ve ever spoken with someone who has visited Chiang Mai, the chances are high that they only had good things to say. When I was planning our trip to Thailand, at least 10 people gushed about Chiang Mai. So, I took their advice and went. Regrettably, we had less than 48 hours there, but in that time I quickly understood why anyone who has been insists you go. Now, I too must insist others stop there when visiting Thailand! Here’s what to do while you’re there:
There are over 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas. You could easily spend all of your time going from one temple to another. Every temple we saw was stunning, but my favorite was the Wat Inthkin. This is a beautiful temple, where just next door you can see boys learning to become monks. You can also participate in the Buddhist ritual of making a wish onto a Pagoda.
If you have time, I recommend taking a temple tour. The next time we visit, my goal is to take a day trip to the Wat Rong Khun White Temple. This tour takes about 6 hours of driving time, so kids may or may not be up for it.
Thai Market Food Tour
While in Chiang Mai, I highly recommend going on an evening bicycle food tour with Grasshopper Tours. One of the coolest experiences we had in Chiang Mai was this tour, which has guests bicycle through bustling streets, graffitied alleyways, and over bridges.
In addition to biking the city, you learn about the culture. There are stops at multiple temples and historical sites, like the 3 Kings Monument. Eventually, bicyclists make way to a food market for an in-depth view of a Thai wet-market that is guaranteed to be memorable. The guide explains various foods while putting together a dinner feast that guests enjoy at the market. After your market feast, your party will bike a little more, eventually stopping at a place along the river for dessert.
There is so much packed into this one tour! If this is the only thing you do in Chiang Mai, you will have gotten a solid sense and experience of the city. The tour suggests a minimum age of 12 to take this tour, but my youngest is 10 and he had no problem. As long as your child is a solid bike rider, they will be able to do this tour.
Thai Boxing Lesson
Learning something new as a family is not only a fun way to connect, but it’s a great way to delve deeper into the culture. Thai boxing is one of Thailand’s most popular sports, and a beginner lesson is easy enough for any age. We took a family Thai boxing lesson at the Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai. The lesson lasted an hour, and we all learned some basic skills. Thailand is hot and humid, so I recommend doing this in the morning or in the evening if it is an outside lesson.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Open year-round and one-kilometer long, the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is the go-to place for tourist shopping. Shoppers can negotiate with sellers for clothing, jewelry, hats, sunglasses, journals, and more. Kids will enjoy picking out souvenirs to take home and eating sweets along the way available from the food vendors. The market is cash only, but there are plenty of ATMs nearby if needed.
Family-Friendly Chiang Mai Hotel
Families will enjoy staying at Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai during their visit to the city. Shangri-La Chiang Mai is a safe, family-friendly luxury hotel with one of the largest swimming pools in town. Shangri-La boosts that they are the safest hotel in the city, and with the security measures I saw them taking I believe it. Every person who enters the hotel must go through security, and cars entering the premises are checked, ensuring a safer stay in the city. Luxurious touches are found throughout the hotel, but especially in the Horizon Club Lounge, which offers an array of amenities for people that upgrade. There is also a lovely spa called Chi The Spa, where patrons are taken into their own private oasis to enjoy whatever treatment they seek. There are also a variety of health club activities, including a fitness center with a sauna and spa, fitness classes, and tennis courts.
The list of family activities available in Chiang Mai is seemingly endless. For example, there’s an elephant sanctuary where families can help care for an elephant or two. Chiang Mai is also home to a zoo that houses a famous panda exhibit. Whatever you choose to do, you are sure to have a wonderful time. The people are gracious and welcoming, the food is wonderful, and you will never run out of things to see and do.
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What was your favorite thing to do?
Meagan Wristen is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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