6 Day Trips From Chiang Mai That Will Supercharge Your Thailand Travel Experience
For the travelers that are looking to enhance their Chiang Mai travel itinerary and have a few extra days to spare, we've got a fantastic list of places to go for the day. The day trips from Chiang Mai that we list below come from recommendations of other travel bloggers with our stamp of approval...because...well, we've done most of them and had a great time!
Living in the city of Chiang Mai for a couple of years gave us a good chance to get to see a lot and really enjoy the many different activities available. There are a couple of major things that tourists generally like to do while in Chiang Mai and, if you're not too familiar with travel in this part of the world, you may think there's not much beyond the elephant camps and temples.
The first time we visited Chiang Mai, we only set aside 3 days for it in our entire Thailand itinerary of two weeks. Now that several years have passed and we have not only stayed there for a lengthy period of time but have traveled back several times, we've learned of way more things to see and do in Chiang Mai.
day trips from Chiang Mai You Should Not Miss
Chiang Dao Cave
Author: Alan Cuthbertson from Frequent Traveller
Located approximately 90 minutes by vehicle along highway 107 from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is the village of Chiang Dao. The Village of Chiang Dao has many local attractions such as Buddhist monasteries, hill tribe community’s, hot springs, waterfalls and the spectacular mountain scenery of Doi Chiang Dao mountain.
A must see highlight for anyone visiting, is a trip to the Chiang Dao Cave. Upon arriving in Chiang Dao follow the signs to the cave entrance. Chiang Dao Cave is signposted from the highway and as a major attraction of the area easy to find.
Next to the carpark entrance to the Chiang Dao Cave is a stone pagoda, before entering the cave be sure to stop by and check out this moss and fern laden structure. It was built in AD191and has been preserved impressively well. Nearby are small restaurants serving Thai food, cafes, stalls with exotic spice plants for sale and shops with souvenirs for visitors to purchase.
The entrance of the cave has a peaceful pond filled with large carp and catfish, well maintained gardens, forest and brilliantly painted temple guard statues.
Entrance to the cave cost 40 Baht each. The cave is well lit and you will pass small golden Buddha’s reclining. The rays of the sun peak through the cave roof and beam down on the tops of the Buddhas of various shapes and sizes.
Private guides are available for those wanting to explore deeper into the cave where you pass through dark passages with lanterns taking in the stalactites and interesting rock forms, while listening to local fables. When planning day trips from Chiang Mai be sure to add a visit to Chiang Dao Cave which is a truly memorable experience.
Tours are available from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao Cave and many local accommodation options are available for those wanting to stay and explore other nearby attractions.
Bo Sang Village
Author: Emily Lush from Wander-Lush
Located a little over half-an-hour’s drive away from the Old City, Bo Sang village makes for an easy day trip from Chiang Mai.
Bo Sang is famous for one thing: Painted umbrellas and parasols, which have been hand-crafted in this little artisan village for several generations. Made from delicate sa paper, a natural material derived from mulberry bark, umbrellas were traditionally made after the rice harvest. Now umbrella-making is a round-the-year vocation for Bo Sang’s busy artisans, who have honed their skills assembling and painting parasols that are sold all over Thailand.
Once a year, the sleepy town transforms into a hive of activity with the annual Bo Sang Umbrella Festival. A colourful celebration of the town’s craftsmanship, the festival features parades, a beauty pageant, dance performances, artist’s demonstrations, and of course, this being Northern Thailand, lots of delicious street food. Every house and shop is decorated from foundation to roof with imaginative umbrella displays, each one more colourful and creative than the last.
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival takes place during the third week of January. Bo Sang is still worth a visit outside of festival time, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Thai craftsmanship. The Bo Sang Handicraft Centre is open year-round and showcases the different steps in production. There are also some cute cafes along the main street, and plenty of gift shops to browse through.
To get to Bo Sang from Chiang Mai, take a white songthaew from outside Warorot Market. A one-way fare costs around 20 baht.
Mon Cham, Thailand
Author: Henry & Zory from This Life Of Travel
Only about 45 mins from Chiang Mai lies a vibrant farming community nestled in between lush, verdant valleys and mountaintops. It’s called Mon Cham and part of the Nong Hoi Royal Project, which emphasizes sustainable farming practices. Much of the produce here is part of the strong farm to table movement in Chiang Mai.
At the top of the mountain there is a beautiful viewpoint complete with a restaurant and private dining huts. Mostly filled with locals, the food is delicious and well priced around $4 USD. Some of our favorites include the Northern Herbal Sausages, Northern Pork Curry, and deep fried eggplant. You’ll also see some hill tribe children dressed in traditional Hmong attire running around.
Since it’s a bit higher up elevation, the weather might be cooler than in Chiang Mai - so bring a sweater just in case.
You can take a red taxi there with a group of friends for around 30 USD. They’ll wait for you for a few hours and then take you back. Alternatively Grab works very well in Chiang Mai.
I usually have a motorbike when I’m in Thailand, so I just drive up myself. The drive is very easy - just be careful if it’s raining or if the road is wet.
You can do this motorbike full day tour.
Elephant Nature Park
Author: Alex Waltner from Swedish Nomad
The Elephant Nature park is one of the most ethical parks in Thailand, and they do a massive job for the well-being and protection of Thailand's elephant population. It's located about 1 hr and 20 minutes away from Chiang Mai, and you can get there yourself or buy a tour from the Elephant nature park themselves or a tour operator.
Prices starts from 2500 THB for a single day visit, which includes transfers to and from the city. Children get a 50% discount. It's recommended to book this day trip ahead since it's quite popular among tourists coming to Chiang Mai, and you can't walk around freely in this nature park. Visitors are always accompanied by staff to ensure safety and well-being, both for humans and the elephants.
This means that it can get full in certain days, which is why it's better to book ahead.
A visit here is great because you get to support elephants in Thailand, and tell the government that they should be protected and not abused. At the same time, you'll get to follow them on jungle walks, see them bathing and just enjoying themselves in their natural habitat. The Elephant nature park is huge, and is not enclosed like a zoo. The elephants are free to roam around the park, just like in the national parks of Africa.
For visitors, this is the ultimate way of getting close to elephants. The elephants who live here in this sanctuary are all victims of tree logging, orphanage, circuses or other abuse. If you have some extra time, it's even possible to stay overnight or for 1 week or longer to help by volunteering.
Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat
Author: Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse
When I stumbled upon a picture of the floating temples of Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat, I couldn’t believe it was in Thailand – I was under the impression that it was a picture of Bhutan! It was immediately decided that I will make a day trip from Chiang Mai to go see it myself, and it was certainly well worth it.
To give you a bit of the history of Wat Chaloem, they are made of Buddhist pagodas that were carried up one small portion at a time by a well-respected local monk and about 50 faithful locals. As I hiked my way up to the mountain peaks, I couldn't help but feel amazed by how much love and dedication had been put into making this monumental work of art.
Since it is relatively unknown to foreigners, getting there by public transportation is a bit of a challenge, but if you are renting a car, it is a 2.5 hour drive from Chiang Mai. Once you have arrived, a 200 baht ticket and a compulsory 8 baht songthaew ticket can be purchased at the entrance. The songthaew leaves for the wat once it is loaded up, though you will have to climb about 500 meters up to the mountain peaks by foot.
I went in the early morning and thought it was a wonderful time to go, as the temperature was pleasantly cool, and I only had to share the space with a couple other locals.
Samoeng Loop on Motorbike
The Samoeng Loop is more of a day trip journey as opposed to a day trip to get to a destination. There are, however, several key points along the way to stop at.
The best part: it's free! Well, after the motobike rental and some gas, of course!
We should mention that the only "real" way to do the Samoeng Loop is by motorbike. You may need to rent one for the day, but it is also required that you have an international driver license. Of course, make sure you also wear a helmet for the ride!
Going on this adventurous drive is one of our top recommendations for couples or solo travelers as well as friends looking for a fun group activity to do together.
Taking on the open road and riding the beautifully scenic route around the Chiang Mai hills should be on your bucket list if you have a few days in this city. The loop is about 100 kilometers in distance and may take some a couple of hours to complete. Others may take their time and spend a good part of the day on the journey if a lot of the stops are made along the way.
Along the route:
- Supha Bee Farm
- Mae Sa Elephant Camp
- Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens - *Top Recommendation for a stop
- Samoeng Forest Scenic Point - *Top Recommendation for a stop
- ATV/Go-Cart/Zipline Attractions
- Shooting Range
- Snake Farm
Magical Emerald Lake In Lampang
Author: Louis Smith from The Northern Boy
One of the coolest places I have seen is the Emerald Lake in Chiang Mai.
The Emerald Lake can be rated as a hidden gem in all of Thailand. The turquoise-green waters changing colors as the depth grows in this sinkhole make for some amazing photography. You can definitely get a new Instagram photo here.
How to get to the Emerald Lake?
You will have to take a journey to get here, but it’s totally worth it! The Emerald Lake is 3 hours east of Chiang Mai. So, you will have to rent a car or hire a taxi. Alternatively, you can take one of the tours to the lake. You can rent a scooter and go on your own as well, if you are looking for the cheapest way to get there. However, a scooter for 3 hours can be a bit of a nightmare.
Once you arrive, there is parking available for which ever transport you took. Then, it’s just an easy 100 meter walk to the lake.
A great day out if you’re staying in or near Thailand’s epic city of Chiang Mai.
More Fun Chiang Mai Day Trips To Choose From
Huay Tung Tao Lake bungalow lunch and lazy day out.
Doi Inthanon National Park - Waterfalls, Twin Pagodas, beautiful gardens and the highest peak in Thailand!
Soak your tired limbs or boil an egg at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
Chiang Mai Day Tours That We Recommend
Whether you choose to do one of the day tours we mention above or you feel adventurous enough to go and discover these places on your own, you will be happy you did a day trip from Chiang Mai. When time permits a traveler to explore beyond the central tourism hub of a destination, there's a richer travel experience to be had. So, if you do visit Chiang Mai and are looking for things to do outside of the usual, try one or two of the places in this post and let us know what you thought of the experience in the comments below!
Here are our recommendations for your Thailand travels:
- Find the best hotel accommodations here for Chiang Mai.
About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!