Sights & Landmarks


Sights & Landmarks in Chiang Mai


Numerous reports have been released on the ethics of using elephants for entertainment, citing the dangers and hidden abuse behind the industry, and the use of phajaan on baby elephants. According to a National Geographic report, this technique involves isolating the baby from her mother and: "[I]n addition to beatings, handlers use sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst to 'break' the elephants' spirit and make them submissive to their owners[...]Elephants are typically covered in bloody wounds and rope burns when released from the crush after three to six days."

Elephant riding has long-term negative physical effects as well, as elephants' bodies are designed to carry weight on their strong legs, not their comparatively weak backs.

If you care about these issues, research the parks thoroughly to decide where you want your tourist dollars to go.

Baanchang Elephant Park

Baanchang Elephant Park,147/1 Rachadamnoen Rd,  +66 53 814 174, +66 89 635 5206.

Although they offer an "Elephant's Day Care" program with no riding, be warned that they also offer elephant rides through their "Elephant Training Courses." 4500 baht a day (can be split between two people who share a ride one elephant).

Eddy Elephant Care Chiang Mai

Eddy Elephant Care Chiang Mai, 87 Sripoom Rd,  +66 53 222 525, e-mail:

Although their brochures states, "We try the best to take a good care of the elephants," they offer elephant rides. 2,300 baht a day including lunch and transportation.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (EJS), 119/10 Tha Phae Rd Chang Klan(Approximately 60 km S of Chiang Mai),  +66 53 273 415, e-mail:. 08:00-22:00.

EJS is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Founded in July 2014, it is a joint initiative between members of the Karen hilltribes and Chiang Mai locals who were concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand. The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary project also provides many Karen people with employment, education, and financial support. Half-day, full-day, and overnight visits to the sanctuary are available. Weekly volunteering opportunities can also be arranged. Half day, 1,500 baht; 1 day, 2,400 baht; overnight, 4,900 baht; week, 11,500 baht.

Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park1 Ratmakka Rd (Approximately 60 km N of Chiang Mai),  +66 53 272 855. 07:30-21:30

A renowned sanctuary for rescued and abused elephants, established in 1996 by Lek Chailert, a native Thai woman who has become an internationally-recognized elephant advocate. During a day visit you will feed and bathe the elephants, walk with them around the scenic 50 acre park, and be treated to a vegetarian buffet lunch. Cats and dogs rescued after the tsunami also live at the park, dozing on benches and getting lots of love from visitors. Day and overnight visits as well as one week volunteering opportunities can be booked via the website. Pick up and drop off at your hotel in Chiang Mai.Day, 2,500 baht; week, 12,000 baht.

Elephant Retirement Park

Elephant Retirement Park,5 Kotchasarn Rd,  +66 81 961 9663, e-mail:

Established to create a haven for retired elephants formerly working in building yards, a sustainable habitat for the elephants to live in a safe and natural environment free from profiteering and neglect. Family units are never separated and herbal medicines are used to keep the animals healthy and enjoy a better quality of life. There is no riding or beating of any kind. The main focus of the park is to promote the well-being of retired elephants. Visitors and volunteers can expect to work with the local mahouts to care, feed, and bathe the elephants. 2,600 baht / person.

Friends for Asia Elephant Camp Volunteer Project

Friends for Asia Elephant Camp Volunteer Project,  63/3 Old Chang Moi Rd, Chang Moi,  +66 53 232 053, e-mail:

After a two-day orientation in Chiang Mai, coordinating staff sends volunteers to the elephant camp, roughly a one hour drive from the city. Volunteers stay from Monday to Friday bathing, feeding, caring for and learning about elephants. Lodging is in a tree house on the premises. Two week minimum. 36,671 baht for two weeks; 7,466 baht for each additional week.

Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Mae Sa Elephant Camp, 119/9 Tha Phae Rd,  +66 53 206 247, +66 53 206 248

An elephant camp in the hills about an hour's drive north of the city centre. It has an elephant show, which includes elephants playing football and painting, not natural activities for these creatures. "Like elephants used in the elephant trekking industry, young elephants used for painting must be broken and experience the pain of the phajaan process. Over this time baby elephants are starved, shackled, and beaten, until their spirit is completely broken and will submit to the will of their captors. Once young elephants have undergone this process they can being learning to paint." You can also take half-hour or one hour elephant rides.

Patara Elephant Farm

Patara Elephant Farm, 299/22 Siwalee Rachapreuk MaeHea (29 km SW of the city centre.),  +66 81 671 0958 (English), +66 85 076 8461 (Deutsch)fax: +66 53 286 321, e-mail: .

As their website states, "you learn how to ride on its neck." 5,800 baht including transport and lunch.

Gardens and nature

Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery

Chiang Mai Foreign CemeteryChiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (About 800 m north of the Holiday Inn, east side of the Ping River).

A place of history and remembrance.

Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium

Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium100 Huay Kaew Rd (At the foot of Doi Suthep),  +66 53-893111. Daily, 09:00-17:30.

Extremely popular with Thai tourists, and so expect long queues. A large park with over 400 species of animals. While better than some zoos, the animals are nevertheless kept in small enclosures. Operates a dual pricing system wherein non-Thais are charged approximately double the price of Thai nationals. Additional charges also apply for both the panda exhibition and the aquarium. Many of the animals can be fed for a charge of 10 or 20 baht. The park is pretty large and expect plenty of hills if you want to walk the complete route. It's possible to drive through with your car, but not very practical if you want to see the animals up close. If you have a rental scooter or bike, definitely bring it though. The car park facilities are best described as chaotic. 150 baht.

Mae Sa Waterfall

Mae Sa Waterfall (Go 17 km N to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096 to Samoeng. Travel ~7 km to waterfall on left),  +66 53-210244. 08:30-16:30.

Set in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park on the Samoeng Loop. The path winds up for almost 2 km to the 8 tiers of cascades. There are many secluded areas off the trail for picnics. Crowded on weekends and holidays. Foreigners, 100 baht; Thais, 20 baht.

Phu Ping Palace

Phu Ping Palace (Royal Winter Palace), Suthep (On Rte 1004, beyond Doi Suthep). Daily, 08:30-11:30 & 13:00-15:00 when the Thai royal family is not in residence.

This royal winter palace has lavishly landscaped gardens and is open to the public. Dress code strictly applied: dress modestly or pay 15 baht for fisherman's pants to cover your lack of it. This includes ANY leg above the ankle for either gender). The palace itself (built in 1961) is not particularly exciting, but the extensive gardens are picturesque with some amazing plant life, including carefully tended tropical flowers, as well as centuries-old trees and giant bamboo. A sign at the bottom of the hill near the zoo indicates when it's closed. It is close to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, so travel directions are similar. 50 baht, children 10 baht.

Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden

Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, 100 Moo 9, Mae Ram (Go 17 km N to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 12 km to garden on left),  +66 53-841234. Daily, 08:30-16:30.

Thailand's oldest and foremost botanical garden. Dedicated to the conservation of Thai flora, it holds collections of, and carries out research on rare and endangered species. Lovely gardens in a mountain foothills setting. Run by the Botanical Garden Association of Thailand.Adult, 40 baht; child, 20 baht; car, 100 baht.

Nature Trail to Doi Pui peak

Nature Trail to Doi Pui peak (beyond Phu Ping Palace).

A loop trail (2.4 km) leads from the Doi Pui Campsite to Doi Pui peak (uphill!) and back. From the peak you can continue to a View Point (680 m). The whole trail is in the forest and you're above 1500 m, so it's much cooler than in the city during the hot season. Bring insect repellent. To get there, rent a motorbike (or find a songthaew that takes you there) and drive all the way to Phu Ping Palace, continue on the main road, turn right after about 1 km (turning left will bring you to a mountain village) and continue on a narrow windy road for almost 4 km until you reach the Pui Campsite. Alternatively, walk all the way from Phu Ping Palace, there's not much traffic. A sign marks the start of the trail.

Muay Thai

After football, Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand. It can be seen in three different "stadia", in reality more like boxing rings in warehouses.

Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium

Kalare Boxing Stadium (Not far from Nawarat Bridge, a short block S of Tha Phae Rd in the Night Bazaar).

Real muay Thai fights (almost) every Monday and Friday at 20:30 with 10 bouts ranging from young novices to local champions to locals v. foreigners. Spoiler alert: The locals usually win. The smallest of the three stadia it is nearly open-air, but with a new tent covering and good lighting. This is much more authentic than the frenzied beer bar atmosphere of the other two locations. 400-600 baht.

Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium

Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium (Loi Kroh Rd in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex).

Fights are usually held 3-4 nights per week. Look for flyers posted up all over the old city. They usually have about 8 fights and feature Thai fighters as well as a few matches with foreign fighters. This is not the best location to see muay Thai with a family, as it is surrounded by girlie bars and during a break between the fights a group of ladyboys sometimes will dance and occasionally strip. After about 23:00 the complex is opened up for free, letting all the vendors (flower sellers and others) in. If you are on a tight budget you may be able to see a few of the remaining fights for free this way. 400 baht for normal seating or 600 baht for VIP.

Tha Phae Boxing Stadium

Tha Phae Boxing Stadium (Moon Muang Rd near Tha Phae Gate).

It hosts around 8 fights per show, including a few matches with foreign fighters. This is the largest of the three stadiums and has food as well as beverages served. Gambling is prominently featured.


Inside the old city walls

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang (วัดเจดีย์หลวงวรวิหาร), Prapokklao Rd (Foreigners have to use a separate entrance, 20m left of the main entrance).

Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai are the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the chedi (pronounced jedee) to a height of 86 m. After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991-92, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million baht. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites. Thais free; foreigners 40 Baht.

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man (วัดเชียงมัน), Ratchaphakhinai Rd.

The oldest royal temple in the city. Presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded (1296), it is famed for two Buddha statues, which are about 1,800 and 1,000 years old, respectively. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.

Wat Phra Chao Mengrai

Wat Phra Chao Mengrai (วัดพระเจ้าเม็งราย. Sometimes called Wat Phra Jao Mengrai), Ratchamanka Soi 6, Phra Sing (Near Huen Phen Restaurant),  +66 53-278788.

An atmospheric temple with two wihan buildings, off the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling. One of the wihan buildings houses an important Buddha image: Phra Buddha Rupa Phra Chao Mengrai.

Phra Singh

Phra Singh (วัดพระสิงห์วรมาวิหาร) (Corner of Singharaj Rd and Ratchadamnoen Rd).

Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from rain, floods, and pests. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen. Your admission ticket is in a leaflet form containing useful information and map of Wat Phra Singh complex. The temple is most attractive during Songkran, the Thai New Year, in mid-April. Thais free; foreigners 20 baht, Sarong for rent 10 baht.

Outside the old city walls

Wat Chet Yot

Wat Chet Yot (วัดเจ็ดยอด. Also called Wat Jet Yot or Wat Jed Yod) (About 1 km N of the Huay Kaew Rd/superhighway intersection). The history and unusual architecture scattered under the yawning canopy of ancient trees is an pleasant antidote to the flash and bustle encountered at popular temples. Established in 1455 to host the eighth World Buddhist Council, many features of the grounds imitate significant places of the Buddha's enlightenment. Originally calledBotharam Maha Vihata in honour of the venerated Bodhi tree, it came to be known as Wat Jet Yod by locals, after the seven spires (Jet Yod) protruding from the roof of the Vihara. The square-sided design of the Virhra is a replica of Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, India, though the translation has distorted proportions somewhat. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals that adorned the walls depict angels with a distinctly Indian flavour. The grounds also hold some more recently built, but abandoned looking, eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls, overshadowed by a fully intact, though more diminutive, replica of Chedi Luang that was built around 1487 to house the ashes of King Tilokarat.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ) (18 km from the city, at a 1,073 m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep). 07:00-17:00. The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gilded chedi, visible from the city on a clear day. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died, which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site. The temple offers grand views over the city, but no reward is without effort as you must accent the 200-plus steep steps of the Naga-lined stairs. The climb may be a strain in the high altitude's thin air for the less fit, so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht. For the Visaka Bucha holiday around May each year, it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4–5 hours.

In the vicinity there are several other attractions you may want to consider visiting. The Bhuping Royal Palace Gardens are 4 km further along the road from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, with a reasonably easy walk along the meter-wide road shoulder. Or you can get a shared songthaew from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep for 30 baht, but you may have to wait until it fills up. Further along the road is a hill tribe village, and although tourist-oriented, is really worth the trip. There are many shops for local handicrafts, etc. These are the people from the far north of the country, many originally from Myanmar. There are two areas in the village that require entrance fee: 10 baht to enter a flower garden (where women can take pictures using traditional clothes) and a hill tribe opium museum (the museum is in a very poor condition); and 10 baht to enter the hill tribe waterfall (man-made).Getting there is a source of much consternation to many travellers. Clearly marked songthaews leave from Pratu Chang Phuak, next to the 7-Eleven. Prices are listed as 50 baht up and 50 baht down, though once on top the price back down suddenly changes to 60 baht. The drivers wait until they have sufficient (up to 8) passengers before they depart, potentially making for a lengthy wait.

Most guidebooks advise taking a songthaew from Mani Nopharat Rd, resulting in the drivers milking the tourist cash-cow and raising their price from a reasonable 40 baht to a ludicrous 500 baht.Another option is to take a songthaew from your hotel to the northern gate of Chiang Mai University for 20 baht (if you are close to the city walls), where there will be several songthaews waiting on Huai Kaew Rd to get a full load of passengers for a trip up the mountain. They seem to congregate around the Chiang Mai Zoo, so if you just say "zoo" to the driver he will know what you're talking about. Prices range from 40 baht for a one-way trip to Wat Prathat to 180 baht for a full round-trip tour, including the temple, Bhuping Palace Gardens, and the hill tribe village, with an hour at each location, but you may have to wait until there are sufficient people who want the same tour or be prepared to pay more. You can also get between many of these by buying point-to-point tickets at the time you want them, or walking some segment.

Any songthaew up the mountain road may be a trial for those prone to motion-sickness, so take appropriate precautions. Also, there may be several little annoying additional costs foreigners. To enter the Doi Suthep itself is free for Thais, and 30 baht for foreigners. Tour operators will ask 700 baht for a tour.The journey from the city can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle (with appropriate gearing). The final 12 km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if bicycling.

Wat Suan Dok

Wat Suan Dok (Suthep Rd). A large open-sided hall with a jumble of roughly hewn Buddhas with a huge dazzlingly whitewashed chedi behind.

Wat Umong

Wat Umong (วัดอุโมงค์), Off Suthep Rd (At the end of a long narrow road, off Suthep Rd. Turn at the Italian restaurant), +66 53-277248 (call only from 08:30-16:00), e-mail: . 08:30-16:00.

The name means "tunnel temple". An ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk who liked to wander in the countryside, hence the isolated location where the monk could stay quietly and meditate. It is unusual in that it has tunnel-like chambers in the ground, some of the walls of which still have the original paintings of birds and animals visible. The large stupa is magnificent, and there is an eerie statue of a fasting, emaciated Buddha next to it. You can also take a break by the ponds, where you can feed the fish and turtles. Has a meditation centre open to foreigners. Some monks and the abbot speak a little English.


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