Things to do in Chiang Mai
Cultural local experiences
- Backstreet Academy, Various locations (Book Online), , e-mail: [email protected]. Offers many alternative experiences with locals, including things like glass blowing workshop, scrap metal welding workshop, silversmithing class, fishing with locals and many more. An award-winning social enterprise based throughout Southeast Asia connecting you with highly skilled artisans and locals who will show you something different. Great for those looking for something different and fans of community tourism.
- Alliance Francaise, 138 Charoen Prathet Rd, . W nights, 19:30. Screens French films, but frequently sub-titled in English. See the website for calendar of showings. The alliance also has an extensive library as well as exhibitions.
- Chiang Mai Vista Cinema (Kad Suan Kaew)) (On Huay Kaew Rd). Ticket prices vary depending on the duration of the film. The place is not very popular among the locals since it is a bit old and worn. Most showings are in Thai, only a few a day in English. 80-120 baht.
- Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza. Ticket prices depend on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats. If you would like to avoid the crowd, avoid going on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. Make sure to check the language of the film prior to booking. Some children's movies are dubbed into Thai. 120-260 baht.
- SF Cinema (In the Promenada shopping mall outside Chiang Mai (about 6.5 km from Tha Phae Gate) at the corner of Rte 1141/1317 and Rte 3029).
- SFX Cinema (Corner Huay Kaew Rd and Superhighway).
- Fah Lanna Massage, 186/3 Loi Kroh Rd (Near the Night Bazaar, down the street from McDonald's, past Royal Lanna Hotel), , e-mail:[email protected]. A small and very cosy massage shop close to the Iron Bridge. Clean, friendly and professional, Fah Lanna gets consistently high ratings in customer reviews. First, customers get a gentle foot-bath with scrub and comfortable clothes to change into and after the massage they are offered ginger tea and a cold towel. The decor and the background music are beautiful and add to the experience. After collecting 10 stamps (1 stamp per 1 hour treatment) they give a free massage. Massages are excellent, the prices seem to have increased due to its success. 600+ baht.
- Green Bamboo Massage, 1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1, . A small, charming studio in a typical wooden Thai house located inside the moat. The staff are trained in Thai massage therapy. Also offers individual daily or weekly courses in traditional Thai massage, Thai yoga massage, Tok Sen massage and Thai oil massage. Seminars are run by Ms Mesa, a certified and experienced masseuse. 200+ baht/hour.
- Kiyora Spa, Chang Moi Road Soi 2 (From Tha Pae Road, turn into Chang Moi Rd Soi 2.), , e-mail: [email protected]. 10:00-22:00. Kiyora is a provider of Thai-Lanna massage modalities incorporated with Western massage techniques. Price of a massage includes transport service within the city. 800+ baht.
- Le'Lux Massage (Near Sompet Market on Soi 6, Moon Muang Rd). Excellent staff and ambience. Services include Thai massage (150 baht/hr), oil massage (200 baht/hr), scrubs, manicure (150 baht), pedicure (150 baht) and more. Tea and water are included.
- Let's Relax (2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Changkhlan Rd).Does professional massage in a very clean surroundings complete with air-con, the sound of running water and gentle scents. A 45-minute foot reflexology session costs 350 baht, nearly twice the price of the competition, but is worth every satang after a long trek.
- Nantana Massage (Near Sompet Market on Soi 6). Very knowledgeable and friendly staff. Air-con. Oil, foot and neck/shoulder massage available. Thai massage, 150 baht/hour.
- Sun Massage, Loi Kroh Rd, opposite 7-11. Very clean and pleasant modern decor. The masseuses are very friendly, and provide decent, skilled massages. There is a table in front of the shop where the masseuses often hang out when idle. Traditional Thai massage, 199 baht/hour.
- Thai Massage Conservation Club (Blind masseurs), 99 Ratchamanka Rd, . , Daily, 08:00 - 21:00. Massage is performed by blind masseurs, who speak (some) English. They offer traditional Thai as well as oil massage. Oil massage 300 baht/hour.
- Viang Ping Massage and Spa, 2/4 Tha Phae Rd, Soi 2 (Opposite Wat Bupparam), . Very clean and well-run business, professionally run by Fern, manager-proprietor. All massages based on the Lanna, northern Thai-style, using pressure points and energy lines. Homemade coconut oil and natural facial, body scrub, and wrap products. Fern also teaches massage and spa services to individuals or occasionally to small groups. Loyalty cards for regular customers, free massage after 10 visits. Thai and oil massage courses, also spa courses. Prices average 200 baht for Thai, foot, or head and shoulder massages. 250 baht for oil massages.
- Wat Sam Pao (วัดสำเภา) (Just W of AUA school, corner of Ratchadamnoen & Ratchawithi Rd. Entrance on Ratchadamnoen). Just inside the south gate to the compound on your left. 1 hr: Thai massage, 130 baht; foot massage, 130 baht; oil massage, 300 baht.
- Motorcycle touring is a great way to explore northern Thailand. One good day trip out of Chiang Mai is up and over Doi Suthep, which will take you up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and beyond the mountain to the reservoir. A perennial favourite among bicyclists and motorcyclists is the Samoeng Loop, a 100 km circuit into the mountains and back to Chiang Mai.
- Motor-scooter touring as far as Mae Hong Son and suitable for the less experienced motorcyclist.
Raft trips down the Mae Tang River are offered by several companies and can often be combined with elephant riding or mountain biking. During the dry season (Jan-Feb) water levels are relatively low with only grade 2-3 rapids, but during the rainy season (Jun-Oct) higher water levels make for a more exciting grade 4-5 trip.
8Adventures, 21/22 Moo 2 Soi 2 Thorakamanakom, Chang Puak, Muang Chiang Mai, , e-mail: [email protected]. Created by a group of adventurers that includes two-time world champion kayaker Eric Southwic, they offer world class rafting and kayaking tours, ATV, SuP and trekking. Pick-ups daily from Chiang Mai.
- Peak Adventure Tour, 302/4 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd, . Offers 10 km rafting trips that can be combined with elephant riding or ATV driving.
- Mae Ping River Cruise, 133 Charoen Pratet Rd (Wat Chaimongkol boat landing, between Hotel Chedi and Ping Nakara), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. 08:30-17:00. Two hour cruise with a refreshment stop at a Thai farmer's house. Hotel pick-up. Be aware that the Mae Ping is a grotty, slow-flowing stream the colour of greenish khaki with nondescript banks. 450 baht.
- Aerobics. Aerobics sessions are held in the car park of Tesco Lotus on the superhighway every weekday from 17:30. The sessions are very popular and tourists or visitors to Chiang Mai are welcomed. Regular water aerobics classes, incorporating Tai Chi and yoga exercises, are held at the Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool.
- Cricket. Northern Thailand may seem an odd place to find an international cricket tournament. Every year since 1988 more than 200 cricketers from around the world gather at Chiang Mai for the tournament. The week-long tournament for amateur players, with a sprinkling of test stars, it is held at the historic Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club, generally at the start of April.
- Extreme Sports Centre (X-Centre), 816 Moo 1, Rim Thai, Mae Rim (Go 17 km N to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096, direction Samoeng. Travel 3 km. X-Centre on the left), . Daily, 09:00-18:00. Kiwi-run business, totally buttoned-down and professional. Bungy jumping; off-road buggies; dirt bikes; paintball; indoor drift carts; Xorb ball; sports bar and restaurant. Transport available from Chiang Mai at 09:30, 13:00, 15:00.
- Football (soccer). Go watch the local football team, Chiang Mai FC, play at 700 Year Stadium. Fixtures and info in English or visit the Red Lion English Pub in the Night Bazaar two hours before the game to get a free ride (nearly always available).
- Mountain Biking. Just west of Chiang Mai lies the beautiful Doi Suthep National Park, its summit at 1,650 m, 1,300 m above the valley floor. Chiang Mai Mountain Biking runs daily downhill trips and nature cross country rides.
- Rock Climbing. Approximately 55 km east of Chiang Mai is Crazy Horse Buttress, a 60 m, orange- and black-streaked monolith jutting out of the green Mae On Valley. Crazy Horse boasts more than 130 bolted routes between (French system) grades 5 and 8a, which makes it an ideal destination for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Spend several days exploring every part of the crag, or just spend a day or an afternoon above ground as a break from exploring the magnificent caves of the region. Climbing guides and information are available from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures.
- Tennis. There are many places to play tennis in Chiang Mai: Gymkhana Club(Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd); Chiang Mai Land Village (Chiang Mai Land Rd);Imperial Chiang Mai Resort & Sports Club (284 Moo 3, Don Kaew, Mae Rim);Lanna Sports Club (Chotana Rd); Palm Springs (120 Moo 5, Mahidol Rd); andChiang Mai Sports Complex (700 Year Stadium, Irrigation Canal Rd, Rte 121 to Mae Rim), which has 12 courts. All courts are bookable in advance and at most flood lighting makes it possible to play in the evening when it is cooler. There is an additional charge to cover the cost of electricity.
- Yoga. The diversity of yoga studios in Chiang Mai rounds out the image of Chiang Mai as a centre for massage training, healing, and spas. Yoga studios such as Freedom Yoga, Wild Rose Yoga, Sattva Yoga, Mahasidda Yoga, Kaomai Lanna, and the Spa Resort for residential yoga retreats all are worthy of your patronage.
- Chiang Mai Kayaking, 1 Samlan Road (Inside the old City square, 50m south of Wat Prasing Temple). Offers guided kayaking tours in the surrounding area for both beginners and experienced.
Chiang Mai swimming pools open to the public vary in quality, cleanliness, and accessibility. On balance, those pools which are operated to internationally recognised standards of water quality are those which are privately owned by foreign investors.
- Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool and Resort (Take Huay Kaew Rd (Rte 1004) from the city towards Doi Suthep. At the intersection of Rte 1004 and Rte 121, follow the signs to Mae Rim. From the intersection, travel 1.2 km towards Mae Rim and turn left at the 5th bridge over the canal. Go straight for 600 m to the end of the road following signs). Open to tourists and other visitors. There are 3 swimming pools and decks. A detailed map and directions in Thai and English can be printed from their website. The pool is sanitised using salt water.
- Chiang Mai Land Swimming Pool. Open to the public. It has a pool deck and also has a restaurant and pool-side service. The pool is sanitised using chlorine.Adults, 50 baht; children, 30 baht.
- Hotel Pools. Some up-market hotels such as The Orchid on Huay Kaew Rd allow non-guests to use their pools for a fee. Travelling time from the city centre is around 10 min. These are sanitised using chlorine.
- The Lake at Huay Tung Tao (further along the Irrigation Canal Rd than the Centre of the Universe and after the 700-Year Sports Stadium, as you head towards Mae Rim (Rte 121), about 12 km from the city centre. Takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi.). A reservoir in surrounding woodlands. Admission, 20 baht.
- Seven Hundred Year Stadium (Rujirawong Swimming Pool) (On the outer ring road, Irrigation Canal Rd—Route 121, towards Mae Rim. It is about 8 km from city centre; about fifteen min by tuk-tuk/taxi). Wed-Sun 10:00-12:00 and 13:30-17:45.A huge sports complex built for the SE Asia Games, held in Chiang Mai in the early 1990s, and now a public sports and recreation centre. The pool is sanitised using chlorine. Membership is required but it's open to anyone. It costs 300 baht/year and you have to provide two passport-size pictures. Single entry is 30 baht after that.
- Waterfalls and Natural Pools (At the foot of Doi Suthep on Huay Kaew Rd. Look for a large Buddhist shrine on your left after travelling past the entrance to Chiang Mai Zoo. Turn left into the market at the back of the shrine, and keep walking up the hill. You will come to the waterfalls after about 5 minutes. About 7 km from the city centre; takes 10-15 min by tuk-tuk/taxi). The pools at the bottom of the waterfalls are not really big enough for swimming, but are a great place to cool off at the height of summer. During the dry season some of the waterfalls dry up. Head for the high ground and you will still find pools full of fresh water. There are usually quite a few students hanging out there from the nearby university, who will happily practice their English conversational skills with you. Free.
- The Playhouse Complex (On Changpueak Rd). Start your evening with a unique dining experience in Kinnaree Park. Set in an eco-friendly environment, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls offering a real Lanna experience with traditional dance and a delicious northern Thai buffet before entering the theatre adjacent to the restaurant. The 350-seat capacity theatre hosts two shows per day at 20:00 and 22:00. Presenting Sequins & Dance, a fun and happy performance of wholesome entertainment that's full of sparkle, movement, and emotion. Performed by 30 Thai performers, it is exciting. Family, individual or group bookings welcome. Adult, 1,000 baht; child, 500 baht. Including Thai buffet (Saturdays): adult, 1,300 baht; child, 650 baht.