Chiang Mai is one of those places you can keep returning too and you’ll always find new places to see and things to do. There is so much to learn in this city. Its rich with culture. Thats why I made the Chiang Mai travel guide for a curious traveller.

[2020 Update: After visiting Chiang Mai for the first time I actually decided to go back and spend two months there] 

If you want to spend a little longer in Chiang Mai, check out this guide to find out how to rent an apartment/ condominium. It’s defiantly the cheapest way to stay —>  [Click Here]

Okay, let’s get this show on the road. I’ll start with the activities and take you through the markets, temples and last but certainly not least, food.


Activities in Chiang Mai


Get a Massage From an Ex Prisoner in Chiang Mai

At first I couldn’t believe how popular this is! On our first day in Chiang Mai we attempted to book an appointment but In order to be successful you need to stand in line pretty early in the morning. So be prepared with your alarm clock at the ready!

Personally I think this place is wonderful, it gives the women the opportunity to gain a profession and even practice speaking basic English.


Chat With a Monk in Chiang Mai

There has never been a more perfect activity for the curious.

Find out about Buddhism, rituals and customs, helping the monks practice their English while you get a beautiful experience and a real insight to their lives.

Remember to cover your shoulders and knees.

Where you can find a monk chat:

Wat Suan Dok Has a dedicated room for Monk Chats from 5pm to 7pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wat Srisuphan Holds its sessions from 5.30pm to 7pm just before a meditation course.

Wat Chedi Luang Has a table under a shady tree where monks chat from 9am to 6pm daily.

Wat Pha Khao Holds a low-key session from 5pm to 9pm on Saturday and Sunday


Visit an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary 

If you really want to see elephants please make sure you’re seeing them ethically and please, please don’t ride them. There are no elephant rides that are ethical. Elephants that have humans on their backs experience stress and pain in their vertebrae. Elephants have evolved to have very strong shoulders and necks, but not for pressure directly on their spines. 

Chiang Mai’s elephant jungle sanctuary is a peaceful oasis. Learn all about Thailand’s elephants in a sustainable and ethical environment where you can choose to do a full day or a half day. I definitely recommend a full day!

A meal (vegan option available) and a traditional piece of Karen clothing is included, but remember to bring your swim wear and insect repellent.

[2020 Update: knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t visit an elephant sanctuary at all. I would rather see elephants in the wild from a distance. This is the very best option if you really want to see elephants]


Chiang Mai Has The Best Markets

I just couldn’t make a Chiang Mai travel guide without mentioning the markets. Sunday walking street market – is huge and full of variety. I swear you could walk around for hours and still spot something new around every corner! As well as market stalls there are so many beautiful indoor clothing shops filled with patterned dresses, trousers and tie dye everything!

The market stalls are bursting with colour and friendly faces and it’s too easy to fill your bag with souvenirs.

Chiang Mai’s night bazaar – get your haggle head on because here there’s a huge difference between local prices and tourist prices. On the other hand, stay mindful, as a little to you might be a lot to someone else.

If your looking for branded fakes like Ray Bans or Kanken bags then this is the place to go! Remember to keep your money tucked away and your possessions close because this market can get loud and busy.


Temple Hopping in Chiang Mai


Doi Suthep

This is a Theravada Buddhist temple located 15km from the city. It is one of the most holy Buddhist sites in Thailand and you can see why.

The easiest way to get to the top of the mountain is by moped/scooter. We rented a moped and ascended into the mountains via the steep, winding road. If you’re not totally confident on one of these bad boys, take a local bus to the top as it’s much more scary on the way down on a cheap rented moped with questionable brakes.

Make sure you visit as early as to possibly can as this place gets more than busy.

Wat Chedi Luang

This temple was built sometime between 1385-1402 and was home to the emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred relic.

After earthquake damage in 1545 the Chedi’ s height was reduced by nearly half! Fear not, it’s still incredibly impressive.

(This is one of the monk chat locations under a near by bench shaded by trees).

Wat phra singh

Do not miss out on seeing this beautiful temple. Easily accessible in the city centre, this is the perfect little stop off to break up a busy day. You can rent a long wrap skirt outside but I recommend always carrying one of these in your daypack.


Best Vegan Food in Chiang Mai

Look no further if you want to hear about the best food in Chiang Mai. I literally ate everything so you don’t have to. You can just skip straight to the good stuff. 

Click [HERE] to go straight to the top 25 restaurants/ cafes in Chiang Mai.



Jake became unwell during our time in Chiang Mai so I went out to get him some diarrhoea medication. Not even kidding right now but the nearest pharmacy was called Phu-Ping pharmacy. This has me chuckling all the way back to the hotel. Oh pooping pharmacy you were a sight to behold, a very welcome one too.


Thank you so much for reading this Chiang Mai travel guide! Hope this has given you a few ideas for your trip to Chiang Mai or has inspired you to book a trip here.


Travel Safe,


⁃ The Lost Girl




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About Me

Hi! I am Beth Johnstone, a travel journalist and photographer.

I began travelling in 2014 with what I thought would be a short holiday. I’ve now been travelling around the world full time for five years, taking photographs, writing about the places I’ve been and immersing myself in new cultures.

I am passionate about capturing the whole experience not just with images, but with words too. My blog is a positive place where I welcome readers to learn about the best places to stay, along with tips and advice on long term travel.

“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.”