Do you want to travel Chiang Mai in a day? You are in the right place. Chiang Mai, known as the capital of northern Thailand. It is one of the essential destinations in all trips of more than 10 days to the country of smiles. The north of Thailand gives a lot of play and has many places to visit. You can travel alone sleeping in several destinations or use Chiang Mai as a base from which to make excursions. This last option is cheaper and is ideal for those who have between 10 and 15 days of travel and are also interested in the beaches.
Chiang Mai has enough things to do. There are many interesting temples and a historic center, the walled area, which is worth knowing. There are also several markets, such as the Warorot, open during the day, or the Night Bazaar, the night market open daily. On weekends you will find the night markets: Saturday Night Market (Saturdays) and, best of all, the Sunday Night Market (Sundays). However, you also have to spend one or several days to make excursions from Chiang Mai, since the surroundings of the city have much to offer.
Getting to Chiang Mai is very easy as there are more than 50 daily flights ( Airasia, Nokair, Lion Air, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, etc.). For the individuals who need to touch base in a more sentimental and adventurous way, you have the option of the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Many buses departing from the North Bangkok station, Mo Chit Bus Station, also make the daily tour although they take about 10-12h.
Excursions from Chiang Mai in a day
All these excursions can be hired online or once there. If you want them, better do it online and in advance. Some you can also do on your own (basically those that do not adventure sports, such as Quads or Rafting) but they will require you to rent a vehicle.
1) Mount Doi Suthep
Distance: 25 km by car / 10 km walking (730 meters difference)
Ideal for: First trip to Thailand
Although in recent years it has become very popular and according to what time you visit there may be many people, the truth is that Mount Doi Suthep is still a must. The mountain is inside Chiang Mai, but you will need a vehicle to reach it unless you want to make a good walking tour. At the top, you will find the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple, one of the most beautiful in the area and ideal to visit during the evening because, in addition to agreeing with the prayers of the monks, you will see nice views of the whole province. This excursion can be combined with the Doi Pui area, as I explained in this article.
2) The Doi Inthanon National Park
Distance: 110 km
Ideal for: Getting in touch with nature
Located 1.5 hours by car from Chiang Mai, the Doi Inthanon National Park is famous for its summit at 2565 meters above sea level, the highest point in Thailand and which can be reached by car. At the top, there are two large pagodas dedicated to kings. On the way to the top, it is usual to stop at one of its large and accessible waterfalls, such as the enormous Wachirathan Waterfall. In the park, there are several tribal villages so you will see some small market of local people. One of the best experiences is to make an excursion of 1h-2h through the forest passing rivers and rice fields and to some local village. It is not usually included in the many tours offered from Chiang Mai. The entrance costs 300 THB.
3) Elephant’s Nature Park
Distance: 75 km
Ideal for: Learning about Thai elephants
See elephants up close is one of the great attractions of Chiang Mai, although it must be borne in mind that doing so entails their responsibilities since going to the wrong place will be supporting the mistreatment of these fascinating animals. We do not have the right to approach them; it is a great privilege to do so. So, before going to an elephant camp or sanctuary, it is worthwhile to find out if that place is socially responsible. If it offers shows and the possibility of riding them in chairs, bad signal. One of the most recommended places and recommended by the FAADA is the Elephant’s Nature Park. There you will see elephants rescued from the streets of the country or other camps and you can feed them and dip them in the river.
4) Caves of Chiang Dao
Distance: 75 km
Ideal for: Those who have many days in the north
The caves of Chiang Dao are located 75 km north of Chiang Mai. It is assumed that there are dozens of caves of more than 10 km, but in reality, the few that can be explored do not exceed 500 meters. The visit usually does not last more than half an hour. Inside the cave, there are some Buddha figures and places of prayer. Next, to the most famous cave you will find a temple, the Wat Tham Chiang Dao. It is a recommended visit if you have already done the rest of the activities or are very fond of the caves.
Admission costs 40 THB. They rent lanterns at 150 THB.
5) Artisan village of Sankampaeng
Distance: 25 km
Ideal for: Shopping lovers
Sankampaeng (or Bo Sang) is a village that has many shops and factories of Thai crafts. It is half an hour from the city and is very frequented by tourists. There you can see how paper umbrellas are made, silk clothes, jewelry, high-quality ceramics, wooden decoration pieces, and other handmade products. The town also has the largest jewelry store in the province: the Gems Gallery, a chain that you will also find in Bangkok and Phuket.
As I mentioned, it is mostly a place for foreign tourists, although Thais from other provinces also tend to go mainly in search of umbrellas or paper umbrellas.
6) Trekkings, rafting, and quads
Distance: Depending on where you go
Ideal for: Those who seek adventure under control
Traditionally the agencies used to offer the activity ‘rafting on bamboo rafts’. It is a quiet (for me, too quiet) walk in 4 bamboo canes tied with a string. It’s fine if you like this kind of activities, but it’s not rafting. Rafting is what you have in the image and can also be done in Chiang Mai. The Mae Tang River has several rapids where you can enjoy authentic rafting of about 10 km and for all levels. The level of them varies according to the time. One of the most recommended operators for this, and with which Mundo Nómada Travel collaborates, is 8 Adventure s. In addition to rafting offer trekkings and Quads.
Distance: 60 km
Ideal for: Those looking for adventure under control
Another of the star activities of Chiang Mai are the zip lines. These are parks with tall trees connected by zip lines of different distances. It is not a cheap activity, although there are parks at different prices. We must always prioritize those that offer security guarantees because it is a high-risk activity if not carried out professionally. The most famous place is Flight of the Gibbon, whose park is about an hour from Chiang Mai. It costs about THB 4200 per person. Another not so famous but also with good fame and something cheaper is the Jungle Fly. It starts at 2100 THB per person. When contracting it is advisable to know from how many platforms will be skipped and which will be the longest distance.
8) Chiang Rai
Distance: 200 km
Ideal for: Those who do not mind doing many km
Chiang Rai is a city 3 hours from Chiang Mai (200 km). It is smaller and has some very famous temples, such as the well-known White Temple or Wat Rong Khun. To go in a day to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai and return is hard since it will take 3h of return and 3h of return, like minimum, plus the time that you dedicate to explore the city and its environs. It is an excursion in which it leaves early and becomes very late. On the road, there is not much. Normally it is usual to stop at some hot springs to stretch and soak the legs. Once in Chiang Rai, in addition to the White Temple and the Black House, you can also visit the new Blue Temple.
Do you know any other exciting excursion from Chiang Mai in a day that I have forgotten? Tell us in the comment section.