The Best Day Trips to Take from Chiang Mai, Thailand

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The Best Day Trips to Take from Chiang Mai, Thailand

The second largest city in the country, Thailand's northern capital might not offer sun and sand like its southern sisters, but there are plenty of fun and exciting things to do in this region of natural paradise.

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The Best Day Trips to Take from Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park

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Often referred to as the 'Roof of Thailand', this national park is home to Thailand's tallest mountain, Doi Inthanon which towers over the area at a height of 2,565 meters. There's plenty of nature trails, waterfalls and beautiful gardens to explore throughout the park, but the highlight is of course climbing the mountain. For those not up for hiking, you can also drive to the top or join a tour heading there.

At the top you'll find beautiful views over the national park, a well-maintained garden and two temple stupas built to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Chiang Rai

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Chiang Rai is famous for the stunning Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple, a piece of architectural art designed in a similar style to Thai Buddhist temples. Built in 1997, the structure might lack history but makes up for it with stark beauty. It takes just under three hours to drive there from Chiang Mai and buses run regularly throughout the day.

Golden Triangle

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The border point where Thailand meets Laos and Myanmar, the countries are separated by the iconic Mekong River and the Ruak River. You'll find a number of lookout points here that offer picturesque views over the three countries.

Note that it takes about four hours to get to the Golden Triangle from Chiang Mai, if you'd prefer to break the journey up, consider staying a night in Chiang Rai which is less than two hours away.

Elephant Nature Park

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As the national animal of Thailand, elephants have a significant part in the local culture and seeing one of these majestic animals while you're over here is highly recommended.

There are many elephant parks and 'sanctuaries' across Thailand, some of which unfortunately treat the animals roughly and care more about profits than animal welfare. Fortunately most of the places around Chiang Mai like Elephant Nature Park are not the case. Animals here are well cared for, with most of them having been rescued from the local region.

Adventure Activities

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With much of the region around Chiang Mai surrounded by vast jungles and mountains, it's no surprise that northern Thailand is often seen as the adventure capital of the country. Apart from the countless hiking trails and mountain treks, there are a number of other adrenaline-pumping activities you can try out here. Some of the best include white water rafting along the Mae Tang River and zip-lining through the jungle.

Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat

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One of Thailand's most underrated temple sites, Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat is rarely ventured to by foreign tourists, mostly due to its difficult-to-reach location, but also because it just isn't famous yet for some reason. Also known as the 'floating pagodas' these structures are perched precariously on the top of jagged mountain peaks, an incredible sight you won't find anywhere else in the country.

Most people hire a motorcycle from Chiang Mai to get there, which takes about two and a half hours. However recently a few tour companies have added the temple to their list of destinations if you're not up for driving.


While most tourists traveling to the Land of Smiles tend to head south for the picturesque beaches and paradise islands, the north offers a different side to the country which is well worth checking out. Chiang Mai offers the perfect base to explore the surrounding region, with as many fascinating things to do inside the city as there is around the area.