Chiang Mai tours

by Guest

Chiang Mai is the capital of the north, a city founded in the early 13th century. It was once part of the Lanna Kingdom, before being conquered and ruled over by the Burmese before being handed back to Thailand. It’s surrounded by thick mountainous forests and with over 200 temples it is one of the most popular places to visit in the country. Though it is possible to see many of the sites by yourself, the best way to see the city and surrounding countryside is on a guided tour. Here’s our rundown of the best tours available.

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Chiang Mai foodie adventure

Northern Thai food is layered with influences from the old Lanna kingdom and Burmese influence. It’s quite different from the dishes found in Bangkok and on the islands with more herbs and less coconut milk. The best way to see taste the flavours of Northern Thailand is on the Chiang Mai Northern Food Adventure by Truck . Running each night, the tour takes up to 10 guests on a food adventure trying 17 different tastes at 7 locations across the city. During the 4 hour tour, you will visit a local produce market, a 24 hour whole fruit and vegetable market, Chinatown and two of the foodie night markets to try the hidden street eats. A four hour guided tour including food, truck, drinks and guide is US $49 per person.

Also read about: Chiang Mai Night Safari

Temple tours

There are over 200 temples in Chiang Mai and the surrounding area including Wat Chiang Man, Wat Suan Dok, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Umong, and Wat Lok Molee. All the temples are intricately designed and date back to the 12th and 13th century. It’s hard to know where to start with the temples, but if you join one of the daily private temple tours, you can get a detailed history of the structures from expert locals. It’s also possible to visit a monk chat, where you can ask questions to English speaking monks and learn about Buddhism. A half day private temple tour visiting three to four wats costs around US $60 per person. There are plenty of options available online or book from the tour desk at your hotel when you arrive.

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Chiang Mai temples

White water rafting tour

The meandering rivers and rapids around Chiang Mai are world renowned for the white water rafting. There are many operators offering rafting trips and some of the best go to the Mae Taeng River. After being picked up from your hotel, you’ll be taken out of the city to the departure point. Here, you will have a safety briefing and then don helmets, life jackets and board the raft for a fun day trip down through the rapids. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience, none is necessary and it’s open for children over 6 years old. Along the way, you will crash down over the rapids and boulders, guaranteed to get your heart pumping. In the quieter spots, you can look out for wildlife including monkeys and wild elephants and you’ll also pass the hill tribe villages offering a glimpse into rural Thai life. Day trips start from US $70 per person. This goes up for overnight rafting trips which are also available.

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Motorbike tour to the Doi Inthanon National Park

The roads around Chiang Mai are well paved and curve around the mountains. The best way to experience them as well as taking in the countryside is by motorbike. Big Bike Tours offer a fun full day motorcycle adventure to the Doi Inthanon National Park. In the morning, you will be met at the hotel by your guide and have a short safety briefing before donning you gear and riding out of Chiang Mai along the highway. When you reach the park, the guide will lead you up the winding roads through the park passing little villages, pagodas, natural scenery, and wildlife. Along the way, you’ll stop for lunch near to a waterfall before arriving back in Chiang Mai in the early evening. The cost is around US $150 per rider including guide, motorbike hire, petrol, lunch and riding gear.

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Tuk tuk tour of Chiang Mai

Tuk tuks are one of Thailand’s most iconic vehicles. This colourful three wheelers, decked out in curved metalwork and bright flashing lights, are one of the best ways to get around the city. BT Tours offers a tour that lets guests explore the city's culture, history and countryside on board one of these beauties. The tour begins from the central Tha Phae Gate and takes around three hours in which time you’ll visit the temples, alleyways, and markets of the city. You’ll also stop for lunch at the Women’s Correctional Institution, where female prisoners are learning cooking skills. You’ll return back to Tha Phae Gate where the tour finishes. It leaves daily and costs around US $35 per person.

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Chiang Mai explore

Cycling tour of Chiang Mai

For those who are more energetic, exploring Chiang Mai by bike is also a great option. There are several operators offering cycle tours, but the trip by SpiceRoads is particularly good and gets some excellent reviews online. During the half day tour, your guide will lead you on an exciting adventure to see the temples and market of the city. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and meet other travellers on the tour. It costs around US $35 including guide, drinks, bike hire and equipment including a helmet. It’s best taken in the high season when it’s dry, in monsoon season it’s a little dangerous and not that fun.

Also read about: Things to do in Chiang Mai

Hill Tribe tour from Chiang Mai

If you are looking for a cultural immersion, take a guided tour out to the hill tribes around Chiang Mai . After being picked up from your hotel, you will be transferred out of Chiang Mai to visit Baan Tong Luang village where you can meet the long neck tribe. Here you can find out about their way of life, visit the local markets and villages, and take in the spectacular countryside. Along the way you will stop for a local Northern Thai lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Karen villages where you can see the traditional stilt bamboo huts, village schools, farms and buy handicrafts before returning back to the city. Prices start from US $100 per person for a private full day trip.

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