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Plan Your Trip to Chiang Mai: Best of Chiang Mai Tourism

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Explore Chiang Mai

You could spend your whole holiday just exploring Chiang Mai's famous city centre, where the remains of ancient walls wrap around 30-plus temples. Energetic travellers can climb 300 stairs to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, an ornate Buddhist temple in the hills. Wat Chedi Luang holds a jade replica of the famed emerald Buddha. But don’t just explore historical sights—experience Thailand’s vibrant present, too. At the Night Bazaar, master the art of haggling for souvenirs and treat yourself with spicy pad Thai and sweet banana roti. The Botanic Garden is the place to soak up some local culture and to breathe in the delicate fragrance of Thai orchids. And when you need to recharge from all your exploration, treat yourself to a spa moment at one of the local spots.
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How to do Chiang Mai in 3 days

A mountaintop temple, a raucous night market, and touring a tea plantation
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My favourite spots to grab a bite in Chiang Mai

During my months-long annual trips to Chiang Mai, I find myself falling in love with the city again and again. That’s mostly because of the city’s continuously evolving culinary scene. From bustling street food markets to contemporary coffee shops to kitchens run by grandmas, here are my favourite spots to eat in Chiang Mai—in no particular order.
Zinara Rathnayake, Galle, Sri Lanka
  • Cafe Arte
    Chiang Mai is known for its great coffee culture, with beans sourced from nearby hill tribe farms. In the Jed Yod neighbourhood, try Cafe Arte. The smiling owner and barista, Pop—he’s the one with the long grey beard—serves incredible coffee. The ambiance, with chandeliers and fresh roses, is straight out of a Japanese anime film. Go for ham and cheese croissants in the morning, and keep an eye out for the seasonal apple pie.
  • Hong Tauw Inn
    For a hearty lunch, I usually head to Hong Tauw Inn. It's located in Chiang Mai’s trendy Nimmanhaemin neighbourhood, but it’s not like the flashier spots in the area. It’s homey, with fresh table linens, vintage clocks, and exceptional northern Thai food. My favourite is khanom jeen kaeng phed kai (fermented rice flour noodles with spicy red chicken curry). Don’t overlook the restaurant’s sai ua (grilled pork sausage flavoured with herbs), a regional speciality.
  • Smiley Kitchen
    In food-focussed Chiang Mai, locals love to frequent the city’s many Japanese restaurants. Smiley Kitchen, run by a woman from Hokkaido, stands out from the rest because it excels at Japanese home cooking. When you head here in the evening for the bento dinners, you’ll notice that the dining room is packed with Japanese expats, a sign that you’ve found the right place. A nice extra is a free, self-service herbal tea corner.
  • Khao Soi Lam Duan - Fa Ham
    Northern Thailand’s beloved coconut curry noodle soup, called khao soi, is usually topped with crunchy fried egg noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard stems, lime, and nam prik pao (sweet, spicy chili paste). For my biweekly khao soi fix, I follow the locals to Khao Soi Lam Duan, one of the oldest restaurants in the area. Get your thick and flavorful broth with juicy pork chunks and a refreshing, sugar-free, cold-pressed orange juice.
  • B Samcook Home 16
    Chef Samak Phoolsawat’s (everyone calls him Chef Boy) bold, refined take on Northern Thai cuisine at his modest B Samcook Home16 restaurant is making waves across the city, and for all the right reasons. Made from the freshest ingredients, these seven-course chef’s table dinners are a true delight, with Chef Boy explaining what goes into dishes like garlic pepper pork ribs and duck leg served with homemade mixed berry sauce.
  • Grandma Thong's Kitchen
    Driving outside the city to Grandma Thong’s Kitchen, you’ll feel like you’re visiting relatives you haven’t seen for a while. She and her husband serve Thai classics like tom yum goong (a spicy prawn soup) and tod man kung (shrimp cakes with a sweet and sour dipping sauce). Drop in with friends for a crash course on Northern Thai cuisine. Decorated with fresh orchids, the sharing platters taste as good as they look.
  • Warorot Market (Kad Luang)
    Thais head to this large indoor and outdoor market by the Ping River to shop for everyday items, so it’s a lot less touristy than the city’s night markets. Go early, grab a cup of black coffee from one of the stalls inside, and stroll around. You’ll find everything from fresh flowers to hand-embroidery clothing, but it’s also a great place for local snacks like deep-fried pork rinds and grilled sausages.