With 700 years of history under its belt, Chiang Mai is home to an eclectic mixture of old and new attractions. The cultural sites here are plentiful, from the ancient temples to fascinating museums. There are also many contemporary activities to take part in, however, with the plethora of shopping centers, cinemas, bars and sporting facilities.
For those looking to relax, there are spas on almost every corner offering everything from steam baths and herbal scrubs to traditional Thai massage. In addition, the restaurants here serve up excellent food of all varieties.
There is also a zoo here, elephant trekking, rock climbing and a plethora of gyms and swimming pools. Some of the national Thai festivals are also best experienced in the city if you happen to be in town at the right time of year.
From its stunning setting over 1,000 meters up on the slopes of Mount Doi Suthep, this temple is the most famous in Chiang Mai and a symbol of the city. The huge gold-plated chedi is the centerpiece although there is much more to see. Songthaew (shared taxis) leave from Chang Phuak Gate and the base of Doi Suthep to take visitors to the temple. It can also be reached by metered taxi or, for those confident enough to navigate the steep and winding mountain road, by motorcycle.
When it comes to spa treatments and pampering, Chiang Mai is arguably the top spot in Thailand so it is a fantastic place to treat yourself to some tender loving care. Many different treatments are available including wraps, scrubs, facials and massages. Don't be put off by Thailand's reputation for offering an altogether different sort of massage, as these types of places are easy to spot.
This fully modernized museum is found in the center of the Old Town between Rajwithee Road and Rajdumnern Road. Traditionally dressed guides will take you around the matrix of rooms that document the culture and history of the region in chronological order. Ask for the Three Kings Monument if arriving by tuk-tuk or songthaew.
The Mae Sa Elephant Camp is located just around half an hour's drive from the city center in the northern Muang district. Here you can ride the elephants or watch them engaging in skillful activities such as painting and football.
Tiger Kingdom is one of the most popular attractions in Chiang Mai. It can be reached by the main road that runs north toward Mae Rim. They have been breeding tigers here for over 10 years and strongly deny that the rather docile cats are sedated. You can watch the tigers playing for free in the enclosure that can also be viewed from the attached restaurant. You can cuddle tigers of various sizes for fixed prices and have your photograph taken with them. Songthaew go to and from the site.