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Heading to the culturally rich city, Chiang Mai in Thailand for 3 days? You have made a great choice! This Chiang Mai itinerary will guide you to the best things to do and explore in this beautiful city in 3 days.
Chiang Mai is a wanderer’s paradise in Thailand. It is one of those cities that has it all : beautiful natural landscapes surrounded by mountainous terrain, tons of culturally rich temples, spiritual vibes, wildlife attractions, delicious street food and best night markets. It is a city you would want to visit each time you are in Thailand. Scroll down for your perfect 3 day Chiang Mai itinerary and some more general information including best ways to get around, where to stay and some day trips ideas in case you are planning to spend more than 3 days in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Itinerary : 3 Days In Chiang Mai
Day 1 : Explore the temples and make a cultural visit to the old city
Morning : Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh
Wat Chiang Man
First up on our Chiang Mai itinerary is the Wat Chiang Man temple. It is Chiang Mai’s oldest temple built in 1296 by King Mengrai of Lanna kingdom. It treasures a crystal Buddha which is known to have powers for protection from disasters. In the temple’s complex you will also find many ancient murals, a lotus pond, a library and many statues of Buddha. Wat Chiang Man is topped with a distinctive Buddhist stupa which is a combination of dark grey stone decorated with elephant depictions and shiny golden top.
- Entrance Fee : Free
- Opening Hours : 8 AM to 5 PM
Wat Phra Singh
One of the oldest and another most popular temple in Chiang Mai is Wat Phra Singh. It was built almost 700 years ago and is also known to exhibit as one of the finest example of Lanna architecture. The shiny golden stupas, statues of Buddhas, ancient paintings and a little pond are the highlights of Wat Phra Singh temple.
- Entrance Fee : 20 Baht per person
- Opening Hours : 6 AM to 5 PM
- Distance From Wat Chiang Mai : Wat Phra Singh temple is located at about 2 km walking distance from Wat Chiang Man temple. You can take a tuk tuk or alternatively walk to reach the Wat Phra Singh temple.
There are many cool cafes in the area near Wat Phra Singh temple where you can take a break to relax and fill yourselves up. One of our foodie finds in this area is the Fern Forest Cafe which has an extensive Asian menu and great vibes.
Afternoon : Terracotta Garden
Make a visit to one of the hidden gems of Chiang Mai, the Terracotta Garden. You will be wandering around hundreds of statues, hand crafted potteries and artsy depictions of the Lanna architecture. This garden would give you the feels of being surrounded by a mysterious ancient environment. You can also relax and spend some chilling time at a tiny cafe located amongst the greenery of the Terracotta Garden.
- Entrance Fee : Free
- Opening Hours : 8 AM to 5 PM
- Distance From Wat Phra Singh : Terracotta Garden is located at about 1.5 km walking distance from Wat Phra Singh temple. You can take a tuk tuk or alternatively walk to reach the Terracotta Garden.
Evening – Night : Wat Chedi Luang, Night Bazaar
Wat Chedi Luang
Make way to the Wat Chedi Luang temple, which is also known as Temple of the Royal Stupa. It’s known that the stupa of this temple used to be the largest of it’s kind, until it got damaged in an earthquake. For about a century, this temple was also a home for the original Emerald Buddha statue (now placed in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok) which is considered the most sacred deity in Thailand. Wat Chedi Luang gets beautifully lit up with lanterns and candles in the evening which makes this stunning temple a sight to behold.
- Entrance Fee : 40 Baht
- Opening Hours : 8 AM to 5 PM
- Distance From Terracotta Garden : Wat Chedi Luang is located at about 1 km walking distance from Terracotta Garden. You can take a tuk tuk or alternatively walk to reach the Wat Chedi Luang temple.
Take a walk through the sparkling and famous night bazaar in Chiang Mai. You can shop handcrafted products, souvenirs, accessories and numerous other products at very affordable prices. Also there are various food stalls where you can savour on dishes like mango sticky rice, pad thai, spring rolls, thai salads, curries, grilled meat and fresh smoothies.
- Opening Hours : 5 PM to 12 AM
- Distance From Wat Chedi Luang : The night bazaar is located at about a 30 minute walking distance from Wat Chedi Luang or anywhere in the old city. Taking a tuk tuk ride is the best way to reach the night bazaar.
Day 2 : Make a Visit To The Mountain Temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Morning – Afternoon : Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Make a visit to the holiest and significant temple in Thailand, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Visiting this temple is one of the most important things to do in Chiang Mai. This shiny golden temple was built about 700 years ago and has been evolving with time. Since Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located at the hill top you can also catch amazing views of the Chiang Mai city. Your tour will also be a great way to explore the hills. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the temple and the surroundings on the hill. If the 309 steps that you will have to climb to reach the temple seem tiring for you, choose to take the cable car or tram service available at the place you would be dropped at by your cab driver.
Opening Hours : 6 AM To 6 PM
How To reach Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The journey to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep would be about 40 minutes from the old city of Chiang Mai. Below are some of the most convenient ways to reach the temple;
- Take a Songthaew Taxi : You can easily hire a red songthaew taxi from anywhere in the Chiang Mai city for a round trip to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. This may cost you around 600 Baht (USD 19 approx) if you hire the taxi for full day. The cost may increase if you make stops at other places located near the temple on the hill. Make sure to be clear with the driver before you take the ride.
- Take a Private Guided Tour : Pre book an 8 hour private guided tour as per your convenience for visiting the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple and the famous Bua Tong waterfalls. This tour is inclusive of the entrance fees, snacks, lunch, professional guide, hotel pick up and drop off. Click here to check out this tour. Alternatively, if you are looking for a shorter trip, you can also pre book a group tour here to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple.
- Take a Guided Trekking Tour : Pre book a guided trekking tour to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The tour duration will be of 7 hours which includes trekking through the beautiful waterfalls and forest. This tour is inclusive of entrance fees, lunch, guide, hotel pick up and drop off. Click here to check out this tour.
Travel Tip : Ensure appropriate dressing that covers your shoulders and knees while visiting any temples in Chiang Mai. Consider carrying a scarf to cover your shoulders if you are wearing a sleeveless outfit.
Evening – Night : Thai massage
A relaxing Thai massage during the evening would be a great choice to go for after your trip to the Doi Suthep temple. You will spot many thai massage and spa centers on the streets of Chiang Mai. Alternatively you can also pre book convenient spa and massage packages from the options below;
- Click here to book a Traditional Thai massage; an oil massage or a Tok Sen (Herbal Ball) massage at one of the award winning massage centers in Chiang Mai inclusive of hotel pick up and drop off.
- Click here to book a luxurious Traditional Thai massage and spa package where you can enjoy one of the various packages offered. You would also be treated with a ginger tea and a light snack. This massage trip is inclusive of hotel pick up and drop off.
Day 3 : Visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and Nimman
Morning – Afternoon : Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
A trip to Chiang Mai is incomplete without having up close encounters with elephants. Take an ethical tour to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and spend some time with these majestic creatures. You will get to learn about them, feed them, caress them and also take a fun mud bath with them. The elephants you will see there are all the ones that have been rescued from unethical practices and are being sheltered as well as protected in the sanctuary. This activity would be an unforgettable experience for you and is a must in your Chiang Mai itinerary.
Opening Hours : 6: 30 AM till 6:30 PM
How To Reach The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary From Chiang Mai :
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is located at approximately 1 to 1.5 hour distance from Chiang Mai. Pre booking your tickets would be the most convenient way to reach the sanctuary. You can book your tickets for the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary here, this trip will also be inclusive of hotel transfers, guide, lunch, food to feed the elephants, a tee-shirt, bamboo hats, boots and towels.
Evening : Wander through Nimmanhaemin Road
Nimmanhaemin also known as Nimman is a trendy neighborhood in Chiang Mai known for it’s artistic walk able streets, lively promenade, art galleries, coolest cafes, restaurants, shopping complexes and boutique stores. For shopaholics, One Nimman complex has some amazing collection of outfits. The Nimman promenade too has some independent stores selling out all fashionable accessories and apparels. Also, if you are not into shopping make sure you are heading to one of the modern Thai cafes and restaurants. Below are few of our recommendations;
- Must Try Cafes At Nimmanhaemin : Graph Cafe (One Nimman), Ristr8to (Nimman Road)
- Recommended Restaurants At Nimmanhaemin : Ginger Farm Kitchen (One Nimman), Tong Tem Toh (Nimman Road)
- Best Bar At Nimmanhaemin : Beer Lab (Nimman Road)
General Information On Chiang Mai
Where To Stay In Chiang Mai?
The best area to stay in Chiang Mai is the old city area, from where all the attractions are located near by or at walkable distance. Here are our highly recommended hotels in Chiang Mai;
Budget (Below $50): 99 The Gallery Hotel is a very affordable boutique hotel located centrally in old city area of Chiang Mai. It’s a deal not to miss! Click here to book this hotel or to check it’s availability.
Mid Range Hotel ($50-$100): Nawa Sheewa hotel is all about luxury but at a very affordable price. All the attractions in Chiang Mai are located at walking distance from this hotel. Beautiful rooms, great vibes, boutique styled hotel and top class amenities makes it a perfect place to stay in Chiang Mai. Click here to book this hotel or to check it’s availability.
Luxury ($100+) : Chala Number6 hotel is a stylish and beautifully designed hotel which is super centrally located yet very relaxing. The top class amenities, closeness to all major attractions, gorgeous ambiance, spacious rooms, garden area, free bike access, fitness and spa facilities would make your stay all worth it. You may probably won’t want to leave! Click here to book this hotel or to check it’s availability.
How To Get Around Chiang Mai?
The most convenient mode of transportation in Chiang Mai are the tuk tuks and songthaews (red taxis/trucks) that are easily available on the streets. You can also hire cabs using the Uber and Grab mobile apps.
Whats’s The Currency Used In Chiang Mai?
The currency used in Chiang Mai is Thai Baht. 1 USD = approx 32 Thai Baht
What Are The Essentials To Carry To Chiang Mai?
There are a few essential things you must not forget to carry with yourselves to Chiang Mai.
Portable Charger / Power Bank : You may be using your phone and ipads a lot while touring the city to get captures of all the amazing temples and landmarks or to track the city routes. A good power bank always comes handy when these devices are running out of battery. We love the Anker Power Core portable charger as it comes with high speed charging capability which can charge your phones up to 5 times. It also comes with an 18 month warranty. Check it out here.
Sunscreen : Make sure you pack a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays while you are spending time outdoors during the day. We always recommend using Sun Bum sunscreens and face sticks as they are approved by naturalists, are non greasy and water proof. Find Sun Bum sunscreen here.
Universal Adaptor : The hotel you are staying at might not have power switches compatible to the electronic devices you are carrying. Get a Unidapt universal adaptor that is easy to carry. It can also charge up to 5 devices (smartphones, powerbanks, speakers, tablets and more) simultaneously. It comes with a 1 year money back warranty too! Find Unidatp universal adaptor here.
Mosquito Repellent Wristbands : Keep yourself safe from mosquitoes specially during the evenings. Check out these very effective Deet free and waterproof mosquito repellent wristbands from Mosquitno.
Chiang Mai’s amalgamation of history, culture, art, architecture, modern Thai life, food and welcoming people would make you want to come back or extend your stay. We hope that our 3 day Chiang Mai itinerary would help you in exploring everything this city has to offer.
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