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Things to do in Chiang Mai
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Situated at the top of Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep), this marvellous temple is truly a sight to behold. The ornate building was built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383, filled with statues, murals and gilded shrines that create a unique and magical site to explore. Leading up to the temple itself is an intricately-carved staircase comprising 300 steps (don’t worry if you don’t fancy the hike to the top though, there’s also a lift you can take for 30THB).
Once you reach the top, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of this temple. A flurry of gold and precious stones, it’s a breath-taking collection of historic murals and shrines to Buddha. Just outside of the main enclave, you’ll also find a shrine to the White Elephant, along with a story of how this beautiful temple was founded.
If you want to pick up a souvenir of your visit, you’ll find a host of vendors and shops at the bottom of the staircase as you make your departure from Doi Suthep. A visit to the temple is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in some of Chiang Mai’s culture and heritage, as well as the chance to see the awe-inspiring views over the city from the top of the mountain.
Elephant Nature Park
A rehabilitation centre set in Northern Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park is a must-see for animal lovers. This unique rescue centre provides a wonderful natural setting for elephants from all over Thailand who have been injured, orphaned or have become distressed. The park is surrounded by unspoiled landscapes in the form of tree-clad mountains and winding rivers, creating a scenic and tranquil environment for these gentle giants.
While seeing the elephants up close is undoubtedly the highlight of this brilliant initiative, what makes this park so special is the opportunity to learn more about the endangered species. The volunteers who tend to the animals are incredibly enthusiastic about their cause and are always willing to inform and inspire visitors about the plight of the elephants. This really is a highlight of any Chiang Mai trip.
Chiang Mai Night Safari
The world’s third nocturnal zoo, the Chiang Mai Night Safari tour is a unique nature experience. Home to Bengal tigers, lions, wallabies, hyenas and bears, plus many more fascinating species, this is a must for families.
The entertainment extends far beyond simply admiring the many animals and birds who call the park home, including laser light shows, digital zoo exhibitions, the Fun Plaza dancing fountain and walking trails.
The Chiang Mai markets are a hub of buzzing activity, from the deliciously-scented food stalls to the animated bartering between vendors and tourists. Those in need of a little retail therapy won’t be disappointed by the vast array of souvenirs, clothes and jewellery available amongst the throng of people. Designer goods, watches, local crafts and foods are just some of the items you can pick up here. The night bazaar is situated on the east side of the old walled city and is open from dusk until around midnight every night of the year, irrespective of the weather.