Here are 3 Easy Day Trips from Chiang Mai.
It’s hard to go wrong if you live here: Chiang Mai is known for its myriad outdoor activities in the surrounding hillsides. An easy way to take in the sights and explore what the province has to offer is to take a day trip. Whether you’re into adventurous activities or prefer to take in the views and simply relax, here are three day trips that come highly recommended by both international visitors and local Thais. These 3 easy day trips from Chiang Mai are a great start:
Doi Inthanon National Park
The Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s highest mountain and some incredible activities for nature lovers. Located roughly 100 km southwest of Chiang Mai’s Old City, visitors can look forward to hiking, camping, bird watching, biking, and exploring numerous natural wonders throughout the expansive park.
Must-see attractions within the park include the limestone Borichinda Caves and the spectacular Twin Chedis, Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri, which contain sacred Buddhist relics. If you love waterfalls, the Mae Ya and Wachirathan Waterfalls are the two largest in the park and arguably the most beautiful.
Although Doi Inthanon’s nature trails require a moderate level of fitness to complete, don’t miss out on walking along either the Ang Ka Trail or Gio Mae Pan Trail while you’re visiting. They twist and turn through the cool, verdant forests and then open up and reveal absolutely stunning views of the mountain ridges and deep valleys.
Huay Tung Tao Lake
Roughly 15 km from Chiang Mai is an enormous man-made lake just at the base of Doi Suthep. Here you will see beautiful stretches of still water and the mirrored reflection of the nearby mountain skyline.
Dotted along the lake’s perimeter are thatched-roof huts where you can find local Thai families enjoying an afternoon lunch and children playing in the water. There are several no-frills restaurants that serve up local Thai fare and beverages. Vendors often come around selling sliced fruit, boiled quail eggs and peanuts, and even fried grasshoppers for the most daring visitor to try.
You can also rent tubes and pedal boats to take out on the lake. If you prefer to stay dry, take a walk or a bike ride along the paved path that encircles the lake.
The park is open daily, but particularly popular on the weekends when groups of Thai friends and families will come to eat and drink the day away at one of the waterside bamboo bungalows. (A much better way to spend an afternoon than trying your hand at one of Thailand’s deadly adventures…)
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep and Phuping Palace
Chiang Mai is situated at the base of the Doi Suthep Mountain and on clear days it’s possible to see the temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which sits near its top. It is a very important holy shrine and a stunning example of Thai Buddhist temple architecture. Situated 15 km up the mountain, visitors climb a decorative staircase with 300+ steps in order to enter the temple and be rewarded with expansive views of Chiang Mai’s Old City far below. (There is also a lift available for those who can’t do the stairs.)
Further along the road snaking up Doi Suthep is the Phuping Palace, an elegant royal residence that is well known for its breathtaking rose gardens. When it isn’t being used to accommodate the royal family or foreign dignitaries, it is open to the public so that they can explore its perfectly manicured grounds.
For groups of two or more people, these day trips can be easily accomplished by hiring a driver (like our beloved Aimie – contact her through Facebook here!) or renting a car. This allows the flexibility to travel to several different sites at your leisure, stop off for lunch of your choosing, and stay for as long or as little as you’d like. For the more adventurous or lone traveler, motorcycles are also an easy and affordable option to explore Chiang Mai’s gorgeous sites at your own pace. This post tells you more about the trip.