Sitting on the Mae Ping River Basin and surrounded by mountains and verdant countryside, Chiang Mai attracts spiritual seekers looking for nirvana in the city’s many temples, yoga or meditation retreats, health buffs who come for the spas and impressive vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and nature lovers who enjoy time spent at organic farms or elephant sanctuaries.
Surrounded by a 700 year old brick moat, Chiang Mai’s main downtown square, known as Old City is where you can visit the opulent 14th-century temples Wat Phra Singh and the 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, or watch a Muay Thai match at Thapae Boxing Stadium.
Beyond the Old City, along Chang Khlan Road, is the Kalare Night Bazaar where you can shop for gifts or enjoy a meal at a street stall in the evenings. If you have more time, venture to the outskirts of the city for the Elephant Nature Park or the Flight of the Gibbon rainforest zipline adventure.
Cuisine: If you’re looking for food that fires up your taste buds, try Isan cuisine sold by street food vendors and at many restaurants here. Popular in Northern Thailand, Isan dishes include decadent items such as deep fried crunchy pork rinds, spicy homemade sausages and barbequed meats served with pungent fermented seafood condiments. If you’re a health-conscious vegetarian, Chiang Mai has more than 60 vegetarian restaurants that are good enough to convert even stoic meat eaters.