Chiang Mai Overview
Experience Chiang Mai, a big city with small town allure. Set along the Ping River and surrounded by Himalayan mountain ranges and countryside, the ancient city has only recently experienced a surge in tourism. Over the past twenty years, new roads have made the land more easily accessible. As late as the 1920s, travelers had to embark on long river rides or elephant treks for entrance to the city.
Today, this hidden gem is a haven for lovers seeking history, adventure and romance among its lush trees and rustic ruins. This exotic honeymoon destination just north of Bangkok is a laid-back alternative for those seeking a break from the bustling capital.
Couples get the best of both worlds, as rural life combines with the buzz of the city in Chiang Mai. In one day, you and your partner can tour a major temple, zip-line through bright green treetops and dine by candlelight. The possibilities are endless with a honeymoon in Chiang Mai, Thailand!
- CLIMB A TEMPLE: This Buddhist Temple, called Wat Phrathat That Doi Suthep, rests on a mountain nine miles outside of the city, accessible by a scenic road. The year of its founding remains debated, yet the story behind its construction (“The White Elephant Legend”) remains an urban legend. With a 309-step trek to the temple, guests should be well rested before voyaging to the Wat Doi Suthep. Upon reaching the top, visitors witness the vast, beautiful landscape of Chiang Mai, unlike any other view in Thailand. The temple itself is adorned with pagodas, statues and shrines. Reflecting aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism, Wat Doi Suthep is a peaceful day trip.
- EXPLORE THE MARKET: Chiang Mai's Sunday Waking Street Market is a large night market located in the center of the old city. It takes place every Sunday from 4PM to midnight. While marketplaces are common in Thai cities, Sunday Walking Street Market stands out for all the right reasons. Northern Thai people showcase their outstanding art and craftsmanship at the market, making it a cultural hub as well as a prime place to snag beautiful keepsakes. Come sundown, the marketplace becomes an impromptu performance venue, featuring street entertainers, musicians, dancers and puppeteers. With a festive nature and fab street food, the Sunday Walking Street Market is must-see for fun loving couples.
- GARDENS OF EDEN: The Dokmai Garden is a private botanical garden nine miles outside of the city, and it's definitely worth the trip. Guests here are guided by Eric Danell, an impassioned English-speaking botanist who serves as an encyclopedia for native Thai species. This hidden garden gem of northern Thailand rests on ten acres of flat grassland. Couples can enjoy refreshing homemade hibiscus juice while strolling through blossoming fruits, blooming vegetables, majestic trees and beautiful orchids. With an on-site restaurant that uses homegrown organic ingredients, Dokmai Garden is the perfect day retreat for couples seeking beauty, relaxation and a bit of knowledge. Tourists should visit during the flowering (February- April) or green season (May-October) to see some of the best natural beauty northern Thailand has to offer.
- PLAY WITH ELEPHANTS: Prepare for an unforgettable experience upon entering the Patara Elephant Farm. Visitors will spend a day tending hands-on to their own assigned elephant: washing, feeding and most of all, learning how to communicate with the gentle giant. At this humane site, the animals are treated like family and the staff members genuinely care about the elephants’ well being and preservation. What could be better than doing an act of kindness with the person you love? Ride an elephant through the jungle then have an amazing lunch provided by the farm’s staff. With video and photo services included in cost, couples can focus on enjoying their stay at Patara Elephant Farm. It's a unique, unforgettable and rewarding honeymoon experience.
- EXPLORE THE ANCIENT: In a city of temples, Wat Chedi Luang is an ancient Buddhist temple that stands out as a stunning masterpiece that has been preserved throughout the centuries. The ancient ruins in its center add even more to the site’s appeal. Visitors can interact with monks, explore the ruins, view the array of Buddha statues, or simply marvel at the beauty of the temple’s exterior.
- EMBRACE NATURE: Yearning to be out in the great outdoors? Located in Doi Suthep National Park, Mae Sa is an 8-tier waterfall nestled in the Mae Sa Valley. Couples who want adventure during their honeymoon can traverse through the jungle paths and wade in the water just beneath the cascades. This intimate location surrounded by nature is ideal for a romantic picnic.
Tips and Advice
- GETTING THERE: A nonstop flight from LA to Chiang Mai is approximately 16 hours and one from NY to Chiang Mai is 20 hours.
- GETTING AROUND: Make use of songthaews, tuk-tuks, taxis and motorbikes.
- NAME ORIGIN: Chiang Mai means “new city” in Thai.
- LANGUAGE: Thai is the local tongue but at temples you may see rounded script, known as Lanna which is an old dialect used in Thai ceremonies. Hotels catering to foreigners usually have English-speaking staff, but we always recommend you get a phrase book and try some basic Thai!
- CURRENCY: Baht. Check out current exchange rates here.
- ELECTRICITY: 220V/50Hz
- DRESS: Take off shoes in temples (wats), and shorts and tank tops are not permitted out of respect for these sacred sites. Bring some nice outfits for fancier restaurants, but dress light, as you can expect warm tropical weather.
- CLIMATE: Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of the south. There is a cool (November-February), hot (March-June) and wet season (July- October).