Chiang Mai is the only city in Thailand that made it to Tripadvisor’s 2012 list of 25 best destinations in the World. My friends and I had the time of our lives in the biggest city of Northern Thailand, swinging across from tree to tree on zip lines, driving ATVs along the edges of steep mountains and white water rafting down rapids of a valley.
As dawn approached, we enjoyed a breathtaking panorama view of the city on a hilltop restaurant before shopping at late night markets. Refusing to call it a night, we partied away in Chiang Mai’s swankiest club and finally rested in a newly opened boutique hotel. If you want a short vacation filled with exciting activities, this is the ideal place to visit!
Here are 7 things to do in Chiang Mai over a weekend.
White Water Rafting
It’s time to get your adrenaline pumping as you raft through kilometers of unpredictable white waters, with nothing to hold on but a paddle. There are several different routes to choose, from a mild grade two to a challenging grade four. The rapids largely depend on the season you visit e.g. the river during the rainy season from August to October will be tremendously wild.
I would strongly recommend you to bear in mind the month of visit and the amount of excitement you desire before selecting your path, so as to fully utilize your 1800 bahts. Fret not about safety issues as a trained supervisor will be on the raft with you. Helmets, paddles and lifejackets are provided.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
ATV Chiang Mai tours allow you to drive through the countryside, deep into the forested areas as well as summits of mountains to admire the scenery of Northern Thailand. There are several packages to choose from, depending on one’s preference. The tour may go off track and even drive through narrow pathways on cliffs.
For my ATV journey, we were only approximately 10 centimeters away from toppling over the cliffs and our ATV even had to do a small jump. The instructors will take over your vehicle if you are incapable of driving through these dangerous edges. Do bring along your cameras to take pictures of the beautiful surroundings and some money to buy gifts from villages.
For 2000 bahts, you get to experience life of Tarzan for 2 hours! There are a total of 27 platforms, varying from 20 to 400 meters. Abseiling and crossing of wobbly bridges are also included. The main highlight would be the 400 meters zip line, where one takes a leap of the faith and “fly” across the river.
Safety is guaranteed as there are professionals to accompany you throughout the journey. A short mandatory lesson is provided before one heads off to the first station. You can bring your camera along with you or pass it to one of the professionals. Do remember to spray insect repellent or else you will end up with countless of mosquito bites. Hotel pickups are available.
Baan Mae Ta Mann, Moo 2
Mae Taeng District
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Palaad Tawanron Restaurant
Enjoy authentic Thai cuisine with a spectacular view, 300 feet above ground. I visited the restaurant at night and was so mesmerized by the dazzling city lights. The restaurant is located on a hill surrounded by trees and is popular amongst locals and tourists.
Reservations are required if one were to dine during the hours between 6pm-8pm. Music lovers will be glad that live English, Japanese and Thai songs are performed every evening. The prices are slightly more expensive when compared to other local restaurants but the experience makes it worthwhile. Food is impeccably delicious, especially the fried sea bass in fish sauce, tohm yum goong mapraow, crabmeat sautéed with curry and last but not least, kah moo tawanron, a deep fried pork leg served with mashed potatoes.
100 Huay Kaew Road, Suthep
Opening hours 11am to 12midnight
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Opened every day, from dusk till midnight, Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is the ultimate shopping paradise for all. There are a lot of items for sale, ranging from Thailand souvenirs to authentic/fake leather goods. Be wary of your belongings, as pickpocketing is common in this area. Sellers usually mark their prices up so do try to bargain an additional 30% off the products you intend to purchase.
San Pareni Boutique Hotel
Forget about luxury hotels, San Pareni has given me a new perspective on boutique hotels. We enjoyed our stay thoroughly; the staff’s friendliness is exceptional and I never felt that at home in a hotel before. The WIFI works perfectly, the East-meets-West breakfast buffet spread is lovely, the cleanliness is superb and the vibrant European decors will definitely win you over.
The only problem would be the absence of lifts but staff will carry your luggage upstairs. San Pareni is just 5 minutes drive away from Chiang Mai Airport and would be convenient if you have an early morning flight to catch.
45/8 M.1 T.Maehia A.Muang,
Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100
Infinity club is massive, modern and very crowded on weekends. Do not be put off by the club’s extravagant entrance because prices are actually far from costly (when compared to Singapore’s clubs). Although mainstream pop songs dominate the club, one can also expect the alternation between house music and Thai rock.
The washrooms are super spacious and I noticed an interesting sight – gays enter the female restrooms and some even enter the toilet cubicles together with their female friends. This nightclub is like most other Thai clubs where drinking tables are scattered around the dance floor. The crowd is largely made up of local university students and foreigners are a rare sight.
Nimmana Haeminda Lane 6,
Mueang Chiang Mai,
Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
About the writer
Hui Jun Ng was previously a marketing executive and freelance photographer in the food industry. Her work has been published on Epicure, Lifestyle Asia and Meld Magazine etc. She is currently on a break and traveling around the world. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram or The Keepers Map where she shares useful curated travel itineraries.