Perhaps not as prominent or popular as Bangkok or Phuket, Chiang Mai – the mountainous city in northern Thailand – certainly holds its own and proves why it is one of the crown jewels of its country. Rich in history and religion, it is equally as laidback, peaceful, and tranquil, with the added benefit of the signature Thai experience visitors from all over the world, seek and have come to expect. But hang up those fast-paced shoes because this is one place to be explored at a leisurely pace and here, we highlight several must-see sights.

Visit Doi Suthep

The majestic temple at Doi Suthep © Lim Kim Keong

The majestic temple at Doi Suthep © Lim Kim Keong

For a breath-taking view of Chiang Mai and the opportunity to experience one of the oldest monasteries in Chiang Mai, do make a trip up Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep). Located 15km away from the city, the temple complex consists of a Buddhist monastery that has been in operation since 1383 and a shrine to the White Elephant as well as a viewing terrace for a bird’s eye view of Chiang Mai. Visitors can choose to walk up to the complex via the 300 step Naga Serpent Staircase or via a cable lift that takes you directly to the entrance of the temple for just USD1.

Wildlife Encounters At Chiang Mai Night Safari

Animals roam free at the Chiang Mai Night Safari; Photo © 123Rf.com

Animals roam free at the Chiang Mai Night Safari; Photo © 123Rf.com

Spread over 328 acres of the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, the Chiang Mai Night Safari is a must-visit for animal lovers. Open during the day and night, the facility is home to a number of animal species, many of which are endangered. There are animal shows and performances but the highlight of the Night Safari is its guided tram tours that take visitors through the park where they can view and feed animals such as giraffes, zebras and various types of deer, which roam the enclosures freely.   The facility also houses a number of F&B outlets as well as an on-site hotel.

Stroll The Night Markets

Night markets come to life when the sun goes down; Photo © Richard Augustin

Night markets come to life when the sun goes down; Photo © Richard Augustin

No trip to Chiang Mai is complete without a bit of shopping and the best place to spend some of that Thai Baht is at the local night market. The city boasts many such markets, but the best and certainly the biggest is the main Night Bazaar on Chang Khlan road. Spread across 1km, the street is lined with stalls and shops with a wide variety of goods such as souvenir t-shirts, local handicraft and food items on sale. Certainly a perfect place to work on your bargaining skills and experience some of the best street food Chiang Mai has to offer.

Catch a Dinner and a Show

Lanna Culture on show at Khum Khantoke; Photo © Freeimages

Lanna Culture on show at Khum Khantoke; Photo © Freeimages

The Khum Khantoke Restaurant has been promoting and preserving northern Thailand culture for over 15 years. The award-winning tourist attraction caters exquisite and authentic Chiang Mai cuisine, which is served during an elaborate and impressive dance and performance show that brings to life various folktales and legends rooted deep in Thai culture.  After dinner, guests can stroll around the premises and purchase authentic Lanna trinkets and souvenirs from the make-shift night market, operated by locals.