Chiang Mai is a beautiful northern Thailand city nestled amid beautiful mountains. Some of the top attractions in Chiang Mai include ancient temples like Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara and Wat Phra Singh that date back to more than 600 years ago, offering a glimpse into Chiang Mai’s rich history and stunning architecture. The Elephant Rescue Park and Kanta Elephant Sanctuary are also popular among travellers, where visitors can learn about elephant conservation and interact with the elephants in a responsible way.

Other than the impressive attractions and food in its city centre, Chiang Mai is also a gateway to some of the most remarkable destinations that northern Thailand has to offer.

For the culture and history buffs – you can venture to Chiang Rai to explore more temples and set sail into the exciting Golden Triangle. For the adventurers – the slopes of Doi Inthanon National Park and Mae Rim provide all sorts of excitement. Pack your travel backpacks and get your overseas SIM cards ready – it’s time to discover some of the best day trips from Chiang Mai!

1. Chiang Rai: for the cultural and historical buffs

Three hours’ drive from Chiang Mai (up North) is the city of Chiang Rai, home to some of the most visually stunning and spiritually significant temples in Thailand.

chiang rai white temple wat rong khun exterior chiang rai white temple wat rong khun exterior

The stunning Buddhist temple that’s entirely white – except for the golden structure found at its entrance (left of picture).

Marvel at the ethereal beauty of the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), with its intricate carvings and shimmering reflections. To get to the main temple, you need to cross an impressive bridge surrounded by a sea of hand sculptures reaching upwards. Our guide explained that the bridge, also known as the bridge of “the cycle of rebirth”, represents letting go of temptations and desires, and symbolises leaving behind the cycle of death and rebirth and finding happiness. 

Pro-tips: Female visitors will need to wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees to enter, and aim to arrive early to avoid the tourist crowds that tend to arrive from about 11am.

chiang rai blue temple fountain statues chiang rai blue temple fountain statues

A fountain and statue of Buddha in front of the Blue Temple.

The interior of the Blue Temple is also designed entirely in shades of blue. The interior of the Blue Temple is also designed entirely in shades of blue.

chiang rai blue temple interior

chiang rai butterfly pea coconut ice cream nearby temple chiang rai butterfly pea coconut ice cream nearby temple

Try the butterfly-pea coconut ice-cream that can be found in one of the many street-side shops located right next to the temple!

A contrast to the White Temple is the mesmerising blue hues at the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Seur Ten) – less crowded, but still beautiful. This is a relatively modern temple, completed in 2016, by the student of the White Temple’s artist. The temple’s name translates to “Temple of the Dancing Tiger”, with reference to tigers that used to roam around an ancient temple that once stood in this place.

visit chiang rai golden triangle market visit chiang rai golden triangle market

The marker showing the golden triangle and the three countries that meet, at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers.

chiang rai river boat kings romans casino chiang rai river boat kings romans casino

View of the Kings Romans Casino in Laos, from the river boat trip.

Chiang Rai is also your doorway to the intriguing Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. If you are visiting with a local guide, you can arrange with your guide to take a 20-minute boat trip down the river, listening to the stories of the drug trafficking that took place in the past in these waters. 

 

How to get there:
Making a day trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai typically takes quite a long time, with an estimated total two-way travel time of at least 12 hours. You can choose to rent a car and self-drive, or book day trip packages with providers like Klook and Trip.com.

2. Doi Inthanon National Park: for the nature-enthusiasts

For the nature lovers, Doi Inthanon National Park is the place for you. Crowned as the highest peak in Thailand, the national park is a fantastic spot for outdoor enthusiasts to explore lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and breathtaking viewpoints from this magnificent park.

doi inthanon wachirathan waterfall doi inthanon wachirathan waterfall

Wachirathan Waterfall is a short walk from the carpark and doesn’t require a high level of fitness to explore.

Kickstart your adventure by exploring the majestic Wachirathan Waterfall, one of the biggest waterfalls in Chiang Mai, with a cumulative height of about 80m. The ground can be slippery, so do be careful when exploring the area.

doi inthanon pha dok siao nature trail trekking doi inthanon pha dok siao nature trail trekking

The Pha Dok Siao Nature Trail takes between 1.5 hours to two hours to complete, depending on your fitness level.

The 5.3km-long Pha Dok Siao Nature Trail is an enjoyable and easy hike, with paths that are clearly marked with plenty of pit stops and markers. You will first travel through a rainforest and pass by the Pha Dok Sieo Waterfall, followed by a scenic hike through local villages, coffee plantations and rice terraces.

doi inthanon king queen pagodas doi inthanon king queen pagodas

The stunning royal stupas are surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The last part of the Doi Inthanon day trip will take you to the King and Queen Pagodas at the top of the mountain – two stunning stupas dedicated to the King and Queen of Thailand – with panoramic views of the rolling slopes of the national park. Within the stupas, you will find Buddhist relics. Do set aside at least an hour to fully explore the space and soak in the serene atmosphere. 

 

How to get there:
Located about two hours from Chiang Mai city centre, you can visit Doi Inthanon by driving or booking day trip packages. Cycling enthusiasts can also choose to cycle up the mountain.

3. Mae Rim: for those who just want to have fun

For those seeking a mix of adrenaline and relaxation, Mae Rim is your ideal destination.

About an hour from Chiang Mai, Mae Rim offers a fun day out filled with fun café spots, fantastic views, and heart-pumping activities.

mae rim elephant farm cafe mae rim elephant farm cafe

The Elefin Farm & Café is a hillside café where you can feed elephants, or just order a coffee and marvel at these majestic creatures.

mae rim wtf coffee camp mae rim wtf coffee camp

The WTF Coffee Camp is a sprawling café that has multiple spots for you to rest and drink your coffee in nature.

There are plenty of unique cafes with varied experiences, like the Elefin Farm & Café – where you can purchase food to feed the elephants, and enjoy a coffee break at the WTF Coffee Camp (my favourite!) Also known as the waterfall coffee camp (as they have their own waterfall), you will find a wide variety of chairs in the space for you to relax on. Other than your standard camping chairs, there are also huge nets that you can lounge in, hanging above a running stream.

mae rim pongyang jungle coaster mae rim pongyang jungle coaster

The Pongyang Jungle Coaster is a thrilling ride – not for the faint-hearted!

mae rim japanese onsen at moncham mae rim japanese onsen at moncham

The Onsen @ Moncham offers a touch of Japan in Chiang Mai, with natural water from the mountains.

This one is for the adventurers – don’t forget to stop by Pongyang Jungle Coaster and Zipline, where you can zoom down the hillside on a thrilling ride. There are multiple rides that you can choose from, but its signature ride would be the Jungle Coaster. This is a two-person car, where you can control the brakes to determine the speed at which your coaster moves.

For those who prefer to relax, you can unwind at the Onsen @ Moncham natural hot spring, modelled after Japanese hot springs. As the onsen is located within the resort, it is open to external guests from 12.00pm to 4.45pm daily.

mae rim skywalk on monjam mae rim skywalk on monjam

Skywalk on Monjam offers spectacular, sweeping views of Mae Rim.

End your day by enjoying the sunset views from the Skywalk on Monjam – one of the best viewpoints in the area. By this time, most of the cafes on the hilltop would be closed, but it’s still a great place to just chill and wind up your day, before heading back to Chiang Mai. 

 

How to get there:
The only way to visit Mae Rim is to drive or hire a driver, as the locations are quite spaced out and there are no good day packages that allow you the flexibility to choose different activities. You can book your driver on sites like Klook and Trip.com.

4. Doi Suthep: for the cultural travellers

The easiest day trip to make from Chiang Mai would be to the nearby Doi Suthep, a short 45 minutes’ drive from Chiang Mai’s city centre.

wat phra that doi suthep temple wat phra that doi suthep temple

The gold-plated temple is a sight to behold, with both local and foreign visitors.

wat phra that doi suthep temple serpent stairs wat phra that doi suthep temple serpent stairs

One of the ways up the temple is by climbing 309 steps up this iconic seven-headed serpent stairs.

Begin with a visit to the sacred Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, a Buddhist temple situated high above the city at an elevation of 1,073m, and an important temple in Chiang Mai. The view from the top is also breathtaking, where you can see the city of Chiang Mai from above. You typically drive up most of the way up the mountain and finish the last leg of your trip by either taking an electric tram or climbing up the 309 steps of the seven-headed serpent stairs.

doi suthep hmong hill tribe village doi suthep hmong hill tribe village

Entrance to the Hmong Hill Tribe village.

doi suthep hmong hill tribe village strawberries doi suthep hmong hill tribe village strawberries

Fresh and sweet strawberries can be purchased in the village.

On your descent, don't miss the picturesque Hmong Hill Tribe Village, where you can purchase luscious strawberries fresh from the strawberry fields (if they’re in season) and coffee beans roasted in the region. 

 

How to get there:
Plenty of tour operators provide day trip options to Doi Suthep at affordable prices, so booking a day trip would be the most cost-efficient way to visit.

 

If you’re looking for a fantastic getaway in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai and its surroundings are a great place to start. Be it stunning temples, breathtaking natural landscapes, or thrilling adventures, taking a day trip from Chiang Mai allows you to dip your toes into a unique slice of life you won’t get in the big city.

Plus, with direct flights offered by Scoot from Singapore Changi Airport to Chiang Mai International Airport, it’s one of the most convenient and effortless short getaways you can take from Singapore! Get started on your Chiang Mai trip planning with our 3D2N Chiang Mai itinerary, or explore our other guides to the world’s hidden gems, like the off-the-beaten-path adventures awaiting in Luang Prabang.

 

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Best time to visit
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is between November and February. During these months, the weather is cooler and drier, with temperatures as low as 15°C, making it ideal for exploring the city's ancient temples, vibrant street markets, and the surrounding natural beauty without the discomfort of the rainy or hot seasons. Avoid the burning season between late February and early April when farmers typically burn their crop lands to clear them, as it can affect air quality and visibility.

Currency
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). You can buy currencies at real-time exchange rates and collect your currencies at Changi Airport using Changi Recommends FX

Transportation
Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, you'll find an array of transportation options to navigate the city and its outskirts. The city does not have an MRT or Skytrain system like Bangkok, but it boasts an extensive network of tuk-tuks, songthaews (red trucks), and taxis for getting around. For day trips and more flexibility, consider renting a car or motorbike, or book tours that include transportation to and from your destinations. For adventures further afield, the Chiang Mai bus terminal and train station connect you to the rest of Thailand with ease.

Book Now
You can easily get to Chiang Mai from Singapore via direct flights on Scoot from Singapore Changi Airport to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). Other airlines like Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways also offer connections to Chiang Mai via Bangkok and other cities, allowing you to plan the perfect multi-city trip across Thailand. Book your tickets to Chiang Mai now!