Thailand’s ‘Rose of North’ Chiang Mai offers a unique and captivating experience that combines luxury, adventure, and culture. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or excitement, Chiang Mai provides the perfect balance for an unforgettable holiday or honeymoon. Here’s how to get the most out of your time there.
Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand, but the pace and atmosphere is a world away from country’s largest city, Bangkok. Boasting a long history and a strong Thai culture, Chiang Mai is perfect for a couple wanting to experience the ideal combination of culture, adventure and luxury. The city itself is vibrant and charming, whilst the surrounding country-side is serene, relaxing and beautiful.
Whether you are coming to explore the contemporary art galleries, indulge in the region’s unique Thai flavours (lighter than southern Thai food, with subtle influences from Burma), explore the famous temples, or go hard with some of the more extreme adventure options Chiang Mai is famous for, there is no doubt that Chiang Mai will be a honeymoon or romantic holiday you’ll never forget.
Here’s your guide to combing the best of luxury, adventure and culture in Chiang Mai to enjoy the most incredible romantic getaway or honeymoon!
Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Chiang Mai
The Inside House
The Inside House is a charming boutique hotel located in the heart of the Old City. The hotel’s design is inspired by Lanna Colonial architecture, which ensures it a luxurious and captivating place to stay – a boutique hotel with a true sense-of-place. You can choose from 31 beautiful rooms and suites, 13 of which have private pools adorned with marble. Whether you’re a design enthusiast or simply looking for a lavish retreat, The Inside House will take your breath away with its opulence and urban oasis atmosphere.
Meliá Chiang Mai
Meliá Chiang Mai is a luxurious hotel that combines the brand’s rich Spanish heritage with the local area’s cultural charms. Situated in the heart of the city, guests can enjoy easy access to popular tourist attractions such as the Night Bazaar and the Old Town. The hotel boasts a rooftop bar that offers stunning city views, creating an ideal setting for a romantic evening. One of the standout features of Meliá Chiang Mai is its ‘360° Cuisine’ concept, which prioritises sustainability while providing a sophisticated dining experience. The hotel sources its culinary offerings from a carbon-zero farm called Ori9in, located in the picturesque Mai Rim Valley. With 260 rooms and suites, including the luxurious The Levels with its exclusive facilities and benefits, refined dining options, and a stunning spa, Meliá Chiang Mai offers a chic and elegant base for couples seeking an unforgettable holiday or honeymoon in Chiang Mai.
Exploring the Adventurous Side of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is renowned for its stunning mountainous landscapes, making it a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts. With its proximity to large national parks and a network of trails suitable for riders of all levels, Chiang Mai offers unparalleled opportunities to explore the region’s natural beauty.
Embarking on a mountain biking adventure in Chiang Mai allows you to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of old Thailand. As you pedal through the picturesque countryside, you’ll encounter traditional hillside villages and ancient temples, providing a glimpse into the region’s history and traditions.
You have the option of renting your own bike and venturing out on your own or joining guided tours that cater to various durations, ranging from half-day excursions to multi-day expeditions. Along the way, you’ll pass by scenic coffee plantations, vibrant lychee orchards, and breathtaking waterfalls. The trails also take you through the pristine rainforests of Suthep National Park, offering a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.
Zip-Lining Chiang Mai
One of the most memorable days for us was our Zip Lining. In fact, it was so much fun that we went twice! One of the companies we used closed during Covid, and the other had some terrible press after we zip-lined with them. So, check out Skyline Jungle Luge Chiang Mai where you can experience 24 platforms to climb and 14 ziplines to soar from, including Thailand’s longest zipline at 1000 meters. This eco-adventure is sure to provide breathtaking views and an adrenaline-pumping experience and satisfy your craving for adventure in Chiang Mai.
Elephant Nature Park
Located just outside of Chiang Mai in Thailand’s northern region, Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary spanning 100 hectares of wilderness. The park is home to 36 rescued elephants, as well as dogs that have been taken in over the years. These elephants have been saved from the exploitation of tourist ride operators and logging companies, and at the park, they are able to live in an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat. In addition to providing a safe haven for these majestic creatures, Elephant Nature Park also plays a crucial role in educating both locals and tourists about the harsh realities of elephant tourism. A visit to the park may even change your perspective on elephant riding, which is often a popular activity for visitors to Southeast Asia. The park offers both one-day visits and week-long volunteer programs, providing a fun and enlightening experience. However, it’s important to note that the reality of the elephants involved in tourism and logging can be confronting at times.
Ride Mae Hong Son Loop
If you’re looking for an adventurous and scenic journey in Northern Thailand, consider riding the Mae Hong Son Loop. This four-day loop starts from Chiang Mai and takes you through Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, and Pai before returning to the city. It is renowned as one of the best motorbike loops in Southeast Asia, offering breathtaking mountain scenery that will leave you in awe. Along the way, you can also take detours to visit unique hill tribes known for their friendliness and hospitality. Remember to dress modestly and show them respect. If the heat becomes overwhelming, there are beautiful waterfalls where you can take a refreshing dip. The Mae Hong Son Loop is a must-do trip from Chiang Mai, and it rivals the popular destination of Chiang Rai. Whether you choose to go clockwise or anticlockwise, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure.
Culture Chiang Mai
Do a Meditation Course at Wat Doi Suthep
If you want to connect with your inner self and learn the art of meditation, the Doi Suthep Vipassana Meditation Centre in Chiang Mai is a must-visit. To truly understand the culture of Thailand, you should learn about Buddhism – more than 90% of the country is Buddhist!
Located atop Suthep Mountain, this temple attracts numerous visitors daily, and a visit to Chiang Mai isn’t complete without at least visiting Chiang Mai’s Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. For those seeking a more immersive experience, the monks offer meditation courses ranging from 3 to 28 days. During your time at the temple, speaking is prohibited, allowing you to focus solely on your breath and clearing your mind of any distractions. The retreat emphasises the practice of mindfulness, specifically observing the body, feelings, mind, and mind-objects. You will begin each meditation session by mindfully prostrating, followed by periods of walking and sitting meditation. Beginners typically start with 10 minutes and gradually increase their meditation time to an hour. In addition to the meditation practice, there are daily Dhamma talks at 5:30 am and chanting sessions at 6 pm. The courses are run on a donation basis, allowing individuals to contribute according to their means.
Get a Thai Massage at the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution
Experience a unique and meaningful Thai massage at the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution. Don’t let the unconventional setting deter you, as this initiative serves as a valuable opportunity for the women serving short sentences to learn a new skill and reintegrate into society. In addition to the massage services, the facility also features a cafe and crafts store, providing further support for the inmates. With affordable prices starting at 180 Baht, this is definitely one of the more intriguing and worthwhile activities to try in Chiang Mai. Address: 100 Rajchavithi Road Sriphum subdistrict.
Visit Chiang Mai’s Stunning Temples
Chiang Mai is home to a plethora of ancient temples and historical sites that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. With so many incredible temples in Chiang Mai – more than 100! – we’re going to assume that you won’t be trying to visit them all, but here’s four temples you shouldn’t miss.
Wat Phra Singh – Samlarn and Ratchadamnoen Roads: Wat Phra Singh is a famous temple that was built in the 14th century. Initially known as Wat Li Chiang Phra, it was later renamed after the Phra Singh Buddha image was brought from Sri Lanka. This temple attracts a large number of visitors and is particularly popular during the Songkran Festival, where the Phra Singh statue is paraded through the streets of Chiang Mai and people splash water over it as a way to earn merit.
Wat Chedi Luang – Phrapokklao Road: The magnificent Wat Chedi Luang is an ancient temple built in 1441, and considered to be one of the largest and most stunning structures in Chiang Mai. However, the top of the chedi was unfortunately destroyed during the recapture of Chiang Mai from the Burmese, giving it a unique and historical appearance. Adding to the temple’s beauty, the base of the stupa is adorned with five elephant sculptures. Within the temple complex, you will also find the Manamakut Buddhist University. Additionally, Wat Chedi Luang is known for hosting daily monk chats, where tourists are encouraged to sit under the shade of trees and engage in conversations with monks about Buddhism, their way of life, and Thai culture.
Wat Phan Tao – Prapokkloa Road: Wat Phan Tao is a hidden gem located next to the well-known Wat Chedi Luang mentioned above, so try to combine the two. Despite being often overlooked by visitors, this temple is worth a visit. Dating back to the 14th century, it is one of the oldest temples in the city. The unique feature of this temple is its connection to the teak trade, as it is constructed with 28 massive teak pillars and adorned with heavy teak panels. The entrance of the viham is beautifully decorated with a gold peacock, a symbol of wisdom in the Lanna culture. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this historic and visually stunning temple while visiting Chiang Mai.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: No article on Chiang Mai is complete without talking about Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a renowned temple that offers breathtaking views of the city and the Ping River. Built in 1383, the temple holds great significance as it houses a fragment of Buddha’s shoulder bone. According to legend, a monk brought the bone from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai, and it miraculously split into two pieces at the base of the mountain. One piece was enshrined at Wat Suan Dok, while the other was carried by a white elephant that eventually perished in the jungle. This sacred spot was chosen to construct Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
This temple is considered the main attraction of Doi Suthep National Park and can be seen from almost every place in Chiang Mai. To reach the temple, visitors can climb up 306 steps of a staircase flanked by mythical sea serpents or take a cable car to reach the top in just 5 minutes. At the top, you will find a glorious golden chedi surrounded by small copper bells and offerings from pilgrims.
Many people hire a private van to reach the temple, but for those who are fit and have enough time, there is also the option to hike up the Monk’s Trail, which takes approximately 3-6 hours. However, the most popular way to visit the temple is by taking a taxi.
Shop for Unique Handicrafts and Souvenirs at Local Markets
When you visit Chiang Mai, don’t miss the chance to shop for unique handicrafts and souvenirs at the local markets. The city is renowned for its vibrant arts and crafts scene, offering a vast selection of handmade items that make perfect gifts or keepsakes of your trip. You’ll discover everything from intricately carved wooden sculptures to colourful textiles and ceramics, ensuring there is something for everyone.
The Chiang Mai Night Markets in Thailand are a must-visit for any traveller. These markets are known for their lively and energetic atmosphere, offering a diverse range of local jewellry, artwork, clothing, and mouthwatering street food. Out of all the night markets in Southeast Asia, the Chiang Mai Night Markets are considered some of the top ones. As you wander through the stalls and admire the twinkling lights, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a magical world, making it the perfect way to conclude a day of exploration.
It’s important to note that there are multiple Chiang Mai Night Markets, but the two largest ones are held on Saturday and Sunday. If you have the opportunity, we highly recommend planning your visit to Chiang Mai during the weekend to experience the bustling Wua Lai Walking Street on Saturday and the vibrant Tha Phae Walking Street on Sunday, where you can find endless stalls, music, and entertainment.
The Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai is held every night and is the most famous night market in the city. The main road and hidden backyards are lined with countless beautifully lit stalls. While most stalls offer inexpensive products such as elephant pants, flip flops, or imitation sunglasses and watches, you can also find higher quality items like silk shawls, handmade clothing, and room decor. These markets aren’t as much of a ‘must-visit’ as the weekend night markets but if you’ve got time, swing on by and see if you can grab a bargain.
Is Chiang Mai a Good Honeymoon or Couples’ Holiday Destination?
In summary, if you are wondering if Chiang Mai is a great honeymoon destination, then we absolutely say it is! With its breathtaking mountain ranges and trendy arty scene, Chiang Mai offers a unique and beautiful setting for couples. Unlike other cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai has a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere, making it perfect for a serene and romantic trip with your loved one. Chiang Mai truly has it all for a memorable couples’ holiday and should be part of any Thailand honeymoon or romantic travel itinerary.
Thailand’s luxury hotels offer a superior level of indulgence, at a price that represents good value. Be sure to combine the country’s southern islands such as Phuket and Samui with the cultural charms of Chiang Mai, and the excitement and shopping of Bangkok and you’ll enjoy a romantic holiday or honeymoon to cherish forever!
If you are thinking of getting married in Thailand, visit www.greatdestinationweddings.com.au … there are some incredible Thai wedding destinations featured!