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Planning your trip and need a few cheap things to do in Chiang Mai to fill your time? 

Thailand is a very popular destination for travelers of all ages and from all over the world. People come to Chaing Mai for a few days, and some stay for weeks, months, and even years.

Chiang Mai is one of the most beautiful northern cities in Thailand, and it is so easy to travel to by train from Bangkok! It is a very popular designation for digital nomads too. In the old city, along will see so many beautiful wats, cafes, markets,  and of course local street food in Chiang Mai!

And one of the best things about visiting here is that there are so many fun things to do in Chiang Mai! This list will help you while you are in town and will give you some great travel tips to get you through your trip. If you need a good place to stay you could always check this list of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.

a pretty girl in Chiang Mai Stick waterfalls

15 Cheap Things to do in Chiang Mai That you Cannot Miss

Go to the Queen’s Sirikit Botanic Gardens

Going to the Sirikit Botanic Garden is one of the best most popular and cheap things to do in Chiang Mai. It is a short half drive away from the old town in the Doi Suthep-Pui mountains. The views and the attractions along the way are well worth the drive. There is a waterfall you will see that makes for a lovely mid-way point.

Once you arrive at the Queen’s Sirkit Botanic Garden you are to have to pay a cheap entry fee and you are on your way. You can tour the gardens on a guided tour on a bus, a scooter, a car, or even one of the red truck taxis. Start off by heading back to the Canopy Walking Trail. Extended in the air you will enjoy a bird’s eye of the forest.

After you finish your walk head up the hill to the glass house thing. The most impressive thing of the whole day was the biggest glass house. Giant palm trees, ferns, and flowers are all perfectly coexisting together. Take your time while you explore around to let the sound of the waterfall relax you.

There is so much more to see at the Queen Sirkit Botanic you could knock out a whole day during one of the cheap things to do in Chiang Mai.

Get to the Queen’s Sirikit Garden in Chaing Mai right here!

a pretty girl walking through ferns in a botanic garden is one of the best cheap things to do in Chiang Mai

Check out the Ginger Farm at Chiang Mai

If you are looking for a peaceful and fun place to visit the Ginger Farm is perfect for you. Ginger is on the menu at their cute little cafe but first, you will need to walk around and build up an appetite. There is no charge to tour the grounds and you could walk around for hours here.

Head back and cross over the small wooden bridge to explore the back fields. You may get lucky and see the horse roaming around. Before you get that far you will pass through flower walkways, and ginger fields, with the most peaceful vibes.

There is also a play area for the children with cute swings and a small playground. Plus, there are parrots that can speak, peacocks, rabbits, and goats on site too. If you don’t mind getting dirty you will see there is a mudslide ask the works there if that interests you.

You should put the Ginger Farm high on your list of cheap things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand. You can enjoy lunch after your tour but besides that is completely free!

It is a bit outside of the Old Town, check it out here!

a girl checking out the plants in a farm

Go to the Warorot Market

Warorot Market is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai! This is a day market in the famous and beautiful Chinatown of Chiang Mai. It is open all day long and you can easily spend hours there. Head over to the indoor section of the market and grab a northern Thai sausage. – find a name- It is made with lemongrass and it is juicy and refreshing.

Also inside you can find fresh fruit, dried fruit, meats for sale, and a small cafeteria in the back. There is just as much to do and find outside as it is inside. You can buy anything from a bespoke suit to ice cream. Be sure to walk all the way around the entire market. You can go every day of the week starting early in the morning until 6 pm. Here you can enjoy cheap things to do in Chiang Mai.

The Warorot Market is right inside Chinatown, there is plenty of parking.

See all the best markets in Chiang Mai here! 

a night market in thailand with a girl walking about

Go on a Mountain Hike

One of the most adventurous things to do in Chiang Mai is to head up to the mountain. No matter what your fitness level is you will find something that fits your needs because there are plenty of different hikes in Chiang Mai. One of the best ones is sites to check out is Thailand Mountain Trail.

They are a company that has mapped out all the best hikes in the mountain regions of Hmong, Lahu, Karen, and Lisu. You can even book a night out in a small hut in the rice fields if you are feeling adventurous.

More amazing areas near Chaing Mai are the DOI Suthep national park and the DOI Inthanon nature park. The DOI Suthep national park has amazing attractions. Including waterfalls, beautiful wats, and stunning viewpoints along the hikes in Chiang Mai. The DOI Suthep national park to Chiang Mai is about an hour and is totally worth the trip.

Another great place to hike is the DOI Inthanon nature park. This park is famous for its beautiful sunrises and sets. You can also check out Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is one of the most famous in all of Chaing Mai. The most popular hike is about 5 miles (8 Kilometers) roundabout trail and takes about 3 and half hours to complete.

You should add a few hiking trips to your travel guide because it is one of the best and most free things to do in Chiang Mai.

a mountain range in Chiang Mai

Go to a Muay Thai Fight in Chiang Mai

You cannot miss one of the most unique things to do in Chiang Mai, a traditional Muay Tahi fight. You can find fights at the Kalare night bazaar Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. There are other stadiums all over town. It is so much fun if you are into that kind of thing. You can also take classes and learn how to Muay Tahi fight.

The tickets are pretty cheap and range from the most expensive being ringside and they get cheaper as you get further away. You can purchase them right before the fight too, in cash or course!

One of the most popular gyms to learn Muay Thai is the Chiangmai Muay Tahi Gym. Check them out on Facebook you can request a time slot to work out there!  But this is one of the best and cheap things to do in Chiang Mai, you can find rings hidden all throughout the city!

Chase the Waterfalls

One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is to go and check out the waterfalls. The two most popular ones are the Bau Tong sticky waterfalls and the Huay Kaew waterfall. The Sticky waterfalls are about an hour outside of Chiang Mai. They are the most original waterfalls anywhere in the world and are totally worth the drive.

If you are an experienced motorbike you can absolutely take your scooter out there and explore. You could spend hours at the park if you wanted it. Start by climbing down the stairs to the first two waterfalls. Then try your best spiderman impression as you walk up the waterfall. You can take your shoes off and do it barefoot.

On the first level down you reach you will see that there are two sides you can check out. One is the slipper side, and the other is an easier level. They are both safe, easy, and so much fun to play on. It will leave you feeling like a kid again. The park closes at 5 pm so be sure to plan at least a few hours here. There are picnic tables, restaurants, a visitor center, and bathrooms here.

The waterfalls are totally worth the hour’s drive! The park is so lovely, be sure to mark it on your calendar when you are looking for cheap things to do in Chiang Mai!

a girl walking along the waterfall in Chiang Mai

Check out the Sunday Walking Night Market

One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is to go and check out the Sunday night walking market. It is located here and you will not miss it. Walk your way through the hundreds if not thousands of local vendors.

You can get everything from street food, dresses, tee-shirts, bags, accessories, sunglasses, and more. Pretty much anything you need you can find from the Sunday night market. Still need elephant pants, get them at the Sunday market. There are also a few different vendors putting on a show with live music. There are quite a few 420 shops up and down the market as well. 

They say that you can never make it down the whole thing even if you tried. So let that be a challenge and go explore the Sunday walking market, it is one of the best and cheap things to do in Chiang Mai!

The walking market is so long, but you can start here!

a girl cooking food at a night market

Enjoy a Cafe with a View

This one is almost too easy. There are so many different cafes in Chiang Mai with beautiful views. It all depends on how far out you want to drive, and where you are staying. Chiang Mai has so many hidden gems with wonderful views that it will not take you long until you have found your favorite.

There are a few really nice ones just outside of the town. The blah blah blah and the Zombie Cafe are both on lakes and you can enjoy the majestic sounds of running water while you relax or work.

If you are more into working cafes, then Camp surprising has a wonderful view of the city with the mountain range in the back. Drinks are taken very seriously in Chiang Mai, and you can get about anything you crave. All of the cafes have espresso machines and so many different types of tea to choose from.

beautiful cafe in Chiang Mai

Tuk-Tuk Ride around Old Town

Do not miss hopping in a tuk-tuk at least once.  Keep your eye out and will see these golf cart-looking tuk-tuks all around this Northern Thailand city. You can hop in for a tour, or to take you to your next destination around town. Before you hop in tell them where you are going and come up with a price. A short ride should cost you around 50 Baht, but if you do not ask beforehand some will try to charge it more.

It is a wonderful way to see your way around town, is super fun, and, gives your feet a break. Some are decorated in with Thai touches. To track one down just put your hand out like you’re calling a cab, or say tuk-tuk when they pass. Try not to ask one that is parked unless you say something to them, because they could be on a break.

Get a Sak Yant Tattoo

This is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. Made famous by celebrities like Angelina Jolie the Sank Yant experience is truly special. And in Chiang Mai, you can have it done for a fraction of the price you will find in Bangkok. Sak Yant loosely translates to “tattoo a yantra”, meaning you can choose from hundreds of ancient designs that can be customized to mean something personal to you.

In order to receive the spiritual blessings that come with getting a Sak Yant, it must be performed either by a Thai monk or Ajarn master. After your offering, they will ask you some personal questions and discuss the design with you before they begin.

This can only be done in the traditional way to receive the magic behind the blessing, which means no tattoo gun. I suggest using Sak Yant Chiang Mai, they will help navigate the entire process with you.

It’s a beautiful and somewhat painful experience, and for those who like to find meaning in their ink, it’s a must-do in Chiang Mai.

a small ask Yant tattoo in Chiang Mai

Drink a Chang or two

What is a Chang? It is the local beer here in Thailand and it is available everywhere. There are some places where you can get craft beers, but it is illegal to make your own beer in Thailand, but people still do. best things to do in Chiang Mai old city. In Northern Thailand, they also have Leo an okay selection in the grocery store to pick from.

You can also order all different types of cocktails and wines. And every place has lovely non-alcoholic drinks as well. No matter where you go in Thailand you will see the Chang sign outside. If you find a good bar you can find the big Changs for about 60 Baht or 2 dollars. The fancier places will charge you more.

North Gate Jazz

One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand is to go and check out the North Gate Jazz bar. It is a cozy jazz bar in the heart of the old town. It has live Jazz music every night of the week. They open at 7 pm but the music does not start until around 8. It is a great idea to head in at 7 if you can and grab a seat. If you show up late you will be watching from the street because it is a small venue.

You can order cocktails, beers, and soft drinks here all night long. They are a bit more expensive than other bars around town but it comes with lovely live music so who really cares! There is no cover charge and everyone is welcome. Most of the songs are classic jazz songs and they do sing in English. Be sure to check it out, even if you are just walking by it is a great idea to stop and listen to a quick song. It is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai.

The North Gate Jazz room is right on the main street, you’re going to have such a good time. Be sure to eat beforehand they do not serve food!

a jazz band in the north gate jazz club in Chiang Mai

Traditional Thai Massages

If you are looking for one of the cool things to do in Chiang Mai you should get a Thai massage. If you have never had a massage before you are in for an experience. You can find massage places all over Chiang Mai. For an hour massage, you should spend about 100 Baht, or 3$, and be super relaxed.

There is two very popular massage parlor in Chiang Mai that is run by women prisoners. They are the Chaing Mai Women Correctional Institution Vocational Training Center and the Women’s Massage Center By Ex-Prisoners.

This is a wonderful rehabilitation program and it gives these women a new skills for a better life. Be sure to head there out if you have time, but if not just walk down the street you are sure to find one. Thai massages are so relaxing and cheap that you will be incredibly happy you did.

Wat Tours of Chiang Mai

One of the most romantic things to do in Chiang Mai is to go and check out the beautiful Wats. As you drive or walk around the city you will notice that there are Wats everywhere. Each one is different and has its own mood to it. Be sure to check out as many as you can while you are in town. It is one of the cheap things to do in Chiang Mai because most of them do not have a cover charge.

If you wanted to plan more and look into these beautiful wats your self you can check it out here. Most of the more famous ones are wat chedi Luang, wat Phra Singh, and wat Suan. The wats are beautiful and peaceful and will leave you thinking about how in the world they built such a beautiful temple.

19 Responses

  1. We missed visiting Chiang Mai when we were in Thailand, but I hope to visit the next time we return. These are helpful suggestions. I will save this for later!

  2. Since Thailand is on my list of places to go within the next year, I found this post to be quite useful. I particularly like the adventurous things you can do near Chiang Mai.

  3. I am planning on visiting Thailand in the next year. So this blog post is really useful and interesting. I particularly like to know about the adventurous things to do near Chiang Mai.

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