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13 BEST Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand 

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From wildlife experiences to white water rafting, these are the best day trips from Chiang Mai to help plan your adventures in Thailand!

day trips from chiang mai

Located in the hills of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a beautiful city known for its natural wonders, amazing street food, and historic culture. Honestly, I love visiting this part of Thailand. So many people skip over it in favour of the islands in the south, but I love how different it is. If you want a more balanced overview of Thailand, then Chiang Mai is a must.

As much as I love Chiang Mai (temples anyone?), there are so many places to visit nearby too. For me, these day trips from Chiang Mai provide some of the best experiences in the whole of Thailand!

Maybe you can road trip to the wilds of the Doi Inthanon National Park with its stunning viewpoints or perhaps visit the gentle giant inhabitants of The Elephant Nature Park?

chiang mai day trips
There are so many places to visit near Chiang Mai

So, whether you set out on your own adventure, join a local tour or go with a guide, there are plenty of amazing things to see and do within a short distance of Chiang Mai.

With historic temples, incredible waterfalls, and even high-octane outdoorsy adventures on the horizon, these Chiang Mai day trips are well worth your adding to your Thailand itinerary. With that in mind, let’s experience this beautiful part of Thailand!

Planning a trip to Chiang Mai? Then make sure you bookmark my guide to the best hotels in Chiang Mai. Also, check out these incredible adventures in Thailand too!

Best Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand

Doi Inthanon National Park

day tours from chiang mai
These are the temples at Doi Inthanon National Park

Located around 90 minutes by car from the centre of Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon National Park, otherwise known as the “Roof of Thailand”, is a must-do Chiang Mai tour for any lovers of nature, expansive vistas, and remote waterfalls.

With miles and miles of hiking trails and photogenic viewpoints, you can easily spend multiple days exploring the stunning Doi Inthanon National Park. There are a few multi-day hikes too if you’re looking for something a little bit longer.

As it can be a massive head scratcher planning a solo trip to the national park, I’d really recommend this tour. Then you can go to some of the top spots with a guide and not have to worry about the transport side of things.

Elephant Nature Park

elephant sanctuary thailand
Seeing elephants is such a Thai bucket list activity

Who doesn’t love elephants, right? They are definitely up there as being one of my favourite animals. Well, the wonderful Elephant Nature Park is a wonderful sanctuary and rescue centre that lets you get up close to these gentle giants. 

You’ll need to drive around one hour north for this amazing Chiang Mai day trip, so it’s the perfect short and sweet excursion that gets you out of the city. You can even help feed the elephants each day and wander around the sanctuary, learning about their conservation efforts.

Huai Nam Dang National Park

places to visit near chiang mai
Nothing but views here

If you’re looking for a day trip that’s equal parts beautiful and relaxing, then drive the two hours and 10 minutes to Huai Nam Dang National Park. Not only is this a beautiful national park, full of greenery, rolling hills, and amazing views, but it’s also home to a series of geothermal hot springs. 

Enjoy bamboo rafting down the rivers, and hike towards dazzling waterfalls, before relaxing and soaking your tired muscles in the hot springs. This day trip from Chiang Mai has it all, adventure, natural beauty, and plenty of relaxation and chill time. What’s not to love about that?

As there is A LOT going on here, check out this 2 day, 1 night tour of Huai Nam Dang which showcases the best of the area.

Doi Luang Chiang Dao

chiang mai local tours
Now this is what northern Thailand is all about

Do you love climbing mountains or hiking insanely high but cool peaks? Then you need to visit Doi Luang Chiang Dao, sometimes just referred to as Doi Chiang Dao. As the third highest mountain range in Thailand, it’s a popular outdoor lovers’ destination and just an hour and a half north of Chiang Mai. 

One of the cool things about this particular Thai mountain is that it’s actually made out of limestone, making it the tallest limestone peak in the entire country. If you want to get your steps in and explore phenomenal views at the same time, this is the Chiang Mai day trip for you!

Chiang Dao Cave

chiang dao cave
This photo doesn’t do these caves justice – they are massive for a start!

Want to jump on a Chiang Mai tour that takes you to some of the most amazing caves in the world? Around an hour and 20 minutes away from Chiang Mai city centre, you’ll find Chiang Dao Cave, a cave that is over 7,000ft tall and entirely made out of limestone.

You can journey through five different caves in this specific area. Wander through them and see all the stalactites and stalagmites on display. If you’re interested in natural geography or geology, this is a day trip that you definitely need to check out during your trip. 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple

wat phra that doi suthep temple
This is one of the closest Chiang Mai day trips

Located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city centre, just 40 minutes away, you’ll find the spectacular Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple. Known for its gilded gold temples and statues, and panoramic views back out across Chiang Mai, this is an experience that needs to be near the top of your itinerary!

Personally, I’d recommend jumping on a night tour to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple. This way you can get amazing sunset views and see the temples and the city below all lit up. Make sure you book in advance as this is one of the best times to experience the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple. 

Chiang Rai

chiang rai
These are the white temples of Chiang Rai

This day trip from Chiang Mai requires an early start, but trust me, it’s so worth it! After driving three hours north, you’ll be in Chiang Rai, the most northern city in Thailand. This place is famed for its white temples like Wat Rong Khun and Wat Phra Kaew. The latter used to be a Thai palace!

As Chiang Rai is on the border with Myanmar and Laos, it’s a popular spot for people backpacking across Southeast Asia. However, this confluence is also known as Thailand’s Golden Triangle and it’s well worth a tour. With the Mekong River, hot springs, and temples, you can have it all in one day trip! It’s a long day, but one you’ll remember.

Bo Sang and San Khampaeng

bo sang and san khampaeng
These traditional umbrellas are famous in northern Thailand

If you’re looking for some souvenirs or love local arts and crafts, then this is the one for you. Drive around 30 minutes out of Chiang Mai and you’ll arrive at either Bo Sang or San Khampaeng. Both are around the same distance, and both are incredible artisan villages.

With Bo Sang specialising in paper making and beautiful traditional umbrellas and parasols, and San Khampaeng focusing on ceramics and textiles, you can easily shop until you drop and learn all about these traditional vendors! 

Hang Dong District

hang dong district
I’d really recommend this place for those of you with little ones

Want a cool day trip without having to really leave the city? Head 30 minutes southwest and you’ll arrive in the Hang Dong District of Chiang Mai. This part of the city is known for a few things. It’s bustling with antique shops and markets if you’re looking to grab a bargain.

It’s also full of family-friendly excursions and activities if you’re looking to keep the little ones entertained. From the Chiang Mai Night Safari to the Grand Canyon Water Park, it’s the perfect way to spend a day exploring the outskirts of Chiang Mai

Bua Thong Waterfalls (aka Sticky Waterfalls)

bua thong waterfalls
You can climb on these waterfalls – the rocks are actually sticky!

Otherwise known as the Bua Thong Waterfalls, the amusingly named Sticky Waterfalls are a popular day trip from Chiang Mai. Located around an hour away from the city in the Namtok Bua Tong-Nam Phu Chet Si National Park, the Sticky Waterfalls are easily accessible with a ton of tours combining a visit here with the nearby Doi Suthep Temples. 

One of the cool things about these waterfalls is the fact that you can actually climb up them. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely cool to see! Don’t forget to bring your swimming costume for this day trip!

Huay Tung Tao Reservoir

things to do near chiang mai

If you’re after a relaxing day trip that’s full of great food and tranquil vibes, then look no further than Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. It’s only around 25-30 minutes in the car from the centre of Chiang Mai, but it still feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside.

The reservoir is surrounded by traditional bamboo huts and buildings, with plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from. Honestly, you need to bring your appetite because there is so much to try here and in such beautiful surroundings too! And let’s be honest, Thai food is one of the best things about Thailand! That’s not just me, is it?

Mae Sa Valley

mae sa valley
You can go on waterfall hikes here

Want a blend of stunning waterfall hikes and adrenaline-fuelled ziplines? Well, you can have your cake and eat it too in the Mae Sa Valley. This lush and green valley is full of relaxing resorts and garden hotels, which are ideal for getting back in touch with nature. It’s also only 45 minutes from Chiang Mai, so it’s an ideal day trip.

If horticulture is more your thing, there is a dedicated rare orchid route that you can either drive or walk down. It definitely has to be seen to be believed! 

Mae Taeng River

whitewater rafting thailand
Did someone say adventure!?

If you’re after a Chiang Mai tour that packs a punch, either drive an hour north or jump on a tour to the Mae Taeng River. This definitely isn’t the calming and relaxing river cruise or paddle that you might get elsewhere in the country.

That’s because the Mae Taeng River is best known for its outstanding whitewater rafting experiences.  So, if you want a day trip that gets your heart pumping, this is going to be the Chiang Mai tour for you.

So, there you have it the best day trips from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Which day trips sound the best to you? Let me know in the comments below!

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13 BEST Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand

About the Author

  • Rebecca Crowe

    Rebecca Crowe is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about travel, food, and outdoor adventure. She is often found holding a taco, in an airport, or halfway up a climbing wall.

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