Chiang Mai Old City Place guide

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Old City

For backpackers and tourists who enjoy live music, dancing, and partying.

About

Chiang Mai Old City is well-known for its conservation of cultural and historical heritage. Until today, this practice of valuing and preserving Lanna culture is evident in the Old City within sacred temples, public forums and cultural centers. During the evenings, the Old City becomes one of the best spots for entertainment, with a variety of shows, parties, live music, bars, and clubs that entice locals and tourists alike.

See

Chiang Mai’s Old City is filled with historical and cultural attractions that are all within walking distance or at least a short bicycle ride from each other. Temples such as the following are all noteworthy temples, each with their own history to share:

  • The famous Wat Chedi Luang with its towering 15th-century Lanna-style stupa

  • Wat Phra Singh also known as the Lion Buddha with its mosaic-inlaid sanctuary

  • Wat Chiang Man, the city’s oldest temple established in 1296 by its founder Phaya Mengrai

  • Wat Suan Dok, which is a Royal Temple of the Third Class, 

If you haven’t gotten enough of the culture in the temples, make a few stops in one or more of the many museums scattered around the city:

  • The Chiang Mai National Museum has six exhibitions that showcase the city’s history. 
  • The Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre features a wide range of modern and interactive mediums such as videos, murals, and large scale models that showcase Chiang Mai’s culture through the decades. 
  • The Lanna Folklife Museum, housed in a renovated courthouse, is dedicated to educating visitors on the people who have lived in the area. 
  • The Chiang Mai Historical Centre is a relatively new addition to the museum scene, with Lanna-style pieces that date back more than 700 years.

Shop

If you’ve been to Bangkok and have been impressed by the expansive shopping scene, know that Chiang Mai’s is definitely smaller. But that doesn’t mean that this sister city is lacking in markets, bazaars, and streets to shop in. In fact, if you’re looking for authentic artifacts, delicious street food, and an overall multi-sensory shopping experience, Chiang Mai might just take the title for this. We’d recommend skipping the malls in this city and heading straight to the streets. Go ahead and check out our list of the 12 Shopping Streets & Markets in Chiang Mai To Get Lost In.

Eat

Everyone’s familiar with Pad Thai and Green Curry, but if you think that’s all the Chiang Mai food scene has got to offer, then you’d be sorely mistaken. Dishes like khao soi, sai oua, and nam prik ong are just a few delicacies that are traditional to Northern Thailand. 

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with some of the local dishes and what they’re called, you’ll probably be on the prowl for your next Chiang Mai meal. Take a page out of The Only Chiang Mai Foodie Guide You’ll Ever Need, and you won’t go hungry!

Nightlife

Not yet ready to end the day? It doesn’t have to end once the sun goes down! Check out this list of Chiang Mai Nighttime Adventures To Hit After Sunset.

For those who enjoy dancing, a visit to some of the Old City’s best nightlife areas is definitely in order. One of the popular backpacker watering holes in the area is Zoe in Yellow, a bar and club first heard before seen. It’s home to a tree-lined courtyard perfect for cooling off after a wild night of dancing, inviting casual conversation. Be reminded however, that there are also a handful of bars that can get pretty wild and rowdy.

At the Old City, nightlife begins at around 6:00pm and closes on or before midnight. But for the more serious partygoers, you can usually find clubs and other entertainment that stays open well past that. 

Zoe in Yellow is open from 5:00pm to 2:00am and is found along Ratchavitti Road, near the Rasta bars. A tuk-tuk can take you there from Chiang Mai Center – just make sure to tell them you’re headed for the “Zoe in Yellow Bar.” If you’re worried about safety, this isn’t much of a problem, just make sure to keep your wits about you, and bring a friend or someone you know along.

How to get there

The simplest way to get to the Old City is to begin at the Chiang Mai city center, where you can walk or rent bicycles or motorcycles (so you can also avoid the traffic along the busy streets!). Additionally, you can get a songthaew or a tuk-tuk to take you there.

Tours near Chiang Mai Old City

Doi Inthanon National Park Tour – Full Day

7.5hs4.6

Doi Inthanon National Park Tour – Full Day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$45/person

Chiang Rai Temples Tour: White Temple, Blue Temple & More

12hs4.6

Chiang Rai Temples Tour: White Temple, Blue Temple & More

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$45/person

Doi Suthep and Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Tour – Half Day

5.0hs4.8

Doi Suthep and Wat Pha Lat Sunrise Tour – Half Day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$29/person

Wat Umong and Doi Suthep Temples Evening Tour – Half Day

4.5hs4.6

Wat Umong and Doi Suthep Temples Evening Tour – Half Day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$25/person

Chiang Mai Old City & Temples Guided Walking Tour – 2 Hrs

2hs4.7

Chiang Mai Old City & Temples Guided Walking Tour – 2 Hrs

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$15/person

Chiang Mai Michelin Food Walking Tour – 2 Hours

2hs4.6

Chiang Mai Michelin Food Walking Tour – 2 Hours

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$15/person

Chiang Dao Cave Trekking Tour – Full Day

8.5hs4.9

Chiang Dao Cave Trekking Tour – Full Day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$30/person

Chiang Mai Tuk Tuk Tour – Half Day

4.0hs4.7

Chiang Mai Tuk Tuk Tour – Half Day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

from

$120/person

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