Wondering how to spend 3 days in Chiang Mai? You are in the right place because I have prepared a detailed Chiang Mai Itinerary for 3 days with a lot of useful travel tips.
Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom until the 16th century. It attracts visitors for authentic Thai vibes, great food scenes, and unique history.
There is a lot to see in Chiang Mai and even more to discover in the surroundings of the city. This is why it is so important to come prepared.
In this article, you will find a complete Chiang Mai itinerary for 3 days with other things that you should know before visiting Chiang Mai. If you are in a position to extend your time in Chiang Mai, I will add additional options at the end of the article. Enjoy!
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Things to know before visiting Chiang Mai
Is Chiang Mai worth visiting?
Chiang Mai is considered the cultural capital of Thailand and it is certainly worth visiting. Compared to Bangkok, it is less crowded, so you can have a relaxing experience. And compared to Southern Thailand, Chiang Mai has a soul that visitors are curious to discover.
The Old City of Chiang Mai is a perfect place for history lovers as it holds ancient temples, old city walls, and other time-worn attractions.
Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains which makes it a great destination for hikers and nature passionates. On top of that, it is home to two tribal villages and offers a lot of unique experiences.
Food lovers rejoice in Chiang Mai’s street food scene, with tasty dishes like pad Thai and mango sticky rice. The city’s vibrant festivals, like Songkran, reveal its rich culture and warm hospitality.
With all these cool activities, you will need an ultimate Chiang Mai itinerary to cover all the essentials during 3 days.
How far is Chiang Mai from Bangkok?
Chiang Mai is located in Northern Thailand, approximately 700 km away from Bangkok. If you are planning to visit Chiang Mai while visiting Bangkok, my tip is to take one of the several flights as the cities are very well connected.
If you are an adventurous traveler and don’t mind being on the road with fewer comforts, you can take a train or a bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, but it will take 7 to 10 hours.
How to move around Chiang Mai?
When visiting Chiang Mai for 3 days, it is essential to choose the right method to move around in order to save time and money. I will add more tips within the itinerary so you know what is walkable and where you will need transport, but here are the best ways to move around Chiang Mai together with pros and cons.
Walking and renting a bike can be a perfect way to explore the old town of Chiang Mai. However, driving a bike anywhere outside of the old town is going to be challenging. Same about walking
That is when the scooter comes in. You can rest on a scooter for a couple of days to explore the surroundings. However, make sure you get IDP and comply with local rules to avoid fines. Also, driving a scooter in Chiang Mai is quite stress-free, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of experience.
Songthaew is a great and budget-friendly way to move around Chiang Mai. Most of the rides around the city cost 30 Baht, but it can be more for a longer route.
I strongly discourage you from using red minivans when visiting the temples out of town as most of the drivers give you an unreasonable price and you will end up wasting a lot of time waiting for it to get full.
Taxi is probably the best way to move around Chiang Mai and it is completely stress-free. It is very affordable and you can book it via an application called Grab.
Are 3 days enough in Chiang Mai?
3 days in Chiang Mai is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all the essentials of Chiang Mai, try delicious food, and try unforgettable experiences.
In this itinerary, we will cover how to spend 3 days in Chiang Mai and how to maximize your time in this charming Thai city. I will add some optional stops, so this Itinerary is suitable for different kinds of travelers and interests.
Also, you can easily spend an entire week in Chiang Mai, especially if you are planning to explore the surroundings of the city as there is a lot to see and do. And at the end of this article, you will find other suggestions if you can exceed your time in Chiang Mai.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai?
It is essential to find the right accommodation for your trip, so I have prepared a list of the best hotels in Chiang Mai for every budget. Depending on your travel style, I am sure you will find something suitable, so take a look and decide where to stay in Chiang Mai.
LUXURY: The Inside House
The Inside House is a real-life Pinterest hotel that is also one of the best photo spots in Chiang Mai. Every corner at The Inside House is picturesque and it is hands down one of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.
This is a hotel with a mission since Chai Lai Orchid has rescued Asian elephants from abusive practices. And 100% of their proceeds go to Daughters Raising another great organization to fight violence, human trafficking, and exploitation. If you want to know more about this unique experience in Chiang Mai, refer to the end of the article for all the information.
Click here to book your stay at Chai Lai Orchid. And make sure you book in advance as they have limited availability.
MID-RANGE: POR Thapae Gate
Well situated in the heart of Chiang Mai, the hotel offers air-conditioned rooms, free bikes, free WiFi, and a fabulous outdoor swimming pool. The design is stylish and breakfast is served daily to guests. The value for the money is one of the best you can find in Chiang Mai.
AFFORDABLE: North Inn Town Chiangmai
The North Inn Town Chiangmai is essential but still fully equipped to make your stay pleasant. All rooms in the hotel are fitted with air conditioning and a coffee machine. With a private bathroom equipped with a shower and free toiletries. If you are on a budget this is one of the best solutions you can find.
The best things to do in Chiang Mai in 3 days
- Discover the best of the Old Town with a local guide and fun tuk-tuk ride
- Taste the local flavors at the Warorot Market, Chinatown
- Explore hidden gems like Ba Pao Flea Market or Bo Sang Umbrella Village
- Enjoy the best night nightlife in Chiang Mai at the Nimmanhaemin
- Visit the surroundings of Chiang Mai and some of the most beautiful temples
- Hike the trail to the Huai Kaeo Waterfall
- Shop at the Baan Kang Wat
- Spend an afternoon at the Royal Park Rajapruek
- Try one of the best experiences in Chiang Mai at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center
- See the hidden temples in the Old Town
- Try the best local cuisine at the Baan Landai Fine Thai Cuisine
- Visit more temples
- And join a cooking class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School
Planning to extend your time in Chiang Mai? Stay at the Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge or hike Doi Inthanon. Keep reading to discover the details and travel tips for the best things to do in Chiang Mai in 3 days and decide if you want to extend your stay.
3 Days in Chiang Mai Itinerary
Overview of day 1 of your 3 days in Chiang Mai
- Morning: Pratu Tha Phae, Three Kings Monument, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan, The Silver Hall
- Lunch: Warorot Market, Chinatown
- Afternoon: Ba Pao Flea Market or Bo Sang Umbrella Village
- Evening and dinner: Nimmanhaemin
Pratu Tha Phae
Your 3 days Chiang Mai itinerary starts where the old town of Chiang Mai begins. The entrance of Pratu Tha Phae is the ideal place to dive into the culture of the old town of Chiang Mai.
Pratu Tha Phae is one of 5 gates that originally were constructed as entrance points to the old walled city of Chiang Mai. This is also a popular spot where tourists gather to take photos of the exceptionally well-preserved walls of the city of Chiang Mai.
Three Kings Monument
As soon as you enter the old town, head to one of the most popular places to visit in Chiang Mai. The Three Kings Monument is a sculpture of Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng, and Ngam Muang, who supposedly are the founding fathers of Chiang Mai in 1296.
The monument stands proud in one of the widest squares of the city, in the heart of the old town. The statue itself is made of bronze and is located in front of the Chiang Mai Cultural Center.
It is a pretty modern monument as it was built in 1984, but it became quickly a very distinctive sightseeing of Chiang Mai.
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang is not as grand or picturesque as other places to visit in Chiang Mai, however, it is certainly worth visiting and it can be easily added to your Chiang Mai 3-day itinerary.
It holds an important part of the history of Chiang Mai. So for the sake of memories, you want to see the beauty of Wat Chedi Luang. Depending on local celebrations, you might find festive decorations in front of the temple. For example colorful lanterns during lantern festival season.
The main entrance is opposite Phra Pok Klao road, just South of Ratchadamnoen road and it is open from 6 am to 6 pm. The entrance fee is 40 Baht per person and you can spend around 1 hour in the complex.
Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan
Your Chiang Mai Itinerary proceeds with one of the places to visit in Chiang Mai – Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan. It dates back to the 14th century so it was built during the Lanna Kingdom and nowadays it is one of the finest examples of Lanna architecture.
The complex included Main Chedi, Viharn Lai Kham, Viharn Luang, and Ubosot. This means that there is a lot to discover. Make sure you visit Viharn Luang and see the walls which are covered with mural paintings created during the 1820s. Some of the murals show scenes of a popular local story, as well as scenes of daily 19th-century life in Chiang Mai.
The entrance is free, however, it is a popular attraction in Chiang Mai and can get very crowded. We visited Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan during a tribe event, so the place was completely packed, but it is still one of my best memories from Chiang Mai.
The Silver Hall
If you ask me, The Silver Hall also known as Wat Sri Suphan is one the best temples I have seen and one the places to visit in Chiang Mai. It is one of a kind and it is completely covered in silver and aluminum. Even if you think that you have seen a lot of temples in Thailand, you cannot miss The Silver Hall.
The temple opens at 6 am and it can get crowded later in the day, so I would plan your visit early in the day. When I visited, nobody was asking for an entrance fee, but some places online say that it costs 50 Baht to enter.
As a female, you won’t be allowed to enter the temple, however, you can still appreciate the beauty from the outside.
Extra tip! Make sure you visit Lanna ArtIsans Art Gallery before the entrance of The Silver Hall. You can see local handcrafts working on the details of the temple and creating some unique artwork on aluminum plates.
Warorot Market, Chinatown
End your morning exploration in one of the most colorful and lively places in Chiang Mai. Warorot Market is part of the best things to do in Chiang Mai in 3 days and here you can find fresh goods, unique local crafts and food, souvenirs, and clothing.
Everyone can find something to try or buy at the Warorot Market and it’s a great place to have a cheap local lunch. As per the Michelin Guide, you cannot miss Go Neng when visiting Chinatown in Chiang Mai.
You can get an animal-shaped deep-fried dough on the stick and see what is the fuss about. I am sure you will notice this place is always crowded, so I advise you to head directly to Go Neng, place your order, and go see the rest of the market because it will take a while.
After a very active morning exploring the essentials of Chiang Mai, I want to give you some options for your afternoon. if you are still feeling in the mood to explore and you are not tired, head to the Umbrella Making Centre. If you want to just take a relaxed walk and find some unique objects, visit the flea Market.
Ba Pao Flea Market
Ba Pao Flea Market is a weekend market located 20 minutes’ drive away from Chiang Mai city center. It is a very authentic market on a coconut farm, so you can find some cool photo opportunities between palm tree alleys.
The food scene is incredible and you can find several stalls where to try local specialties for very affordable prices. Or relax with a cup of coffee at the famous 1988 Café. There are farm animals as well! If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on the weekend this is a must-go.
Bo Sang Umbrella Village
The Umbrella Making Centre is located a few kilometers away from the old town of Chiang Mai it is a small village where the Thai make umbrellas and the entire town is decorated with colorful parasols.
Local monk ‘Phra Inthaa’ started the tradition of handmade umbrellas, which is still going strong at the Bo Sang Umbrella Village. You can shop or see the process of making the umbrella at the Umbrella Making Centre or simply visit to find picturesque corners just outside Chiang Mai.
Plan a relaxing afternoon away from the touristic attractions in Chiang Mai and discover this unique local craft. You can find a lot of cool coffee shops together with traditional restaurants and some delicious Khao Soi. If you are looking for an original and unique experience for your 3 days Chiang Mai itinerary, this is the right place for you.
Unless you are planning to rent a car or a scooter, you can reach Bo Sang Umbrella Village by public transport. Search for the white songthaew at the Waworot Market (opposite the flower market) and they will bring you to the junction of Highway 1006 and 1014. To get back to Chiang Mai, head back to the same road. If you don’t want to rely on public transport, you can always use Grab as well.
If you are looking for the best things to do in Chiang Mai at night, Nimmanhaemin is the place to be. This district flourishes with countless restaurants, hip cafes, and food stalls where you can find literally everything.
The place is also a hot spot for shopping as Think Park Mall has indie fashion boutiques. During the weekend you can find a craft market. A walk in Nimmanhaemin is perfect for finding the best live music and nightclubs in Chiang Mai. So if you are planning to do some partying while visiting Chiang Mai, this is the right place to go.
If partying is not your thing, I still suggest visiting this area of Chiang Mai and having dinner in some of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, like Gyusen Premium Yakiniku or Fresh Harvest Farm Chiang Mai. Or simply enjoy some of the local Thai street food available around this area.
Overview of day 2 of your 3 days in Chiang Mai
- Morning: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan, Wat Pha Lat, Huai Kaeo Waterfall, Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham
- Lunch: Baan Kang Wat
- Afternoon: Royal Park Rajapruek
- Dinner: Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan
Catching a sunrise in this beautiful temple in Chiang Mai is a must. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan is located outside of the city and will need to take a taxi or songthaew to get there, but trust me, it is one of the most beautiful places in Chiang Mai and it is worth the trip.
It takes 306 steps to go up to the temple, but it is easier than you might think. The staircase is flanked by beautiful serpents. At the top of the stairs, you will find pavilions, pagodas, and statues. And just around the corner, you will see this unique attraction (sorry, not sure what it is called) together with some fantastic views over Chiang Mai.
The entrance fee is 30 Baht and it opens up at 6 am. If you choose to come by taxi, ask your driver to wait for you as you won’t be able to get a car from the temple back to the city. And if you want to take the red car to go back, you will have to wait endlessly to get it fully booked. At least I had to… so don’t make the same mistake.
Wat Pha Lat
On your way back from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan, make a stop and discover this gem. Wat Pha Lat is often left behind when visiting Chiang Mai but I think it’s totally worth visiting.
This temple is nestled in the lush forest around Chiang Mai and welcomes visitors with a more authentic and spiritual vibe. You won’t find any souvenir shops, food stalls, or anything, it will be only you, the monks, and the temple.
You can reach this temple either by walking through the trail or by red taxi. If you decide to hike I recommend you use a mosquito repellant and wear comfortable shoes as the trail can be a bit muddy and unstable. The entrance is free of charge.
Huai Kaeo Waterfall (Huay Kaew)
This picturesque waterfall lies just after the Chiang Mai Zoo and you will have to walk the Huai Kaeo Trail to get there. It is an enjoyable and short trail and you will have panoramic views of Chiang Mai, nevertheless, the rocks can be slippery so I recommend you wear proper shoes.
Don’t forget that this is a seasonal waterfall so make sure that the water will be there during your visit. If waterfalls and hiking are not for you, feel free to skip to the next stop.
Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham
This 700-year-old Buddhist temple was built by King Mangrai and is one of the must-sees in Chiang Mai. Wat Umong lies against the mountains of Doi Suthep and is about 1 km south of the main campus of Chiang Mai University.
The temple is well known for its ancient tunnels and large chedi. Several Buddha icons and statues are also worth the visit. The place embodies perfectly the spirit of the ancient culture of the city and it has been included in any 3-day Chiang Mai itinerary.
The temple is open every day from 5 am to 8 pm and there is no admission fee.
Baan Kang Wat
A short distance from the Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham you will find a unique place to add to your 3-day Chiang Mai itinerary. This art center is the perfect spot to relax and support local artists or maybe have a cup of coffee in a green space.
Visitors to Baan Kang Wat can purchase unique local products like clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, sculptures, and souvenirs and even see the artists at work. This is one of the best hidden gems in Chiang Mai and you don’t want to miss out.
The center has also parking and it is open every day, except on Monday from 11 am to 5.30 pm.
Royal Park Rajapruek
A few kilometers away from Baan Kang Wat you will find Royal Park Rajapruek. This is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Chiang Mai. It simply must be included in every Chiang Mai travel guide because of the beauty of the park and the artistic value of the Royal Pavilion.
The park provides a shuttle service for those who are in a hurry and just want to have a general view of the park. If you want to take your time and enjoy the best that Royal Park Rajapruekhas has to offer, I recommend you rent a bike or a golf car.
The park is open every day from 8 am to 6 pm and the admission fee for foreign tourists is 200 Baht. You can easily spend an entire afternoon at the Royal Park Rajapruek, but don’t miss your next activity.
To finish the second day of your 3 days in Chiang Mai, head to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center. This is one of the top things to do in Chiang Mai at night and a great way to discover Thai culture.
This is more than a simple traditional dinner, here you can enjoy cultural performances and entertainment by five local hill tribes. Some of the performances include the Thai Fingernail Dance, Thai Sword and Thai Candle Dance, and Thai Folk Dance. Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center offers regular menus and Halal and Vegetarian Khantoke options.
Overview of day 3 of your 3 days in Chiang Mai
- Morning: Wat Chiang Man, Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang (Wat Hua Khuang)
- Lunch: Baan Landai Fine Thai Cuisine
- Afternoon: Wat Lok Moli, Wat Rajamontean
- Dinner: Cooking class at Grandma’s Home Cooking School
Wat Chiang Man
The last day of your 3 days in Chiang Mai itinerary starts with this temple located in the heart of the Old Town of Chiang Mai. It is a perfect place to start your day as you can reach other interesting spots within walking distance.
Wat Chiang Man was built as the first temple of the Lanna Kingdom, so the temple holds some very ancient Buddha images. Between a unique chedi and multiple temples, you can find a lot of unique photo spots. Chedi surrounded by 15 elephants probably is my favorite spot inside the complex.
It opens up as early as 6 am and there is no admission fee. The temple is a popular attraction in Chiang Mai, so many tourists visit this place daily.
Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang (Wat Hua Khuang)
After visiting Wat Chiang Man, it’s time to discover a hidden gem in Chiang Mai, so head to Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang (Wat Hua Khuang). It is a huge complex of temples and it is completely tourist free. This means that you can relax and enjoy the tranquil vibes or maybe snap some great photos any time of the day.
Besides the two main temples waiting for you at the entrance, visit other places hidden in the back and I am sure you will find some beautiful corners on your way.
To find the main entrance, head to Baan Landai Fine Thai Cuisine and you will find it right in front of you. If you follow Google Maps you might find a closed gate. Entrance is free of charge and it opens around 8 am.
Baan Landai Fine Thai Cuisine
Trying Thai food is essential during your time in Chiang Mai. Once you are done with street food and markets, spoil yourself with an unforgettable lunch at Baan Landai Fine Thai Cuisine.
This is one of the best fine dining restaurants in Chiang Mai and a great way to taste the local flavors with a twist. The dishes are not only delicious but also skilfully set and eye-pleasing. You will find vegan and vegetarian options as well.
But you have to make your reservation in advance, we had to wait more than a week to get a table. If you didn’t make a reservation, you can try to ask if they have a last-minute cancellation, but you will need some extra luck for that.
Wat Lok Moli
After a nice food experience, walk to Wat Lok Moli – another beautiful Lanna temple in Chiang Mai. It consists of Viharn and a massive chedi and both of these places can be considered a point of interest when you travel to Chiang Mai.
Wat Lok Moli dates back to the 14th century, but the only part of the original temple that remains intact is the large chedi, which was constructed in 1527. The temple commemorates the site where monks from Burma were housed during the Mangrai dynasty. The ashes of several members of the Mengrai dynasty are also placed in this temple.
It is located next to Wat Rajamontean and just like the other temple, it is not overfilled with crowds. You can easily combine these two attractions. The entrance is free.
As previously mentioned, this temple stands next to Wat Lok Moli and it is another hidden gem to add to your 3 days in Chiang Mai itinerary. Visiting temples in Chiang Mai is an essential part of your itinerary. And Wat Rajamontean is one of the most beautiful places in Chiang Mai that you don’t want to miss. What makes it so unique?
Well, it is not a typical Thai temple and you will find a lot of one-of-a-kind details. Compared to other temples, Wat Rajamontean is small and you can easily visit it in 30 minutes, but don’t miss the large Buddha and the interior of the temple.
The entrance is completely free and you won’t find many tourists around here, so it is also a great place where to relax your mind.
Booking a cooking class during your travels is a great way to learn more about local dishes and is suitable for every foodie. Well, Chiang Mai is not an exception! If you ask me, it is the best way to end your 3 days in Chiang Mai.
I choose Grandma’s Home Cooking School and it didn’t disappoint. The experience includes a visit to a local organic farm, where you can learn about the products and interact with the locals. Some of the Thai dishes you will prepare are mango sticky rice, pad thai, and curry, and you will make curry paste with your own two hands!
The groups are usually small in order to give you the chance to be followed in each step you make and give a very personal experience. On top of all of that, they can pick you up within 10 kilometers of the city of Chiang Mai.
Have an extra day in Chiang Mai? Head to Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Cafe
If you are planning to extend your time in Chiang Mai, consider staying at the Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge. It is not the best location if you want to see the main attractions of Chiang Mai, but it is a perfect place to relax and recharge after 3 days in Chiang Mai.
This is a hotel with a mission since Chai Lai Orchid has rescued Asian elephants from abusive practices. You can spend a night or two at the bungalows of Chai Lai Orchid, visit their cafe, book one of their unique activities or watch elephants wandering around the property.
To be honest, the situation with elephants in Thailand is very sad. I thought that at this point we could all agree that elephant riding is not okay, yet I have seen many tourists still engaging in these activities. Remember that demand creates supply, so please do your research in advance and stop supporting this entertainment business.
The elephants at Chai Lai Orchid are rescued from these abusive circumstances. And 100% of their proceeds go to Daughters Raising – another great organization to fight violence, human trafficking, and exploitation.
Click here to book your stay at Chai Lai Orchid. And make sure you book in advance as they have limited availability.
Or Doi Inthanon National Park
And another great location further away from Chiang Mai is Doi Inthanon National Park. If you are a hiker, I highly recommend extending your time in Chiang Mai and visiting Doi Inthanon National Park.
Doi Inthanon is the tallest mountain in Thailand and National Park is filled with unique landscapes and waterfalls. It hosts the Karen hill tribe and offers a lot of unique cultural experiences as well.
You can hike the Kew Mae Pan Trail or do some trekking at the Ang Ka Nature Trail, visit the famous Pagoda, meet the Karen tribe, and check out Mighty Wachirathan and Mae Ya Waterfall. All these places provide fantastic photo opportunities and you don’t want to miss out.
In order to reach Doi Inthanon National Park, you will need to rent a transport or join a tour (private or group). I personally can recommend this fun tour to Doi Inthanon National Park, but there are many available options. Plan to spend an entire day at the park and make sure you bring comfortable shoes.
Further reading for the Chiang Mai itinerary
Heading South next?
- Phuket Travel Guide for First-Time Visitors
- Phi Phi Travel Guide: How to Visit Phi Phi Islands?
- How to Visit Maya Bay and Skip The Crowds?
- Where to Stay in Phuket? Hotel Recommendation and Best Areas to Stay in Phuket
- 15 Best Hotels in Phuket for Honeymoon and Romantic Stay
- 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Phuket That Will Blow Your Mind
- 10 Best Luxury 5-Star Resorts in Krabi
- When is The Best Time to Visit Phuket, Thailand + Monthly Breakdown
- 10 Best Photo Spots in Phuket, Thailand You Can’t Miss
Other useful tips for visiting Thailand
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or Agoda
💃 How about fun experiences? GetYourGuide, Viator, and Klook have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car in Thailand? Use Rentalcars
🚂 If you need transfers, bus or train tickets, check 12Go
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from HeyMondo
This is the end of the 3 days in Chiang Mai itinerary (or maybe more if I convinced you to stay for longer?) and I am sure you are impatient for your trip. Don’t forget to make all the reservations in advance and follow other tips to maximize your time in Chiang Mai.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.