Chiang Mai is the largest city and the hub of Northern Thailand, and the former seat of the Lanna kingdom. It is a culturally and historically interesting city, and also a blissfully calm and laid-back place to relax.
Chiang Mai has over 300 temples, reflecting the varied heritage of Northern Thailand. If you are seeking a spiritual awakening, go up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to learn its founding legend and enjoy a breathtaking bird's-eye view of the city; visit Wat Phra Singh to appreciate its classic Lanna-style architecture. Don't miss the iconic Three Kings Monument when visiting the Old City.
You'll also find natural perfection, pristine forests and thrilling animals, as it's located among the rolling foothills of the Himalayas and surrounded by lush green countryside, peaceful country villages and elephant sanctuaries. Head to the Patara Elephant Farm to be an "Elephant Owner for a Day" and get hands-on experience in taking care of an elephant.
Want to be immersed in a vibrant festival atmosphere? Come during the Yi Peng (Thai Festival of Lights) to launch Lanna-style sky lanterns, and the Songkran Festival (Thai Water Festival) to join in the lively water flight and get soaked. For foodies, taking a cooking class to learn how to cook traditional Thai and Lanna cuisines or visiting the Sunday Walking Street to sample delicious street grub is a nice choice. To do some shopping, go to the Night Bazaar to haggle for some cheap trinkets and local arts and handicrafts.