Chiang Mai Things to do
Tourism in Chiang Mai has developed enormously over the past decades. If you would look for “Chiang Mai things to do” about 30 years ago you would be finished quite quickly. Tourists would visit Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and visit some of the hill tribe villages such as the Hmong village Doi Pui on Doi Suthep. Trekking was an adventure that more active tourists would go for. In those days it was not unusual to go on a trekking of four days/three nights. Tourist almost exclusively came from Western countries. There was hardly any domestic tourism.
How things have changed. Nowadays people are spoilt for choice. Where you would advice people in the past to stay three days/two nights you now can easily spend a whole week without being bored. Sights such as Taweechol Botanical Gardens, Rachaphruek and waterparks have been added but there are now so many more activities for tourist to choose from. There are numerous cooking classes for instance. Thai food is world famous and Chiang Mai’s cooking classes are the best in the country.
Elephant tourism has taken off in a big way. After the logging ban in 1989 unemployed elephants ended up in the tourist industry. In the early days elephant riding was an activity that most people would engage in, either during a trekking or in an elephant camp. Over the years awareness of treatment of elephants grew. Elephant riding and shows came under scrutiny and became less popular. This resulted in a opening of many more elephant friendly attractions.
Cycling became very popular. There are now at least ten different companies offering a variety of bicycle tours. There are tours on street bicycles, countryside tours and downhill tours. Whitewater rafting can be done on the Mae Taeng. There are kayaking tours as well. Another activity that has become very popular are zip lines. The first zip line company opened in 2008. Now there are at least 15 companies that offer this thrill seeking activity. Zip line is not the only thrill seeking activity. There are ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours and there is bungy jumping.
The newest addition in Chiang Mai are samlor tours. The samlor is the traditional bicycle taxi. It is now possible to tour Chiang Mai by samlors. The tours will show you places in Chiang Mai that are really off the beaten track.