With the wealth of cultural and gastronomic attractions in Chiang Mai — most notably, hundreds of majestic temples — it’s easy to overlook the province’s incredible natural beauty. Unspoiled rainforests, towering mountains, and numerous national parks make the region a must-visit for nature lovers exploring Thailand. Whether you’re itching for heart-stopping thrills or more interested in basking in the gorgeous scenery, our picks of Chiang Mai tours and activities are perfect for nature-loving adventurers.
1. Embark on a Road Trip Through Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park is one of the most beloved national parks in Thailand. Surrounding the country’s tallest mountain Doi Inthanon, the lush 180-square-mile (466-square-kilometer) expanse is home to majestic waterfalls, the King and Queen pagodas, and vibrant wildlife. Travelers can drive up to the summit of the highest peak, but a guide is required to hike some of the park’s trails like the popular Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Highlights of Doi Inthanon include the Wachirathan Falls, the twin pagodas, and the royal garden, among others.
2. Spend a Serene Day at Mae Kampong
Nestled in the heart of the mountains surrounded by greenery, the small village of Mae Kampong has been around for the past 100 years. It’s a quiet place with lush forests and zero chain establishments — the perfect day trip destination for travelers who want nothing more than to chill in nature. Marvel at the refreshing cascade of Mae Kampong Falls, visit Kanta Prueksa Temple, or browse local shops for creative handicrafts and tea. Before leaving, sip a cup of brew at the Giant Chiang Mai, a rustic treehouse café perched atop a humongous tree.
3. Go Whitewater Rafting on the Mae Taeng River
Conquer the Mae Taeng River and paddle through the mighty whitewater rapids on an exciting day tour. The grade 3 to 4 rapids are sure to be a challenge, giving adrenaline junkies a worthy adventure in northern Thailand. Tours also typically include a three-hour trek through the forests, a refreshing dip in the waterfalls, and even a thrilling ATV ride.
4. Indulge on a Serene River Cruise
Do you prefer a relaxing day tour to an adrenaline-pumping excursion? Embark on a Mae Ping River cruise on a long-tail boat that takes you along the picturesque riverside through the city of Chiang Mai. Some of the stops along the river tour include the old temple Wat Chai Mongkoi and eateries serving specialties like khao soi.
5. Enjoy Elephant Encounters
The gentle giants of Chiang Mai are some of the region’s greatest draws, so visiting ethical elephant sanctuaries is a must — especially for animal and nature lovers visiting Thailand. Travelers are generally prohibited from riding the elephants, but anyone can enjoy close encounters with these lovely creatures by feeding and bathing them in the river. Tuk tuk tours are a fun and convenient way to get to these sanctuaries.
6. Travel to Remote Hill Tribes in the Mountains
A multiday tour to the Chiang Mai mountains will take you to the remote Karen hill tribe, the largest of the hill tribes in Thailand. Go off the beaten path with a hike on the foothills of Doi Inthanon. Journeying to a remote Karen community is a unique cultural adventure with opportunities to taste authentic northern Thailand cuisine, driving or riding a tuk tuk, and basking in the natural beauty of the region.
Explore the natural gems of Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand on well-curated tours available on KKday.
*Featured photo via Pixabay