Things to do in Chiang Mai with kids
When families travel to Thailand they often focus on the country’s amazing beaches or the capital, Bangkok. On our trip to Thailand in 2015 we wanted to include a trip to Northern Thailand, to experience some of their distinct culture and chose Chiang Mai as our base. However, I heard lots of negative comments about the city, for being touristy and commercialised so I was a little apprehensive about this part of our trip. However, I was so glad we didn’t listen to others and went with our gut feeling as Chiang Mai was definitely one of the highlights of our Far East trip! There are so many things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, it should on everyone’s list, here our picks of things to do in Chiang Mai.
Art Paradise 3D Exhibit
Wow, just wow, nothing else comes close to describing this. Art Paraside is a 3D art exhibition which allows visitors to step in and be part of the art. The optical illusions were impressive and I loved that it was appealing to everyone from adults to teens to my two year old. Art Paradise is interactive art at its best and visually breathtaking. These attractions are now appearing in various cities across the globe but this exhibition is definitely one of the biggest, extensive and most fun! We ended up spending several hours here and I would recommend this to any families in the city!
Thailand is the country for massages but the people in Chiang Mai were incredible. In Bangkok we didn’t take the children for a massage but the locals in Chiang Mai made us feel so welcome and were actually thrilled to have my little adventurers pop in for a massage. The massages are heavenly and under £2 each are the best treat you can give yourself and your little adventurers. It is the perfect way to finish off a day of exploring and help the children until and rest their tired little legs.
We visited the night markets in Bangkok and they were huge and very, very busy. In contrast, the night markets in Chiang Mai were very much laid back, quieter and much more enjoyable with young children. We were there in rainy season but it didnt rain in the days we were in the area. The night market is perfect to showcase the talent, craftsmanship and local gifts and crafts. There was everything you can imagine and the children loved visiting all the different stalls and looking out what was on offer. In addition, there are lots of small street food vendors and the kids will love to watch them making the food fresh in front of them.
This pagoda is one of Chiang Mai’s most famous and beautiful temples. In a city which is home to more than 300 temples this is definitely some accolade. Even though entrance to the pagoda is actually closed to visitors, admiring if from the ground it is instantly apparent why it is so well regarded. The building is stunning and even though it is crumbling in places it stills an air of majesty. On the same site there is a newer temple which though more colourful and well maintained lacks the appeal of Chedi Luang.
Poo Poo Paper Factory
I came across the poo poo paper factory on my searches for things to do in Chiang Mai and this is my hidden gem of things to do in the city. Which child isn’t impressed with poo, and watching it being transformed from regular elephant poo to paper is pretty impressive. You can enter the factory for a small admission charge but I would pay a little extra for a guide and it makes the expereince so much more impressive. The tour guide was fantastic if showing all the features and stages that the poo goes through before it is made to paper. The tour is very intercative and they activley encourage the children to try every stage!
This has been one of the best activities we have done as a family on our travels so far! During our stay in the Dhara Dhevi, one of the family activities which you can do is the rice planting. Though the activity may not sound that exciting, it was one of the most fun, unique and interactive activity you can do. The activity sees you dressing up in traditional farmers clothes and being taken out to the rice terraces and helping the farmers planting rice. Zayn at 2 years old was encouraged to get into the water and plant long with everyone and it was something enjoyed by everyone. I loved that the children got to see the whole process as we also cleaned the crops and crushed them. It was a great way of making children undertake local activities and make travel more meaningful.
Dancing in the monsoon
This is obviously weather dependent but if you are visiting in the summer months of May – September, you will come across at least one amazing monsoon downpour. Watching such a rainfall is a sight to behold but then to let your children (and adults alike) to go our and dance in the rain is one of the most amazing things. My little adventurers loved it.
The Golden Temple is one of the most visited sites in Chiang Mai and was highly recommended by everyone. The temple is beautiful and the views from the atop the mountain are great. You can walk all the way to the temple at the top and we saw a few travellers doing this, we took a car instead. Personally I preferred visiting the Chedi Luang but this is one of Chiang Mai’s must see attractions and it may have been the day we visited.
Macroons and afternoon tea
In the sweltering heat, we decided to try out the best macaroons in Chiang Mai and noticed that the ice cream parlour also sold an ice cream “afternoon tea”, we were very excited to try this and over the different selection of ice creams…
Ziplining is amazing and doing it in the rainforest abroad is lots of fun. There are a few reputable companies who offer days activities in Chiang Mai and children over 1m (so 3.5 years +) My children love adventurous activities and I thin this is a great way to see the local nature and having a day of fun!
I saved the best to last. Seeing animals in the wild is an incredible experience and the work done by the Elephant Sanctuary is excellent as they are active in promoting good health, freedom, and happiness for the elephants. The sanctuary offers a whole range of experiences fro half, full and overnight stays and really lets you get hands on with the animals. Bathing elephants should be on everyone’s bucket list!