How to Spend Three Perfect Days in Chiang Mai

Get the Full StoryThe second-largest city in Thailand after Bangkok, Chiang Mai is an alluring place with serene ancient temples, bohemian cafes, and buzzing night markets. Beyond its moated historic city and bordering metropolitan area, Chiang Mai is surrounded by a rolling, rural rainforest that's home to waterfalls and elephant sanctuaries. Some of the world's most beautiful Buddhist temples are found on either side of the Old City's ancient walls. Shopping streets sell handmade blue-dyed cover-ups, floral-patterned parasols, and kaleidoscopic woven textiles, while food markets lure tourists and locals with troughs of fried snacks and stacks of fresh fruit. The smells of street food and incense swirl with the smack of motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and trucks burning through fuel. Chiang Mai could easily command a dedicated trip of one or two weeks, but for those short on time, a three-day visit provides a satisfying intro. Here, our guide to the perfect three days in Chiang Mai, Thailand's unofficial capital of the north and a delight for lovers of culture, crafts, animals, and nature.