Chiang Mai with small children
The chaotic big city of Chiang Mai may not be the first destination that people think of when visiting Thailand with small children. However if you look beyond the chaos and noise you’ll find lots of activities and amazing sights for the whole family will enjoy.
We first visited Chiang Mai back in 2006 when we traveled China and Thailand as backpackers for a few months. Although we did see the potential of the city, there was a massive flood at the time which kept us indoor a lot and which closed down parts of the city. This time we were back and looking forward to (re)discover the city with our children of four and two years.
Here’s what to do and see in Chiang Mai with small children:
Temple watching is not for everyone and small children can easily be bored. Luckily the temples in Chiang Mai are both grand, colorful and either situated in beautiful parks or tucked in between houses and buildings. Our children were especially amazed by the sparkling gold and shiny details on the temples. If we put in ice cream breaks once and a while we could easily see four or five temples in a row. as most of them are situated very close inside the old city walls.
TIP: If the children do not share you need to go temple hunting, make a game of it. Can you find the elephant statue, golden eagle and so on.
Markets are always great fun for everyone and especially in Asia where the markets are extra colorful and vibrant. We both visited Chiang Mai Night Market, which was crowded by tourists (come early, the open at 5pm) and Warorot market, which was more local and authentic but most provides food, spices, fruit and meat stalls. We had a great time walking back to the old town from Warorot Market through small local neighborhoods and across the river. Somphet Market is also worth a visit.
If you visit in the weekend make sure to visit Saturday and Sunday Night Market Bazaar.
Exploring Temple Wat Phra Doi Suthep
Of course the steep drive up the mountain to the legendary temple is a fulfilling experience for the children in it self. We hired a Tuktuk to go there and the children had a party all the way.
Doi Suthep temple is said to be 1383 and is the largest and most famous temple in Chiang Mai province. Once there, the 309 steep steps will take you to the temple. There’s plenty to explore as the temple is large and there’s a small coffee shops as well as amazing views of Chiang Mai city. Unfortunately our visit there was short as it was poring rain that day.
Chiang Mai Zoo
Usually we are not fans of going to zoos and animal parks, but after doing a lot of research on the animal welfare of Chiang Mai Zoo we decided to spend half a day there. It as located a short drive outside of the city. It is a huge tropical (and surprisingly warm) park with lots of space and good conditions for the animals. We enjoyed a peaceful and fun day there.
We had a base just inside the city wall in the old city which worked as a great base for exploring the city. We stayed at Rich Lanna Guest House which was AMAZING. It was so cozy, quiet and has a great small pool which is perfect when you come back for warm trips.
We stayed in Chiang Mai for five days before heading down south to explore the islands and beaches.
Please comment if you have tips for visiting Chiang Mai with small children.
Did you read: I also recommend two great hotels at Koh Phangan