Exploring Chiang Mai in 72 hours can sound very daunting. My first and only time to Thailand, I had just about 3 days to explore this wonderful place and I had a BLAST! Although it was just a short trip, it by far exceeded all expectations. I could not stop eating, wandering, and wishing that my trip was longer. If you only have 3 days, don’t fear, here’s what I’d recommend for Chiang Mai in 72 hours:
Arrive in Chiang Mai. The airport is super close to the old city. I flew alone, so I ordered a taxi at the airport to get to my hostel. There is an official taxi stand in baggage claim where they will help you order one. Once I was in the taxi, it was only a 15 minute ride away.
Go to a Night Market
There are several night markets just outside of the old city walls to the East. If you are close enough to walk, great! However, I opted to take a “red truck” – otherwise known as a songthaew – to get to my destination. The night market has all sorts of food stands, snack stands, music playing, and lots of shopping! Of course, I bought the famous elephant pants on the first night there and have no regrets. Remember to bargain.
Mango sticky rice!
Paintings at the night market!
Get a massage and then head back to rest for a long day ahead
There are SO many foot massage places around the night market. A 1 hour foot massage should set you back around 200 Baht. Look for a place that has patrons. If you can snag a spot, I really enjoyed Lila Thai Massage.
Wander the old city and beyond – Spend some time walking around the old city and checking out the many many temples. Grab a coffee here, a snack there, and spend some time admiring and exploring. Walk on Ratchadamnoen Rd from Tha Pae Gate through to Wat Phra Singh and you’ll see several famous temples including Wat Chedi Luang. If you have time, take a red truck out to Wat Suan Dok or walk over. It’s gorgeous. I personally did not do this, but Doi Suthep is a famous temple on a mountain just outside of Chiang Mai. My friends went and said it was great. If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on a Sunday, definitely check out the Sunday Street Market on Ratchadamnoen Road!
Elephant Excursion- Start your day with coffee and food and then head over to one of the elephant sanctuaries where you can spend a full or half day hangin’ with these gentle giants. Make sure the tour you pick is not elephant riding!
This excursion was definitely a highlight of my time in Chiang Mai. These elephants are so playful and full of personality!
Doi Inthanon Day Trip – This easy day trip takes you to the highest mountain in Thailand! There is a forest trail filled with lush vegetation that takes you up to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. You also visit the two chedis dedicated to the king’s and queen’s 60th birthdays. The tour we took also stopped at several waterfalls! I really enjoyed the hike and it was a good way to see the surrounding areas of Chiang Mai as you drive through many villages and through farmland.
Thai Cooking Class – A half day thai cooking class includes making a soup, a curry dish, and thai tea. First, we take a trip to a local market where we learn about the ingredients that are staples for thai cooking. You have the opportunity to wander and sample foods from local vendors. Next, we are transported back to the thai cooking garden, and get cracking! In the end, you leave with a cute menu book of all the day’s recipes.
One last stroll – Stroll around another market, eat some more food, look at another temple. Soon the day is over 🙁 but I’ll be back in Chiang Mai again for sure 🙂
Hope you enjoyed my recap of my trip to Chiang Mai in 72 hours!