The Ultimate 2 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary (Follow Our Trip!)

Chiang Mai Itinerary

Chiang Mai is an amazing city in northern Thailand filled with ancient temples, street food, and magical night markets. While it is large, know that you can still have so much fun with a 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary! Many travelers include it in a longer trip to Thailand. Here’s what to know before you go and tips from our own experiences.  

What Makes Chiang Mai So Incredible?

There are many reasons why so many travelers make the trip to Chiang Mai. Undoubtedly, the over 300 temples around the city and surrounding countryside are a big part of that! 

You’ll also want to see the famous weekend night markets. These are some of the best in the world and are the perfect end to your day in the old town.

One of our favorite parts of visiting Chiang Mai is the epic street food! Be sure to try the famous noodle dish called Khao Soi and more delicious Thai cuisine. 

There are so many great things to do in Chiang Mai it can feel overwhelming! Yet, by following this 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary to plan your adventures you’ll be on the right path.

Chiang Mai 2 Day Itinerary

Is 2 Days in Chiang Mai Enough? 

Yes! Don’t get us wrong… Chiang Mai is a humongous city. You could easily spend a few days here and not run out of things to do. On our most recent visit we stayed for 2 weeks and had such a blast.

However, know that you can pack so much into a 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary. You may only have limited time if you’re continuing onto Bangkok or the beautiful islands of Thailand. 

In this case, 2 days is plenty of time to see Chiang Mai. Still, the more days you have the better to see this magical city!

2 Days in Chiang Mai

How to Get to Chiang Mai Thailand

Flight: Quick international flights make it easy to get to Chiang Mai from anywhere in Southeast Asia. We’ve taken direct flights from such cities as Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, and Singapore. It’s also just a quick domestic flight from Bangkok or the popular island of Phuket. 

Airport Arrival: Once you arrive at Chiang Mai International Airport you’ll want to know how you’re getting to your accommodation. You can set up a transfer beforehand with your hotel or go straight to the taxi stand. The Grab app is also great for getting around Chiang Mai if you’re not using the local tuk tuks. 

Train: The most unique way to get to Chiang Mai is by taking the overnight train (check the ticket prices here). This fun route goes from Bangkok on a 10+ hour journey.

You will be served meals and have your beds pulled down for you to sleep. The train station is located closer to the city than the airport so it will be easy enough to grab a tuk tuk from there to your hotel.

Bus: Honestly, the bus is not our favorite option for getting to Chiang Mai. While there are multiple routes that connect the country, there will be longer travel times as opposed to flying or taking the train (check the bus options here).

Domestic flights are also very cheap throughout Thailand! It’s worth checking out budget airlines like Nok Air before you book a bus. 

How to Get to Chiang Mai Thailand

Why You Should Visit on a Weekend 

Our 2 Day Chiang Mai itinerary is based on visiting during the weekend! This is when the city truly comes to life with the Saturday and Sunday night markets. If you can swing it, arrive late on Friday or early Saturday morning to start your trip.

The street markets stretch far and wide through Chiang Mai Old Town and are filled with trinkets, street food, and fun performances. Once you see the epic night markets you’ll be sure to understand why we recommend this. 

→ Night Market Chiang Mai: 2 Best Weekend Markets You Can’t Miss

Chiang Mai Thailand Itinerary

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai Thailand

For your 2 day Chiang Mai Itinerary it’s good to base yourself out of Old Town on your first visit. The area is quite large so you’ll have plenty of accommodations to choose from based on your budget. Here are some of our top picks in every price range! 

Chiang Mai is unique as there are so many smaller boutique hotels around the city. As you’ll see, there’s truly something for every style of traveler.

Luxury – The Inside House – This unique and high-end resort features a rooftop swimming pool, large rooms, and an on-site restaurant. 

Fun Vacation – Tamarind Village – Located in the heart of Chiang Mai Thailand, this hotel has comfortable rooms surrounded by Tamarind trees. The traditional decor and balconies will make you feel right at home.

Boutique Hotel – El Barrio Lanna – The beautiful setting and wide-open rooms of El Barrio Lanna are perfect for couples. A gorgeous pool sits in the middle of the property and is just a short walk from Old Town.

Hostel – The Common Hostel – If you’re looking for a hostel in the middle of all the action in  Chiang Mai Old Town, this is it! The Common features bunks with their own private lockers and a 24 hour front desk.

Chiang Mai Thailand Guide

2 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary – First Day! 

Morning Tuk Tuk Temple Tour

One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai is to go on a personalized temple tour. There’s nothing like blasting around in a tuk tuk to see the city’s best sites! 

Most hotels have someone they can recommend to take you out on the town. On our last visit, we actually asked our tuk tuk driver for his Whatsapp number and had him pick us up the next morning.

For 4 hours we went to some of the most famous temples in Chiang Mai. They’re located both within the Chiang Mai old city walls and just outside of town. 

He also took us to some underrated ones that most tourists don’t see. The driver would wait outside for us so we could take as much time as we wanted at each temple. 

We much preferred this over walking between all the temples. It wasn’t that we mind walking at all, but they are very super spread out.

By hiring a driver we were able to see so many more temples than we would have otherwise. It’s also exciting to ride around in a tuk tuk and see all the small backstreets and neighborhoods of Chiang Mai. 

It’s simple to get a tuk tuk driver and it should only cost you $25 USD for a full morning. Below are some of the temples not to miss on your 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary!

  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Doi Suthep Temple
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Wat Lok Molee
  • Phan Tao Temple
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Suan Dok

Chiang Mai Itinerary Temples

Khao Soi Lunch

When our tuk tuk tour came to an end we asked our driver where he recommended we go for lunch. We had already tried Khao Soi many times, but had yet to find the best one until this moment!

He took us to Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kad Kom which is on the outskirts of old town. It ended up being one of our favorite meals we’ve had in Asia, and we have since been back multiple times.

Khao Soi is a must-try noodle curry dish hailing from this city in the north of Thailand. Be sure to try it on your own 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary!

→ Where to Get the Best Khao Soi Chiang Mai (Don’t Miss This Spot!)

2 Days Chiang Mai

Afternoon Exploring Old Town

Old Town is the most popular part of Chiang Mai and likely where you’ll be staying. It’s easily walkable or you can take a tuk tuk on a hot day. 

This ancient part of the city has so much history to experience. Believe it or not, the walls surrounding Chiang Mai old town are over 700 years old! We loved simply strolling around Chiang Mai’s old city, seeing the Three Kings Monument, and taking in the colorful street art. 

This is also where many of the best restaurants and delicious Thai food can be found. There’s no shortage of fun rooftop bars and funky cafes that line the streets.  

2 Days Chiang Mai Old Town

Early Dinner at Tong Tem Toh

When you’ve worked up an appetite again head to Tong Tem Toh. It’s located just outside the old city of Chiang Mai in the bustling Nimman neighborhood. 

They specialize in food from Northern Thailand which is different from the rest of the country. No need order a Pad Thai here! This is the spot to try new dishes you’ve never heard of before.

How it works is you order a bunch of small items and then share them amongst your table. This was another restaurant that was recommended by one of our Tuk Tuk drivers and one we came back to again with friends.

The only thing is it can get super busy for lunch and dinner. Plan to go early if you don’t make a reservation on your visit.

Chiang Mai Tong Tem Toh

Saturday Night Market  

There are several night markets to experience on your 2 day Chiang Mai itinerary. In this article, we’ll be telling you about the two best options for your weekend trip. 

On Saturday you should head over to Wua Lai Walking Street to experience the spectacle. Typically, it opens up around 5pm and goes until midnight. After dinner just order a grab taxi (Thai version of Uber) to get you to the market as it might be quite a long walk. 

The shopping stands extend as far as the eyes can see and you can spend hours taking it all in. If you’re still hungry make a stop at the Chiang Mai Gate Market for a snack or mango sticky rice dessert.  

2 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary – Second Day! 

Morning Traditional Cooking Class 

Start the second day of your 2 Day Chiang Mai Thailand itinerary by learning to make some local dishes. The Thai cooking classes (like this highly rated one) is one of the most popular things to do in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is known for offering some of the best. 

Depending on the cooking class you book it will start with an early morning visit to a local market. Here you will pick up all the fresh ingredients you need for the day. After that, enjoy cooking several local dishes. 

Some of the most common dishes to make at these cooking classes are traditional papaya salad, pad thai, and curry soups. This will definitely come in handy when you get home and are craving Thai food!

If a cooking class isn’t for you there are lots of other things to experience. You can take visit the famous Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary, go on an old town bike tour, or simply enjoy a relaxing morning at your hotel. 

Day 2 Chiang Mai Itinerary

Afternoon Thai Massage

Thailand is famous for its massages and they can be found from the islands to the cities. Throughout Chiang Mai there are countless spas that range from luxury to budget options.

Many of the best boutique hotels will offer a spa package as part of their services. This can be a great afternoon activity, especially during the rainy season if you need to head indoors. 

If you aren’t on a tight budget we recommend booking one of the luxury spas (like this one). It’s an amazing high-end experience for a fraction of what you would pay in the United States or Europe. 

Chiang Mai Spa

Pre-Dinner Drinks Above the City 

Chiang Mai has a fun nightlife scene that every traveler will enjoy. While it doesn’t come close to the craziness of Bangkok, the laid back party scene was way more our style. Many of the bars offer live music and happy hour drink deals.

Some of our best places to go out during your 2 day Chiang Mai Itinerary are spots that have rooftop bars! This way you can enjoy a drink with a view looking out at old town and the temples.

Our favorite rooftop bar is at Tha Phae Grill. It’s in a good location next to the Chiang Mai night market and the perfect place to start your evening adventures.

2 Day Chiang Mai

Exploring the Sunday Night Market 

Once you finish your drinks and watched the sunset, it’s time to hit another Chiang Mai night market! If you’re visiting on a Sunday and got drinks at Tha Phae Grill then you will be steps away from all the action. 

It’s located directly across from Pratu Tha Phae Gate. This one is very similar to the Saturday market in terms of what they offer, but much bigger! There is tons of food available, juices, and an abundance of clothing and trinkets. 

Wandering down the Sunday Night Market is always fun and you never know what you will get into.

2 Day Chiang Mai Thailand

Dinner at a Michelin Star Restaurant 

We’ve talked a lot about food already, but there’s still something you might not know about Chiang Mai. This city is actually home to dozens of Michelin-star restaurants!

Still, know that they might be different from the swanky eateries you’re used to in Europe or the United States. Many of the Michelin Star spots in Chiang Mai are cheap local restaurants and street food stands.

This means you can eat some of the best food in Chiang Mai for as cheap as $2 USD a plate. Unreal, right?? 

Michelin Guide for Chiang Mai Thailand

Have Time For a 3 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary? 

As we said from the beginning, there is plenty more to see on a Chiang Mai itinerary if you have more than 2 days! You could easily spend another day just in Old Town, or take a trip just outside the city to experience something different. 

Below we’ve listed a range of other activities in Chiang Mai or that can be included in a day trip. Two days can be the perfect amount of time, but there’s so much to do in this part of Thailand.

Doi Suthep Mountain View: Did you know Chiang Mai is home to Thailand’s 3rd tallest mountain? The highest point will give you an amazing view of the city, but know that it’s 45 minutes from old town. To get there you’ll need to hire a car, rent a motorbike, go on a tour, or pay for a private driver.

Explore Chinatown: Just like the capital city of Thailand, Chiang Mai also has a Chinatown. This is an interesting neighborhood to include in your itinerary and worth going to if you have time.  

Elephant Sanctuaries: One of the most popular activities in Chiang Mai is visiting an elephant sanctuary. This is a great way to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. Check out this option for the most ethical experience.

Bua Tong Waterfalls: Also known as the “sticky waterfalls,” this incredible place in nature is located about 1.5 hours from Chiang Mai. The peculiar name comes from the rocks under the rushing falls which you can climb up.

Doi Inthanon National Park: You can even visit a national park if you have time! Just know this is 2 hours away from Chiang Mai so it will be a full day experience (look into this tour).

Chiang Mai Thailand Itinerary

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own 2 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary? Let us know in the comments below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Chiang Mai

Thailand Travel Planning 

 Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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Phuket: 22 Things to DoOld Town Food Guide6  Sunset SpotsRawaiElephant SanctuaryPromthep Cape SunsetSunday Night MarketPhuket Old TownBig BuddhaRenting a Motorbike 

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Koh Phi Phi:  Ferry from Phuket25 Things to KnowMaya Bay Private Tour3 Viewpoint HikeMonkey BeachPhi Phi Don Boat Tour 

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12 Comments

  1. January 9, 2024 / 8:40 am

    The Night Markets and spa experiences both sound like amazing additions to an already fascinating trip! The food all looks amazing, too — so colorful!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      January 9, 2024 / 8:45 am

      Absolutely! Chiang Mai is such a fantastic city to visit in Thailand.

  2. January 9, 2024 / 4:05 am

    My husband and I just did a trip to Chiang Mai, and I agree with you. A few things you need to do is try the Khao Soi and visit an elephant sanctuary…the temples are just a bonus. LOL

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      January 9, 2024 / 6:41 am

      haha! So much to do and see in Chiang Mai. If the temples were just a bonus then you must have had a good time!

  3. Paula
    January 3, 2024 / 1:49 pm

    This is a gorgeous city and your photos are wonderful! I had no idea there is so much to do and see! I love the cooking glass you featured!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      January 3, 2024 / 2:30 pm

      Such a fantastic city to explore! Hope you get to visit someday (-:

  4. January 2, 2024 / 7:46 pm

    I keep kicking myself for not making it to Thailand when my daughter lived there a few years ago. It looks absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for letting me tag along virtually via this two-day itinerary.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      January 3, 2024 / 3:05 am

      Still time! Hope you make it there someday. Chang Mai is particularly special to visit with all the temples and great food (-:

  5. December 21, 2023 / 12:43 am

    Love the level of detail you included here. Itinerary posts are often a bit short on the specifics, but you really dove deep! I feel like I don’t even need to go to TripAdvisor after this 🙂

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      December 21, 2023 / 1:52 am

      Thanks! We’ve been to Chiang Mai several times now so we feel like we know it well. So glad it was helpful!

  6. Elijah
    December 18, 2023 / 8:38 am

    I really love your tips! I’m heading to Thailand for Christmas, and one of my bucket list includes a visit to Chiang Mai. Discovering this city and trying the famous Khao Soi noodles are something I am looking forward to.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      December 19, 2023 / 4:58 am

      Such a great time of year to visit Chiang Mai! Hope you enjoy your trip (-:

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