Things to Do in Chiang Mai with Kids (or Without)—Thailand Travel

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If you’re looking for fun things to do Chiang Mai Thailand, then you’re in the right place. We love exploring Chiang Mai with kids and on our own. Thailand’s northern capital gets lots of press as a hub for digital nomads in Asia, but it’s a great family travel destination as well. Here are our tips for the best things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand with kids, as a couple or on your own.

What to do in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Travel Guide, Family Travel Thailand

Fun Things to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids…or without them. I’ve listed a lot of recommendations below, but there are even more. Have I missed something? If so, then tell me in the comments below. What Thailand activities do you or your family enjoy?

We’ve had friends in and out of the city for years, and I hear more and more about great things to do in Chiang Mai from my podcast guests and other fellow travelers we meet along the way. Here’s a rundown of travel tips for Chiang Mai and other recommendations for things to do Chiang Mai with children, with loved ones or by yourself. We stayed a while, so I’ve included things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand for both short-term and long-term visitors.

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Chiang Mai Weather & Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Thailand: There are lots of things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, with friends or on your own. Read our tips on what to do in Chiang Mai, like where to eat in Chiang Mai restaurants & much more, including how to get around, where to stay & day trips. Hotels in Chiang Mai Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips | chiang mai food | chiang mai photography | chiang mai thailand hotels | chiang mai thailand temples

Before we talk about the best things to do in Chiang Mai, let’s talk about when to go. I think the best time to visit Chiang Mai with kids is usually between September and early February. The rainy season runs (approximately) from June through October, but it’s perfectly feasible to visit Chiang Mai during that time. The rain rarely lasts all day and prices drop during this time. If you’re willing to trade a few wet days for smaller crowds and lower prices, then the rainy season is your best time to visit Chiang Mai.

Climate-wise, however, the best Chiang Mai weather is between October and February, although we were cold enough during January and February that we bought blankets and sweatshirts for the evenings. That said, all of our recommended things to do in Chiang Mai are available pretty much year-round.

Chiang Mai’s Burning Season

There is a window of time when Chiang Mai weather is a no-go: the burning season. I highly recommend avoiding a visit to Chiang Mai with kids during this time. What’s burning season in Chiang Mai? It’s when local farmers scorch their fields and a thick smoky blanket engulfs the city. March is the worst month, but it begins in February and can last into early May. Each year is different, and some years it starts earlier or lasts later.

Just like the haze in Penang, Chaing Mai’s burning season is considered the worst time to visit Chiang Mai. It’s also entirely avoidable. If you’re planning an extended stay in Chiang Mai, then simply leave northern Thailand during that time and explore elsewhere in the region. Might I suggest rock climbing in Krabi? Or perhaps head into neighboring countries like Vietnam or Malaysia?

Related Read: Why Buy Travel Insurance? – Family Travel Essentials

Festivals in Chiang Mai

: There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Some of the best things to do in Chiang Mai are the many festivals and traditional events. Here are a few that we think are worth your time. Of course, there are more, and we’d love to know about your experiences.

Loy Krathong / Yee Peng

One of the most scenic and photogenic festivals in Southeast Asia, this is when you see small, candle-lit boats floating down rivers, and thousands of fire-fueled lanterns floating toward the stars. The festival follows the Thai lunar calendar so its exact date varies. But it’s usually in November. Book far ahead for this one, as it’s one of the most popular events in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Chiang Mai Thailand Flower Festival

Parades, street stalls, and music stands are just part of visiting the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Yes, the flowers are beautiful, but it’s more the feel of a local festival that gives this event its charm.

Songkran Water Festival (Thai New Year)

One of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand is a visit during Songkran (starts April 13th). Imagine the biggest water gun/water balloon fight you’ve ever been in. Now multiply that by 100,000. That’s Songkran, and that may even be an understatement. Songkran is about respect for elders. It’s about purification, too. For a lot of people thought, it’s mostly about soaking everyone around you with as much water as you can shoot, spray or throw at them.

There are two issues I see with visiting Chiang Mai with kids during Songkran. The first is scooter safety. If you plan to ride scooters in Chiang Mai, remember that people will be throwing buckets of water at you as you ride down the road. It’s possible but takes some getting used to. The second issue is that the burning season may still affect the air. Most years it’s finished by then, but take this into consideration.

King’s/Queen’s Birthdays

Okay, so these holidays may not come with the same thrills or cinematic appeal as others, but they are also Father’s Day and Mother’s Day in the Thai calendar. The Thais love their monarchy, and the respect and love that flows out to them are apparent. You’ll see it in ornately decorated portraits of the King and Queen everywhere. This isn’t one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, but it’s sweet if you’re there. The King Bhumibol the Great passed away in 2016. Father’s Day remains Dec 5th, but now the new King’s Birthday is celebrated on July 29th.

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Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai Thailand

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

There are many things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand, as you may already know. You could easily spend a few weeks or months in the area and still find something new. This first list below is family-friendly Chiang Mai activities for those just passing through or staying for a week or two. The following list includes things to do in Chiang Mai for travelers planning to stay a few months or longer.

Related Read: How to Choose the Best Cameras for Travel – Best Travel Cameras

Try a Fruit Carving Class

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

This was easily one of our favorite things do in Chiang Mai with kids. It was fun and challenging enough for all of us, but not too difficult. I believe that we could have gone into more intricate carving techniques — and to be honest,  I wanted to. The teacher, however, wisely kept all four of us working on the same projects. This ended up being a lot of fun and allowed our youngest to keep up.

You could ask for more advanced carving if you want to. That said, if you have younger or less-skilled hands sitting next to you, then I suggest just carving the same things together. One of the most memorable things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Read More: Our Fruit Carving Experience in Chiang Mai with Kids

Book Now: Private 3-Hour Vegetable and Fruit Carving Class in Chiang Mai

Visit an Ethical Elephant Park

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

This is one of the most recommended things to do in Chiang Mai for families and everyone else. If you’re in Chiang Mai with kids, consider a visit. The problem is that there are a lot of Elephant “Parks,” but many of them are about riding the elephants. The more I read about the practice of “training” elephants, the more I want to stay away from those places. You may already know about how brutal their treatment can be.

We rode elephants in our earlier visits to Thailand…before we knew better. We will never ride them again. I urge you, too, to avoid riding elephants in Thailand — or anywhere. Sure, it seems like a fun thing to do in Chiang Mai, but those animals have experienced unspeakable cruelty.

Instead, we recommend visiting ethical Chiang Mai elephant parks. These places are a refuge for elephants that have been abused or exploited in places like circuses or the tourism and logging industries. You won’t ride them. Instead, you’ll help feed and bathe them, and interact with them in meaningful ways.

Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary

This ethical elephant experience gives you an opportunity to interact with the rescue elephants on the property. You’ll learn how to prepare their food, and then help feed them. You’ll also get to help bathe them and then have lunch (included) on the property. This is a day trip and is wheelchair accessible.

Book Now: Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary Small Group Ethical Tour

The Elephant Nature Park

For a more in-depth experience, you can stay at the Elephant Nature Park for longer periods of time. They have half-day, full day and multiple-day packages that are family friendly. Meals and accommodation are included. At least three or four of the families I’ve interviewed for the Epic Education Podcast, cite it as one of the most meaningful things to do in Chiang Mai with kids.

Allergy sufferers beware

Unfortunately, we could not go to Elephant Nature Park, as we read that there are also lots of cats on the property. My son and I are extremely allergic to cats (seriously: keep them away from me).

  • If you’re interested, check out The Elephant Nature Park site. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand. 

Book Now: Elephant Nature Park Full Day Group Tour

Take Thai Cooking Classes in Chiang Mai

cooking class There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

We love taking cooking classes together, so this was one of our favorite things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. I love Thai food, and it tastes even better when you make it yourself.

There are plenty of Chiang Mai cooking classes available around town and most classes include a tour of a local market with the instructor. Kids get to handle knives and make their own curry paste with a mortar and pestle. This took more work than we suspected, but it was worth it. Definitely one of the most delicious things to do in Chiang Mai.

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Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class & Local Market Tour

Benny’s Home Cooking Chiang Mai

Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit

Thai and Akha Cooking Class in Chiang Mai

Thai Cooking Class in an old Teak House

Eat All the Street Food

Like much of Southeast Asia, some of the most delicious food in town is sold right there on the sidewalk. Head tot he night market areas and just start trying stuff. Best to go to the most popular stalls first. That shows it’s liked by locals and has a good turnover to you’re eating something fresh.

Sometimes it’s good to start off with a Chiang Mai street food tour. That way you sample things you might not otherwise try. Try to do any street food tours early in your trip. That way if you find something you like you can return a few times before you leave town.

Book Now: Chiang Mai Food Tour

Evening Local Street Food Market Tour in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai 4-Hour Food Adventure by Bike

Chiang Mai Street Food Small-Group Night Tour

Reel In River Monsters – Fishing in Chiang Mai with Kids

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

If you like fishing, then this will be one of the most exciting things to do in Chiang Mai. Mekong catfish are massive, and fortunately for us, they don’t have those pointy whiskers. Our instructor picked us up and took us to a stocked lake, where the kids were taught to cast and reel in these monsters one after the other (catch and release).

We chose Big Game Fishing Thailand, which included pickup, gear, instruction, half a day of fishing and a return ride to our accommodation.

Read More: Chiang Mai Fishing – Fun Day with Kids in Thailand

Go Airborne on a Chiang Mai Zipline Tour

zipline There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Wearing a harness and a helmet, you hike into the hills, climb into the treeline, hook yourself to cables running through the canopy and jump. Whooosh! The kids loved it and really felt like they’d faced a fear afterward. For daredevils, this is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai.

Read More: Zipline in Chiang Mai with Kids

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Zipline with Flight of the Gibbon Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Rainforest Canopy Zipline Adventure

Chiang Mai Zip Line Adventure with Transfers

Relax with a Massage

That’s right. You heard me. Whether you’re in Chiang Mai with kids or on your own, this is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai: get a massage. And let the kids get one, too. It’s a fun experience to do as a family, especially if you’re all in the same room together.

We’ve had family massages in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, too. Thai massages might be our favorite. They’re ubiquitous around town and good value for money. You can book one of the luxurious ones in the links below, or just show up and walk around to find one in your price range.

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Let’s Relax Spa Treatments in Chiang Mai

Makkha Health and Spa with Transfers

More Things to Do in Chiang Mai

So now that I’ve told you our top family-friendly Chiang Mai activities, let me tell you about even more fun things to do in Chiang Mai for kids or long-term travelers.

Go to the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park

You read that right. This small eco-park makes paper products using the fibrous droppings of elephant dung. It’s more interesting than you think, and the resulting products are quite beautiful. And just think about all the poop jokes you’ll come up with! One of the most unique things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Book Now: Half Day Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park

See Chiang Mai by Bicycle

The Chiang Mai Old Town isn’t a large area, but it’s packed with wats and other interesting Thai points of interest. Try a bicycle tour and see a lot of them in half a day.

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Historic Old Chiang Mai Bike Tour

Best of Chiang Mai by Bicycle

See Some Waterfalls

If you’re renting your own wheels, then there are a number of waterfalls outside of town that are worth an afternoon. Follow Huaykaew Road past the university, past the zoo and out of town, and there are a number of them off small side roads on the way up the mountain to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

The Sticky Falls

The Bua Thong Waterfalls are some of the most popular waterfalls in Chiang Mai because of the “sticky” nature of the rocks, which make them much easier to climb on (older kids only).

Book Now: Doi Suthep Temple and Bau Thong Waterfalls Private Tour

Go Whitewater Rafting

The Mae Thaeng River has everything from Class 2 to Class 5 rapids, so if you want adventure you can get it. So if you’re traveling with an adrenalin junkie, then this is the best thing to do in Chiang Mai. That said, it depends on the weather and water levels, with the rainy season (August – October) being the highest and most thrilling. Keep in mind that some rafting programs don’t accept kids under 7, so make sure to check.

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Mae Taeng River Whitewater Rafting from Chiang Mai on Viator

Mae Taeng River Whitewater Rafting on GetYourGuide

Visit Art In Paradise

You’ve probably seen places like this before: large 3D paintings on rooms to create the illusion of you standing next to a gorilla or an erupting volcano. We’ve been to similar places in Japan and Malaysia. Kids love these places and they make great selfies and family portrait material.

Get Discount Tickets: Art In Paradise Ticket Chiang Mai

Chat with a Monk

Ever wanted to ask a monk a question? Maybe strike up a conversation? You can do that in Chiang Mai with kids. At Wat Chedi Luang and other temples around town, monks make themselves available for conversations and the opportunity to improve their English. Don’t forget to drop something in the donations box if you go.

Marvel at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Visiting the Thai wats (temples) is one our recommended cultural things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, but this particular wat is in a class by itself and is often considered one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand. It’s out of town, though, so you’ll need your own transport or hire a driver or songthaew to take you there.

It’s quite a few steps to the top, but the walk is a rewarding one if you and your crew are up for it. Visiting with small kids and/or a stroller? Then take the cable car to the top.

Book Now: Tour to Doi Suthep

Full-Day Trek to Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai

Wat Umong & Doi Suthep Half-Day Small-Group Tour

Hike up Doi Inthanon

Southwest of Chiang Mai is the highest point in Thailand, with two beautiful wats at the top. This can be an easy day trip from Chiang Mai, and one of the best hikes in Chiang Mai.

Book Now: Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park

Inthanon National Park 9-Hour Group Tour

Visit Siam Insect Zoo

Southeast Asia is teeming with biodiversity. This can be seen starkly in its insect population, which is visible to all at the Siam Insect Zoo. Butterflies, giant beetles and much more. A fun scientific thing to do in Chiang Mai.

Animal Attractions in Chiang Mai with Kids

As far as zoos go in Southeast Asia, the Chiang Mai Zoo is above average. The aquarium, too. This, however, is a low bar. Same goes for many other animal-related attractions in Chiang Mai. I’ve mentioned a few above that I feel are humane. Yet there are many others we didn’t visit.

You will likely read about other animal attractions in Chiang Mai and elsewhere in Thailand: tiger selfies, night safaris, elephant rides, and more. Some businesses are legitimate, and others not. I’m not an expert on these, nor do I claim to be.

Animal Abuse

That said, most animal attractions are not places my kids and I want to support. We are not animal rights activists, but we also don’t like to give our money to parks, zoos, circuses, and other organizations that make their living exploiting animals that are obviously suffering. Do your research before visiting some of these places. And if you see us promoting something we shouldn’t, let us know.

Our Own Past

We’ve ridden elephants before — before we knew better. We won’t anymore. And we didn’t go see the tigers, simply because there is too much evidence of drugging and exploitation. There are loads of fun things to do in Chiang Mai. Skip this and the elephant ride and choose from dozens of other fun Chiang Mai activities.

I’m not here to tell you what to do and I understand the joy of watching a child interact with wildlife. I just encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself what is best for your family in Chiang Mai.

Day Trips from Chiang Mai & Where to Go Next

white-temple chiang mai

After spending some time in Chiang Mai, you might be ready to explore more of northern Thailand. The temples, the hill tribes, the jungles…it’s different up here. Here are two suggestions for where to go after Chiang Mai Thailand.

Chiang Rai

Smaller and sleepier than its cousin to the west, Chiang Rai gets a lot less tourism than Chiang Mai. Yet it has some of the most amazing wats in Thailand and is a great place to learn more about the country’s indigenous population. Many tours here involve hill tribes or a long-tail boat ride up the Kong river towards the Golden Triangle, the mountainous area that connects Thailand, Laos, and Burma.

Black, White & Blue

The real stars of Chiang Rai tourism are three stunning structures. Two are temples, often referred to as the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten). The Black House (Baan Dam) may look like a temple, but it’s actually an artist residence. Both the Black and White components here are built by artists with lots of surrealist filigrees, but all three are worth your time.

Book Now: Tour to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai

Black House & White Temple Trip

Chiang Rai Day Trip from Chiang Mai City

Chiang Rai: White Temple & Black House Small Group Tour

Pai

This little town went from a speck on the map to a backpacker haven rather quickly and may have experienced some growing pains the process. That said, it offers lots for travelers: waterfalls, hot springs a crunchy community and more.

Book Now: Pai Private Car Charter from Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai Hotels – Where to Stay in Chiang Mai with Kids

If you’re looking for where to stay in Chiang Mai, you’ll find plenty of options. From luxury resorts to cheap & cheerful guesthouses, Chiang Mai has plenty of accommodation. Thai people can be warm, friendly and honest when treated with respect. Keep this in mind when looking for a place.

Read More: Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

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Where to Eat in Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai Restaurants

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

One of my favorite things to do in Thailand is EAT! In my opinion, some of the best places to eat in Chiang Mai with kids or anyone else are the street stalls and night markets. The food is fresh and delicious. Our personal favorites were the stalls near Chang Phuak Gate, just north of the moat.

There are countless great restaurants and cafes throughout the city, too. Here are a few Chiang Mai restaurants and other places to eat in Chiang Mai that I can recommend.

Lemon Tree

This was one of our regular dinner spots, as it was right across from our apartment. Expect good food with a friendly, attentive staff that are sweet on children. We ate there at least once a week — often twice if you count takeout. There were a few tables on the roof as well.

Salad Concept

There are many excellent Chiang Mai restaurants along Nimmanhaemin road. Salad Concept does high-end veggie well, with amazing desserts. Whenever we craved raw veggies, we ate here. Raw salads are actually hard to find in some places in Southeast Asia. Thai street food is great but usually fried with oil and spices. If you want to eat veggies in Chiang Mai with kids, then this is the spot.

Burmese Food and Library

This is one of our favorite places to eat in Chiang Mai with kids. It’s a fairly simple place where you can fill up on things like catfish and pennywort salad for next to nothing. They offer quite an extensive range of food to try. This is more like a street stall with indoor seating.

Dash

If you are looking for something more upscale, I’d head to Dash for fine dining in an old teak house. It gets super crowded at dinner time, so go early to get a table. If not, make a reservation. If you try to avoid the crowd and go there later, you may have less to choose from since they run out of food.

Amazing Sandwich

The shop Amazing Sandwich scratched an itch for us. Exactly how “amazing” the sandwiches are to you may depend on how long it’s been since you’ve actually had a sandwich. We loved it, but then again we hadn’t eaten western food in months at that time. If you’re in Chiang Mai with kids who want a sandwich, then this might be the place. They also have an extensive western breakfast menu, with maybe a dozen egg-bread-and-coffee-or-tea combinations.

Blue Diamond Breakfast Club

This was my daughter’s favorite restaurant in Chiang Mai. We often ate here after her art classes at Noina’s. Huge variety of dishes, and plenty of veggie/vegan options, too. Plenty of yummy baked goods to buy on your way out for breakfast the following morning as well.

Free Bird Cafe

And finally, there’s Free Bird Cafe, a nice veggie restaurant along the moat run by activist-leaning expats. This would be a nice option for vegans. It’s a small cafe with just enough staff. So expect to wait to be seated and to be served. Their profits support Burmese refugees in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Cafes – Coffee Shops in Chiang Mai

There are countless coffee shops in Chiang Mai, and I could tell you about every cafe that I worked in on my own or hung out in with kids. However, to be honest, I’d just rather tell you about two that I frequented and I thought were good for both solo online work or family time. There are many more, but these two were my main stops.

Akha Ama

As for cafes in Chiang Mai, they’re all over the place, and the coffee is usually good to great. Akha Ama’s coffee, however, is by far the best coffee I had in the country.

, There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Akha Ama is a fair trade coffee company with locally sourced beans which they roast themselves. It’s a great place to buy some beans as souvenirs, as well.

I discovered that they’re getting involved in the cold-filtered coffee in bottles. Great stuff. Don’t expect to eat here, though.

iBerry Garden

As much for desserts and scenery as it is for coffee, the grounds of iBerry Garden are a thing to do in Chiang Mai with kids in itself. Bizzare statues and sculptures provide the backdrop while you drink iced lattes and eat waffles with ice cream.

Shopping in Chiang Mai with Kids

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

There are at least a dozen fun markets to explore in Chiang Mai with kids. Your enjoyment of these may vary depending on how many Southeast Asian markets you’ve already seen. For example, many people recommend the Night Bazaar, but if you’re tired of stands selling knockoff watches, novelty T-shirts, and other low-end souvenirs, then there’s not much reason to go here except for people-watching. That said, here are a few of the markets that I would recommend when in Chiang Mai with kids.

The North Gate & South Gate Markets

These were regular places for us to eat, and when friends visited, it was a place to have a few beers, as well. Not much shopping here, but we enjoyed the food.

The Warorot Market

This Chiang Mai market is in Chinatown. I know that I just implied that I’ve tired of knockoffs, and I admit that you’ll find many here, but the food options, Chinese herbal stands and sheer vastness of it all appealed to us. And also it had utilitarian benefits: need a new flashlight? Maybe a cheap poncho or a set of hair clippers? They’ve got you covered. Great place for practical shopping in Chiang Mai with kids.

The Saturday Night Walking Street Market

Not to be confused with the Sunday Walking Street Market, which was much larger and much, much more crowded every time we went. Sunday’s night market is nice but damn near impossible to find a place to stand or to eat. We preferred the Saturday market. That’s where our boy found his sepak takraw ball.

Kham Tiang Flower Market

Come to this Chiang Mai market for the photo opportunities, really. Lots and lots of tropical flowers. There are many, many more markets, and feel free to explore them all. These were just the specific ones that we enjoyed.

Chiang Mai Malls & Shopping Centers

If you’ve been traveling a while, then you know that your kids may need some downtime away from the unfamiliar. For better or worse, the mall is the “familiar” for many kids. Malls are climate-controlled and a refuge from motorcycle traffic. We used them here and there for shopping, for wifi, for food, and for entertainment. We’d see a first-run movie at Maya. At one point I grew fascinated with a bizarre cover band that played weekends at Kad Suan Kaew’s basement food court. Here are our favorite shopping centers in Chiang Mai.

Kad Suan Kaew

A bizarre mix of shops, night market eats, abandoned spaces, and purveyors of digital nomad gear such as external hard drives, headsets, and wireless keyboards. We ate many meals at the weekend market outside and the stalls in the basement any day of the week. Keiko had several good, cheap foot massages here. Free wifi available here and there. It’s run down, but I kinda loved this place.

Maya

This high-end shopping mall opened in January 2014. You can find pretty much anything you see at home here with high-end prices for Chiang Mai standard, as you can expect. There’s a co-working place called C.A.M.P. on the upper floor and many affordable takeout eateries in the basement.

Central Airport Plaza

This cavernous and comprehensive shopping center is close to the airport (thus the name) and is replete with a western-style food court and clothing shops. Not one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, but useful if you’re in the area.

Pantip Plaza

Shop after shop of electronics. It’s famous and loved by many, but I found it random, confusing and (to my eyes) full of crap. Then again, perhaps I just don’t know where the good stuff is.

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Getting Around Chiang Mai with Kids

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Compared to Bangkok, Chiang Mai is a very small town. Once a walled city, people still refer to Chiang Mai Old Town (inside the moat) and then everything else. This makes getting around Chiang Mai with kids relatively easy.

On Foot

Much of Chiang Mai Old Town is walkable — the old city inside the gates is not that large, and many of the main roads outside the city have decent sidewalks. If you’re willing to walk and don’t want to rent a scooter, you can easily navigate all of Chiang Mai by walking.

On Wheels

Songthaews are trucks with seats in the back that act as minibusses (see pic above). They are ubiquitous and cheap. Just make sure to confirm where you’re going and have exact change (or close to it), as sometimes drivers can’t/won’t break big bills. Tuk Tuks are fun as a novelty and sometimes required when no other choices exist, but in general, run more expensive than the alternatives for getting around Chiang Mai with kids.

Scooter Rental

Personally, we like riding together and the freedom it gives us, so we rent scooters when we’re in Chiang Mai with kids. Scooters and motorcycles are fairly cheap by the week or month and having one really opens up more opportunity to see and do more in a day.

Riding motorcycles is one of our favorite things to do in Southeast Asia, but we urge you to use caution and restraint when considering this option. If you’re not familiar with ri riding scooters or motorcycles in Thailand, then really think about if you should. Thailand has very high traffic accident rates, and many insurance plans will not cover scooter accidents if you don’t have a license in your home country. Always read the fine print.

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There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Coocase Boutique Thailand

We rented our wheels from Coocase Boutique, the company that makes those stylish, lockable cases you see on the back of scooters around the country. It’s nice to have one of these cases behind you to store your stuff, and an added bonus to know that your passenger is safer & more comfortable with something to lean back on.

When renting your ride, don’t forget to make everything clear: scooter conditions, accident policy, theft protection, etc. Also, when picking up the scooter for the first time, take photos of any scratches or dents. The rental staff may do this too, but do it yourself. It doesn’t hurt if they see you doing it, as well.

But to be clear, scooters are not essential. If you are not comfortable with driving in this situation, there’s no need to push yourself. You can still enjoy Chiang Mai with kids without riding scooters.

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Internet & Phone – Chiang Mai Family Travel

Internet cafes are everywhere in Chiang Mai and wi-fi is all over. You should find internet access in nearly any hotel and guesthouse, as well as many restaurants aimed at tourists, too. There are a number of high-speed wifi coffee houses inside the moat, but the highest concentration of places is probably the Nimmanhemin are and the roads surrounding it.

If you have an unlocked smart device, then I’d recommend picking up a SIM card at the airport. We used Thailand’s True, but I’d check each provider’s stall to see what is best for you.

Staying Long-Term in Chiang Mai with Kids

Ok, so you’re planning to stay in Chiang Mai with kids for a month or more? This is a great place linger for a while, especially if you work online. Below are a few activities for those staying longer-term.

If you’re just passing through Chiang Mai with kids, then you might give these a pass. However, any slow travelers, aspiring residents, or digital nomad families looking for more things to do in Chiang Mai may want to look into these.

The Chiang Mai Drama Centre

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Calling all kids in Chiang Mai with a theatrical bent. The Chiang Mai Drama Centre has workshops for kids of all ages. Our daughter went to the Saturday workshops for a few months and had a blast. It was her second favorite thing to do in Chiang Mai.

A typical lesson would be the teacher telling a story from Thai folklore and then the kids acting it out. She also did a number of theater exercises that all the kids really seemed to respond to. This was the class for primary school aged kids, but they have classes for kids in Chiang Mai of all ages.

Art Classes for Kids in Chiang Mai

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

In the northeast corner of the city, inside the moat, a laid back lady named Noina runs an art studio. People come and go, according to whatever arrangement Noina’s made with them. There are pensioners learning to paint sunsets sitting next to young, scraggly backpackers attempting their first self-portrait in charcoal. Sometimes there are ten students or more at work at different easels. Sometimes there’s just one.

Best Chiang Mai Activity for Artistically Inclined

This was our girl’s favorite thing to do in Chiang Mai. She went for a trial lesson and left asking if she could go every day. We compromised and sent her twice a week, for two-hour classes. That soon became three classes a week. Lessons included most of her materials: paint, pencils, pastels, paper, etc.

Noina did a great job of mixing up the assignments: she let our girl draw/paint some stuff just for fun, but most assignments had a goal or technique to work towards, such as understanding shadows and shading and rendering reflective surfaces. Our girl wanted homework, and so Noina gave her assignments to turn in by the next class. After a few months, the girl left Chiang Mai with a huge portfolio of work. If you’re in Chiang Mai with kids who like to draw or paint, give Noina a visit.

Soccer (Football) for Kids in Chiang Mai

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Rising Stars Football Academy

If you’re in Chiang Mai with kids who love soccer, you’re in luck. The Thais love their footy, and there are several opportunities for kids to play. Our son took part in two different soccer clubs while we were living in Chiang Mai Thailand.

Rising Stars Football Academy (which used to be called Can U Kick It) is a mix of expat and local kids. The schedule was erratic and they met at different locations. The coaches usually text you details about the next practice a day or two before. It’s a fun and casual group.

Chiang Mai FC

Our boy liked playing with these guys, but he loved playing with the local kids as part of the Chiang Mai FC Youth League. For this group, there are registration and uniform fees, but they usually play on nice covered turf fields with a number of coaches.

Close to zero English is spoken here by staff or the kids, but they warmly accepted our boy into the team nonetheless. The only problem — and it was a glaring one — was that the kid couldn’t play in any of the games because he isn’t a Thai national. That stung, but he put up with it because he liked these guys so much. If interested, you’ll probably have to do what we did: try calling the numbers, then just show up and work it out.

  • If you are comfortable writing or speaking Thai, you can contact them by phone: +66 (0)53 283 444 or by email: [email protected] Otherwise, just show up, smile, and work it out. They are located close to Central Airport Plaza.

The Chiang Mai YMCA Thai Language Lessons

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

If you’re considering taking Thai lessons in Chiang Mai with kids, we would recommend trying Thai classes at the YMCA. It cost much less than many of the language schools we checked out, and they also had no problem accommodating all four of us in a group class.

Thai Class Details

Our class met twice a week for three weeks. Classes were two hours long — too long for the kids really, but they managed. We were the youngest people in the class, which consisted of pensioners from America, England, Japan, and Sweden. The Thai Daily Life Course runs quickly through basic and survival Thai on a listen-and-repeat basis: numbers, directions, shopping, food, etc.

The Thai language would surely take years to master, but this class gave us a few basic skills, which turned out to be quite useful in the morning markets. I’m sure we’ll forget 99% of what we learned over time. Nevertheless, it was a meaningful experience for us as a family in Chiang Mai.

Huay Tung Tao Lake

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

This may seem tame compared to some of our other family fun in Thailand, but hanging out in a hut by the lake was one of our favorite things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand.

After all the adventures you’ll be having, you might just want a place to chill somewhere for an afternoon. Huay Tung Tao Lake is that place. It’s not a spectacularly beautiful or exciting lake, but it’s close to town, laid back, and a great option for a lazy afternoon lunch. Small, stilted straw huts ring the lake’s shore.

Great meal by the lake

Plop yourself in one of these huts, and the lakeside restaurant that owns that particular hut will bring you a menu. Most places serve fish, grilled veggies, rice, noodles, and steamboat (also known as suki or hot pot). They also serve raw freshwater shrimp (crayfish, perhaps?) that are kept swimming in the lake near the huts right up until minutes before you start eating them.

Yes, many of the dishes are covered in chili, but there’s still plenty to eat for anyone who doesn’t like spicy food.

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Chill out for a day

The food is cheap and delicious, so we frequently pigged out and then laid around until we had digested. You know when you’ve stuffed your face and say half-joking: “I wish I could just take a nap right here.” Well, now you can. I’d bring a book to read, but then fall asleep before finishing a single chapter.

The kids enjoyed an added bonus of watching nature’s survival-of-the-fittest play out in miniature around the poles that held our hut above the water. Small fish, frogs, and one tiny snake swam below us, each battling the other in a silent war of eat-or-be-eaten.

There are lots of fun things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. Our time in Chiang Mai is full of great memories, and we plan to return. Find what you can do in Chiang Mai with children. Things to do in Chiang Mai, Places to eat with kids in Chiang Mai, How to get around in Chiang Mai with kids, Best Family Hotels in Chiang Mai, Internet and Phones in Chiang Mai, When to go to Chiang Mai & much more. Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips

Huay Tung Tao Lake is northwest of the old town —about 20 min by scooter from Maya shopping center. Just follow the Road 121 towards Mae Rim and keep left, then turn left when you see the signs. If you take a red Songthaew or a Tuk Tuk, it may cost 500+ THB for them to wait there to take you back to the city. Possibly the best option since no transport is easily accessible there. 

Long-term: Chiang Mai with Kids or Penang with Kids?

Chiang Mai Thailand: There are lots of things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, with friends or on your own. Read our tips on what to do in Chiang Mai, like where to eat in Chiang Mai restaurants & much more, including how to get around, where to stay & day trips. Hotels in Chiang Mai Thailand Family Travel | Chiang Mai Travel Tips | Chiang Mai Itinerary | Thailand Travel Tips | chiang mai food | chiang mai photography | chiang mai thailand hotels | chiang mai thailand temples

We’ve spent extended periods of time in both and Penang, Malaysia and Chiang Mai Thailand. When we were looking for a place to settle for a year or so, we chose Penang instead of Chiang Mai. I wrote a post explaining why we chose Penang, but other families may come to a different conclusion.

Have You Been to Chiang Mai Thailand?

This list covers a lot, but it certainly isn’t everything we could recommend to do here. We totally enjoyed traveling Chiang Mai with kids. Have you been to Chiang Mai with children? What were your favorite things to do in Chiang Mai Thailand?

What did I miss? Tell us in the comments below!

Further Reading:

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find things to do in Chiang Mai with kids. If you visit Chiang Mai with children and have constructive feedback on this post, please let me know! I want to keep it updated. 

Photo Credits via Creative Commons CC BY or Royalty-Free Image sites: #1, #3, #4, #5, #7, #12, #15

Comments

  1. I really love to travel with my kids. Fantastic idea indeed. Just love it. Can’t wait anymore for my next vacation. Thanks.

  2. Thank you so much for putting this together! We just arrived with our two kids in Chiang Mai and we didn’t prepare anything in advance.. so you article is a HUGE help!

  3. This page has been really helpful, thank you! We have been to Chiang Mai as a couple and now returning with kids so nice to get some ideas. Totally agree with the animal exploitation around, we won’t be riding elephants. We would like to visit a hill tribe in our time in either Bangkok, CM or Phuket. Is there one you’d recommend?

    • Hi Lisa. Our only experience with hill tribes was when we rode our scooters out to Doi Pui Mong. It seemed constructed as a tourist attraction, so the authenticity is questionable. You’ll be looking for hill tribe experiences while in the north (Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai), but make sure to research well regarding exploitation. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t explore it further.

  4. Great post! I recently stumbled upon this quirky breakfast shop in Chiang Mai that I think kids will LOVE: deep-fried dragons, dinosaurs and crocodile fritters, absolutely fun and delicious: http://ricepotato.co/pathongko-ko-neng-chiang-mai/

  5. What an awesome guide! We’re just planning a few days in Chiang Mai (in March, no less) due to the schedule on our RTW – but your post is making me wish that we had much, much longer!

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