3D2N in Chiang Mai: Nature and Culture for Under MYR1,000

Dubbed the capital of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a city steeped in history and blessed with nature. What’s more, it won’t burn a hole in your pocket! Follow this suggested itinerary for three days in Chiang Mai to get the best of the Rose of the North.

Day 1: Cultured Society

Consider today as your introduction to Chiang Mai and stay within the Old City. Believe us when we say that there’s plenty to be done within the city walls.

Your first stop is Chiang Mai National Museum, which will help you find your bearings. Here you’ll learn about Chiang Mai’s prehistoric history to its present, as well as the Lanna culture, which defines the region’s identity. Entrance fee is THB30 (approx. MYR4).

Chiang Mai Wat Phra Singh CC BY 2.0 Edgardo W. Olivera

Now that you’re up to speed, visit your first temple: Wat Phra Singh. Considered to be an excellent example of classic Lanna architecture, the temple was constructed in 1345 by King Pha Yu to host the ashes of his deceased father. Entrance fee is THB20 (approx. MYR2.6).

Once the largest structure in ancient Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Luang fell into a state of disrepair thanks to various natural disasters and wars. Still, this towering chedi (Buddhist stupa) built in 1441 exudes a sense of grandiosity. Entrance fee is THB40 (approx. MYR5.2).

Chiang Mai Wat Chedi Luang CC BY 2.0 oliver.dodd

Next up, Wat Chiang Man, for the unique combination of Lanna and Sinhalese (from Sri Lanka) designs. Built in 1296 by King Mengrai, it is believed to be the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. Entrance is free.

There are other temples around the Old City and they are worth every penny, but we recommend these three if you’re pressed for time.

Head to Suan Buak Hat Park, and take a breather among the greenery. Sip a cuppa at the coffee house or join in the aerobics crowd, you know you want to!

Note on transport: The cheapest option from the airport is the airport bus, which will take you to popular spots like Tha Pae Gate and Three Kings Monument for THB20 (approx. MYR2.6). Within the city, familiarise yourself with songthaew (or rod daeng, as it’s known locally in Chiang Mai), which is basically a shared taxi. You only need THB30 (approx. MYR4) to go anywhere anywhere and everywhere in the city, but your ‘taxi’ will also pick up and drop off passengers as they go.

Day 1 Recap

Activities: THB100 (approx. MYR40)

Day 1 Hotel Recommendation:

Thapae Boutique House (approx. MYR75 per night)

4 Soi 5 Thapae Rd., Changkian Muang, 50100, Thailand

Total: MYR115

Day 2: A Day in Nature

Get ready for a full day in Mother Nature’s embrace, as you head to an elephant sanctuary. Along the way you’ll be treated with serene countryside views. Once you reach the sanctuary, you’ll be able to watching and maybe giving the gentle giants a bath. Packages are priced around THB2,500 (approx. MYR328) per visit.

Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park CC BY 2.0 Christian Haugen

Back in the city of Chiang Mai, night markets beckon. After you’re done shopping for handicrafts, let your rumbling tummy lead the way to Chang Puak Market just right outside the northern gate or the night market around the Southern Gate. You can get dishes like khao kha moo (braised pork leg) for around THB30 (approx. MYR4), but you can go wild and budget your snacking under THB100 (approx. MYR13).

Note on elephant sanctuaries: Please choose your sanctuary carefully. You should be wary of any establishments that allow visitors to ride on the elephants. Also, make sure that you book your visit way in advance to avoid disappointment.

Day 2 Recap

Activities + Transport: THB2,600 (approx. MYR340)

Day 2 Hotel Recommendation:

Hostel by BED (approx. MYR66 per night)

4 Soi 5 Thapae Rd., Changkian Muang, 50100, Thailand

Total: MYR406

Day 3: Free & Easy

Rise early to go almsgiving. In an ideal world, it’s preferred for devotees to prepare the food themselves to be offered to the monks. Since you’re on a budget, a THB50 (approx. MYR6.50) worth of snacks would suffice.

Chiang Mai almsgiving CC BY 2.0 Richard Barton

If you want to bring back something from your trip, let it be your cooking skill. Cooking classes are priced around THB750 (approx. MYR98) and includes the whole shebang, from picking up groceries from a wet market to having a sit-down lunch with your host.

Get your fill of souvenirs at Warorot Market. Whether it’s Thai tea powder or fridge magnets, you can find everything here. Prepare to spend at least THB1000 (approx. MYR131).

Squeeze some time before you head to the airport to get a relaxing massage at THB200 (approx. MYR26).

Day 3 Recap

Activities + Transport: THB2,020 (approx. MYR265)

Total: MYR265

Grand Total for 3 Days: MYR768


Chinese Muslim vendors at Chiang Mai’s Kalare Night Bazaar. Photo by Chew Win Win

FOOD: Thai dishes typically range from THB30 to 50. Halal food is widely available at the night markets as well as the Chinese Muslim Quarter, the surrounding area of Hedaytul Islam Mosque near the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Charoen Prathet 1 Alley.

WHEN TO GO: The cool, dry season from November to February is the best time to visit Chiang Mai.


Veranda High Resort Chiang Mai – MGallery by Sofitel

192 Moo2 Banpong Hangdong, Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand

Tamarind Village

50/1 Rachadamnoen Rd, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Thai Akara – Lanna Boutique Hotel

133 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand


GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai. Book your seats now at airasia.com