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Wat Tham Pha Plong | © Andrea Schaffer/Flickr
Wat Tham Pha Plong | © Andrea Schaffer/Flickr
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The Best Day Trips From Chiang Mai

Picture of Iona Proebst
Updated: 17 August 2017
Chiang Mai’s allure is not only confined to the city’s charms but extends out into the beautiful surrounding countryside. Looking for a mini city escape? Check out a few of our favourite day trips from Chiang Mai to experience what wonders are nearby.

Samoeng Loop

The Samoeng Loop is a roughly 100-kilometre (62-mile) circuit that starts and ends in Chiang Mai. Rent a decent motorbike and head into the hills for a memorable adventure-filled day out. Why not start your journey at Rider’s Corner at the northeast inside corner of the moat? This guest house, bar, restaurant and motorcycling community is run by Phillip, who is both knowledgeable and extremely helpful; the Golden Triangle Rider‘s Mae Sa Valley-Samoeng Loop map is also available for THB฿180 ($5) here.

Riding the Samoeng Loop will take visitors up breathtaking mountains, along quaint valleys and through authentic local villages. Stop along the way at a local restaurant or explore some of the numerous attractions en route like the Mae Rim Orchid Farm, Ban Toeng hilltribe village, Mae Sa Waterfalls or the Pong Kwao Hot Springs.

Pa Ta Cave, Samoeng Loop | © Aleksandr Zykov / Flickr
Pa Ta Cave, Samoeng Loop | © Aleksandr Zykov/Flickr

Chiang Dao

Approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Chiang Mai, the town of Chiang Dao may not be much on its own, but the surrounding area and Pha Daeng National Park (formerly Chiang Dao) is popular for hiking, trekking and its local attractions. Explore the Chiang Dao Caves, soak in the local hot springs or walk to the stunningly beautiful jungle temple, Wat Tham Pha Plong. To get here, either rent a motorbike or hop on a local bus from Chiang Phueak Bus Station.

Wat Tham Pha Plong | © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr
Wat Tham Pha Plong | © Andrea Schaffer/Flickr
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Huay Tung Tao Lake

Only a 20-minute drive by songteaw (motorbike) from downtown Chiang Mai is Huay Tung Tao Lake – the perfect day out. Hang out like a local and relax in one of the bamboo huts overlooking the lake the majestic Doi Pui mountains in the backdrop. This tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle from Chiang Mai is a favourite for locals, expats and travellers alike. Read a book, dangle feet in the water, swim in the lake, try some delicious local food or order some refreshing beverages – all at a private bamboo hut. Entrance to Huay Tung Tao costs THB฿50 ($1.50), and bamboo huts are free as long as refreshments are ordered.

Huay Tung Tao Lake, Don Kaeo, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Mae Ngat Dam

Serene and beautiful Mae Ngat Dam in Si Lanna National Park is roughly 60 kilometres (37.2 miles) north of Chiang Mai. The surrounding jungles are home to exotic wildlife including wild boars, gibbons, fishing cats and Asian black bears. Hike the area, or hop on a speedboat to visit one of the floating house boats in the area. At both longtime favourite Eakachai and newer, more upmarket Mountain Float, guests can enjoy delicious food, swim in the lake, kayak or simply lounge on the veranda. For the optimal Mae Ngat Dam experience, stay overnight in the floating camping (or ‘glamping‘?) abode.

Tambon Ban Pong, Amphoe Phrao, Si Lanna National Park | © Nejumy / Wikimedia Commons
Tambon Ban Pong, Amphoe Phrao, Si Lanna National Park | © Nejumy / Wikimedia Commons
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Mon Cham

Mon Cham, roughly 40 minutes out of Chiang Mai, is a farming community on a hill ridge in the area of Mong Nong Hoi village, Mae Rim. Previously an opium farm, this area now hosts the flourishing Nong Hoi Royal Project, where visitors can see vegetable beds established for researching artichokes, lemon, thyme, mint, chamomile, rosemary and more. Mon Cham has magnificent views, plenty of options for exploring, local coffee shops and restaurants – everything for a fun-filled day trip out of the city.

Mon Cham, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, Thailand, +66 81 806 3993