Last updated on May 3rd, 2021 at 08:59 am
Are you a budget traveler that enjoys adventure, delicious food, massages, warm weather and learning about different cultures? If so, Thailand is the PERFECT place for that, especially Chiang Mai.
You could eat at the most expensive restaurants without breaking the bank. (okay, maybe you would—I don’t know your situation lol).
As a tourist I spent an average of $30/day, and at one point I was just buying stuff to buy it.
I would buy sweets, souvenirs, ice teas, clothes, whatever!
The crazy thing is, you could spend EVEN LESS than that.
I will say it was helpful paying for certain activities ahead of time, but you could wing it and still be fine.
So if you’re looking to visit Chiang Mai, these 5 activities will fit any budget:
Get A Massage
If you’re traveling a loooong way, you’ll want to unwind a bit.
I suggest starting off with something simple, like getting a Thai Massage.
Many places in Chiang Mai offer developmental programs for female ex-inmates who are transitioning back into society.
Most of the crimes have to do with guilt by association (so, no worries).
I recommend going to Lila Thai Massage, where not only are the massages heavenly, but the prices are reasonable.
While there, I did the 2 hour Thai Complete Massage, and I had an out-of-body experience.
It was the best massage I’ve EVER had and it only cost me 700 baht which is $23 USD.
Another place that has great prices that is located at the night bazaar is Dang Beauty.
After walking around the market your feet will be tired, so stop by here. Many locals go to Dang Beauty, so you know it’s fantastic!
You can get a full Thai massage for 180 baht (which is standard).
Zabb E Lee Thai Cooking School makes my mouth salivate just thinking about it.
As someone who’s eaten plenty of authentic Thai food, this school hits the nail on the head.
They pick you up from your accommodation and take you to the market, showing you all the fresh fruits and veggies you will be using.
I mean the food is SO good, that you almost have to create an extra space in your belly because you can’t stop eating.
Zabb E Lee had a variety of recipes to choose from with meat, vegetarian, and vegan options.
So, for a total of 1000 baht ($30 USD), you will make a 5-course meal.
What a steal!
On top of the delicious food, the instructors are extremely personable and fun to be around.
But nurture them, not hurt them!
Many people think riding on the backs of Elephants are ok, but it’s torturous to them. Elephants backs aren’t strong enough to support your weight.
Many of these tourist places promote animal cruelty + abuse without you knowing. I suggest going to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, where it’s about nurturing the elephants by feeding, bathing, and playing with them.
The cool thing is you can pay for this upfront, so it’s one less expense you have to worry about.
It is on the pricier side of things, 1,700 baht for half a day ($54 USD) but I think it’s reasonable.
Going for a half day is more than enough time—it includes pick up from your hotel, food, and your return.
So worth it.
Visit Temples (there’s plenty)
Chiang Mai has about 300 Buddhist Temples alone.
Make it a point to visit a few while you’re there. You could dedicate a day to Temples, since there are so many and they all have the same dress code.
You must dress modestly, have your shoulders covered, and your knees covered. Also, wear some shoes that are easy to slip on and off–you will be required to take them off before entering a Temple.
While you’re there, you can do the Monk Chat Program for FREE99.
My sister and I asked the monk, Bountrai, questions about his background and he wanted to know more about ours.
So it’s an opportunity for them to practice their conversational English skills.
Wat That Doi Suthep is my favoriteeeee, and up in the mountains. I recommend going for sunset or sunrise because it makes the views of the city that much more beautiful.
Warning, the walk to get to the top is 300 steps high, but the views are dope. Just like the other temples it’s 40 baht as well.
Hit up ALL the markets
Really, you should go to the markets for food, it’s SO cheap.
The food supersedes any expectations I had, which is crazy, because I didn’t know Thai food could get any better.
In my opinion, the street food is tastier than sit-down restaurants.
This isn’t even half of the markets, but these are the more popular ones. You can get meals here ranging from $1-3 USD.
Also, you don’t have to pack a lot of clothes to come to Thailand — seriously, it’s very inexpensive to buy them once you’re there.
But negotiate a price!!! Start off with half the price the offer because as a tourist, you’ll be charge more.
The markets have everything you want and more!
Try Some of The Best Food
Eat some yummy vegan cuisine, Chiang Mai has some of the best food I’ve had in the world. Even if you’re a meat eater, you will enjoy these restaurants. If you don’t know what foods to try—these are 23 dishes to add to your list.
You can go to the markets, find food stalls, or visit other restaurants in Old City.
You can go off the beaten path and roam around different trails in Chiang Mai. One of the most fascinating hikes I’ve been on was the Monk Trail, also one of the most challenging. Once you get to the top, you’ll have a view of the city and there is (somewhat) of a waterfall. You can see different temples, sit down and take in all that is around you.
Visiting Thailand is a luxury within itself. Eating whatever you want, buying inexpensive clothes, getting affordable massages, and more.
The experience is like no other, especially being in Chiang Mai.
If Chiang Mai’s on your bucket list, comment “let’s gooooo”