In the area that surrounds the city there is so much more to see that will fill your day with ease. Chiang Mai Zoo, is situated at the bottom of Suthep Mountain adjacent to Chiang Mai on the north-west outskirts of the city. Apart from offering approximately 400 different animal species it has some superb views of Chiang Mai city itself. The zoo is built on the side of the mountain, so if you feel a walk is too strenuous in the heat, there are hop on/off shuttle buses available to take away the strain.
Chiang Mai also boasts several National parks, notably Doi Inthanon National Park, Sri Lanna National Park, Doi Suthep - Pui National Park, Huay Naam Dang National Park and Ob Luang National Park. Doi Suthep - Pui National Park is perhaps the most visited, as it is just 12 km from the city. If you enjoy breath-taking scenery, this is a “must see". Part way up the mountain in this park is one of the most revered and famous Buddhist temples - Wat Prathart Doi Suthep. It is wise to be modestly dressed when visiting this temple and the body should be covered at all times. Once you have taken in the spiritual and mysterious aspects of this highly impressive Wat make your way to a purpose built viewing area and be prepared for one of the best views in the region.
Another famous attraction in the region is the Elephant Camps where you can ride an elephant through the local countryside, watch them perform tricks in daily shows and even buy yourself a picture painted by an Elephant. Elephant camps are popular in Thailand and the majority are in the Chiang Mai region, but one word of caution – do not book a trip or purchase tickets for an Elephant camp other than directly from the camp itself.
If Elephant rides are not for you, perhaps a day at one of the local flower gardens is. Ratchaphruek Flower Gardens is perhaps one of the most popular among tourists; again as it is very close to the city and is located on the outer ring road. Every year, starting in early February, is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Flower beds in the city public spaces spring in to life adding tremendous colour and fragrance as Chrysanthemums, Damask Rose, Dendrobium orchids, and Daoruang stand proud in their displays. The main focus of the festival is at the Suan Bauk Hadd public garden, located in the south-western part of the city near the moat, where stalls are set up for the sale of flowers, plants, orchids and decorations for the garden.
There are other attractions that are of a more physical nature, such as hill walking, trekking etc. available and Chiang Mai also offers several golf courses, many of which are 18 hole courses. They are generally very well looked after as they typically form part of a resort so you can expect a high standard of fairways, greens and not to forget, hospitality. Most courses will also supply a caddy but perhaps not all caddies can speak good enough English to be really good value, it is advisable to try and talk to some caddies before paying for this service, unless you just need someone to carry your golf clubs.
Many people, when they think of Thailand, think about the raunchy nightlife, bars and massage parlours, with glittering neon signs. While such establishments exist in Chiang Mai (if this is your scene) it is far more discreet than cities such as Pattaya for example.
Finally, a few quick words on the weather – hot and humid ! On a typical day, it is highly advisable to wear something to cover your head. Thailand is just about the same everywhere, there are 2 monsoons seasons, wet and dry. The dry season is typically from December to June and the wet season from July to November. It is the early period of the dry season where temperatures are more comfortable.
In some parts of the Chiang Mai region there have been reports of overnight frosts and even snow on some of the higher ground in the mountain ranges. Typically within the city the temperature is unlikely to fall below 15C and that typically only lasts for 2 or 3 nights in December.