Albeit having the status of the second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is worlds apart from the hectic chaos of Bangkok, yet it still offers a soft landing for first-time tourists travelling with children. The Rose of the North also a city that is steep in Thai culture and big on conversation, which makes for quality family time. Here are some of our favourite family-friendly activities that you and your family can partake in and around Chiang Mai:
1. Watch and Learn at Elephant Nature Park
You’re the kind of family that enjoys quality time with Nat Geo and Animal Planet? Chiang Mai is a great chance to teach your children about conservation and rehabilitation. When introducing children to the iconic elephants of Chiang Mai, you’d want to do it at a more ethical place.
Located in the countryside, the sanctuary is home to free roaming elephants, many of which have been rescued from dire situations. It also provides a natural environment for not only elephants but also dogs, cats, buffaloes and many others to live out a peaceful life.
2. Unleash Your Creativity at Elephant Parade
As a complement to your elephant sanctuary visit, head to this art studio where you and your family can learn about elephants, their uniqueness, and their struggles. See full-size Elephant Parade statues from all over the world and have fun painting at the workshop! Whatever you purchase here goes for the support the cause of elephant care and rehabilitation. A good option for a rainy day as you would spend your time indoor in air-conditioned rooms.
3. Strike a Pose at Art in Paradise Chiang Mai
Another good indoor option is this 3D Art Museum. Sure, you’ve seen this kind of place before, but you have to admire the great details they put in the 3D visual effects. What’s more, you can also download their app which amp the ante with interactivity. Your kids will have a blast acting out and making gestures to make fun pictures. With so many rooms, expect to stay here for at least two hours.
4. Shop ’til You Drop at Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets
Although an actual wet market like Warorot or Kham Tiang is a far more educational place to take your kids to, the weekend market is good enough if you’re pressed for time.
Filled with handicrafts, food and even street performers, the Saturday market can be found along Wualai Road while the Sunday market extends all the way from Tha Pae Gate through Ratchadamnoen Road, which makes for a fun exploration for the entire family.
5. Learn a Thing or Two at at The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders
If the idea of eating fried crickets makes your skin crawl, how about educating your children on the subject of insects instead? The quirky museum is a labour of love from a local husband and wife duo, Manop Ratana Rittirong Gul and Rattana Rumpa Rittirong Gul, former contributors to the Smithsonian. What the museum lacks in scale, it makes up for in its extensive collection of creepy crawlies.
6. Go on a Cacao Plantation Tour
Chiang Mai in the north with its ideal climate is well-known as the country’s centre of cacao. Families should definitely check out MarkRin Chocolate, a family-led cooperative and the first to grow cacao in Chiang Mai. Your children (and you) will have so much fun learning about growing cacao.
7. Take a Cooking Class
Involve your kids as you visit a local market to pick up some local produce and have them helped with the whole process. It’s always a good feeling when you see them having a sense of ownership after being involved. Some cooking schools will gladly welcome your children free of charge, but be warned that others might charge you separately.
8. Rough it Out at Chiangmai X-Centre
If you have tweens and teens with you, they will definitely appreciate Chiang Mai X-Centre, a one-stop-shop of fun which offers everything from ATV riding to Indoor Drift Karts. If you have some little ones with you, they can still go for the less-challenging activities like mini-golf or jumping on the trampoline.
9. Partake in Almsgiving
Wake your children early in the morning and take them to the nearest almsgiving spot to offer alms to the Buddhist monks. This is a great opportunity to educate yourselves about the connection between the laymen and the monastic communities.
10. Bike with the Kids
Taking a bike ride through the countryside is a great way to introduce yourselves to the locality, and luckily you can find tour operators that can provide you with good equipment for your little ones. Book your tour and you can visit various temples and trying local food with your little ones on their baby bike seats or copilot bike trailers.
Where to Stay: Kid-friendly Hotels in 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