Along with gorging on delectable Northern Thailand cuisine such as Khao soi, posing with tigers at the Tiger Kingdom, and riding elephants through the lush jungle around Chiang Mai, there’s much more to see and do in this beautiful part of South East Asia. Here are three of the most underrated attractions that we think should feature in your next visit to Chiang Mai. Even better, these underrated attractions are only a quick hop, skip, and jump away from the exclusive Le Meridien Hotel, and can all be visited in three consecutive days if you’re on a short stay in the area.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Located only 22km away from the exquisite Le Meridien, this sprawling temple complex offers a quiet place of contemplation amongst gilded domes and stupas. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383, it has been a place of spiritual practice ever since and even to this day, you’ll see real monks at this architectural masterpiece. The grounds are also home to a whole host of artistic treasures, including historical murals, white elephant statues, and a beautiful copy of the emerald Buddha. Remember to dress respectfully when visiting, which means covering up as much as possible.
Set amongst beautifully maintained gardens and grounds 1,000m above sea level, the Phuping (or Bhubing) Palace is the ideal place to spend a quiet afternoon in Chiang Mai. Originally built in 1961 to accommodate the royal family during state visits to the city, the palace is now open to foreign tourists for most of the year. Full of stunning roses, orchids and other flora, the real treasure to be seen here is the colourful gardens that surround the property.
Phuping Palace is only 26km from the Le Meridien and won’t take much longer than a couple of hours to explore. Apart from being temporarily closed during the royal visit (January to March), the palace is open seven days a week, from 8:30am till 4:30pm. Tickets are sold from 8:30am till 11:30am and between 1pm and 3:30pm.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Approximately 84km from the Le Meridien in Chiang Mai, or a 1.5 hour taxi ride, the trip to the Doi Inthanon National Park is well worth the effort. Nicknamed the ‘Roof of Thailand’, this wonderful national park is home to Thailand’s tallest mountain, Doi Inthanon, and a number of visually spectacular waterfalls such as Mae Klang, Wachiratan, Siriphum, and Mae Ya Falls.
The park is popular with bird watching enthusiasts, as well as day trekkers looking to explore some of the park’s flora and natural wonders on foot. Visit the new Information and Interpretive Center for maps, a slide show of the park and helpful assistance. A full day is easily spent exploring this stunning national park.