Things to Do with Kids in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city, might not have a beach to offer, but there are plenty of fab things to do with kids – even if you don’t get out into the hill country around it. Here are some of our favourite things for kids to do in Chiang Mai.
Give an Elephant a Bath
There are a million and one animal attractions around Chiang Mai, but most involve cruel training and are environmentally unsustainable. At the Elephant Nature Park, however, visitors help feed and bathe elephants that have been rescued from illegal logging or harsh conditions: and even little kids can give a baby elephant a cuddle.
X-Centre, Chiang Mai, is an all-round adventure zone, with several activities that are perfect for kids aged nine and above. Zorbing, or rolling down a slope strapped into a gigantic inflatable ball, makes for excellent fun; karting, paintballing, and off-roading as a passenger are also on offer; children over 35kg (75lb) can even try a bungee jump!
Visit an Umbrella Factory
The little village of Bo Sang, outside Chiang Mai, is Thailand’s umbrella capital, making gorgeous, brightly coloured umbrellas from paper that’s crafted in-house. A trip to a factory lets kids see the whole process from the get go, from paper pulp through to finished product.
Meet a Monk
Want to learn about Buddhism? On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 5-7pm, at the Buddhist University’s Chiang Mai campus – the ancient temple Wat Suan Dok – student monks are available to chat to visitors and answer each and every question about Buddhism. Kids are very welcome, and it’s a great thing for thoughtful kids to do in Chiang Mai.
Want to whizz through the rainforest canopy on a high wire? Chiang Mai makes an excellent zipwiring spot – and Flight of the Gibbon has an impressive 5km of ziplines to try. Anyone over one metre tall can have a go, although children too light to speed down the wires will ride in tandem with a guide. (Don’t expect to see any wildlife: the noise of the wires scares it away.)
Go Whitewater Rafting
One great bonus of Thailand’s dramatic rainy season? The rivers swell. The Mae Teng river, with rapids typically at Grade 3 and Grade 4, is a little too white for very young children, but tweens and teens will love the drama.
Visit an Orchid Farm
There are several orchid farms in Amphoe Mae Rim, a rural suburb of Chiang Mai. Aspiring artists will love the bright colours and rich scents: the Bai orchid farm has butterflies too!
Take a Cooking Class
Thai is one of the world’s great cuisines, and a cooking class is one of the best things to do with kids in Chiang Mai, especially one that begins with a trip to a colourful Thai market. Thais love children, and a custom cooking course makes an excellent daytime activity.
And… Obviously, Check Out a Temple
There are more than 300 Buddhist temples (“wats”) in Chiang Mai. A few choices? The part-ruined Wat Chedi Luang is great for scale and atmosphere; Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai’s oldest temple; and Wat Phra Singh is a blaze of light and colour.