Adventure Activities in Chiang Mai, Thailand - Poplar Travels
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Aug 08 2016

Adventure Activities in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai was our beautiful home base for a year and there are always plenty of things to see and do in this amazing city. Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and the most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. There are hundreds of temples and cultural sites to visit within the city limits. Chiang Mai also offers plenty of adventure activities which we were excited to explore. We found some great tour companies and locations to explore and highly recommend braving the heat and going on a few excursions while you’re here. We pulled together a list of our favorite adventure activities to get you started!


The Best adventure activities in Chiang Mai



Chiang Mai Sky Adventures


Ultralight Gliding Tour

See Chiang Mai from above and get a unique perspective of the surrounding mountains and lakes. An ultralight is a much more affordable alternative to a helicopter ride and thanks to the exposed nature of the vessel, you really will feel the wind on your face. Chiang Mai Sky Adventure will take you on a flying tour over farms with an amazing view of the city. 




It might sound like an underground stroll, but our caving experience with Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventure was physically challenging and educational. We rappelled down deep into the side of a mountain and got up close and personal with some giant cave spiders.




Rock Climbing

Our next excursion with CMRCA was even more of a workout. Whether you’re experienced or not, you’ll be able to enjoy some incredible rock climbing, including another huge rappel into a cave and a climb back up the side.


Flight of the Gibbon



Flight of the Gibbon has a pretty well-known zipline course in the countryside outside of Chiang Mai. You can even add a homestay to your trip and stay with locals nearby. The staff here were a lot of fun and made the day really exciting. Plus, this is one of the few places you can see gibbons in the forest!





You can’t visit Chiang Mai without traveling up the mountain to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the Golden Temple. If you’re up for it, you can even follow the monk’s trail and hike up to the summit. It took us a few tries to find the trail, and most locals aren’t familiar with it, but we found some pretty good directions here.


Elephant Nature Park

Hang with the elephants

Don’t just run off to the first elephant camp that approaches you in Chiang Mai. Take the time to do some research and educate yourself about the cruel practices most camps employ to make their elephants fit to ride and carry heavy loads that are harmful to their backs. There are really very few elephant parks that you should even consider visiting, and we can only recommend Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai. Evanne was lucky enough to visit twice and try their ENP Single Day Visit experience as well as Pamper a Pachyderm. The second was incredible and walking through the jungle with a train of elephants was one of her favorite memories of Thailand!


What other adventures do you recommend in Chiang Mai? Have you tried any one our list? Tell us in the comments!

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Evanne Allen

Evanne co-founded Poplar Travels after quitting her job in Washington, D.C. She got itchy feet at a young age and has never lost the urge to explore the planet. A previous museum employee, she is apt to drag travel partners into several cultural institutions anywhere she goes. She wishes she could speak every language and loves meeting new people.

  • I’m from Thailand and LOVED this post! You showed me around in my home country and let me know of activities I didn’t even know existed – thanks so much for sharing!

    August 9, 2016 at 11:49 pm
  • Thanks for that caution on elephant parks there. Every responsible tourist must exercise this restraint.
    The other activities look thrilling!

    August 10, 2016 at 1:00 am
  • Great posts and suggestions. I love adventure activities and that looks just amazing! I haven’t been to Thailand yet, so good to know there’s so much more to do apart from visiting touristy Bangkok 🙂

    August 10, 2016 at 9:24 am
  • polly674

    Amog the activities you mentioned, I think I would select the ultralight gliding tour. Never tried and I wish I could.

    August 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm
  • Thanks for the advice on elephant parks. When I think about Thaliand, I only think of Krabi, Phuket, Bangkok, Pataya! This is a different sharing. Thanks.

    August 11, 2016 at 7:22 am
  • There are a lot of articles written about Thailand and always it surprises me that there are no two post quite the same. Each is very unique to the writer. This one of yours is the best I’ve read so far.

    August 11, 2016 at 11:16 pm
  • I am going to Chiang Mai this November for new year’s celebrations and I cannot wait to try some of the things you are listing here. Specially the ultralight thing, was it possible to carry a camera along? And… I thing I’ll avoid getting acquainted with the spiders, not my thing! Nice post!

    August 12, 2016 at 3:51 am
  • I have never been to Chang Mai but it seems that there are a lot of cool things to do there. I would love to hang out with an elephant. I did that in India and absolutely loved it. “My elephant” for the day loved eating bananas and knew 32 words 🙂

    August 12, 2016 at 7:09 am
  • interesting activities! But I’m still not brave enough to try these activities, but I will choose hanging out with elephants, they look so friendly!

    August 12, 2016 at 8:21 am
  • Chiang Mai is a great place to visit. Actually all of Thailand is great to visit. I love how the culture runs throughout the country and there is so much to do an see.

    August 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm
  • Yesss, these are the types of guides I love! I had a great time ziplining and going to Elephant Nature Park – both are companies/orgs that help the environment which is also a huge bonus. I missed out on hang gliding though… guess I will have to go back 😛

    August 12, 2016 at 10:26 pm
  • Brilliant and inspiring. Love the rock climbing shots. Gliding must have been quite an experience .

    August 13, 2016 at 1:56 am
  • These are some cool options. I would love to hang around with the elephants , go trekking or even opt for rock climbing or caving. Caving is on my bucket list for long. 🙂

    August 13, 2016 at 11:55 am
  • The Caving looks like a lot of fun, I would totally do that. I am not sure about the Elephants just because of the fact you mentioned that you should stay safe about it and do some research. One day I will get to Thailand.

    August 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm
  • I’m very glad you didn’t just leave a generic comment to visit some elephants, but pointed out that one needs to do some research. Chiang Mai seems on its way to being an adventure tourism place.

    August 13, 2016 at 8:47 pm
  • Those all sound like really amazing activities! Except for giant cave spiders. That just sounds horrifying

    August 13, 2016 at 9:17 pm
  • Chiang Mai is the number 1 place I want to visit in Thailand (I’ve done Bangkok twice!) I definitely want to play with elephants! I’ll have to work my way up to caving but I’m keen to try an ultralight!

    August 14, 2016 at 6:52 am
  • I have always wanted to visit Thailand and am starting to plan a trip in 2018. I bookmarked this post and will come back and let you know if I can knock off any of the items on your list. It’s a great list!

    August 14, 2016 at 6:59 am
  • Buddhist temples always fascinates us and Chiang mai sounds interesting with 100s of temples. Also Chiang Mai looks like a great place for adventure activities we would love to experience caving and visit an elephant farm.

    August 14, 2016 at 2:17 pm
  • I had never thought about doing adventure activities in Chiang Mai. My favorite kind of adventure travel is hiking so I’d probably want to do that. But how could I resist meeting an elephant?

    August 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm
  • wanderingwagarschristina

    I can’t believe all the amazing adventures that can be had in Chang Mai. I had already thought about visiting the Elephant Nature Park. But I hadn’t heard of ziplining to see gibbons. This really interests me as well.

    August 14, 2016 at 8:35 pm
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand looks like a perfect adventurous getaway! Loved to read about Chiang Mai Sky Adventure and I bet, it would give a perfect adrenaline rush as well as breathtaking view of this destination!

    August 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm
  • You definitely discovered Chiang Mai from a different perspective! I never knew about it’s active side. So many things todo there! I am still too afraid to try ziplining though…

    August 15, 2016 at 7:25 am
  • I am a sucker for this type of activities! And yet I haven’t tried ziplining yet! Looks like Chiang Mai would be the perfect place to take care of that 🙂

    August 15, 2016 at 12:23 pm
  • I have done all of these activities in Chiang Mai in June and enjoyed every bit of it. Chiang Mai is a perfect place for these kind of activities especially with those mountains all around the city. I will mostly remember Chiang Mai as the place where I got two snakebites

    August 15, 2016 at 2:11 pm
  • Chiang Mai sounds like a lot of fun. Would love to try out that Caving option – combine Rapelling and an underground stroll. Will sure make me feel like Indiana Jones. Thanks for sharing these

    August 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm
  • Uhh the caveing would be my absolute favorite…But all of these make you feel like the hero of some movie, definitly worth trying a couple of those out in chian mai^^

    August 16, 2016 at 8:49 am
  • I really do need to get out of my apartment more this winter in Chiang Mai. This post will help with that … thanks!

    August 25, 2016 at 8:40 pm

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