Ready for an epic adventure in Chiang Mai, Thailand? Ever wondered what it’s like to wander through lush forests and gaze at stunning waterfalls? We’re about to explore four of the top hiking trails that will leave you in awe. Perfect for young and older adventurers alike! So, are you ready to lace up your boots and dive into the wonder of nature? Well, ready or not, here are 4 of the best trails to tackle while hiking in Chiang Mai!
1. Buddha’s Footprint Trail
The Buddha’s Footprint Trail in Chiang Mai is one of the best trails for hiking in the area, boasting a length of 9.0 km, an elevation gain of 427 m, and an out-and-back route near Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai. It’s moderately challenging and usually takes about 3 hours and 4 minutes to complete. Now, let’s talk about the popularity of this trail. It’s a hotspot for birding, hiking, and running, so you’ll likely bump into fellow explorers. The best times to check out this fantastic trail are from July through March. And yes, you can bring your furry friends, but make sure they’re on a leash.
Here’s something exciting – this trail is one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai that takes you to the Buddha Footprints in Suthep-Pui National Park. Starting from Ban Doi Pui village, the route leads you to the Buddha Footprints, guiding you through one of Thailand’s lushest forests. Along the way, you’ll encounter rare species of trees, wildflowers, and wildlife. If you’re into a more low-key experience, this trail is quieter than other trails. Plus, there’s a 20 baht entrance fee – a small price for the adventure that awaits you.
Now, let’s discuss how to get there. It is recommended to contact a local tour guide from Ban Doi Pui village or Chiangmai town. And don’t forget about the weather. Avoid visiting the trail from March to May due to the smoky season caused by farmers burning their fields. During this time, most accommodations are closed. So there you have it – the Buddha’s Footprint Trail, one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai, offering a mix of challenge, natural beauty, and tranquillity.
2. Mon Jing Loop
The Mon Jing Loop is a fantastic 7.7-km trail for hiking in Chiang Mai, featuring an elevation gain of 551 m and a loop route. If you’re up for a challenge, give this popular trail near San Kamphaeng a try. It’s considered one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai. The area is well-known for birding, making it likely that you’ll come across fellow explorers.
During your adventure, you’ll find that the best times to visit Mon Jing Loop are from May through March. This trek starts from Mae Pha Naen Reservoir in Chiang Mai Province, offering a beautiful path where you can even pay homage to a Buddha statue at the top. Speaking of the top, Doi Mon Ching boasts a point known as the crater of a multi-million-year-old volcano.
As you traverse the steep forested path, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Chiang Mai’s natural beauty. You can begin your journey from Mae Pha Naen Reservoir and park there for convenience. However, it’s important to note that March to May isn’t the recommended time to go due to the haze season in the North. Many accommodations may be temporarily closed during this period as it marks the beginning of the grass-cutting season in preparation for farming.
3. Wat Pha Lat Temple
Wat Pha Lat Temple boasts a fantastic 1.3 km trail—one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai. With an elevation gain of 166 m, this point-to-point route near Mueang Chiang Mai is moderately challenging, taking around 31 minutes on average to complete. Now, if you’re up for a bit of adventure, let’s dive into the details. This trail is a favourite spot for hiking, running, and walking, making it a bustling area where you’ll likely bump into other outdoor enthusiasts. Plan your visit between May and February for the best experience on this fantastic trail—one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai.
But wait, there’s more to this trail than just its length and challenge level. Starting at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain, the trek leads you to the serene Wat Pha Lat Temple, which acts as a peaceful resting point. Along the way, you’ll encounter a waterfall—perfect for a refreshing pause. Remember to bring enough water and wear suitable clothing and shoes for this measurement area. Given the scorching daytime weather, it’s advisable to kick off your adventure in the morning.
Now, let’s talk about how to get there. You can drive to the parking lot at the mountain’s base and commence your walk. If you opt for public transport, take a bus to Chiang Mai University or Chiang Mai Zoo (R1 or R3) and start your journey from the forest path’s entrance. However, avoid visiting from March to May due to the haze season, when many accommodations are closed for grass cutting in preparation for the farming season. So, there you have it—a remarkable 1.3 km trail, considered one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai, waiting for you to explore its beauty!
4. Doi Suthep Monk Trail
The Doi Suthep Monk Trail in Chiang Mai is another one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai, and it’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts! Covering a distance of 7.2 km, with an elevation gain of 615 m, and labelled as an Out & Back trail, this path near Mueang Chiang Mai is both challenging and exciting. Starting with some practical info, the trail is a popular spot for hikers, runners, and walkers alike. You’ll likely bump into fellow adventurers since this is one of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai.
Now, picture this: a beautiful hike with plenty of shade leading up to the Wat Pha Lat Temple and finally reaching the Doi Suthep summit at the trail’s end. Don’t miss the stunning Wat Pha Lat Temple in the middle of your hike—it’s a great spot to take a break before tackling the steeper second half. It can get pretty hot later in the day, so it’s wise to start your adventure early. Oh, and make sure to carry lots of water! And, of course, proper footwear is a must!
Now, a little heads up: the second part of the hike isn’t marked by the monks’ robes but worry not—the path is super clear and easy to follow. And for those wondering how to get there, you can park at the foothill of Doi Suthep or take the city bus to Chiang Mai University or Zoo bus stops (bus: R1 or R3) and then stroll through the University to reach the trailhead. Finally, a quick weather tip: it’s not a good idea to visit during the rainy season from July to October. Heavy rain can wash out the trail, and there might be overgrown plants and falling branches. Safety first, right?
Ready to Conquer Chiang Mai?
You’re now in the know about some of the best trails for hiking in Chiang Mai. Each trail has its own unique charm, from lush forests and stunning waterfalls to rare wildlife and tranquil paths. So, get ready for the adventure that awaits you. Remember, every trail offers a different experience, so choose wisely and have a great time exploring! While in the city, why not book cookery classes in Chiang Mai to enhance your Thai culinary skills? Either way, have a wonderful time!