Chiang Mai is always on the list of tourists attraction places because there is everything here; mountain, temples, cultural, and natural park. It is all in one place. However, people are curious how to travel in Chiang Mai if you do not have a car and do not want to take the red bus??? I have one suggestion that you can bike a motorcycle around Chiang Mai, what you need is only rent a motorcycle and know to ride.
My plan is to take the bus at night arrive to bus terminal in Chiang Mai in the morning and you can just rent a motorcycle here. There are many rental shops. I have one recommendation "Bikkey" located near Grand Diamond Hotel, I rent with them many time and never have any problems. Prices are various from 200 - 300 baht depend on type of motorcycle. The shop opens from 6.00am. to 9.00pm. On the way back, you can book a bus in the evening and return the motorcycle here. But if you plan to travel by other transportation, you will need to pay to go to a rental shop again.
For travel around Chiang Mai by Motorcycle, I have 5 suggestion routes you can choose which one would you prefer.
Route 1 : 5 km : Travel in the city and enjoy historical and culture
Wat Phrasingha - Wat Chedi Luang - Wat Pantao - Three Kings Monument - Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre - Wat Chiang Man - Wat Suan Dok - Wat Ched Yot - Wat Si Supan
Major of this trip is temple because there are so many temples in downtown and can enjoy historical and local architecture.
Starting with Wat Phrasingha where Buddha Sihing is located, Buddha image is so beautiful in Lanna Art style. Next is Wat Chedi Luang which mean big pagoda. In 1545, the top of pagoda was broken due to earthquake and Emerald Buddha used to be located here before. Near by is Wat Pan Tao which made from teak trees.
Continue with Three Kings Monument; King Mangrai Lanna Kingdom, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukothai, and King Ngam Muang of Payao. The history said that they were the founder of Chiang Mai and reportedly good friends. For more information please visit Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre which located behind the monument.
Let's continue with Wat Chiang Man, which decorated with beautiful painting and where Buddha Setungkamanee and Buddha sculpture is located. There are three more temples to suggest outside moat which are Wat Suan Dok, Wat Ched Yot, Wat Si Supan.
Wat Ched Yot located on a super highway Chiang Mai - Lampang with square design of pagoda and 7 small pagodas on the top. For Wat Suan Dok is a graveyard for Kings and royal family in the past. What I really like here is Buddha Kao Tue which is a Buddha image that not that big but it is the most beautiful that I have ever seen.
And the last temple for Route 1 is Wat Si Supan located on Wua Lai Road where they made of fine silverware. So the temple got an idea of build a silver temple with beautiful sculpture.
If you can visit all these, I am going to say that it is so tired.
Route 2 : 30 km : Doi Suthep - Doi Pui
Chiang Mai Zoo – KHRU BA SI WICHAI MONUMENT – Huai Kaew Waterfall - Monthathan Waterfall - View Point - Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep - Phuping Palace - Mong Village Doi Pui - Khun Chang Kien
There are many places on the way up to Doi Suthep.
Starting with Chiang Mai Zoo, you can have fun here all day. Next is KHRU BA SI WICHAI MONUMENT. Not too far from here is Huai Kaew Waterfall which is in Doi Suthep - Pui National Park. Moreover, there is no entrance fee. It is a good place for picnic but not that beautiful.
If you want to see a beautiful waterfall, I recommend Monthathan Waterfall but you have to pay for the entrance fee, the road is quite good to come up here. There are 9 levels of waterfall but the national park limits entrance only 2 levels. If anyone would like to go higher than that need to contract national park staffs in advance.
Next is Chiang Mai viewpoint which is not that far from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The temple is open until 9.00pm. If anyone would like to come to take a night photo of golden Buddha Relics with lights on and dark blue sky which is really beautiful.
After pray to Buddha Relics, let's continue to Phuping Palace. The palace box office opens until 3.30pm. and the palace close 4.15pm. For visiting the palace, you need to wear appropriate cloth. There is a pathway to enjoy many kinds of plants especially various kinds of rose that some of them you might have never seen before.
From the palace we continue our journey to Mong Village Doi Pui. Time pass by, everything is changed, people here are not lived as traditional anymore. So we come here to enjoy mountain village style.
The last place for this route is Khun Chang Kien which is famous as Sakura Thailand (Prunus Caressed Blooming). It is only five minutes from Mong Village. Normally, Prunus Caressed will bloom in January only and just for a few weeks. During riding we will pass camping area where I used to camp, there is a viewpoint pavilion for beautiful sunrise in the morning in the camping area.
From the bottom to the top of the mountain is 30 KM. Just choose where do you want to visit in which season^^
Route 3 : 40 km : Heading Mae Rim and enjoying the nature
Huai Tueng Tao - Mae Sa Waterfall - Queen Sirikit Botanicgargen - Mon Jaem
To go up to Mon Jaem by Motorcycle is easier than by car...Just follow to the road no. 107 Chiang Mai - Fang, passing government complex intersection where is the entrance Huai Tueng Tal. Here is famous as Chiang Mai Sea because there is the beach that people can enjoy the same as the real beach. Then heading to Mae Rim - Sa Merng road no. 1096, you will see that there are many activities on the way if you would like to stop by.
Following on Mae Rim - Samerng for 5 KM, we will arrive to the entrance of Mae Sa Waterfall. The waterfall is in the area of Doi Suthep - Pui National Park so we have to pay for the entrance fee. There are ten levels of the waterfall, we can walk to each level within 10 - 15 minutes by starting from level four then come down to the rest of three levels. The waterfall here is so beautiful as you can see in the photo and it is very easy to access. You should not miss it.
Continuing to Maesa Elephant Camp which is not that far from the waterfall. Then continue from elephant camp for 2 KM. we will arrive to Queen Sirikit Botanicgarden. We just pay for the entrance fee and take the motorcycle into the garden. This botanicgarden is very big so for a limited of time you might need to select which zone of the garden that you want to visit. The most interesting thing for me is the glass house that shows many kinds of plants especially tropical rain forest model. It is so amazing because it looks like the real forest.
Then we will pass by Natural Science Museum with nice 3D paints and well organized (No entrance fees).
From the botanic garden, we continue to Nong Hoi Royal Project Foundation or "Mon Jaem". People come here to eat, enjoy greenery scene of mountain and take photos.
In conclusion road no. 1096 Mae Rim - Sa Merng has many places to visit and it is easy to travel by motorcycle.
Route 4 : 30 km : Mae Kan Dam History of Doi Kham
Royal Park Rajapruek - Wat Phra That Doi Kham - Chiang Mai Night Safari - Wat Ton Kwen - Op Khan National Park
This is my favorite route, heading to my favorite national park "Op Khan" of Hang Dong District and there are many places to visit in the way. I will focus on Op Khan first and follow by other places (hahahaha because I really like it here).
Heading to road no. 108 Chiang Mai - Hod then turn right to road no. 121 Wong Waen Rop Nok Chiang Mai at Mae Here Saman Samakkee intersection (turn left to Huai Kaew road heading Doi Suthep). Continuing to road no. 3035 until see the sign of the national park and follow it to the entrance around 12 KM.
Op means straits or channel so Op Khan mean straits that Khan river flow through. Nowadays, there is no entrance fee because it is a national park that waiting for Royal Thai Government Gazette.>>>Jump in if you want to^^
On the way walk to Op Khan, we will start from Tourist Information Center and continue around the cliff to Op Khan. It is so beautiful along the way. It is really nice for hiking, distance is about 1 KM along the river; from Op Khan to Op Hi and come back to the Tourist Information Center. But I prefer to go back the same way along Khan River to enjoy natural scenery.
If you do not want to spent the whole day here, you can continue to Wat Ton Kwen by coming back to Ton Kwen Intersection and turn left to the temple. Wat Ton Kwen has the same design of temple as Royal Pavilion in Royal Park Rajapruek. Then heading to road no. 121 to Rajapruek intersection and enter to the royal park. You can enjoy with all beautiful flowers and many types of garden as you prefer.
If you have more time, I would suggest you to visit Wat Phrathat Doi Kham which is also one of the most famous holy in Chiang Mai as Phrathat Doi Suthep. There is a history about of 2 giants that create all the trouble to people until Buddha come to talk to them. And they believe in Buddha so Buddha give them his hair which later on become Phrathat Doi Kham. Moreover, there is Queen Jamatevee Monument, 2 giants statue and Sutawa Ruesi Monument in the temple and viewpoint that you can see the royal park from here.
This route does not have many places to visit but it is very tired. Actually there is one more place, "Night Safari" but I am not that interested so it is okay.
Route 5 : 40 km : Lay down in mineral water and soak your feet in walk water.
Bo-sang Handicrafts Center - Muang-On Cave - San Kamphaeng Hot Springs
For the last route, I would like to take you to San Khamphaeng Hot Springs for relaxing and it is very famous. It is quite a long distant but there are less places to visit so we can spend more time.
Heading to road no. 1006 Chiang Mai - San Khamphaeng, pass by Bo-sang Handicrafts Center where is very famous for handmade umbrella. Then continue to road no. 1317 New Chiang Mai - San Khamphaeng road and heading to the hot spring. If you do not want to visit Bo-sang Handicrafts Center, you can go ahead on road no. 1141 Dok Chan - Chiang Mai to the connecting road of 1317.
On the way to the hot spring on road no. 1317, you will see the sign to Muang-On Cave. It is not a natural cave, where many Buddha images is located. The high light is Phrathat Nom Pha which is a very big stalagmite that looks like shrine. Moreover, there is Phra Jao Tanjai, KHRU BA SI WICHAI statue and pagoda of his ashes. Even it is quite tired to go up there but it is very valuable.
1 KM. from Muang-On Cave, you will finally arrive to San Khampaeng Hot Springs. Actually, the hot spring is Mae On district but they still call San Khamphaeng Hot Spring because Mae On use to be part of San Khamphaeng District and get upgrade to be a district later.
There are many activities here, such as boil eggs, hot spring activities such as shower or bathtub in both private and share room or just soak your foot in hot spring. After that, we can go to Thai Massage Building for body massage or foot massage, only 140 baht per hour. "It is so happy and relaxing". ^_^
There are lots of tourists every day both Thais and foreigners. At San Khamphaeng Hot Spring also provide room and camping area for over night stay if you would like to spent more time.
Coming to Chiang Mai, you do not have to go up to the mountain only, you can choose to relax yourself in your way as you like. Believe me!!! Only a motorcycle is enough.^^
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