How to do Chiang Mai, Thailand in 3 days

My boyfriend Steven & I spent 7 days in Thailand. I know that sounds like a really short amount of time, but we both felt we still had the chance to truly experience a lot of what Thailand has to offer! I meant to write the entire trip in one blog, but I realized there’s just way too much! So I’ll be splitting it by city. This blog, will have a LOT of details since I want to read back on this in the future, but hopefully you get some travel tips/ ideas from it too, if you’re considering a trip to Thailand 🙂

Night 1: Bangkok

Steven was travelling Asia alone prior to meeting me in Thailand, so he had arrived a few hours ahead of me.

From Toronto, I took the 4:55 PM flight. I was able to still get a lot of work done for the morning, work a bit longer days prior, and leave Friday afternoon to catch this flight. For those of you with limited vacation days, if you have a bit of flexibility I would highly recommend taking a flight around this time. I took a total of five days off of work, but paired with two weekends, it gave me a full 9 days!

My flight was at 4:55 PM on Friday June 16th, and I ended up arriving at BKK (Suvarnabhumi Airport) at 01:00 AM. Steven picked me up, and brought me back to our hotel for the night.

We stayed at: Mariya Boutique Residence. We chose this place solely because it was less than 10 minutes from the airport. It also happen to have quite a few good local restaurants a walking distance away. The plan for the night was to get some food, get a good nights’ rest, and fly to Chiang Mai at 10:00 AM the next morning.

Of course, I was starving after my flight so we decided to grab a quick bite, and a couple of beers of course! Right off the bat, without having to google any restaurants and simply stumbling upon a street eat, we were impressed! the food was already fantastic. Steven’s the only person that would get me to agree to drinking more beer than I can handle, after a 14 hour flight at 2 AM.

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Day 1: Bangkok to Chiang Mai 

That morning, we caught our flight to Chiang Mai! The flight was at 10:00 AM with an 11:15 AM arrival. I chose this, so that we wouldn’t waste any time at all once we got to Chiang Mai.

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Mariya Boutique Hotel ^ less than 10 minutes from the airport

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Steven and I arrived, and checked into our hotel ” RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort.”

We honestly can’t say ENOUGH about this beautiful hotel. At first when we arrived at the hotel, honestly a small part of me was disappointed. The exterior makes the hotel look rather small, and from the outside there’s nothing spectacular about it. Once you get in the lobby, you then start to see a lot of really nice details and a really well taken care of interior. However once they took us on a tour of the facility and brought us to our room, Steven and I were like children in a candy shop. All I could think was, is this real life?

Our room had really high ceilings, a lot of wooden furniture but there was just the smallest details that really made the place so luxurious. It had an amazing balcony with a bed/ sofa that we could lay on out there too. It had a really big bath tub, with this sliding door that revealed a mini waterfall…next to our tub. Steven and I were soooo excited.

It was only around noon when we got all settled into our hotel. I had a really jam packed day planned for us, but we got so carried away with excitement from our room that we didn’t end up leaving our hotel until around 2-3 PM.

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^ This is not my personal photo since I didn’t get a good shot, but this was exactly our washroom for a “Deluxe Room.”

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RatiLanna includes complimentary breakfast, and it’s right on the river!


We then took a tuk-tuk to the old city. I would highly suggest using this as a mode of transportation at least once while in Thailand! I also suggest asking the hotel prior to going anywhere, an estimate of how much it should cost (to try to avoid getting ripped off). The tuk-tuk was a hilarious experience for Steven and I. It was this little three wheeled…kind of like a..I honestly don’t even know how to explain it!

Photos honestly can’t do any part of Thailand justice 😦 it makes me almost not want to post them!

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Anyway, we walked around the old city for a few hours exploring all of the beautiful temples that were all walking distance. What worked out perfectly, was that it was also the Sunday Night Market. 

The Sunday Night Market was definitely an experience. A lot of cheap eats, from pad thai, to fish balls on a stick, to grass jelly desserts, to thai iced tea. Also endless options for souvenirs and things to take home. While I’m a person that usually loves busy settings like downtown and such, this market did get really overwhelming after an hour or so. Maybe it was just exhaustion or dehydration or something but I would recommend going to this one early!

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(before set up of the market)

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Amazing Pad Thai for less than $2 CAD

Steven & I then took a tuk-tuk back and for once had perfect timing! We got in the tuk-tuk right when it started pouring. We got back to the hotel, and took a swim in the infinity pool. It was an amazing way to just relax and end our busy day.

Day 2: Ran-Tong (Save and Rescue Elephant Centre) 

This was definitely one of our top highlights of our trip! Now I know that there’s a lot of mixed feelings about riding elephants. At the same time, I did a lot of research and really did find a place that made it extremely obvious how much they truly cared for these elephants. All of the elephants were rescued from activities such as logging. There weren’t any chairs on the elephants/ they weren’t forced to do any sort of unnatural stunts or tricks. Honestly, if you’re reading this and it’s upsetting you, you can read their site yourself, or simply just exit the blog.

This experience was absolutely amazing!! The day was so smooth and best of all, it was decently close to the centre of Chiang Mai!

We did the RanTong half day morning riding program. This was honestly the PERFECT amount of time. They picked us from our hotel at 7:00 AM, and we arrived before 8:00( this place was really close compared to others I had researched). We were met by staff who was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and clearly really cared for the elephants. The camp itself is located up in the mountains, it was really just breath taking. They gave us clothes to change into since we’d be bathing the elephants and getting wet.

First we fed the elephants with sugar cane, and then we got to ride them! Each elephant had a couple, and was accompanied by an elephant trainer. Our elephant was named “Pai.” – and of course we’d get the elephant that was misbehaving! Instead of walking along the path, our girl was playing with everything in sight, taking every road she wasn’t supposed to!

You really couldn’t take the smile off of our faces. Just being with Steven on this beautiful elephant, with mountains surrounding us, it was so surreal, and truly something I won’t ever forget.

We then got to bathe our elephants too! Of course Pai was misbehaving,and while we were only supposed to get wet waist down, Steven and I were completely soaked! They then let us change and dry off, and served us some lunch! (traditional Chiang Mai noodles, Kao Soi).

If you’re looking for a chance to really interact with elephants, I HIGHLY recommend Ran-Tong).

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They brought us back to the hotel by 1:00 PM! This was perfect since it left us with the rest of the day! Suggestions that I would have, is perhaps double booking another attraction such as Doi Suthep or ATV-ing.

That day, Steven & I got a massage!! I got an oil massage where as he got a Thai massage ( which is hilarious to watch because he’s really not flexible). We went to a place that was walking distance. The massage felt great for a very reasonable price. However, there are massages at every corner in Thailand, and this one wasn’t spectacular enough for me to give you a recommendation.

Also, we went to a local restaurant nearby:

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I’m telling you, the food in Thailand is AMAZING. You know when you look forward to travelling and eating, and you build up all this excitement in your head, but often you’re let down? This will NOT happen in Thailand. It’s going to be so repetitive throughout my blog, but basically every single place that we ate was amazing.

This day, we then went back to take a swim in the pool!

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Then for our probably 5th meal of the day:

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( I literally drank Thai Iced Milk Tea every opportunity I got, and I got a lot of opportunities)

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This place was also fantastic, and about a ten minute walk from our hotel. I apologize for the photo quality, the place was really dim and romantic! Ugh I don’t have the name of the hotel – you can blame Steven for writing over my note on my phone with the restaurant title.

Day 3: Doi Inthanon National Park

Considering it was the wet season that we visited, we had amazing weather! Unfortuately, that luck fell short on the day we did a full day tour to Doi Inthanon National Park.

I was really excited to visit this park, since it has the highest point in all of Thailand. While I was expecting to see beautiful mountains, and the beautiful pagodas, we literally couldn’t see anything. The weather got especially worse the higher up we got. Regardless, we had a really nice tour guide, and still a wonderful time. We got to visit a local tribe (not the Karen long neck tribe),  and eat at a restaurant called “Royal Project Restaurant,” made up of completely organic foods grown on the very same mountain. We also visited a waterfall.

This is how it’s supposed to look:


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Royal Project Restaurant^

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Also, Steven & I paid quite a bit for this tour. After speaking to a couple of backpackers, they took a bus to the park itself, paid the entrance fee and rented a scooter up! This sounds like a really cool/ cheap alternative. Steven and I were honestly just lazy to do our research that day, and let the hotel book it for us. Regardless it was smooth and a good time.

Steven & I were also frequent shoppers at 7/11! 7/11 is everywhere, with a lot of unique snacks for really cheap, and also a place for cheap beer.

We came across an extremely nice taxi driver that day. He was so talkative, and open to answering all of our questions about Thailand. Something that Steven & I quickly noticed, was how frequent we spotted huge photos/ memoirs of their past king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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He also recommended us to a small little restaurant, that you typically wouldn’t look twice at. However, the chef here actually used to cook for the princess. Steven and I were COMPLETELY blown away. It was the best fried fish, and prawn curry I’ve tasted in my life. Just PHENOMENAL.

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We decided to call it a night early that day, since we were taking a 6:45 AM flight to Krabi the next day. We had the absolute BEST time in Chiang Mai for those three full days and three nights. If you’re going to Thailand, I couldn’t recommend this city enough. It’s very slow paced, with many cheap eats everywhere. The people, are ridiculously nice. From the airport, to the taxi drivers, to the hotel staff, local vendors, every single person that we came across (even those that needed nothing from us) were so kind and clearly really proud to be from Thailand.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I hope it’s made you consider adding Chiang Mai to your plans, or maybe even extending your stay. If you have any questions, please message! I’m looking for every excuse to talk about this phenomenal experience.


Stay tuned for my next blog about Krabi 🙂












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