Honeymoons have evolved from simple beach vacations, and these days, couples can choose a trip as unique as they are.
Chiang Mai, Thailand. Fly into Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) and most flights connect through Bangkok (BKK).
You’ll love it if…
You seek adventure and culture.
About Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, known by locals as “the rose of the north” for its beauty and charm, has become a popular honeymoon destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable combination of adventure, culture and relaxation.
With its spectacular scenery, endless cultural pursuits and some of the world’s best five-star resorts, Chiang Mai offers something for everyone. Although flights to Thailand can be a bit pricey, once there you can pamper yourself with fine dining, luxury accommodations and extravagant spa treatments for less than many other exotic honeymoon destinations.
How to see Chiang Mai
The best way to see the city is by private tour. We checked in with Tim Krenzien from Paul Klein Travel, a Virtuoso Member Agency specializing in luxury, who recommends booking tours through Trails of Indochina.
A reservation includes a private driver, an air-conditioned vehicle as well as a private English-speaking tour guide. The guides are reliable, knowledgeable and extremely professional. Expect itineraries to be inspirational, yet tightly organized and managed. Costs are reasonable and depending on what you are looking to do, range from about $125 to $275 for an entire day (based on activity costs).
What to do in Chiang Mai
For the culture-seekers:
- A visit to Wat Phrathat, the city’s famous golden-gilded temple, is a must-see.
- Taking a cooking class with your loved one and learning the secrets of Northern-Thai cooking is also not to be missed. Mastering the art of cooking each other’s favorite Thai dishes is the ultimate souvenir that you will enjoy for years to come.
- Check out Night Bazaar or weekend Walking Markets. Visitors will revel in a shopper’s paradise where streets are lined with vendors selling everything from novelty items to handmade Thai silk. Bargaining is customary here, so be sure to give it a try!
- Tim Krenzien recommends that travelers looking for a spiritual experience take part in the giving of the Alms procession for the monks, which occurs daily at the crack of dawn.
- Trek through the Thai jungles atop an elephant’s back (check out Chiang Dao Elephant Training center, which is praised for its humane treatment).
- If you’re looking for something even more adventurous, climb into a tiger’s cage at Mae Rim’s Tiger Kingdom and play with baby or full-grown cats.
- Once you’ve experienced what this spectacular city has to offer, head indoors to one of Chiang Mai’s many extravagant resorts for some R&R (more about these resorts below).
Where to stay
Chiang Mai’s hotels are famous for the over-the-top luxury that they afford newlyweds. Tim Krenzien recommends The Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai as well as the Mandarin Oriental, Dhara Dhevi to his clients looking for extreme luxury.
Nicola Chilton, Senior Director of Public Relations for The Four Seasons, Asia-Pacific, informed us about the abundance of romantic activities tailored specifically to honeymooners, like a private candlelit dinner overlooking the rice fields or the many couples treatments offered by its world-class spa, like signature Thai massages or Chakra Blessing treatments.
For couples looking for luxury at a lower price point, Krenzien suggests The Chedi, Chiang Mai, which is conveniently located in the heart of the city on the banks of the renowned Mae Ping River, just blocks away from the Night Bazaar. This contemporary hotel provides the perfect escape from the bustling metropolis. What The Chedi lacks in scenery that the Mandarin and Four Seasons offer in the countryside, it makes up for with elegant guest rooms and its central locale. The Chedi also has one of the best restaurants in the city, serving up gourmet Indian and Korean cuisine.
And speaking of food…
Where to eat and drink
Believe it or not, some of the best food in the city can be found at food vendors on the street. These carts may not be five star, but they serve up some of the nation’s finest cuisine. Sampling street food is a must-have experience while in Thailand. It’s part of the local culture and it’s dirt cheap, so why not give it a try?
The fried noodle and soup noodles are fantastic, as are the fresh-cut, tropical fruits like jackfruit and durian. And don’t forget to grab a plastic bag full of freshly-squeezed passion fruit juice.
- For romantic dinner reservations, if you’re looking for elegant Thai cuisine, check out La Grand Lanna at the Mandarin Oriental.
- For magnificent views overlooking the lake, visit Palaad Tawanron.
- For local and sustainable vegetarian fare, chow down at Pun Pun.
- For a taste of authentic northern Thai praised by famed foodie Anthony Bourdain, visit Aroon Rai.
- If you’re looking to keep the night going, check out live music at North Gate Jazz Co-Op.
- If you’re in the mood to dance, be sure to check out Monkey Club or Mandalay.
When to go
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is during its dry season, which is roughly November through May. Nicola Chilton from The Four Seasons highly recommends visiting Chiang Mai during the Yi Peng Lantern Festival (typically in November), which is an enchanting experience where thousands of lanterns are floated into the evening sky.
What to watch out for
Thailand is infamous for its sex shows, which despite their popularity, are actually illegal. Many couples fall into the trap of wanting to experience a seemingly innocent adventure and end up having to bribe cops out of an arrest. You do not want your honeymoon to end with a trip to a Thai prison.
Visitors should also be wary of vendors selling designer items. No matter what these crafty salesmen say, these goods are almost always counterfeit.