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The Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai Festivals

The Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai Festivals

Chiang Mai is known across the globe as one of the cultural havens of Thailand where you can tour different ancient temples and pig out on various Thai cuisines. However, the ultimate experience you can get here is if you attend one of its many festivals.

Some of the festivities here can be so unique or foreign especially if you’re coming from a Western country. No worries, though, as we have here our ultimate guide to Chiang Mai festivals to help you out!

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Chiang Mai to join the various festivals here is, of course, on the dates when the festivals themselves are held. However, there are year-round festivities and events here that you can enjoy with the locals such as Khantoke evenings and walking streets.

From October to April, you get cool and pleasant weather which will give you that relaxing and laid-back atmosphere of attending the different festivals here. However, this means that these months are peak season for tourists as well.

You may also want to visit Chiang Mai during the months of November and February to witness some of the province’s most important festivities. You’ll experience the Loi Krathong Festival in November and the Chiang Mai Flower Festival in February.

Important Tips When Attending Chiang Mai Festivals

  • While you can attend any festival in Chiang Mai on your own, it’s best to hire a local tour guide. These guides can point you where you need to go and assist you in better understanding Thai culture and what the festivals are all about.
  • Always remember–safety first! Some festivals may require the handling of hazardous materials (e.g. lanterns) which shouldn’t be released near buildings and trees.
  • Some festivals are deeply spiritual so you should respect traditions and cultures. For example, attending festivals located in Temples also means dressing appropriately for the event (e.g. no short shorts and sleeveless tops).

Chiang Mai Festivals

Yi Peng Lantern Festival

Date: November (On the full moon of the 12th month, following the traditional Thai lunar calendar)

The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is an event you shouldn’t miss if you want to see something unique and spectacular while in Thailand. This ancient festival is observed to honour the Buddha and to celebrate the end of the monsoon.

To properly observe this festival, you have to follow the rituals that the locals do– release a paper lantern into the sky. It’s truly a sight to behold especially since you do this lantern release in the evening.

It’s breathtaking just looking up and seeing thousands of lanterns up above your head. You’ll definitely feel all the negativity of the past year floating away while you usher in the good vibes of the coming year. 

Loi Krathong Festival   

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Date: November (On the full moon of the 12th month, following the traditional Thai lunar calendar)

Locals look forward to the Loi Krathong Festival as it is a festival of renewal. During this event, you can send out small krathong (bouquets with incense and lighted candles) down the river– a gesture symbolising washing away the sins of the previous year.

You can also join in the launching of glowing paper balloons also referred to as khorn.  These balloons are commonly launched at night and you can see these glowing lanterns dotting the night sky– perfect if you want a calming and unforgettable evening!

Songkran Festival  

Date: April 13 to 15

This festival started out with some soft water sprinkling but now, if you visit during Songkran season, expect a full day of hardcore water bombardment from every corner of the country. You better be used to getting wet as the festivities can last for weeks!

If you want to join in on the fun, we recommend staying around the moat area of Chiang Mai, a portion of the province peppered with streetside bars.  

Be ready for some raunchy water shenanigans, drunk driving, and chaotic traffic if you visit Chiang Mai during Songkran!

Wai Khru Day 

Date: One (1) Thursday in either June or July

We all want to thank our teachers for their guidance and support but here in Thailand, they actually have a festival where you can actually see students showing appreciation for their teachers. It’s called Wai Khru Day and it has deep significance for locals here.

During this festival, students will usually do a ritual to show these teachers esteem and humility. You can also see this in Muay Thai schools where students will perform a Wai Khru ritual before starting their fight.

The King’s and Queen’s Birthdays 

Date: December 5 (King’s Birthday) and August 12 (Queen’s Birthday)

In Thailand, the locals hold the King and Queen with high regard and respect. There are certain laws here that can land you in jail if you insult the King of Thailand so that’s one thing to keep in mind.

Celebrating the birthdays of both the King and Queen of Thailand then, is understandably important for the locals. During these important dates, you’ll see Thais erecting murals and lifting pictures of their well-loved and revered royalty.

Coincidentally, their birthdays also fall during mothers’ and fathers’ day making this festival even more important for most locals here. Just take it all in by sitting in a cafe or a restaurant while enjoying your favourite drink and observing the local festivities

Khao Phansa 

Date: Starts around June or July, ends around September or October

Chiang Mai is steeped in Buddhist traditions and you can see its influence through the Khao Phansa festival. During this period, Buddhists observe the coming of their religion’s version of lent.

You can visit Buddhist temples during this period to see what a Buddhist ordination looks like. Of course, once you get to the temple grounds, you can just relax and stroll around the area to appreciate the relaxing vibe of the site.

Makha Bucha Day 

Date: February 24, 2024

This is another religious celebration that you shouldn’t miss when in Chiang Mai. It’s a great spectacle to watch especially if you want to see something unique and special.

You see, if you head on down to Wat Chedi Luang during the said festival, you see a peaceful candlelit procession attended by hundreds of people. Don’t forget to take pictures of this rare festival to show it to your loved ones back home.

Visakha Bucha Day  

Date: Around May or June (based on the 15th day of the lunar month)

If locals celebrate the birthdays of their beloved King and Queen, then you best believe that Thai Buddhists celebrate the birthday of their Lord Buddha as well! During this festival, you can join the tradition of walking up to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep.

This is Chiang Mai’s tallest and most popular temple and you can join the thousands of people doing the 10- kilometre trek to the top of the temple (around 700 metres up high) in honour of Buddha. 

You also don’t need to worry about the heat of the mid-day sun as you’ll do the walk in the evening of the said festival. The walk back down is also the perfect opportunity for you to try out the food stalls and stores scattered across the path going to the temple.

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival    

Date: Third Weekend of January

You and your kids (and those who are young at heart) will most certainly fall in love with this vibrant celebration of umbrellas! Chiang Mai has a thriving parasol industry centred around Bo Sang Village which you and your loved ones can visit.

If you happen to drop by Bo Sang during its Umbrella Festival, you’ll see a ton of colourful rice-paper umbrellas, lively music, and parades.

We recommend that you check out the craftsmen while they work on these traditional parasols in their workshops lining Bo Sang Village. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you shouldn’t miss!

Chinese New Year  

Date: Mid-January to Mid- February

Thailand has a ton of Chinese influences and culture thanks to the descendants of Chinese immigrants way back. As such, you shouldn’t be surprised if the country celebrates one of the most festive Chinese New Year’s this side of Asia.

If you want to be at the centre of all the activities, we recommend that you head on down to near the Flower Market at the Chinese City Pillar. Here, you can enjoy some of the most enjoyable festivities in Thailand which include fireworks and lion dances.

Nimmanhemin Arts and Crafts Fair

Date: First weekend of December

This is a fairly modern festival (only in its 12th year!) dedicated to the arts and fine interior decor. You need to proceed to Nimmanhaemin Road and Think Park to enjoy streets that are lined with various shops selling artsy decor.

This festival draws large crowds so it’s best that you arrive early during this 3-Day fair. We highly recommend that you purchase locally crafted decor from this event as it supports the local craftsmen of Chiang Mai on top of the crafts being top-notch!

Flower Festival  

Date: Early February

The Flower Festival is another event in Chiang Mai that both you and your young children will surely enjoy. Thanks to the beautiful colours displayed during this festival (owing to the tropical plants on display), it’s one phenomenon you should definitely see!

To view this amazing display of vibrant tropical colours, you need to proceed to the South-Western moat of Chiang Mai.  From here, you’ll see the blooming tropical plants and take photos or selfies with your family or friends.

Other Festivities to Check Out in Chiang Mai

Khantoke Evenings

Date: No specific date

Khantoke evenings aren’t really large-scale festivals but it’s something most locals would do to celebrate holidays and festivals. It’s an old Lanna tradition where you get invited by the host of a festival or celebration to have a special local dinner with them.

You can now enjoy these Khantoke dinners around Chiang Mai, thanks to the many Khantoke establishments sprouting almost everywhere in the city. Look for traditional-looking pavilions and inquire if they offer this kind of service.

If they do, then we highly recommend that you try it out as you’ll be treated to some delicious dishes from the Northern Thailand region accompanied by some local cultural dances and musical performances.

Sunday Walking Street

Date: Every Sunday

Not a festival per se but with the spirit and exuberance it has, it’s so festive we can’t help but include this on our list! Every Sunday, Chiang Mai’s Ratchadamnoen Road turns into a busy and colourful site filled with food stalls, stores, and buskers.

The walking street is also quite popular with tourists and locals, adding to that festival-vibe of the area, thanks to the huge crowds gathered here every weekend. 

You can join in the dancing and singing while shopping for local wares and trying out the local cuisine. Don’t forget to buy local trinkets from craft markets to further immerse yourself in the culture of Thailand and bring home some unique souvenirs!

How to Get around Chiang Mai

Car Rental: You can rent a car in Chiang Mai through various car rental companies such as Hertz, Budget, and Avis. Competitive rates are also being offered here by smaller car rental companies so we suggest that you ask around for the best price.

To rent a car, you need to present your driver’s licence and your passport. Once you get your rental, you can drive around the city with ease and convenience, especially if you’re travelling around the city with your family or loved ones.

Songthaew: Chiang Mai residents and locals will use Songthaews for their daily transportation and if you want to feel like a local, you can always take these to make your way around the city. 

They’re cheap and you can easily flag one down almost anywhere. These songthaews usually follow a specific route but if you ask the driver to take you somewhere specific, they’ll be happy to oblige (for a fee, of course).

Tuk-tuk: Considered an icon here in Thailand, Tuks-tuks are fun to take a ride in if you want to get around the Old City. They’re also a bit faster compared to the standard songthaew. 

However, we highly recommend that you haggle or negotiate the price of the fare with the driver first to avoid any misunderstanding after you get to your destination. 

You can find most of these tuk-tuks around tourist areas, hotels, and bazaars so it shouldn’t be a problem flagging one. Plus, you can take pictures or selfies with one to share with your loved ones and family back home– a truly unique ride from Thailand!

Motorbike Rental: If you want to get around the Old City faster, then renting a motorbike might be your best option. Plus, it’s also cheaper than renting a car and is less affected by sometimes heavy traffic Thailand is notorious for.

You can usually get 100 to 125cc motorbikes here but if you want something beefier, then you can look for other rental companies offering larger bikes like dirt bikes, touring bikes, and road bikes.

Where to Stay 

Nine Hotel Chiang Mai

Address: 9 Soi 6 Ratchamanka Rd Phrasing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand 

Phone: +66979561425  

Pricing: $$

Book Now

This hotel should be on top of your list if you want to see everything there is to experience in Old City Chiang Mai. Located at the heart of the Old City, Nine Hotel Chiang Mai will give you walking-distance access to most attractions around the area.

You’ll also get spacious rooms and some of the comfiest beds you’ll ever sleep in here in Thailand. Plus, the hotel has a swimming pool with some lounge areas around it– ideal if you and your family just want to hang out after an entire day of going on tours.

We also recommend that you don’t skip breakfast here as their buffet spread is one of the most varied we’ve seen. The hotel offers local dishes and some standard Western fare (like pancakes and waffles) which we’re certain you and your family will like.

Aksara Heritage  

Address: 73/1 Rachadamnoen Rd, พระสิงห์ เมือง Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand  

Phone: +6653 279 224 

Pricing: $$

Book Now

The Aksara Heritage is the hotel for you if you want some peace and quiet during your stay here in Old City Chiang Mai. 

Located near some of the busiest streets in the city, the hotel is able to maintain its calm and peaceful atmosphere thanks to the surrounding greenery. If you’re a health buff making your way through Thailand, you’ll be glad to know that they have a fitness gym.

You can also just relax by the hotel’s swimming pool if you feel like you’ve done enough travelling for one day. Their breakfast is also something you should look forward to as the dishes are divine and the garden dining area offers a phenomenal view of the hotel!

Sippa Hot Spring Resort

Address:  50 หมู่ที่8 Ban Sa Ha Khon, Mae On District, Chiang Mai 50130, Thailand

Phone: +66949254628

Pricing: $$

Book Now

After looking at all the craftsmen and their wares, you and your family will most likely want a hotel that is calming and tranquil. Sippa Hot Spring Resort is the perfect solution for you then!

It boasts cottage-style accommodations and some spa and hot pools for you to enjoy and chill out on. If you want something more private, we suggest getting a private room with a hot tub– ideal if you want to unwind away from the crowds.

Kham Mon Lanna Resort Chiang Mai

Address:  4 หมู่ที่ 6 Chai Sathan, Saraphi District, Chiang Mai 50140, Thailand

Phone: +66882635028

Pricing: $$ 

Book Now

Do you prefer a hotel that seamlessly combines the traditional with the modern? Then Kham Mon Lanna Resort may be your best choice for accommodation here in the Kamphaeng District.

It has traditional-looking rooms with a touch of modern elegance that can provide you and your loved ones with the amenities you need to stay comfortable. Their rooms also have comfortable beds and nice views for you to enjoy.

If you have young children, they’ll surely have a blast in the hotel’s pool thanks to the jets of water streaming out of the elephant statues lining the sides of the pool.

The Chiang Mai Riverside Hotel

Address: หมู่ที่ 7 111 Somphot Chiang Mai 700 Pi Rd, Pa Daet Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand  

Phone: +6653447211  

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

The Chiang Mai Riverside Hotel may be on the pricey end of hotels but as the saying goes– you get what you pay for! The money you spend here, though, is worth it as you get one of the most elegant and luxurious establishments to stay in when in Chiang Mai.

First, the hotel grounds feature a relaxing outdoor garden feel which is perfect if you want a relaxing getaway. Next, you get amazing views of the river thanks to the hotel’s strategic riverside location.

Lastly, you get some of the best amenities on this side of Chiang Mai. Their rooms are spacious and immaculately maintained, their swimming pool looks phenomenal, and you can also use their modern gym to work out or warm up before your day starts.

Where to Eat Around Chiang Mai

Goodsouls Kitchen

Address: 52 Sinharat Rd Lane 3, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand  

Phone: +66 88 819 9669  

Pricing: $$


Going Vegan is a big commitment and it shows how much you value the environment and (of course) your health. The good news is that you can have quality vegan meals here in Old City Chiang Mai, thanks to Goodsouls Kitchen Vegan Restaurant.

They serve vegan dishes with more of an Italian twist and these include pasta, wraps, salads, and potato wedges. Don’t forget to end your meal here with some sweet treats like their chocolate brownies and blueberry cheesecake slices.

You can also go traditional here and order some of their Thai cuisine. We especially liked Thai stir-fried veggies and their Masaman paired with brown rice as these tasted really authentic– you should go for these if you want some local dishes!

The Vorra Bistro 

Address: 184/1 Ratchamanka Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand   

Phone: +66 53 278 780  

Pricing: $$


Italian cuisine lovers, rejoice– The Vorra Bistro is here to give you a one-of-a-kind experience when it comes to enjoying your classic Italian favourites. They have different kinds of pasta you can choose from along with some heavenly desserts you can try out.

We highly recommend that you check out their pasta pesto with scallops and their vegan mushroom risotto. They taste fresh and you certainly won’t forget their flavourful and strong Italian herbs and spices! 

Their desserts are something you shouldn’t miss as well as the sweets offered by the Vorra Bistro are remarkably delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. Go for their fruit sabayon and chocolate lava cake– we promise you, you won’t regret it!

Gusto Site

Address: Gusto Site, 192 Ton Pao, San Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai 50130, Thailand 

Phone: +66 87 657 9889

Pricing: $$


Do you want food options galore? Then let the cuisine medley offered by the Gusto Site rock your world and prepare for a culinary treat like no other right here in Chiang Mai!

This restaurant offers food items that range from Japanese dishes to Western dishes, and of course, Thai dishes. You should try their “volcano” sizzling platter which features a slab of steak that’s then set on fire, roasting it to perfection right in front of you.

We strongly suggest that you top your meal off with any of their alcoholic drinks and groove to the music of their live band to dial your experience all the way up to ten!

Tartar Bistro 

Address: 108 Moo.7 T.San Kamphaeng, San Kamphaeng, San Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai 50130, Thailand 

Phone: +6653332122

Pricing:  $$


American-style dining is what’s going on here at the Tartar Bistro. The restaurant has a nice and homey feel to it and will surely be inviting to guests such as yourself and your loved ones thanks to its nice vibe and friendly staff.

You should definitely try their ribs and steak with some tomato-based sauce as it has a familiar texture combined with a unique flavour. Ask your waiter for some of their specialty coffee and teas as they are some of the best ones in the area. 

Wild Boar Restaurant and Bar 

Address: 30, 5 Loi Kroh Rd, Tambon Chang Khlan, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand 

Phone: +66 89 221 3060  

Pricing:  $$

You might assume that this restaurant only serves pork or meat thanks to its name but you’d be wrong. It’s owned by a Canadian who now resides in Chiang Mai so expect a combination of Thai and Western cuisine on the roster.

The restaurant also shows sports on TV (specifically hockey) so if you’re a fan of the sport, then you can treat this restaurant like a sports bar where you just dine on some finger food, and drink some alcoholic beverages while watching your favourite team.

Try out the restaurant’s Western offerings such as their ham and hash breakfast plate and their delectable clubhouse and chips combo– you won’t regret it! Don’t forget to order their local favourites as well (such as their curry noodles) as they’re truly heavenly.

What to Expect from Chiang Mai Weather

Cool Season: Chiang Mai’s cool season covers the months of November to February. During this time, the weather is just perfect for tourists as it is cool and comfortable enough for you and your family to tour the area.

However, the months of December and January of the cool season can bring in large throngs of crowds due to the New Year’s celebration. Expect heavy traffic and prepare to do some itinerary planning to make the most of your time during these months.

Hot Season: The hot season in Chiang Mai runs from March to May. The air can be especially dry during these months and this is also the hottest season here.

If you visit during April, you’ll notice a very festive vibe across Thailand as locals will be celebrating their Thai New Year or Songkran. To cool down, you can engage with the locals in some good old-fashioned Songkran water splashing!

Rainy Season: The months of June to October are mostly rainy here in Chiang Mai. August and September are the worst in terms of rain as heavy downpours can happen all throughout the day during this period.

You can still enjoy your time here despite the rain as the temperature is definitely much more comfortable compared to the summer season. Also, expect the greenery to be much more lush– perfect if you want that vibrant green background in your selfie!

Apps to Download for Chiang Mai Festivals

Grab: Ride-hailing, food, grocery, and delivery services

iOS | Android

Line: Call and messaging, file sharing

iOS | Android

Klook: Book tours, attractions, tickets, restaurants, hotels, and other activities

iOS | Android

Agoda:  Book hotels, flights, and other activities

iOS | Android

Google Translate: Translate various languages

iOS | Android

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