Delicious Brunch & Breakfasts in Chiang Mai: Top 8


best breakfast brunch in chiang mai

Chiang Mai takes breakfast seriously.


Artisan coffee and bagels. French toast with candied bacon and pecans. Breakfast pizza with grilled peppers, bacon, mozzarella, egg, parmesan and rocket. Eggs Benedict with creamy homemade sauce. Fresh tropical fruit, natural yogurt and local honey. British sausages, hash browns, and baked beans.

Yep, breakfast in Chiang Mai is special.

And the best part? You can get breakfast til the sun goes down thanks to Chiang Mai's love of the sabai sabai slow life. Here are the best breakfast and brunch spots I've found in Chiang Mai after spending many years here. They're not in any order, and they're all airconditioned and have WiFi unless stated.

ONLY food that makes me say "Oh, wow!" is on this list. 'OK' breakfasts and mediocre brunches are banned.

The Larder Chiang Mai

The Larder has a chill, laid-back vibe no matter how full it gets, and the gorgeous interior is as bright, vibrant, and fresh as the creative menu. Fluffy french toast served with berries, tropical fruit and thick vanilla cream, chorizo hot dogs topped with rocket and sharp gorgonzola cheese, avocado toast with tomatoes, rocket, olives and eggs, and the quality is as top-notch as the presentation. Sunlight streams in through big windows and lights up the place, and all the happy faces inside, beautifully. The staff are professional, attentive, and themselves - tattoos, badass fashion, dyed hair. Definitely a must-try in Chiang Mai.

Recommended dishes: French toast, breakfast hotdog.
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: Just off Nimmanhaemin Road, here.
Opening times: 08:30 - 15:00, closed Tues and Wed.
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Overstand Chiang Mai

Located on a quiet, leafy soi in the cultural Old City, Overstand has won awards for its generously portioned, fancy Western-style breakfasts and smooth, flavourful coffee. The interior is simple and homely with a calm-yet-upbeat vibe, the perfect setting for that feeling of the whole day stretching out in front of you. Menu items include grilled veggie salad with feta cheese, a Cuban sandwich with sourdough bread, brown sugar ham, pulled pork, pickles, cheddar cheese, spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, radish and feta, and homemade olive tapenade spread on sourdough topped with fried eggs,parmesan, shallots & tomatoes. Beautifully presented and always tasty.

Recommended dishes: Parmesan eggs, breakfast pizza, sourdough toast with passionfruit jam
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: In the Old City near Thapae Gate, here.
Opening times: 08:00 - 15:00,
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No aircon.


Nana Bakery Chiang Mai

Nana Bakery is a bit of an in-the-know secret. Maybe I shouldn't tell, but this is too good not to share and I want them to enjoy all the success they can. Nana's bakers make delicious, as-authentic-as-it-gets, and amazingly cheap French baguettes, croissants, danishes, sourdough, quiche and more. The French baguette is even made using flour imported from France.

There are four places to get your hands on Nana Bakery deliciousness. The most exciting one, Nana Jungle is a morning out in itself. Every Saturday morning freshly baked goods are laid out in bright yellow baskets in a jungle clearing next to an old temple. You grab a few brown paper bags, fill 'em up, and pay for them before grabbing a free coffee and finding a spot to sit. It's a very social event and you'll probably meet people. You can also get smoothies made in a blender powered by a stationary bicycle, homemade yogurt, flakey curry- or jam-filled puffs, Northern Thai food, and local clothes. You have to get there EARLY, we're talking before 8a.m, or you risk everything being gone already.

The other Nana Bakery branches sell exactly the same products and are geared mostly for takeaway, but the Santitham and Nong Hoy branches serve coffee and have a few tables too. Santitham is the most convenient location if you're staying in the Old City or Nimmanhaemin areas. This is the cheapest option for Western breakfast food on this list.

Recommended dishes: Almond pie, imported-flour French baguette, chocolate croissant
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: Four locations: (1) Santitham, between Nimmanhaemin and the Old City, (2) Chang Khian off the Moat Road, and (3) Nong Hoy, near Varee School, and (4) Nana Jungle on Saturday mornings only.
Opening times: 07:00 - 17:30, except Nana Jungle with is Saturdays only from 07:30 till everything's gone a couple of hours later. 
No aircon or WiFi.

Rustic & Blue Chiang Mai

Rustic & Blue is the famous fancy-but-homely breakfast place in Chiang Mai. Located in the fashionable Nimman area (of course!), Rustic & Blue serves creative, tasty, fresh, homemade dishes that look absolutely perfect. Rustic & Blue has to be the most Instagrammed cafe in Chiang Mai, and you'll see why as soon as you step inside: sunlight cascading through big open windows, a gorgeous garden decorated with white dream catchers and sometimes teepees, slightly worn wooden tables - some of them painted a gorgeous shade of turqoise, exposed Edison bulbs, wooden boards, and precisely chopped fruit meticulously arranged in their amazing accai berry or berry banana smoothie bowls. There's a beautiful garden area with chairs, tables, and hammocks.

The brekky stack is amazing: homemade sausages, bacon, and a fried egg on top of french toast, drizzled with maple syrup and decorated with a sprig of rosemary. My number one tip for this place is the lavender and honey ice cream. You can have ice cream for brunch, right? ;)

Recommended dishes: Brekky stack, smoothie bowl, beef tacos, lavender and honey ice cream.
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: On Nimman Soi 7, here.
Opening times: 08:30 - 22:00, but they sometimes close for private functions
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Food4Thought & Bay's Coffee Chiang Mai

Food4Thought 'hand craft' healthy, creative Western food from scratch and serve outstanding home brewed coffee in a breezy open space decorated with ferns, trees, grass, fairy lights and flowers. Their goal is for customers to feel confident they're eating safe, healthy food, and they source everything local and organic where possible.

My favourite dish so far is their apple, cranberry, mango, tomato, raisin, cashew, almond, pumpkin seed, greens, & creamy 'Curry Chicken' salad. Or 'The Harvest' salad, with bacon, cheddar cheese, cranberries, pumpkin and more. I can't decide. You can also get gourmet burgers, wraps, sandwiches, waffles, kimchi, smoothies, juices, and kombucha. Post continues below this photo of the beautiful Curry Chicken salad:

A photo posted by AmyLou (@amy.on.toast.photo) on

I meant it when I said the coffee is outstanding. You can choose to have your single-origin coffee beans served in a French press, drip, aeropress, or more, and the coffee beans are hand-ground for each and every cup.

Recommended dishes: Curry Chicken salad, The Harvest salad, Breakfast Smoothie, egg and bacon waffle.
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: Just off Huay Kaew Road and close to Nimman, here.
Opening times: 08:00 - 17:00
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Bake & Bite

In a quiet leafy residential area off a busy main road, Bake & Bite is a real treat. The coffee is strong and cheap, the portions are incredibly generous, and there's no WiFi to distract you from enjoying some of Chiang Mai's best breakfast and brunch food. The decor feels like a quaint American diner mixed with your grandmother's house, and it has pleasant outdoor seating (ask for complimentary mosquito spray if mozzies are on the prowl). It's moved around a lot in the past, but don't be fooled by any 'business closed' search results - this restaurant IS open in the location provided below.

Whether you're after a healthy breakfast like an avocado sandwich or absolutely decadent deliciousness like the French toast with candied bacon, pecans, and maple syrup, there's a large menu offering something to suit every taste. They bake their own bread and cakes, and yummm, their cakes are good. I love sitting in the pretty garden area with a cake, coffee, and my book. Bake & Bite is a little hidden away, but worth seeking out. Especially for that bacon French toast. I haven't seen that anywhere before!

Recommended dishes: French toast with candied bacon and pecans, hot Americano coffee, a treat from the fridge full of baked goods.
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: Near the river and McCormick Hosptial, here.
Opening times: 06:30 - 16:00. Closed Fridays.
No WiFi.

Angel's Secrets

Angel's Secret is a mellow, pretty, very colourful restaurant with a chill vibe and hearty, wholesome food. They have a real fixation on breakfast and getting the little details right. Apple, almond, and cinanamon oatmeal, colourful tropical fruit bowls, egg sandwiches, French toast, Nutella and dragonfruit crepes, croissants. The staff are sweet, friendly people, so you'll feel welcome and comfortable whenever you go. They also serve all your tasty Thai favourites if you're feeling more lunchy than breakfasty.

Recommended dishes: Carrot cake with zesty lemon frosting, tropical fruit bowl, fluffy omlette, The Zinger juice.
Has vegetarian options? Yes. 
Location: In the Old City near Thapae gate, here.
Opening times: 07:00 - ??. Closed Mondays.
No aircon.

BBQ Pork Sticks & Sticky Rice

Ok, ok, this isn't a PLACE in Chiang Mai, but what list of great breakfast in Chiang Mai would be complete without this Thai breakfast staple? Meat eaters have just gotta try it while you're here. In the morning, it's best to follow your nose. You'll smell the BBQing pork sticks in the air, and probably see a queue of hungry Thai people crowding around a street stall. Small sticks cost between 3 to 5 baht each, and big sticks costs 10 baht.

The pork is fattier than what we're used to as Westerners, but it's that way on purpose. Trust me, it goes so well with the sticky rice that after a few bites you'll be hooked. A bag of sticky rice for one costs 5 baht, making this the cheapest breakfast option in Chiang Mai by far. It's also an amazing midnight snack.

There are a few other pretty good options like Smoothie Blues to try. Did I miss your favourite off? Why do you love it? Tell me so I can go eat breakfast at 1p.m. there!

Where to stay in Chiang Mai?


All the info out there is bamboozling, so I made this One-Stop Guide to the five most popular areas in Chiang Mai. Find out what each area is like, who will like it there, and who won't. Check out the guide below.

This guide covers Chiang Mai Old City, the Night Bazaar, Nimmanhaemin, Santitham, and the Riverside area. Budget = 0 - 1000 baht, Midrange = 1000 - 3000 baht, Luxury = 3000 - 5000 baht, Mindblowing = 5000 baht plus.  Click here to open my areas of Chiang Mai map in Google Maps.



Chiang Mai Old City

The original tourist attraction in Chiang Mai. Over 700 years old and surrounded by a picturesque moat, Chiang Mai Old City is the most popular area for travelers to stay in Chiang Mai. Parts of the original city wall are still standing, and you get a real sense of stepping back in time at the four corners of the moat where the old brick walls are still intact. Look closely and you'll discover the small openings used by soldiers long ago for firing arrows down onto invading enemies.

Getting lost in the hundreds of tiny, winding, delightful little lanes, called sois, is a fantastic way to spend a day in the Old City. Chiang Mai used to be a great place of Buddhist worship and learning, and in many ways it still is. Each temple has its own unique and interesting history.

A few words to describe The Old City:
Cultural, charming, heritage, eclectic, bustling, cheap, history, temples, food stalls, markets, spas, hidden gems, unstructured, touristy in places, compact, lively, museums, massage parlours, cooking schools, Muay Thai boxing stadiums.

Who it's for:
The Old City is suitable for all budgets. Most people recommend the Old City as the best place to stay in Chiang Mai. It's very easy to make friends here if you're travelling solo and a great option if you want lots of tourist attractions on your doorstep. Street food is plentiful, cheap, and delicious.

You won't like it so much here if:
You don't like other tourists. You want a good range of coffee shops to work in. You want to make long-term friends.

You'll find
- Historic tourist attractions, like the Three Kings Monument square, Chiang Mai Cultural Center, Lanna Folklife Museum, and Lanna Architecture Museum. Step inside to learn about the ancient Northern Thai kingdom, the significance of the white elephant to Chiang Mai, Northern Thai buildings, and so much more.

- The iconic Thapae Gate. Reconstructed in the 1980s, Thapae Gate is the symbol of Chiang Mai.

- The dazzling Sunday Market begins at Thapae Gate and extends along Ratchadamnoen Road. The laid back street festival vibe is loved by travelers and locals alike, and you can spend hours sampling delicacies, bargaining for trinkets, trying on homemade clothes, and chatting with stall vendors under huge red northern Thai umbrellas and fairy lights. There are plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants, and temples to duck inside if you need a break from the crowd.

- Shops, mostly catering to tourists, selling beautiful handmade arts, crafts, clothes, accessories, and homeware.

- Great dining and cafe options to suit all budgets and tastes. Thai food is easy to find, good quality, and cheap. Good quality, fairly priced international food is available, but it's not as easy to find as in Nimmanhaemin. There are coffee shops, but again, not as many as in Nimman.

- Colourful local markets selling street snacks, cooked Thai food, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and flowers. Sompet Market is a lively choice and it's fun to try the free fruit samples.

- A flat and easy-to-navigate landscape. You can walk, bicycle, motorbike, tuk tuk, or red car easily.

- Nightlife options including the Northgate Jazz Bar, Zoe in Yellow, and Pentatonic Rock Bar. Zoe is a backpacker party haven with several bars to explore. My favourite is Pentatonic Rock Bar, because I love heavy rock and metal music.

Recommended hotels in the Old City:
Budget: Baan Guesthouse Chiang Mai GateHOSTEL BY BED
Midrange: Bed Phrasingh HotelBaan Klang Wiang Hotel
Luxury: 99 The Heritage HotelDe Naga Hotel Chiang Mai by The Unique Collection
Mindblowing: Rachamankha a Member of Secret Retreats Hotel

The Night Bazaar

Who it's for:
The Night Bazaar area is for people who want to shop for souvenirs conveniently any day of the week or want to meet bar girls. There are a few luxury hotels and some hostels.

You won't like it so much here if:
You don't like being near sex bars, or you're not into shopping.

A few words to describe the Night Bazaar area:
Souvenir shops, busy, night market, food courts, food trucks, late bars, bars that attract sex tourists, ladyboy shows, electronics shops, a few luxury hotels, muay Thai, pick-out-your-own-seafood-and-eat-it restaurants, kareoke bars.

You'll find...
- The Kalare Night Bazaar, a maze of street stalls and the indoor Anusarn Market. Buy crafts, clothes, trinkets, and souvenirs, then catch some live blues music, get a massage, or see the extravagantly made up ladyboys perform.

- The 3D art gallery Art in Paradise, where you can take pictures of you and your companions interacting with 3D art.

- A silversmith workshop and jewelry shop called Nova Collection. I made a necklace here and highly recommend it.

- Great places to eat including Rock Me Burger, Whole Earth, and Butter is Better (I love their carrot cake).

- A popular bar by the river called Bus Bar.

- A Muay Thai stadium at Kalare Night Bazaar

- A few great temples including Wat Chang Khong.

- The nearby Worawot market is probably the biggest in Chiang Mai. You can buy almost anything made in Chiang Mai here, and lots that isn't. Get up while it's still dark to see freshly cut roses, orchids, jasmine, birds of paradise flowers, daisies, lotus flowers, and more being delivered by the truck-full. Flowers are very important here, because they're used as religious offerings in temples, at shrines, around car rearview mirrors, etc, as well as gifts and decoration. Buy your own at any time of day.

- Most of the bars down Loi Kroh road are for meeting bar girls.

Recommended hotels in the Night Bazaar area:
Budget: STrips the Poshtel, Hotel Montha
Midrange: Chez PomNap In Chiang Mai HotelRaming Lodge Hotel
Luxury: Dusit D2 Chiang Mai
Mindblowing: Anantara Serviced Suites

Nimmanhaemin

Nimmanhaemin is Chiang Mai's cool area. Also called Nimman or Nimmanheminda, this is the place to be for Thai tourists, students, designers, people who work online, and Instagrammers. The main street starts at the new Maya shopping mall and ends at Warm Up nightclub. It's OK, but the real magic is found in the sois with odd numbers leading off the main street. These sois are where you'll find those interesting coffee shops, artisan restaurants, and tiny artistic havens. Make sure you're going down sois with odd numbers, because there's so much more to see than on the even number sois.

Who it's for:
Nimmanhaemin is for people who prefer a trendier area, young people, people who appreciate design, digital nomads, coffee and dessert lovers, nightlife lovers, foodies, people who want to stay for a month or more, those seeking a creative sanctuary to work in, people who want to meet long-termers, people who want to make business contacts or people to collaborate with.

It caters best to those on a midrange or high budget. Things here are generally more expensive than in the Old City, but still cheap compared to, say, the UK, USA, Malaysia, Japan, and Singapore.

You won't like it so much here if:
You dislike modernity, international influence, or coffee shops. You want a big selection of basic, cheap, Thai food stalls. You want lots of tourist attractions on your doorstep. You roll your eyes when you see people posing with quirky things, like massive colourful mango statues.

A few words to describe Nimmanhaemin:
Trendy, design-conscious, modern, arty, rapidly developing, hip, coffee, boutique accommodation, fusion food, sushi, molecular cocktails, tea houses, wine bars, world beers, live bands, bingsu, dessert, quirky markets with teepees, loft and industrial-inspired design, tapas, Italian, cheesecake, crepe cake, bakeries, free WiFi.

Please be aware that the modern interpretation of Nimmanhaemin is quite new. There's still visible power cables, some shabby buildings, a lack of good pavements, and sois with not much going on. I have no doubt that soon, though, those things will be replaced with places more in-keeping with 'the idea of Nimman' described above.

You'll find...

- A wonderland of coffee shops. Coffee is big business in this area. The quality is high and the prices are low. In these coffee shops, your coffee is crafted by expert baristas. Many have won awards. You can get exciting coffees - yesterday I drank coffee with some kind of sugared orange slice at the bottom.

- Healthy and international food options. Salad, organic food, lots of sushi, Thai.

- A new cinema in Maya shopping mall

- Co-working spaces like CAMP, PunSpace, and digital nomad meetups.

- Late night food stalls and trucks.

- Manufactured quirkiness.

Recommended hotels in Nimman:
Budget: BED Nimman, Chiang Mai Bi AnLa Belle Nuit House
Midrange: At Niman Conceptual HomeHotel Yayee
Luxury: Akyra Manor Chiang MaiArt Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel
Mindblowing: X2 Chiang Mai Nimman VillaNimmanvillaVilla 88 Nimman-Chiang Mai

Santitham

You could just drive through Santitham, think it's a grotty area, and never go back. But actually, it has real hidden gems, is in a great location between Nimmanhaemin and the Old City, and is much cheaper because it's not so touristy. You'll find to-die-for cheap Thai food here at 30 - 70 baht a dish.

The ideal location hasn't been overlooked by developers and business owners, and there are several new hip spots with more and more appearing every few months. Think Nimmanhaemin style coffee shops that feel a bit more Thai and are a bit less busy, with names like Kafe Ombra and Artisan. Boutique style accommodation that's much cheaper than Nimmanhaemin with names like Pyur Otel, a gourmet burger restaurant that's sometimes open, a bar that caters to non-Thais and feels a bit more 'real' than other bars around, a bar that serves really good fries and hosts hip hop nights with rap battles.

A few words to describe Santitham:
Much more Thai than tourist, street food, developing, busy main street, shabby, hidden gems, cheap fashion, budget.

Who it's for:
Santitham is for budget travelers, people living here long term, people who want easy access to Nimmanhaemin and the Old City, people who want a less touristy vibe, people who want to live amongst Thais but don't want to go out into the sticks, people who want to stay here more long-term but don't have a big enough budget to live in Nimmanhaemin.

You won't like it so much here if:
You want to be in the middle of all the action the moment you step outside. You really don't like rundown buildings. You want lots of international food.

Recommended hotels in Santitham:
Budget: White Guest HousePlern Plern Bed and Bike, Be LoftelSunshine House
Midrange: Saeng Panya HomeZzziesta Chaing Mai Bed & Breakfast

Riverside

I love wandering down this riverside area. It's got beautiful Lanna architecture, masterfully illuminated bridges, and, of course, the river. It's a great place to find an upmarket restaurant for a special occasion.

A few words to describe the riverside:
River views, art galleries, fancy shops, fancy spas, fancy restaurants, famous bars and nightlife.

Who it's for:
The riverside area caters best to those on a high budget who want a magical resort experience by the river, though there are some cheaper options available.

You won't like it so much here if:
You want to be in the middle of all the action the moment you step outside. You don't like more expensive dining options.

Recommended hotels in the Riverside area:
Budget: Glur Chiangmai
Midrange: sala lanna Chiang Mai
Luxury: The Chiang Mai RiversideHotel Des Artists Ping Silhouette
Mindblowing: Rati Lanna Riverside Spa ResortAnantara Chiang Mai Resort

Ethical Elephant Parks in Chiang Mai

best ethical elephant park in chiang mai

Visiting an elephant park in Chiang Mai is a great way to learn about elephants and interact with them. The ethical parks below don't offer elephant riding or shows like trunk painting and elephant football, and they don't use bull hooks or keep their elephants chained up at night. Choosing an ethical elephant park gives money to people who actually care for elephants, rather than torture them for profit.

I know elephant riding is a common bucket-list, but the truth behind riding is quite awful.

It causes the elephants serious long-term harm and involves a torturous ritual called "phajaan" – the crushing of an elephant's spirit. During phajaan, baby elephants are isolated, tied up, starved, beaten, burned, and stabbed until they either die or submit.

Choosing to not ride an elephant is a very, very easy ethical choice to make, because it involves absolutely no long-term commitment.

And there are excellent alternatives listed below, where you can still have a magical time getting to know elephants.

Don't worry if you rode elephants before in ignorance – if you didn't know it was unethical why would you choose not to? Seven years ago I knew nothing about the dark side of elephant tourism either, and rode an elephant. But now, you and I both know, so we can make an informed choice next time.

If you still choose to ride despite knowing the situation, perhaps because you've dreamed of riding an elephant through the tropical jungle for years or think it would be so romantic to do with your beau… please understand that, sadly, the real experience is not like your dreams. Just like flying Peter Pan style, this dream cannot come true. In fact, it can even become a nightmare.

Finally, more and more people are becoming aware of how unethical it is to ride elephants. In a few years everyone will be horrified by photographs of you riding an elephant or posing with one at a circus-style show. 

Your friends will judge you. Potential Tinder matches will swipe left. Instagram followers will call you out and unfollow you.

When you bring it up in conversation because you don't care about people judging you, everyone will feel awkward and not know what to say. In time, your memory of the event will become a shameful secret and you'll want to delete all trace.

Go make some lovely memories at these ethical elephant parks instead!

Elephant Nature Park

Established in the 1990s and located 60 kilometers from the city, Elephant Nature Park is the most famous ethical elephant park in Chiang Mai. This elephant rescue and rehabilitation center takes in mistreated elephants and unwanted dogs, cats, and buffalo. The owner Lek is inspirational, small, and sings lullabies to her herd of over 70 elephants.

Visits to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai range from one to two days and cost from 2500 to 6000 baht. Children are permitted on some programs and they get a 50% discount. One week volunteering with elephants at Elephant Nature Park costs 12000 to 15000 baht, or 5000 baht with dogs. Depending on which program you choose, volunteering gives you opportunities to care for elephants, bathe elephants, walk with elephants, learn about agriculture and community, plant trees, participate in a blessing ceremony, develop local school children learning experiences, and even live in a tribal village in the mountains of Chiang Mai. Elephant Nature Park's volunteer calendar gets booked up months in advance. If you want to go, book your visit as soon as you know your travel dates.


The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a less well-known, smaller, cheaper ethical elephant park in Chiang Mai. It's also smaller, with a herd of 30 elephants.

Visits to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai range from half a day to two days and cost from 1700 to 4900 baht with discounts for children.  One week volunteering with elephants at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary costs 11,500 baht. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to care for elephants, bathe elephants, walk with elephants, build and maintain the camps, collect and prepare ingredients for elephant medicine, plant trees, and more depending on what's currently needed from you!


Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary (BEES)

Established in 2011 by Australian Emily and her Thai husband Burm, BEES is a much smaller, little-known sanctuary for old, injured, and retired elephants. They don't get hoards of visitors or benefit from a big internet presence, which means your visit matters a lot here.

Located two and a half hours from Chiang Mai, BEES "gives elephants a chance to live free and to just be elephants." Because it’s currently so little-known, it's possible that your volunteer group size will be very small.

One week volunteering with elephants at BEES runs from Monday to Sunday, and I'm waiting to hear back how much that costs. You can stay for a shorter period tailored to your needs; four days costs 10,200 baht. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to care for elephants, bathe elephants, walk with elephants, care for other rescued animals, plant elephant food, collect elephant food, learn how to cook Thai food, build shelters, visit a local steaming spa, learn about traditional Thai medicine, see traditional Thai weaving, teach English and more depending on what's currently needed from you.


Elephant Retirement Park

Located one hour from Chiang Mai, the sole focus of the Elephant Retirement Park is to promote the well-being of retired elephants.

Tours last from half a day to two days and costs 1700 to 5000 baht. Volunteering lasts from three to seven days and costs from 7500 to 14,000 baht. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of elephant care such as harvesting elephant food, feeding elephants, bathing elephants, making herbal medicine, and maintaining the camp.


Accommodation at Elephant Parks in Chiang Mai

Generally, accommodation is in a stunning location that makes potential non-luxury worth it. You stay in basic or traditional Thai houses and sleep on mattresses or mats on the floor in a room with mosquito nets. WiFi is non-existent or bad. You eat what you're given, but most parks can accommodate dietary requirements - check the website or just ask. Often the sleeping room is shared other volunteers, real traditional Thai style – but some parks offer private rooms. Toilets are sometimes outside, shared, and are usually Western but not always. There are usually showers, but they’re often cold, and at the most basic accommodation you wash with buckets of water.

Bucket washing sounds pretty awful, but actually, I find it incredibly soothing and exciting to wash with your bucket, get dressed, and open the door to a beautiful day in the Thai countryside feeling clean and refreshed. Ahhh!

Did I miss out any ethical elephant parks in Chiang Mai that don't allow elephant riding? If so, let me know and I'll add them. If you've been to one of these parks, I'd love to hear about your experience there, and I know it would really help other readers doing research too!

Vintage Britain, Tea, & Cake: The London Tearoom, Chiang Mai


Everything feels better with a good cup of tea.


Chiang Mai is an indisputable city of coffee shops and coffee addicts. But when you've got cappuccino fatigue and another fruit smoothie won't cut it, only a cuppa will do. Tea has been described as the elixir of life, actual poetry, and of far greater importance than toilet paper. And that's definitely true in Thailand - we've got bum guns instead!

The London Tearoom is your British grandma's vintage living room in Chiang Mai.

It's filled with chintzy ornaments, adorned with floral wallpaper, and portraits of Her Majesty the Queen. Tea is served lovingly in dainty tea cups, pretty mugs, and old-fashioned tea pots. Cake comes on blue-and-white plates, which look so beautiful against the crisp white embroidered table cloths. It's Christmas right now, and it's so cozy inside with decorated Christmas trees, tinsel, fairy lights, and vintage music.

You could keep it traditional with British Breakfast or Earl Grey tea (my favourite), or choose from handmade blends with names like Sabai Tea, Flower Power, Bliss Tea, Happy Liver, Green Chai, and Tom Yum Tea.

Good tea tastes better with good cake, that's just a life-truth.

The London Tearoom offers a delectable range of homemade cakes including carrot cake, vegan brownie, Oreo cheesecake, and, my favourite, lemon drizzle. If you’re not in the mood for cake (what!?), they do breakfast things like omelet.


The London Tearoom is open every day 8am to 6pm. They run regular promotions, like 'free cake with a cup of tea' - keep an eye out on their Facebook page. It has reliable WiFi, fairly comfortable seating, and is a great place to work or study. The owner Tom is an exceptionally friendly, laid-back, and welcoming British guy. Say hi! And, if you’re really digging the British vintage vibe, you can stay in one of the guest rooms upstairs.

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The London Tearoom is easy to find – use this map and look out for the bright red old-fashioned telephone box outside. Of course ;)

Do you go somewhere else in Chiang Mai for tea? TELL ME WHERE. I need more tea. It's urgent.

Where to run in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai has plenty of places to run if you know where to go.


The coolest time of day is around 06:00 or 07:00 and at dusk - but the mosquitoes come out when the sun sets. If you're running on the roads, it's best to go early morning to avoid heavy traffic.

Click the links for a Google Map of each location.

Chiang Mai University Running Track, Lake, & Arboretum

Chiang Mai University's large, wooded campus is a beautiful running location. There are several entrances including opposite QQCha, off Canal Road, and the main entrance. You can run around any part of the campus, such as the pathways, running track, and scenic Ang Kaew Reservoir. Huay Kaew Arboretum is next door.

Suan Buak Hat Park in the Old City

Suan Buak Hat is a small park in a convenient location. Plenty of people come here to run and exercise using the free outdoors gym equipment. You'd have to run around the park many times to cover much ground. It's a great place to meet people.

Lanna Rama 9 Park

Chiang Mai's Rama 9 Park is bigger than Suan Buak Hat and much less crowded, but in a less convenient location.

The Old City Moat 

This moat loop is about 6 kilometers of uneven, obstacle-strewn pavement with lots of busy roads to cross. It's a good way to see the city, though, and the ancient walls and canal are beautiful.

700 Years Stadium

Many people run around the flat 2 kilometers around the 700 Years Stadium every evening. Join them!

Royal Flora Rajapruek

The roads leading up to and around Royal Flora are very quiet in the mornings and afternoons, and are a great place to run. If you feel like running in a beautiful setting, pay the 200 baht entrance fee to Royal Flora and run around the grounds. It's so lovely there! You can also hire a bicycle. Opens at 08:00, closes at 18:00.

Huay Tung Tao Lake

Huay Tung Tao is a very popular running destination in Chiang Mai. Run 14 kilometers around a beautiful lake for just 20 baht if you arrive after 07:00. 

Up to Wat Palad and Back Again

Start outside the Chiang Mai Zoo entrance, then run 5 kilometers up the road to the stunning jungle-temple Wat Palad. You can either run back down the way you came, hike a trail through the forest (go down the steps near the waterfall, past the kneeling Buddha statues on the railing), take a red car back down, or continue running up to Doi Suthep temple.

Up to Doi Suthep Temple

It's about 11 kilometers uphill to Doi Suthep Temple from the Chiang Mai Zoo entrance. Simply follow the road. If you want to go inside the temple, please make sure you're dressed respectfully. If you're not, you can borrow appropriate clothing from just outside the central area of the temple. From the Wat Doi Suthep, you can either run back down the way you came, hike down the forest trail, or get a red car back down. The forest trail back down starts right on this bend, here, and takes you here, near Suthep Road.

The gym

Air-conditioned, flat, zero obstacles - the gym is always great for a run at any time of day. If you don't have one in your accommodation building, check out this map of gyms in Chiang Mai and find one near you.


Do you know of any other places to run in Chiang Mai? If so, please let me know in the comments below!