Top 8 best things to do on a rainy day in Chiang Mai

09:41 Amy 5 Comments

Rainy days don't have to suck.  - UPDATED 2016

Wondering what to do in Chiang Mai when the rain won't stop?  Check out my top 8 best things to do in Chiang Mai on a rainy day that will leave you only slightly soggy (except for number one and three).

1. Go out anyway if the rain isn't too bad.

Sogginess Rating: 9/10.  Obviously you're going to get wet, but there are several things you can do to keep a little bit drier... and being wet shouldn't stop you from having a great day.

Wear wet weather gear.

There's plenty of choice - umbrellas, ponchos, raincoats, waterproof trousers, all in one waterproof metallic spacesuits.  Buy this stuff at one of the shops or stalls that open up on the side of the road at the first sign of rain or at Tesco Lotus.

If you're on a bike, put your hood up before you put your helmet on to stop rain dripping down your back.

Choose your destination and mode of transport carefully.

Driving on steep mountain roads in super heavy rain is a stupid idea. We know from a very damp excursion we made recently to the top of Doi Inthanon.

Be optimistic.

If you think that rain is going to ruin your day, it probably will.  Enjoy the different experiences offered by exploring in the rain and make it into an adventure.

2. Go to the cinema.

Sogginess Rating: 3/10, because unless you live very close you will probably get wet getting there, especially if you're on a motorbike.

Currently, there are four good cinemas to choose from!

All cinemas in Chiang Mai are air conditioned and comfortable. Take warm stuff to wear or you *will* feel chilly!  Cinemas in Chiang Mai are freezing.  Remember to stand for the king's anthem.

If you're feel like absorbing a little more culture, there are often events showing arty films at bars and galleries.  Keep an eye out for adverts around the city and an ear out for people talking about such events - often that's the best way to find out.  Sangdee Gallery in the Nimmanhaemin area is a good place to start.

3. Go swimming in a pool or lake.

Sogginess Rating: 10/10.  To hell with the rain, I'm gonna get as wet as possible, dammit!

So long as it isn't lightning, go to The Centre of The Universe Swimming Pool to swim in a lovely, large outdoor pool.  I love swimming in the rain here.  I can pretend I'm in the sea or a lake instead of a pool.  It apparently uses a salt chlorinating system, which means no red eyes or stinging skin. Win. There's a child pool, restaurant and sunbeds too.

Swimming for fun: 9am - 5pm.  120 baht.
Lane swimming: 7am - 9am and 5pm - 7pm.  80 baht.


To swim in nature make up a picnic and head to Huay Tung Tao lake or Mae Ngat Dam.  Take a towel to dry off with and relax in a bamboo restaurant after your swim. Check out my friend Nathan's experience at Mae Ngat Dam here.

4. Spend a few hours in a cafe or coffee shop.

Sogginess Rating: 2/10.  Even if you get damp whilst making your way there, you'll have plenty of time to dry out.

We love cafes and coffee shops.  Most have free WiFi and charging points so you can do some work or keep in touch with your family and mates.

I will write about the top 10 best coffee shops in Chiang Mai soon, but in the meantime simply drive or get a red car to Nimmanhaemin.  You won't have to look far in this area - there are so many coffee shops to be found, many with their own unique character and coffee blends.

One of my favourite coffee hang outs for rainy days is the super cozy and homely Pai Yan Yai coffee shop.  It's big, has comfortable chairs and it has the most creative coffee menu in Nimman, which all make from a great place to hang out in.  Importantly, it has several charging points to keep your laptop full of juice.  Most drinks are around 70 baht and they're huge.

Butter is Better on Chang Klan Road is best for rainy days filled with 50s retro stuff, cake, and hot drinks.  You should absolutely eat the carrot cake or devil food cake and drink Swiss hot chocolate.  Best cake in Chiang Mai.  The lady owner is really nice and when we were particularly wet one day gave us towels and blankets.

These are the most delicious cakes in Chiang Mai and will you cost around 70 - 80 baht.

5. Visit a museum or art gallery.

Sogginess Rating: 5/10...  because you will want to visit more than one to make a day of it, therefore spending more time in rain soaked transit.

There are some weird and interesting museums and galleries in Chiang Mai. Here's a selection.

The World's Largest 3D Art Museum:  Art in Paradise

Check out my in-depth review of Art in Paradise here to find out why I really loved this place.

Located on Changklan Road near a cafe inside the Sea Suan Plaza Building, the art at this three storey museum begs you to interact with it and use your imagination.  There are 130 3D paintings by ten Korean artists sorted into eight zones like dinosaur (yay), classic art and Lanna.  There is even an Egyptian zone, and those of you who know me well will know that I used to want to be an Egyptologist... perfect.

Open 9am - 9pm.  180 baht for Thais and 300 baht for foreigners.  So, if you are not Thai but have a work permit or Thai driving licence you must remember to take it to get the reduced rate!

The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders
Located on Srimankalajarn Road, Soi 13, this strange little museum is open every day from 9am to 5pm.  More of a private collection than a museum, you can see some interesting, beautiful and horrid creepy crawlies (and some fossils) in a rather eccentric setting.  The lady there is apparently a mosquito expert (did you know that there are over 400 species of mosquito in Thailand?) and one of the leading mosquito experts in the world.  They say that no insect was killed in the creation of this museum - they stuffed ones that were already dead.  There are some amazingly strange paintings on the walls, like a giant mosquito riding a white horse, galloping through the sky.

Open 9am - 5pm.  300 baht entry.  Ring the bell to gain entry.

Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center

Find this museum near to the Three Kings Monument where Ratwithi and Prapokklao Roads meet.  I think the Three Kings Monument area is one of the prettiest in the old city, with a marble-floored square, big wide pavements, trees and impressive buildings and statues.  The colonial style building was finished in 1924 and has won awards for preservation efforts.  Walk around and find out about Chiang Mai's history, from way back when up to the here and now by looking at the permanent and temporary exhibits inside.

Open 8.30am - 5pm every day except Mondays.  90 baht entry (includes entry to the Chiang Mai History Hall and Local Lanna Museum).

Chiang Mai History Hall and Local Lanna Museum

Just over a week ago, Princess Sirindhorn came to town to officially open the Chiang Mai History Hall and Local Lanna Museum.  Our school is really close, and so this caused chaos.  Classes were half empty or cancelled entirely so that the kids could stand on the roadside to wave flags to welcome the Princess to Chiang Mai.  

The History Hall is behind the City Arts and Cultural Center, and the Local Lanna Museum is opposite it.  Learn about the history of Chiang Mai and Lanna traditions.

Open 8.30am - 5pm every day except Mondays.  90 baht entry (includes Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center).

6. Go indoor shopping.

Sogginess Rating: 2/10.  Get squelchy on the way, but dry off in no time inside.

I don't love shopping, but sometimes it needs to be done.  The best thing about going shopping is that you can get Kit Kat ice cream Blizzards from Dairy Queen (so addicted to that stuff).

For grocery shopping we use the market, Big C or Rimping when we're feeling fancy. I adore the quirky, vintage-inspired Think Park opposite Maya Mall. Central Festival has the most shops and is my shopping mall of choice, because it has H&M, a cinema, a tea shop and Dairy Queen.

7. Go bowling.

Sogginess Rating: 2/10.  Again, gotta get there.

Go bowling with a few mates on the top floor of Kad Suan Kaew.  It's so cheap and you can buy drinks and snacks there.  Take some socks!

Open every day from 10am - 1am.

8. Stay in.

Sogginess Rating: 0/10.  Stay dry and find plenty to do.

Staying in is usually my least favourite thing to do, but sometimes nothing can beat being lazy.  If it's raining it means you don't need to use your aircon, which is great if you pay the electricity bills. 

Here's some things to do on a rainy day:

  • Read.
  • Watch a movie.  We're watching all of the Star Wars films right now, rock n roll.
  • Sleep.
  • Learn to cook a Thai meal.  Pad thai and kanaah moo [pork with kale] are pretty easy and very tasty.
  • Make your own sofa cushions out of local fabric (oh yeah we did).
  • Clean.  Do it on a rainy day to keep your sunny days free!
  • Work on a project or hobby.

If none of those take your fancy, you could go all Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Boy on me and dance in the rain.

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