What to do in Chiang Mai During the Hot Season

As we enter February and temperatures begin to rise its time to say goodbye to the cool season and take a look at what to do in Chiang Mai during the hot season. 

The cool season lasts from early December to early February and is the most popular time to visit Chiang Mai.  During the day the temperatures max out at a pleasant 30°C (86°F) or less at higher altitudes.  It can become surprisingly chilly as the sun sets and visitors in their t-shirts and shorts are often caught out wondering why Thailand is so cold!  On occasions there is even a ground frost, in particular the Doi Inthanon region.  This results in hordes of excited locals to drive for hours to witness this unusual spectacle.

Temperatures in February remain pleasant especially in early mornings and evenings and can hover around 20°C until mid-morning before heating up.  March and April is when things really heat up in Chiang Mai, with average temperatures peaking in April.   That said the air is less humid during March and April making it feel somewhat less stifling and there are far fewer tourists meaning less traffic and cheaper prices and experiencing the Thai New Year (Songkran) in April is a must do.

In spite of the weather there is still plenty to do in Chiang Mai during the hot season and below we list some of the most popular activities.

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

There are literally hundreds of elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai to choose from and a visit to one is without doubt the most popular activity in Chiang Mai whatever the season.  We certainly recommend doing a lot of research to help you choose what you consider right for you but Kanta Elephant Sanctuary is a retirement home for elephants who previously worked in tourism entertainment or the logging industry and whom now live a more comfortable life in the sanctuary.  Feed, walk, observe and learn about the elephants during a half day, full day or multi day tour.

Elephants in Chiang Mai

Go on a Countryside Cycling Tour to the Sticky Waterfall

Doing physical activity may not be top of everyone’s list of things to do in Chiang Mai during the hot season but there are still plenty of beautiful areas to explore on two wheels.  Trailhead Thailand’s Sticky Waterfall Explorer allows participants the chance to take a boat ride, cycle through teak forest, explore caves and play at the Sticky Waterfall all in a pleasant day tour.  Worried about the heat?  Well as with all of Trailhead’s countryside tours it is vehicle supported so you can jump in the air-conditioned car whenever you feel like skipping a hill or simply to cool down.

Sticky Waterfall

Go Hiking in Chiang Mai

Whilst the city cooks in 40°C or more, elevations 1500m or higher will be a good 10°C degrees cooler so a hiking tour in Chiang Mai is a good way to escape the heat.  Trailhead’s Hilltribe in the Clouds is moderately easy hike which takes place at the highest point in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.  Visitors can experience evergreen forest, remote farms and a visit to a Hmong hilltribe village nestled within the park.   Visitors can walk at a leisurely pace learning about the flora and fauna along the way and enjoying delicious lunch and snacks in the village.

Hiking in Chiang Mai

Wakeboarding in Chiang Mai

Believe it or not, you can wakeboard in Chiang Mai!   Canyon Wake Park, as the name suggests is located in Chiang Mai’s very own Grand Canyon.  The cable park is perfect for beginners and pros alike and has professional coaches on hand to help you learn / progress to sport of wakeboarding.   The park is rider owned and operated so you can be sure you will have everything you need for a fantastic experience whilst escaping the heat of the day.  Once you’re done at the park you can enjoy various other attractions at the park such as water slides & trampolines, cliff jumps, ziplines or simply lounge around on the sun beds.

Wakeboarding in Chiang Mai


Cooking School

Another popular activity whatever the season is learning how to cook Thai cuisine and once again there are literally hundreds of places to choose from.  Trailhead recommends Asia Scenic for going beyond simply teaching how to cook a few dishes.  Asia Scenic takes the time to show you each ingredient (either in their own garden or at the market), explaining about its history in Thai cooking and how it has impacted Thai culture.  You won’t simply follow a cookbook, you will learn how to be creative and cook unique dishes before the best bit – eating it!

Cooking School Chiang Mai

It is understandable that there are those hesitant about visiting Chiang Mai in the hot season and you should prepare accordingly.  The hot season also marks the period of burning season which can reduce air quality to unhealthy levels on certain days but for those who do make the trip there remains plenty of activities on offer to have a memorable visit.  It is certainly more affordable and there is a more relaxed atmosphere without the masses of tourists.  Whatever tour you choose you may get a more hands on and intimate experience and feel less like cattle being herded around as is the case during the peak cooler season.

If you’re interested in booking any of the above activities or would like more information on what to do in Chiang Mai during the hot season contact [email protected]