Chiang Mai Beach: A Hidden Gem in Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai is a popular destination in Thailand known for its rich cultural heritage, ancient temples, and lush green forests. However, one thing that Chiang Mai doesn’t have is a beach. While this may be a deal-breaker for some travelers, it’s important to note that there are still plenty of reasons to visit Chiang Mai.

That being said, there are options for those who want to hit the beach during their stay in Chiang Mai. While there are no beaches in the city itself, visitors can take a short flight to the southern part of the country where they can enjoy Thailand’s famous sandy beaches. This makes Chiang Mai an ideal destination for those who want to experience both the cultural richness of northern Thailand and the tropical paradise of the south.

Location and Access

While Chiang Mai is a landlocked city and does not have any beaches, there are several beaches located within a few hours’ drive or a short flight away. Some of the popular beaches in southern Thailand that are easily accessible from Chiang Mai include:

  • Phuket
  • Krabi
  • Koh Samui
  • Phi Phi Islands
  • Phang Nga Bay

Most of these beaches are located on the western side of the southern Thai peninsula and can be accessed by flying from Chiang Mai to Phuket or Krabi and then taking a short boat ride to the beaches. Alternatively, visitors can take a bus or train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then fly to any of the southern Thai destinations.

Flights from Chiang Mai to Phuket or Krabi are available daily and take approximately 2 hours. Visitors can also take a bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then fly to any of the southern Thai destinations. Buses from Chiang Mai to Bangkok take approximately 10-12 hours, and flights from Bangkok to Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui take approximately 1-2 hours.

Once visitors arrive at their destination, they can easily access the beaches by renting a motorbike or hiring a taxi. Most of the beaches are located within a short distance from the main tourist areas and are easily accessible.

Best Time to Visit

If you’re planning a trip to Chiang Mai to enjoy the beaches, it’s important to know the best time to visit. The weather in Chiang Mai is tropical, with hot and humid conditions throughout the year. However, there are certain times of the year when the weather is more favorable for beach activities.

The best time to visit Chiang Mai for beach activities is from November to February, during the cool and dry season. During this time, temperatures average around 25 degrees Celsius and drop to 13 degrees Celsius at night. The weather is sunny, and the skies are clear, making it an ideal time for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. Additionally, the humidity is lower during this time, so there is rarely any rain.

From March to June, the weather in Chiang Mai is hot and dry, with temperatures averaging around 35 degrees Celsius. This can make it uncomfortable for outdoor activities, including beach activities. If you do plan to visit during this time, it’s important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

From July to October, Chiang Mai experiences its rainy season. The weather can be unpredictable, with heavy rain and thunderstorms occurring frequently. This can make it difficult to enjoy beach activities, as the water can be rough and unsafe for swimming. Additionally, some beaches may be closed during this time due to safety concerns. If you do plan to visit during the rainy season, be sure to check weather reports and beach conditions before heading out.

Things to Do

Chiang Mai may not be known for its beaches, but there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your visit. Here are some of the top things to do in Chiang Mai:

  • Visit the Temples: Chiang Mai is home to some of the most beautiful temples in Thailand. The most famous one is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, located on a mountain overlooking the city. Other popular temples include Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh.
  • Explore the Night Markets: Chiang Mai has several night markets where you can shop for souvenirs, try local street food, and enjoy live music and entertainment. The most popular ones are the Sunday Walking Street and the Night Bazaar.
  • Take a Cooking Class: Thai cuisine is famous around the world, and Chiang Mai is a great place to learn how to cook it. There are several cooking schools in the city where you can learn how to make classic Thai dishes like pad thai and green curry.
  • Go Trekking: Chiang Mai is surrounded by lush forests and mountains, making it a great place for trekking and hiking. You can go on a guided trek through the jungle, visit hill tribe villages, and even ride elephants.
  • Experience Thai Massage: Thai massage is a unique form of massage that combines acupressure, stretching, and yoga. There are many massage parlors in Chiang Mai where you can get a traditional Thai massage for a fraction of the price you would pay in the West.

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in Chiang Mai, even if you’re not interested in visiting the beach. Whether you’re interested in culture, food, nature, or relaxation, Chiang Mai has something for everyone.

Accommodation Options

Chiang Mai is not known for its beaches, but there are still some great options for beachfront accommodation in the area. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort or a budget-friendly hotel, there is something for everyone.

Beachfront Hotels

If you’re looking for a hotel right on the beach, there are a few options available. Some of the top beachfront hotels in Chiang Mai include:

Hotel Name Price Range Rating
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai $$$$ 5 stars
Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai $$$ 4.5 stars
Le Meridien Chiang Mai $$$ 4.5 stars

These hotels offer stunning views of the beach and the surrounding area, as well as luxurious amenities and top-notch service.


If you’re looking for a more secluded and relaxing experience, a resort might be the way to go. Some of the top resorts in Chiang Mai include:

  • Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort
  • Veranda High Resort Chiang Mai – MGallery
  • Anantara Chiang Mai Resort

These resorts offer a range of amenities, including spas, pools, and restaurants, as well as stunning views of the surrounding area. They are the perfect place to unwind and relax during your stay in Chiang Mai.

Budget-Friendly Options

If you’re traveling on a budget, there are still plenty of options for accommodation in Chiang Mai. Some of the best budget-friendly hotels in the area include:

  • Chiang Mai Gate Hotel
  • De Chai The Colonial Hotel
  • The Rim Chiang Mai Hotel

These hotels offer clean and comfortable rooms at a fraction of the cost of some of the more luxurious options in the area. They are a great choice for travelers who want to save money without sacrificing comfort.

Food and Drink

Chiang Mai is known for its delicious and unique cuisine that combines the flavors of northern Thailand with influences from neighboring countries. From street food to fine dining, there are plenty of options for foodies to explore in this vibrant city.

One of the most popular dishes in Chiang Mai is khao soi, a rich and creamy curry noodle soup. It’s typically made with chicken or beef and served with crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, and lime. You can find khao soi at many local restaurants and street food stalls throughout the city.

Another must-try dish is sai oua, a spicy pork sausage that’s flavored with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. It’s often served with sticky rice and a spicy dipping sauce. For a unique twist on this classic dish, head to the Sunday Night Walking Street Market where you can find vegetarian versions made with tofu or mushrooms.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try a bowl of mango sticky rice. This popular dessert features sweet, ripe mangoes served over a bed of sticky rice that’s been cooked in coconut milk and sugar. It’s a refreshing and satisfying way to end a meal.

When it comes to drinks, Chiang Mai is known for its refreshing fruit shakes and smoothies. You can find them at many street food stalls and cafes throughout the city. For something a little stronger, try a bottle of Singha beer, the most popular beer in Thailand. You can also find a variety of local and imported wines at many restaurants and bars in the city.

Overall, Chiang Mai is a food lover’s paradise with plenty of delicious and unique dishes to try. Whether you’re in the mood for spicy curries or refreshing fruit shakes, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Safety Tips

Chiang Mai is a relatively safe place to visit, but it is always important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when visiting Chiang Mai beach:

  • Always swim near a lifeguard station.
  • Check the weather and sea conditions before entering the water.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.

In addition to these general safety tips, it is important to be aware of the specific risks associated with swimming at Chiang Mai beach. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

Risk Safety Tip
Rip currents Swim parallel to the shore to escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
Jellyfish stings Avoid swimming during jellyfish season (usually from May to September), and wear a wetsuit or protective clothing if you do swim.
Sharks Shark attacks are rare, but it is still important to be aware of the risks. Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk, when sharks are most active, and avoid wearing shiny jewelry or brightly colored clothing, which can attract sharks.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable visit to Chiang Mai beach.


Chiang Mai is a fantastic destination for those looking to experience the culture and natural beauty of Thailand. While it may not be known for its beaches, there are still plenty of opportunities to relax and soak up the sun.

Visitors can combine a visit to Chiang Mai with a beach holiday in the south or take a break from temple hopping to explore the region’s stunning waterfalls. For those looking to unwind, Chiang Mai offers plenty of opportunities for massages and spa treatments.

While it may not have the same reputation as Phuket or Krabi, Chiang Mai’s natural beauty and cultural offerings make it a unique and worthwhile destination for any traveler to Thailand.

Whether you’re interested in cooking classes, night markets, or temple tours, Chiang Mai has something for everyone. So why not plan your next trip to this charming city in northern Thailand?