Trekking in Chiang Mai is highly popular and for good reason - Chiang Mai is a hiking paradise, surrounded by easily accessible mountains with vast spiderwebs of trails. However it can be difficult to find good information on these treks in Thai or in English. Fortunately, Chiang Mai Hiking has let us use their trip reports, photos and GPS files to bring you a collection of the best day trips outside of Chiang Mai. All of these are accessible to independent hikers, but if you'd like to join the CM Hiking group on an outing you can keep up with them on chiangmaihiking.wordpress.com.
Huay Tung Tao is popular as a quick and easy getaway from the city, but the nearby forest holds some great trails. It's actually possible to hike (or take a mountain or dirt bike) all the way from the lake to Doi Suthep, but that's not recommended. A better idea is to head up to Dtaat Mook waterfall about 2km behind the lake. It's reasonably large and worth the walk, and since it's only accessible by foot you're likely to be the only visitor.
Probably the most popular trek in Chiang Mai, the Pilgrim's Trail goes up the side of the mountain all the way to Wat Doi Suthep. It's a straight shot, so the distance is much shorter than the road, and the trail goes through the strange and beautiful waterfall temple Wat Palaad. The trail is a bit steep but should be doable by any sort-of fit adult. You can park at the CMU arboretum and catch a songthaew back from Doi Suthep.
Only about 30 minutes from Chiang Mai, Ob Khan national park is home to a big canyon with surprisingly deep water. It's not as impressive a gorge as Ob Luang, its more famous counterpart, but Ob Khan is much closer to CM and is possible to do in a day. Entrance to the park is free and there are trails that follow the river. When you get tired, it's even deep enough for a swim in some places.
There are several trails around the picturesque village of Mae Kampong, near Flight of the Gibbon in the mountains east of Chiang Mai. The forests here are lush and old, with towering yang trees and a multi-tiered waterfall. While you could do the hike independently, the village is trying their hand at grassroots tourism and you're better off hiring a guide. You can also do a night at their homestay. You can find out more at...
Not at all well known, Doi Ton is a big cliff that overlooks the valley south of Sankamphaeng. The trek begins at a secluded reservoir, up to the Chiang Mai-Lamphun border, follows the ridge a bit and heads back down the the reservoir. The incline is quite steep and the trail may be hard to find in places, but for hardcore hikers who want a little more adventure in their day trip this may be the place to go.
Lastly, here's an amazing file put together by the CMHike people of tons of trails (both bike and foot) around Doi Suthep. Obviously there are many, many more hike than we're able to list here, so this might help you find some of them.
Have you found any great trails around Chiang Mai? Let us know! [email protected]