The Mae Ping River cuts through Chiang Mai just a few blocks east of the old city and night market, where its banks have been developed with hotels, open-air restaurants, and bars. As it passes through the countryside, the river retains its natural charms. The ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is also set on its shores south of Chiang Mai.
The best way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mae Ping River is to get out on the water, and there are a few ways to do so. By day, enjoy a few hours of river kayaking or a lunch cruise—the latter often include a visit to a local farm for lunch. Evening dinner cruises offer a more romantic option for seeing Chiang Mai by night. Those who’d prefer to remain on solid ground can still enjoy the scenery of the Mae Ping River during a cycling tour along its shores, passing rice paddies, orchards, and local Northern Thai communities along the way.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A trip on the Mae Ping River is a must for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for an escape from the bustle of Chiang Mai.
- River tours typically last between two and four hours, depending on the included activities.
- Don’t forget to bring sun protection and insect repellent.
How to Get There
The Mae Ping River flows through Chiang Mai just east of the city center, and it’s an easy walk from there. Most tours on the river include hotel pickup and drop-off.
When to Get There
The best time to explore the Chiang Mai countryside on the Mae Ping River is during the cool, dry season that falls between November and mid-February. Be prepared for heavy rainfall during the monsoon season (June to October).
Yee Peng Lantern Festival
If you’ve ever seen images of a night sky filled with glowing paper lanterns, chances are good that the photo was taken at this festival in Chiang Mai. The festival is celebrated on the night of the full moon in the 12th lunar month, and the Mae Ping River is one of the prime viewing spots, both for the lanterns in the sky and the krathong floating floral offerings that illuminate the surface of the water.