The Ultimate Muslim-Friendly Guide To Exploring Chiang Mai For The First Time


Iyesha Maria •  Apr 23, 2019

Chiang Mai – Thailand’s largest northern city packed with an abundance of excitement! Northern Thailand’s distinct and captivating mountainous terrains hold different cultural aspects from its southern counterparts such as Bangkok and the southern tropical islands. Nevertheless, it is still just as charming and spectacular to explore. Travel over surreal experiences such as a river bath with elephants, intriguing temple structures, and breath-taking gardens ?

Credit: Giphy

Not to worry about the finding halal food and Muslim-friendly amenities too. There is plenty of authentic food to savour, and a few mosques in the vicinity too. You’ll be surprised by all the amazing things you can do in Chiang Mai with this perfect guide for every Muslim traveller ?

Currently, there is a bad haze in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai which is expected to subside by May 2019. If you do visit these cities beforehand, we suggest you purchase and wear the appropriate mask while exploring the city, and keep hydrated too ?

Pre-Trip Planning

Planning an entire trip can be daunting, especially when you need to ensure that you’ve covered all the highlights of Chiang Mai. By booking your necessities and activities on Klook before the trip, you can relax and enjoy your trip since most of your activities are sorted out for you ?

Use these promo codes for discounts off your first purchase on Klook:

  • Singapore: TRAVELHHWT (SGD5 off)
  • Malaysia: TRAVELHHWTMY (MYR 15 off)
  • Indonesia: TRAVELHHWTID (IDR 50,000 off)

1 - Flying in

Try and arrive as early as possible into Chiang Mai to take advantage of a full first day. There are plenty of activities that can be done on your first day of arrival ✈️

Transportation in Chiang Mai

Book a private car charter before your trip, this is especially handy for airport trips when you have luggage with you. On days that you plan your own activities, you can even book your very own private charter too! It’s much more convenient to have your very own driver than to hail public transportation in a city you’re unfamiliar with. Not to mention travelling in comfort in a clean car!

Experience a variety of transportations in Chiang Mai! Tuktuk your way through town or hop on an iconic Songthaew (mini red truck). Taxis are available too. There’s plenty of options available within the city itself.

2 - Staying connected

A trip did not happen unless you’ve posted about it right? You don’t have to worry about staying connected to friends and family while travelling Chiang Mai. Book your 4G data SIM card on Klook before your trip and pick it up upon arrival at the airport.

With unlimited data for 8 days that works in the whole of Thailand, you won’t have to get another SIM card if your next destination is within the country. There’s also 100 baht worth of credit for calls and text, which is more than enough for the entire trip.

A Klook staff will wait for you at the airport’s arrival hall and help you set up your phones, and you’ll be able to conquer Chiang Mai on Instagram too ?

3 - Plan your activities before the trip!

Having your activities planned before your trip saves you a lot of time since you won’t have to worry about finding activities to do and organizing the trip whilst on the trip. Luckily for you, Klook has plenty of amazing activities that you can book before your trip. And the best part? Most of these activities showcase the best parts of Chiang Mai, with transportation included! Some of the tours even have halal food or vegetarian food options too.

Getting Around

1 - Transportation in Chiang Mai

Experience a variety of transportations in Chiang Mai! Tuktuk your way through town or hop on an iconic Songthaew (mini red truck). There are plenty of taxis that you can easily hail from the main roads too.

#HHWT tip: Most activities booked on Klook already has return transportation to your accommodation if you stay within Chiang Mai city.

It’s even easier if you’ve booked an airport private transfer from Klook. A Klook staff will be waiting for you right as you exit the arrival hall and will be able to help with find your driver to take you to your accommodation. This is especially handy for airport trips when you have luggage with you. On days that you plan your own activities, you can even book your very own private charter too!

2 - Explore Chiang Mai from the comfort of your very own car

Being comfortable whilst travelling makes your experience even more fun and that is why exploring Chiang Mai using a private charter is the easiest way to go! Plan your own schedules without being bogged down by other guests.

Not to mention that being in a clean and air-conditioned car, with water provided for the entire trip is much more comfortable than travelling around in an open-aired songthaew or tuk-tuk. Having privacy is a bonus too – sit (or lie down) how you like in the car, stretch your legs as much as you want, play the music you enjoy, and chat with your friends and driver without worrying about being a nuisance to others. You can leave your non-essential belongings in the car since the driver will be there to watch over it and don’t have to worry about lugging it around

#HHWT tip: Bring a bottle of water with you as you’re out exploring since the weather can get pretty hot during the day.

Enjoy the convenience of being dropped off and picked up as you want too. Forget hailing public transportation, looking for bus schedules, or haggling for the best price. Since you have pre-paid for a driver before your trip, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Just hop in and hop out as you need.

Savour authentic halal Thai food

Indulge in authentic mouth-watering halal Northern Thai food! There is a large variety of halal food you can devour in Chiang Mai, but here are some places to start with at Halal Street and Chiang Mai’s Night Market.

If you have a private charter, just provide them with the address or the restaurant names, and they should be able to drop you off and pick you up as you like.

1 - Prikthai at Hilal Street

Just at the entrance of Hilal Street is Prikthai, a halal authentic Thai restaurant for a scrumptious feast!

Dine on iconic Thai dishes like super delicious spicy seafood tom yum, stir-fried beef, and delicious papaya salad! Authentic Thai food in Thailand is definitely a culinary experience for all!

Address: Changklan road, Halal street, Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100

Opening Hours: 10am-11pm

Halal Status: Muslim-owned


2 - Sofia Halal Restaurant

Indulge in yummy beef noodles at Sofia Halal Restaurant, also located at Hilal Street.

And if you’re not satisfied with that, there’s plenty more! Fried rice, stir-fried meat and vegetables, spicy tom yum… you’ll be salivating for your next meal!

Eat in comfort in the medium-sized eatery, just along Hilal Street with plenty of other halal eateries in the areas to choose from! You definitely won’t starve there.

Address: Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening hours:

Halal status: Muslim-owned


3 - Khao Soy Feung Fah

And just across Sofia Halal Restaurant is another famous halal establishment, with a similar humble atmosphere – Khao Soy Feung Fah.

Or slurp down Northern Thailand’s iconic Khao Soi at Khao Soy Feung Fah! It’s a coconut curry based spicy soup served with crunchy noodles. It’s usually served with pork but the halal version uses chicken meat instead! The place even serves chicken and mutton biryani, oxtail soup, fried rice and more.

If you’re looking for more food, don’t worry, each of these restaurants has a large variety of irresistible local Thai food. You’ll surely come back from round two or three!

Address: 6, Soi Charoen Prathet 1 | Chang Moi, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening hours: +66 81 595 7030

Halal status: Muslim-owned


4 - Availability of halal food outside Chiang Mai city

Although finding halal restaurants is fairly easy. When you’re exploring outside the city or are on tours, it is best to prepare a snack or meal to bring with you. Some tour operators, such as those on Klook may provide halal or vegetarian options during the tour.

#HHWT tip: Some tour operators may provide halal food, but sometimes the food is pork-free instead. We cannot guarantee that there is no cross contamination and suggest you dine at your own discretion.

So, what can you do to make sure you won’t starve to death while playing with elephants or ziplining through scenic rainforests? Your private charter can drop by any of these places, or you can hail a tuk-tuk or taxi to nearby locations too.

  • Drop by 7-Eleven and find snacks available. There are plenty of halal snacks and drinks in Chiang Mai’s 7-Eleven. Just keep a lookout for the halal logo or a crescent moon and stars logo on the packaging.
  • There are plenty of halal food, snacks and drinks at Hilal street too.
  • Pack some snacks or meals for tours that are outside the city, where you won’t have access to convenience stores to buy halal food.

  • There are also plenty of juice stalls in touristy places. So, you can always get a fruit snack or fruit juice!

Experience Northern Thailand’s Unique Culture

Thai Buddhist temples are a must-visit when visiting Thailand. Find yourself in awe at their intricate architecture and learn about the importance of Buddhism in the everyday life of locals.

1 - Wat Phra Doi Suthep

Wat Phra Soi Suthep is one of the most sacred temples in Thailand, and it’s about an hour’s drive away from Chiang Mai City. Take your time using a private charter for a scenic drive up mountainous roads, or book a tour.

According to folklore, Buddha’s ashes were split among his followers after his cremation. It is believed that some of his relics lies inside the gold chedi. You can enter the temple by walking up 306 steps or by a cable car.

#HHWT tip: As with any other temple, you have to be covered up to enter. Make sure your attire covers your shoulder and knees (and everything else in between).

The main attraction of the temple is a giant gold chedi (stupa) that stands over 79 feet tall! Explore the intriguing temple which consists of a tranquil outer square with beautiful Buddha statue and temple bells, and a busy inner square with worshippers praying and circumambulating around the chedi.

Address: Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: 6am – 6pm

Entrance fee: 30 baht for entrance, 20 baht for a cable car ride

2 - Halal Khantoke dinner

What better way to learn about Northern Thai (Lanna) culture than to experience a cultural show about the different cultures in Thailand? Book this captivating activity on Klook – transportation to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre is included in the package too.

Sit back and relax on Lai Tai cushions in a concert hall while enjoying a halal traditional Khantoke dinner. A Khantoke dinner comprises of multiple dishes served on a large circular tray which halal menu includes a vegetable soup, sticky rice, Burmese chicken, green chilli paste, minced chicken in tomatoes chilli paste, crispy fried textured vegetable, fresh vegetables, stir-fried mixed vegetable, sweet crispy noodle, fried pumpkin (or banana), fried chicken, fresh fruit and a choice of coffee and tea.

Indulge in the feast while enjoying a number of performances (some which date back 150 years ago!). Watch in awe as groups of performers perform the Swords Dance, the Tai Dance, the Silk-reeling Dance and many more. All performed gracefully in a variety of traditional outfits.

Book your Khantoke Dinner and Cultural show on Klook.

Explore Beautiful Flower Gardens

Chiang Mai’s higher altitude also boasts many beautiful gardens with breath takingly beautiful flowers, meant for colder climates. Hop onto a private transfer and drop by Bhubing Palace or the King and Queen’s Pagoda and explore these exquisite gardens which are both available on Klook, or you could hire a private charter and explore the gardens at your own pace.

1 - Bhubing Palace

Bhubing Palace is the royal residence of the Thai royal family. Surrounding the residence are beautiful gardens which are open to the public ? There are multiple places to pass through with flowers EVERYWHERE ?. Walk through the plant exhibition greenhouse, pass by a rose garden, and immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery of flowers everywhere!

Remember to dress appropriately - both men and women must wear attire that covers your feet and wrists. The dress code is stricter than the usual temples out of respect to the royal family.

Book your tour to Bhubing Palace on Klook.

Address: Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opening hours: 8.30am – 3.30pm

Entrance fee: 50 baht

2 - King & Queen’s Pagoda

Another place with recent historical significance, with a vibrant flower garden! Two giant pagodas on the way to the peak of Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand, were commissioned by the Thai Army to commemorate the previous King and Queen’s 60th birthday.

Each pagoda is located on the top of a separate hill, right next to each other. You can walk up the steps to each pagoda or take an escalator up. Inside each pagoda are shrines with Buddha’s images where worshippers pay respect.

Outside the shrines are strikingly beautiful wall carvings to adore! Each wall carving depicts a moment of Buddha’s life form birth until he reached enlightenment. A truly beautiful dedication from the Thai Army to their religion and the Thai royal family.

Behind the Queen’s pagoda lies a lovely garden filled with hundreds of beautiful flowers. Enjoy a delightful walk through the picturesque garden.

You can always take a private charter up to visit other attractions at Doi Inthanon at the same time or book a tour on Klook to maximize your day there.

Address: King and Queen’s Pagoda, Doi Inthanon

Opening hours: 5.30am – 6.30pm

Entrance fee: 300 baht for foreigners, 50 baht for Thai locals

Use these promo codes for discounts off your first purchase on Klook:

  • Singapore: TRAVELHHWT (SGD5 off)
  • Malaysia: TRAVELHHWTMY (MYR 15 off)
  • Indonesia: TRAVELHHWTID (IDR 50,000 off)

Shop till you drop at Chiang Mai’s Street Markets

1 - Chiang Mai Night Market

You can’t drop by Thailand and not drop by one of its vibrant night markets! And there’s none more vibrant with clothes and souvenirs in Chiang Mai than the Chiang Mai Night Market.

Shop till you drop at the market! Explore the inner and outer parts of the large market and browse through drop dead gorgeous locally made goods like Thai silk materials, stunning traditional outfits, quirky souvenirs, electronics, and tourist t-shirts! There’s something for everyone – yourself and for you to buy for friends and family back home.

Address: Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening Hours: 5am-12am

Facebook | Website

2 - Sunday Market

Credit: @robo_remy on Instagram

A large market that takes place every Sunday in Chiang Mai. This place is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. Explore the market as you can find a large variety of items sold – clothing, gadgets, souvenirs, or enjoy a massage chair while you wait for your friends or family to shop!

#HHWT tip: It is best to show up before 6pm as it tends to get extremely crowded later in the night.

Address: Rachadamnoen Road

Opening hours: 4pm – 12am

Have an epic adventure

1 - Elephant sanctuary

A must-do activity in Chiang Mai – visit an ethical elephant sanctuary! Asian elephants are currently listed as an endangered species. Learning about elephants, their significance to Thai culture, and current conservation efforts are some of the things we can do as tourists to help spread awareness about these majestic creatures.

Book the activity on Klook for a convenient trip to the sanctuary! With transportation provided and a professional guide to take you on a tour around the sanctuary, it’s a set trip! Change into a Karen hilltribe (the only mountain tribe that owned elephants) tunic before starting a phenomenal day with elephants!

Meet about 14 friendly elephants – and have fun with them! They love the attention they get from guests. It’s a surreal experience to touch them, feed them, and play with these massive giants (they can grow up to 5.5 tons!). Learn how to make nutritious medicine balls for them too.

#HHWT tip: As your guide will advise you, do not touch the elephant’s toenails, armpits, and tails for your own safety.

And the two main events of the activity – be prepared to get soaked in a muddy pool and bathe in a river with the elephants! Have a blast trying to cover an entire elephant with mud (to protect them from the sun’s heat and keep them cool), and watch them roll around in the mud like gigantic cats on catnip. After a muddy affair in the mud pool, walk over to the nearby river and splashed the mud off with river water. It will be an experience to remember!

Book your trip to the elephant sanctuary on Klook.

Address: 119 10 Thapae Rd, Chang Khlan, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opening hours: 7am – 10pm


2 -  Eat street food at Chiang Mai Night Market

There’s plenty to eat at the Chiang Mai Night Market food court! Keep a lookout for stalls with the crescent moon and star logo for halal eateries. However, we suggest that you dine at your own discretion.

Indulge in a sweet delicious banana roti dessert with chocolate, honey, egg, peanut butter or Nutella!

A super filling freshly made Turkish kebab made as you order.

Or have a delicious cup of fresh juice! There are plenty of juice stalls around.

Prayer spaces & Chiang Mai’s Muslim Community

Explore Chiang Mai’s Muslim community at Halal Street Hilal Town (also known as Hilal Street or Halal Street). Unlike Southern Thailand where most of the Muslim population are ethnical of Malay origin, Northern Thailand has an interesting Muslim population mainly with Chinese and Burmese origins! From a big mosque, halal eateries and some shopping outlets, it is definitely a place to explore. Not to mention it’s right next to the Chiang Mai Night Market too.

Masjid Hidayatul Islam Banhaw Mosque

The mosque is located just a few steps from the main entrance into Hilal street, perfect for a quick prayer before or after a meal.

Address: 31 Charoenprathet Rd, Tambon Chang Moi, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand


1 - Stay within the city walls

For the sake of convenience, the best place to stay is within Chiang Mai’s Old City. It is the predominant area to eat and shop, with plenty of dining choices, art galleries and night markets around.

Better yet, for most activities on Klook, free transportation is included if you stay within the city.

2 - HomeAway

HomeAway is a fantastic option for those who want privacy – you get the entire home to yourselves.

One of the units available is this one-of-a-kind house in a cosy neighbourhood right in the middle of Chiang Mai’s Old City.

The double storey house boasts two large bedrooms, one massive shared bathroom, a living room with an entertainment system, and a fully equipped kitchen. Once you’re done with your daily activities, you’ll be cooking up a storm in the kitchen and watching cable TV on the comfiest couch you’ll ever sit on.

Other amenities include fresh towels, bathroom amenities, and the most important one – high-speed internet!

Between gorgeous sceneries, thrilling adventures, stunning temples, and markets to shop till you drop – Chiang Mai is the place for all types of travellers. This guide has been catered for a Muslim’s first-time in Chiang Mai, and we know each and all of you will end up booking a second trip in the near future. Time to get packing for your trip to Chiang Mai, an epic trip awaits!

Use these promo codes for discounts off your first purchase on Klook:

  • Singapore: TRAVELHHWT (SGD5 off)
  • Malaysia: TRAVELHHWTMY (MYR 15 off)
  • Indonesia: TRAVELHHWTID (IDR 50,000 off)

This post is brought to you by Klook.