Exit Through The Gift Shop: Museums in Chiang Mai

Museums in Chiang Mai: Get cultured, you nerds!

Culture, art and creepy crawlies- there’s something for everyone in Chiang Mai’s museum scene.

You’ve toured the temples, trekked up Doi Suthep and bent every which way at a yoga class. You’ve drunk lattes in all the best coffee shops in town and hunted down the best Thai souvenirs in the Sunday night market. So, what’s next? What else does Chiang Mai have to offer the budding tourist?

Enter Chiang Mai’s amazing selection of museums. From the highest of culture to the smallest of insects, the weird and wonderful selection of museums in Thailand’s cultural hub will keep you entertained for days. Which are the best of the best?

Chiang Mai National Museum

Let’s start with the big-hitter- the National Museum. This is everything you’d expect from a respected regional institution. Chiang Mai’s vibrant regal history is celebrated with exhibits focusing on the history of the Lanna Kingdom. Wander past ancient textiles, reconstructed pottery and beautiful Buddha icons and learn about the wars and conquests that shaped the north of Thailand. Displays are annotated in Thai and English and the whole building is built in a Lanna style with a multi-tiered roof. Entry is 30 baht for Thais, 100 baht for foreigners.

Hours of Operation: 09:00am – 4:00pm Wednesday to Sunday

Location: Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai-Lampang Super Highway, Chiang Mai 50300

Contact: 05 322 1308

Chiang Mai National Museum

Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

An unusual one next! As the name suggests, this museum is home to over 5000 different species of insects. It’s the brainchild of a local guy nicknamed the ‘Mosquito Man’- yes, he loves bugs that much! Head here for the novelty of seeing all your favorite biting pests pinned to walls in different stages of preservation, and also to learn about the very real fight against malaria and other tropical diseases. Bizarrely engaging and worth an afternoon of your time. Entry is 100 baht.

Hours of Operation: 09:00am – 5:00pm daily

Location: 72 Nimmanhemin 13, Huay-Kaew Road, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Contact: 053 211 891

Of all museums in Chiang Mai, this is the one for nature lovers.

Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre

This one is an educational gem. Head to the Cultural Centre for an immersion into northern Thai culture, from performances of traditional dance and music to a delicious Khantoke dinner of regional specialties. Browse the exhibits on the history of the city and bring yourself up to date on modern life with a chat to one of their knowledgeable guides. If you’re here on a Sunday then time your visit in the late afternoon then head straight out into the Sunday night market. The museum is right in the thick of the action. Entry is 90 baht.

Hours of Operation: 09:00am – 5:00pm daily, and 19:00 – 21:30pm for cultural performances on certain days

Location: 185/3 Wualai Rd, T. Sriphum, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100

Contact: 053 202 9935

Chiang Mai Museum of Arts and Cultural Centre Entrance

3D Art Museum

Our next pick is a lot of fun. The 3D Art Museum flips the ‘boring’ idea of a museum on its head- you don’t just look at the exhibits here, you get alongside them! Think huge surfing waves, yawning crocodiles and erupting volcanoes. Everything is interactive and you can get up close and personal with the displays to take as many photos and videos as you want. Cultural it isn’t, but fun it is! Take a bunch of mates to get as many ridiculous pictures as possible. Entry is a bit steep at 400 baht but your new profile picture will be worth it.

Hours of Operation: 09:00am – 21:00pm daily

Location: 199/9 Chang Khlan Rd, Chang Khlan, Chiang Mai 50200

Contact: 053 274 100

Probably the funnest museum in Chiang Mai, the 3D Art Museum is super cool.

Tribal Museum

Great for getting a deeper understanding of the indigenous peoples of northern Thailand, the Tribal Museum is highly recommended for a visit. Learn about day to day life in the hills and understand the differences between the various tribes of the north. If you head there between 10am and 2pm then you might catch one of the regular slide shows about village life. The museum is a must-do if you’re planning on doing any trekking with the hill tribes, as it gives you a great understanding of the significance of what you will see when you visit them. Entry is free but donations are appreciated.

Hours of Operation: 09:00am – 4:00pm daily

Location: Lanna Rama 9 Park, Chotana Rd., Chiang Mai 50300

Contact: 053 210 872

The list of museums in Chiang Mai wouldn't be complete without the oldest of all: The Tribal Museum.

Museums in Chiang Mai Have Something for Everyone

Whether you want to soak up the culture or just have a fun day out, there’s a museum in Chiang Mai for everyone. Put on your comfortable shoes and head on out to explore.

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