Chiang Mai is a beautiful city in Thailand that is commonly referred to as the ‘Rose of the North’.
After staying there for almost a month, wandering its streets and parks and hiking nearby mountains filled with exotic flowers. I understood why.
However, the best time to see Chiang Mai in full bloom is during its flower festivals. The more popular festival is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival, which takes place every year in February.
What many don’t know is that there is a larger and longer flower festival in December, called the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival.
In this guide, you’ll find all the details on where to find the festival, how to get there, and what to expect from this off-the-beaten-path flower festival that is well-loved by locals.
Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
The Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival happens during the Christmas season until January. It’s a 17-day festival on a lake 8 kilometers away from the city center of Chiang Mai.
The Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival organized by the Provincial Administrative Organization is now on its 82nd anniversary. It’s mostly visited by locals. In fact, the 2023 flower festival has over 520,000 visitors within 10 days of its opening!
The festival aims to celebrate the beauty of nature through illuminated flower gardens like tulips, orchids, and lilies, a flower float parade, light shows, and even an avatar-like lighted giant Christmas tree.
Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2023-2024 Dates and Location
The Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival started on December 15, 2023, to January 1, 2024, at Chaloem Phrakiat Park in the northern part of Chiang Mai City.
How to get to Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
The best way to get to Chaloem Phrakiat Park is by renting a scooter. You can rent one for 150 to 300 Baht (4 to 10 USD) per day, depending on the model and the total days you’ll rent it.
We rented a scooter for our entire stay in Chiang Mai, which gave us flexibility with our travel and allowed us to roam around Chiang Mai and even take day trips to Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep.
Alternatively, you can easily book a car or a motorbike via Grab. Chaloem Phrakiat Park is 20 minutes (8 kilometers) away from the Tha Phae Gate.
Flower Festival Entrance Fee
Despite its grand light installations, admission to the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is FREE for both locals and tourists. Parking is also free. Another to love about Chiang Mai!
What to Expect at Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Like the flower festival in February, you’ll experience Wonder Flora Land, a haven for winter blossoms in full bloom during the day and illuminated at night.
Expect lots of visitors at night, mostly locals with their families, children, and even the elderly. But it’s still nice to roam around because the park is huge, and you’ll have plenty of spaces to explore.
From winter blooms like tulips, lilies, orchids, to local flowers such as chrysanthemums and pompom flowers, you’ll see massive flower beds all over the park.
I recommend visiting the park early in the morning (it opens at 8 am) or at 5 pm, just before sunset, to enjoy the serene flower-filled park without the crowds and noise that come during the night.
A Light Castle with Illuminated Tunnel
One of the highlights of the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a spectacular light castle and a long illuminated tunnel that leads to the Musical Fountain.
It’s similar to tunnels decorated fully with Christmas lights in Christmas Gardens in Germany. It’s magical to walk through the light tunnel.
Lighted Christmas Tree
Chiang Mai is mainly a Buddhist country. They don’t celebrate Christmas but as the annual Flower Festival takes place during the Christmas season, the city decorates it with some references like a Christmas tree.
You may also notice some children wearing reindeer hairbands and even Christmas-inspired outfits during this time.
Magic Forest and Flower of Magic Garden
Nearby the Christmas tree is the Magic Forest and Flower of Magic garden where you’ll see illuminated flower beds and trees with twinkling lights along branches and trunks.
Avatar-liked Giant Lighted Tree
Another highlight of the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival is an old giant tree lighted with blue colored lights. It looks like the glowing tree of life from the movie Avatar!
Another fascinating light installation is the rainbow hot air balloons. You’ll see plenty of them, and they are a big hit, especially with kids!
Magic of Galaxy
This is a dimensional dome that simulates the galaxy. It’s fascinating to enter through the dimensional door and feel like you’re stepping into a sky of stars!
While walking around the park, you’ll come across a white stairway tower that offers a high vantage point to appreciate the beauty of the entire park and the lake. From this viewing tower, you can also catch a glimpse of Doi Suthep.
Musical Fountain and Fireworks
The Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival also hosts a massive musical light and sound show on the lake. It runs for a few minutes several times throughout the night.
Additionally, you can enjoy fireworks during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. These fireworks attract many local families to visit the park so it might get crowded during this time.
Music and Dance Performances
There are several music performances throughout the 17-day festival. Specifically, a group of local artists will perform the Light of Glory dance in contemporary Lanna style.
Although the lyrics are in Thai, it’s still enjoyable to listen to the beat and immerse yourself in the festivities.
Night Market and Food Stalls
What’s the best way to end your flower festival experience than with Thai street food? From rice meals to noodles and sweets, you’ll find plenty of food stalls to check out.
They also feature Kad Mua, a Lanna-style street market that recreates the local ambiance of selling traditional foods and OTOP (One Town One Product) items in a friendly village setting, as opposed to the modern busy counter style.
Best Time to Visit Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
The festivities are open daily from 8 am to 10 pm (on some days, they even extend it to 11 pm).
Visit in the early morning to avoid the crowd and witness the flowers in their purest bloom. Otherwise, you can explore the light installations from 6 pm until 10/11 pm.
Due to the intense heat in Chiang Mai at times, I recommend not visiting at noon.
Tips for Visiting the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
- Visit early in the morning if you want to explore the flower exhibitions without the crowds and noise. Avoid noon, as it can get too hot. Alternatively, visit just before sunset at 5 pm and wait until the light illuminations start at night.
- Plan your trip. The venue of the flower festival is quite far from the old city. Leave the city before rush hour or even stay for 1-2 days to avoid heavy traffic.
- Allocate at least an hour to visit the festival. With several light installations and shows over long distances, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the park. Plus, there are many food stalls to check out afterward, so allocate enough time for your visit.
- Don’t forget to try the local street foods and local products outside the festival. With several food stalls to choose from, you’ll find something you’ll love!
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk a lot, as the park is huge with numerous things to see and do.
- Bring a jacket. December and January are among the coldest months in Chiang Mai so it can get chilly at night.
FAQs: Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Is there a parking at the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
Yes, there’s a parking lot near Chaloem Phrakiat Park, and it’s a 2-minute walk to the park entrance. Parking is free.
Are dogs allowed at the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
According to the event organizers, you can bring your dogs if you carry them or put them in a stroller. However, there are no strict control measures.
Some visitors brought their dogs in and allowed them to run, pee, and poop in restricted areas. If you’re bringing yours, please follow the rules for everyone’s enjoyment of the festival
What is the difference between the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival and the Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
The Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival is held annually from December until the New Year, features a larger venue, and showcases more illuminations at night.
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival occurs every February, is hosted in the city center, and is renowned for its flower float parade and flower gardens.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
If you want to visit the Flower Festival for several days or simply stay a bit longer in the tranquil lakeside away from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai City, here are the best hotels to consider:
Green Lake Resort – SHA Extra Plus Certified: Located on Green Lake, this hotel offers spacious rooms with balconies overlooking the lake and an outdoor pool for a relaxing getaway.
Burapa Boutique: This boutique hotel is an ideal choice for remote work with its unfailingly reliable Wifi and meticulously maintained property located in a serene residential area north of the city center.
The Park Society: If you’re looking to stay in Chiang Mai City center, this hostel, and living space is the perfect choice for location, value for money, and most importantly, vibes! This is where we stayed for almost a month and we love their communal workspace, delicious breakfast, and of course, the friendly owner, M!
Other Best Things To Do in Chiang Mai
If you’re staying longer in Chiang Mai (hopefully you are!), here are the most incredible things to do aside from the Chiang Mai Flower Festival:
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Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
If you’re looking for a unique and ethical encounter with elephants, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary specializes in looking after injured and rescued elephants from all over Thailand.
Unlike traditional elephant tourism, this sanctuary allows you to interact with the elephants in a natural environment, feeding and bathing them without the use of riding or harmful practices.
Pongyang Jungle Coaster & Zipline
For a thrilling adventure, try the Pongyang Jungle Coaster & Zipline. The Jungle Coaster and zip lines traverse through the breathtaking views of a jungle!
It’s an adrenaline-filled escapade that combines the thrill of a roller coaster with the beauty of Chiang Mai’s natural scenery.
Venture off the beaten path to the Sticky Waterfall, a natural wonder that defies gravity. Unlike typical waterfalls, the limestone deposits create a unique surface, allowing you to ascend the waterfall without slipping.
The mineral-rich waters give your feet a gentle massage as you climb. It’s not only a refreshing and picturesque spot but also a one-of-a-kind experience where you can defy gravity while enjoying the serenity of the surrounding forest.
Doi Inthanon National Park Day Trip
This is our favorite day trip from Chiang Mai! Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the highest peak in Thailand with unique flora and fauna, including rare bird species.
The park’s cooler climate, distinct from the rest of Thailand, provides a serene environment to explore the twin pagodas, nature trails, waterfalls, and hill tribe villages.
Chiang Rai Day Trip
Another day trip that we love! The most distinctive attraction is the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), a truly contemporary and unconventional (you’ll know why) Thai masterpiece.
Additionally, the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten) and the unique Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge, add layers of cultural and geographical richness to the trip.
Is Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival Worth Visiting?
If you’re in Chiang Mai during the time of this flower festival, go for it, especially if you’re missing Christmas celebrations at home.
If you’re with your family, especially kids, they will definitely love all the light installations. More importantly, if you’re a flower enthusiast, don’t miss this festival. You’ll be amazed by all the flower exhibitions.
Let me know how your experience with the Charming Chiang Mai Flower Festival went. I’d love to hear about your favorite part!
Read More Thailand Travel Guides:
Other Flower Festivals: Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Chiang Rai Flower Festival
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