1. Suan Son Bor Kaew
This stunning forest of pine trees with wide grassy areas in between is worth the 150 kilometre trip out of Chiang Mai on the Hot – Mae Salong Road. With a beautiful atmosphere and cool breezes, the location is perfect for a romantic picnic or family outing. A small caf? is there if you need a cool drink but best to bring your own wicker basket and chequered blanket for the full experience.
2. Ang Kaew Reservoir
Situated deep in Chiang Mai University grounds, the reservoir is open to anyone looking for a quiet place to sit and do some dog watching as the sun sets behind Doi Suthep. With a small coffee shop next door, you don’t even need to come prepared – but if picnic baskets are your thing, snake around the path towards the trees to discover beautiful shaded areas with tables and grassy space.
3. Small Farm
Your home away from home on the range, Small Farm Chiang Mai is a quiet green getaway in Tambon Ban Luang, just 58 kilometres from Chiang Mai. Dine at their cowboy-themed restaurant, soak up the rural atmosphere and get up close and personal with their collection of friendly farm animals, from sheep to horses to alpacas. Perfect for kids. www.smallfarm-chiangmai.com
4. Rock Quarry
Crystal clear waters, dramatically jutting rock cliffs and minimal crowds. Chiang Mai’s rock quarry is a terrific place to bring a picnic, an inflatable raft, and a few friends for a relaxing day in the sun. Drive south down Canal Road about ten minutes past Hang Dong, and take a left at the small bridge just after the PT gas station. (But be warned, there have been a few drownings here, so be very careful please.)
5. Ob Luang Gorge
On the Hot – Mae Salong Road, 20 kilometres before Suan Son Bor Kaew, you’ll find Ob Luang Gorge, one of TAT Unseen Thailand’s ten most beautiful places in the country. With massive rock faces framing the mighty Mae Chaem River, it’s a stunning location for a picnic and a small adventure. Picnic tables and green space are plenty, and there’s even a bridge above the gorge so you can admire from above.
6. Wang Bua Ban Waterfall
A true hidden gem, Wang Bua Ban waterfall is perfect for those days you just want to sit, listen to nature and put your feet in a cooling stream. Located just a few kilometres up Doi Suthep on the left hand side, the waterfall is close enough to the city with adequate parking and sometimes a few vendors if you’re lucky.
7. Ping River Cruise
For a bit of private decadence, hire a boat, load it up with your favourite foods and friends and take a leisurely afternoon or evening cruise up and down the Ping River. It is a wonderful perspective from which to see the city – plush mansions, lush gardens, intriguing temples and a surprising abundance of daily life of fishermen, washerwomen and children playing along the banks. Call 081 960 9398 to book the original scorpion-tailed river cruise.