We've just spent a month traveling Thailand but we never went to Chang mai but it's on our radar for next year I can highly recommend koh Chang a bit further south but we are looking to travel more of Thailand next year I'm on count down already and I've only been back 2 weeks.
I've been to hotels all around the world and I must say that our family group agreed that the Four Seasons hotel in Chiang Mai is next-level tops, best place we've ever stayed. It's about 40 minutes drive outside Chiang Mai in a serene and tranquil area full of rice patties and gorgeous vegetation. The grounds are to die for and the staff and service is above and beyond.
Visiting the Karen long-neck tribe a short ride outside of Chiang Mai was worthwhile. Super friendly people with nice hand crafts. They encourage you to take photos with them as they make their money from tourism.
We also had a great elephant tour in Chiang Mai: Ran Tong. Highly recommended. We were in a group of 10 people, the only ones at the camp, and there were about 20 very large elephants that the group rescued. We cellent staff / mahouts. We rode the elephants bare-back, and washed them.
We found an amazing and small elephant sanctuary. A village of 300 with 4 elephants. Treated very well. About 1.45 h from Chiang Mai. Karen Tribe Native Elephants on FB. Highly recommend. Ask for Sun. :)
If interested in Elephant fostering and sanctuaries, would suggest to book early right now. They seem to be all booked till end of November. Also there are a bunch of the sanctuary look alike that don't treat the elephants well. I found the http://www.pataraelephantfarm.com most interesting and elephant friendly but haven't got any reply for my booking request. So waiting 💤
Rachamankha (suite #26 is a lovely 2 bed, 2 bath on the second floor of a super charming library).
Anantara is full of stunning, riverside zen.
Oasis Spa Lanna and Health Lanna Spa, both great and reasonably priced
David's Kitchen - glassy, contemporary, French influenced, fab food.
The Swan for cheap, tasty Burmese
The Service 1921 (at Anantara) - kitschy, but lovely space and delicious food.
Hire a guide and explore Doi Inthanon national park - worth the two hour ride. WaChira Tan Waterfall is beautiful and be sure to have lunch at the local joint next to the waterfall - salt baked fish, Tom yum ka soup, chiangmai sausage, roast pork, sticky rice, papaya salad - all great and unbelievably inexpensive (lunch for 4 ~ $15)