Mae Rim is some fifteen kilometers (nine miles) north of Chiang Mai. Turn left immediately after the town for the Mac Sa valley and its string of resorts, restaurants, orchid farms and the like. It’s getting overcrowded but you can still spend a happy day exploring its attractions. There are now two elephant shows, admission 40 baht. The Mac Sa Valley Resort puts on a useful cultural show.
A better option, however, is to drive north to kilometer 56 and the Elephant Training Center, admission also 40 baht. The shows start at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., and include rides on elephant-back and, if you want, by raft (make sure your driver knows where to meet you). Then continue north to Chiang Dao and its spectacular caves off to the left. The main one is nicely lit but if you want to go spelunking, take a guide with a lantern. Entry fee to the main cave is 5 baht. Guide fees for the side trips are clearly posted.