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Chiang Mai

3.9 /5 26 votes


Best Time: December - February Read More

Ideal duration: 2-4 days

Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai Check Flights

"The Rose of the North"

Chiang Mai Tourism

Chiang Mai, a respite from the heavy duty travelling one experiences in South Thailand, is a haven for backpackers and travellers. With an ancient city nestled between a sprawling modern city, flaked by lush green fields of the countryside, Chiang Mai will engage all senses in the one hungry for travel stories and experiences.

Situated one hour away from Bangkok by flight, Chiang Mai is a destination which is fast becoming famous with the crowd which wants to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the cities of Southern Thailand. Built on the ancient Lanna kingdom, this city still has an old-world charm interspersed with modern world architecture and untamed natural beauty. For someone who likes to sample out-of-this-world food while covering the city on foot and soaking in the local sights and smells and shopping to their heart's content on a shoestring budget, Chiang Mai is a good option. With multiple monasteries in the city and rainforests, waterfalls and nature treks and walks just a bike ride away, this city is more of a central point for any number of activities that one might like to pursue. For the thrill-seeker in you, Chiang Dao Caves and Muang On Cave are situated near the city and are full of local folklore. Well known markets in the area include the Kalare Market, Anusam Market and the Warorot Market. From Thai cooking classes to elephant safaris, the city has something to offer to everyone.

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Nightlife in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has a great up and coming bar scene. Drinking at the side of the Ping River is common amongst locals and tourists alike with live music playing in the background. Nimmanheimin Road is one of the more popular areas amongst people who like good music and good food. Look out for Monkey Club when in that area. In keeping with the theme of entertainment venues in Thailand in general many places have cushion laden mattresses on the floor where backpackers can kick back with a beer and enjoy live music. Some of the popular bars in the area being Boy Blues Bar, Oasis Rooftop Garden and North Gate Jazz Co-op.

Shopping in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hosts a multitude of flea markets with the most popular being the Saturday and the Sunday Walking Street. Both markets run from 4pm in the evening to midnight. Be ready to haggle for the best price as the sellers usually quote 3 - 4 times the price on every item. Popular items which can be taken home from here are imitation Buddhist relics, paintings, musical instruments, small trinkets and junk jewellery.

Daily Budget for Chiang Mai

A budget traveller to Chiang Mai should consider carrying THB 1400 - 1500 which would include food, travel, souvenirs, transport, water and some emergency funds. A comfortable trip to Chiang Mai may be covered in double the amount. Thailand is very pocket-friendly and one need not worry about spending too much on things like food and transport which are relatively cheap here.

Exchanging Money in Chiang Mai

There are many options for currency exchange in Chiang Mai like ATMs and foreign exchange bureaus. These are easily accessible at the airport and almost all major tourist attractions. FOREX booths are quite common and exchanging currency should not be a problem. The safest option is to exchange money on arriving at the airport. DO NOT exchange currency before arriving in Thailand.

Religion of Chiang Mai

The most popular religion in Chiang Mai is Buddhism with over 300 Buddhist temples spread across the city.

Chiang Mai Customs

As with any Asian country, neat and conservative dress is expected when entering a temple. Ladies can carry a thin shawl with them to cover arms and/or low-cut necks of tops. One can initiate the 'wai' or a Thai Namaste as a form of greeting on the streets which is performed by bringing the palms of your hands together at the chest or below your nose. One should take care to not point one's feet at people and always remove footwear before entering a temple or someone's house. If ever in doubt about a custom or if in a pickle, try to diffuse the situation with a smile. Thailand is known as the land of smiles and the people are very polite with raised voices rare between strangers. Tipping is not expected of customers in Thailand as service charges are added to any purchase and shown in the bill. However, a small token amount of TBH 20 - 30 to show your appreciation at a small stall or with a tuk-tuk driver is optional if the service is exceptionally good.

Language of Chiang Mai

When in Chiang Mai you will hear Kham Muang being spoken in the streets which is also known as Northern Thai or Lann. The second most popular language will be Central Thai. Being a popular tourist location in recent times, English is well spoken by hotels and tour operators.

History of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, which means 'New city', is actually more than 700 years old. It was founded by King Mengrai in 1296. Burma and the Mongol Empire being a constant threat to the city led to the formation of a moat and a defensive wall which still stands to this day. Due to constant Burmese intervention the city was abandoned for 1776 - 1791. The city has since been regaining its importance as the second most sought after destination economically and culturally after the capital city of Bangkok. Hardly a square mile in area, the city is accessible best on foot. Temples more than half a millennium old are spread across the city giving it an old world charm which is complemented by the Buddhist monks who beg for alms and pray in the morning.

Restaurants and Local Food in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is famous for its Thai noodles cooked in various broths ranging from mild to can't-handle-it-the-next-morning spicy. Non-vegetarians should try the Kho Sui or the Egg Noodle Curry and the Sai Oua made from pork sausages. Be sure to try the vegetarian friendly red/green chilli dip available at local stalls.
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How To Reach Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has an international airport so is well connected with other major international cities. Buses to and from Bangkok take 9 - 12 hours and run at a decent frequency as well.

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