Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่) is the hub of Northern Thailand. With a population of over 170,000 in the city proper (but more than 1 million in the metropolitan area), it is Thailand's fifth-largest city. Located on a plain at an elevation of 316 m, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital, and has a cosmopolitan air and a significant expat population, factors which have led many from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "Rose of the North".
Founded in 1296 CE, Chiang Mai is a culturally and historically interesting city, at one time the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. Located among the rolling foothills of the Himalayan Mountains 700 km north of Bangkok, it could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant trek until the 1920s. This isolation helped keep Chiang Mai's distinctive charm intact.
Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city (city is chiang in the northern Thai dialect while mai is new, hence Chiang Mai or New City. Sections of the wall dating to their restoration a few decades ago remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains.
Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city walls are more than 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles, decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree. The most famous is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.
Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east towards the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Chang Klan Rd, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guest houses are located. Loi Kroh Rd is the centre of the city's night life. The locals say you've not experienced Chiang Mai until you've seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten a bowl of kao soi, and purchased an umbrella from Bo Sang. Of course this is touristic nonsense, but the Kao Soi, Bo Sang umbrellas, and Doi Suthep are important cultural icons for Chiang Mai residents. Ratchadamneon Rd hosts the main Sunday night walking street market from Tha Phae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh.
Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of the south.
As with the rest of Thailand there are three seasons.
International departure hall at Chiang Mai Airport
Chiang Mai International Airport  (CNX) handles both domestic and regional international flights. The route from Bangkok is one of the busiest in the country (Thai Airways flies daily almost every hour, with additional flights in the peak tourist season). Other airlines operating direct services from/to Chiang Mai include:
Air Asia  A well-known Asian low-cost airline, flies from/to Bangkok (Don Muang airport) and Phuket. Usually it's the cheapest choice if you book at least a week before, with price tag starting from 1,400 baht (plus fees for luggage, food, seat reservation) from Bangkok and 2,000-2,500 baht from Phuket; promotional fares may be even cheaper. Their prices can be significantly higher, however, if you book just a few days before, or want a specific day/flight.
Bangkok Airways  To Ko Samui (flights from Ko Samui are indirect), from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Sukhothai. Surprisingly, in many cases Bangkok Airways has the cheapest fares, cheaper than the budget airlines, particularly if you book just one day or a few days ahead.
Kan Air . Kan Air flies to and from from Chiang Mai to Khon Kaen, Pai, Nan, Mae Hong Son, and Phitsanulok.
Nok Air  Thai (semi-) low-cost carrier, flies from/to Bangkok (Don Mueang airport, from 1,400 baht and up) and Mae Hong Son. They also fly from/to Udon Thani, ticket price is 2,400 baht. The latter, while still 4 times more expensive than bus, is more than twice as cheap as the Lao Airlines flight to Vientiane, which is easily accessible from Udon Thani. Nok Air only books up to 3 months in advance.
Thai Airways  - from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport only, from 2,500 baht and up, but sometimes there are promo fares as low as 1,500) and Mae Hong Son; in addition, flights from and/or to Phuket & possibly Nan may also be available seasonally.
The airport is some 3 km southwest of the city centre, only 10-15 minutes away by car. Legal airport taxis charge a flat 120 baht for up to 5 passengers anywhere in the city; if you take a metered taxi, the fee will start from 40 baht + a 50 baht service fee from the Meter Taxi counter. The taxis operate from the exit at the north end of the terminal, after baggage claim and/or customs, walk into the reception hall and turn left. Alternatively, take bus #4 to the city centre for 15 baht, or charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 baht per person. Most hotels and some upmarket guesthouses offer cheap or free pick-up/drop-off services.
Rattling government buses make frequent stops at every minor township. The journey takes around 12 hrs and costs 200 baht.
Non-stop 24/32-seaters and 1st class buses such as Nokhonchai Air provide larger seats and snacks; making the long trip more comfortable. They manage the trip around 9 hours and cost around 550 baht. Be cautious about the so-called "VIP" buses touted on Khao San Rd. They may be cheaper, but you may end up crammed into a 2nd class bus or worse.
At Arcade Bus Station, where you'll arrive, public songthaews stop near the bus station building exit. Look for local people getting into those, and ask the driver if he goes to your destination (if songthaew is empty, don't forget to confirm the price). A shared trip to Tha Phae Gate (south edge of the old town) should cost 20 baht, though you may have to wait for a driver who agrees. Virtually all songthaews will pass Warorot Market (city centre, just after crossing the river), from where it's just 1 km walk to Tha Phae Gate, or numerous (see "Get around" section) songthaews to other areas.
Alternatively, you can charter the whole songthaew or take a tuk-tuk. The drivers will approach you once you've arrived and will ask as much as 80-100 baht to the city centre/Tha Phae Gate, showing you a bogus price list with "fixed" prices. Bargain, it's just 5-6 km, so the fair price for tuk-tuk there is 50 baht, and is not more than 100 baht even to the opposite side of the city. It may be difficult to bargain with these drivers, however. A good idea is to ignore them from the start, walk out to the nearby street, and catch a passing tuk-tuk/songthaew there. If your luggage is light, you can walk to the centre, but it's quite a long walk, as the Arcade bus station is located in the city's northeast outskirts.
Songthaew touts may ask foreign tourists for an outrageous 150 baht per person for a shared ride to town. Challenged, they will drop to 100 baht. Similar prices are demanded by tuk-tuk drivers.
The best policy is to walk to the main street and catch a tuk-tuk for perhaps 60 baht, or a songthaew for perhaps 30 baht per person. You will have to haggle for either.
Daytime services leave at 08:30, and 14:30 with second-class (281 baht) and third-class (121 baht) carriages. The seats in each class differ in softness and width and can become uncomfortable after 10+ hours.
Overnight sleepers provide comfortable bunks with clean sheets and pillows in first- and second-class. First-class beds (~1,400 baht) are in private two-bed compartments. In second-class (~900 baht), the carriages are open but each bunk has a curtain for privacy. First-class is always air-con, second class is sometimes air-con. There are usually four trains per day with sleeper accommodation, though only two of these will have first-class compartments. Station staff will be able to help you.
Carriages are kept clean; the toilet and floors are regularly mopped during the journey. Vendors make regular rounds selling snacks, drinks and lacklustre meals. Vendors will try to inflate the prices for tourists so be prepared to get ripped off, haggle, hop off quickly at stations or bring your own.
In second-class, the bunks are folded away leaving pairs of facing seats. At some point in the evening, or on request, they get flipped down into bunks and made up into beds. In first-class, the bottom bunk is used as a bench seat before having a futon mattress deployed onto it in the evening.
If you're not in the mood for bed when your carriage mates are bedding down, you can head off to the dining car, which provides fairly good food and drink at not too great a premium. Later in the night, the dining car can turn into a disco, complete with loud music and flashing lights.
Tickets can be bought up to 60 days in advance at any station in Thailand. Booking in advance is advised, especially for the popular 2nd-class overnight sleepers. Larger stations accept payment with Visa/MasterCard. This is fairly safe, as SRT is a state-owned company. Alternatively, if you are not yet in Thailand, the SRT e-ticketing (not currently working - Jan 2010) website will let you buy and print out an e-ticket. Some find it tricky to register. You have to avoid any special characters while filling the registration form. You must book at least three days in advance, and you can only purchase 1st and 2nd class aircon sleeper tickets (which are 150-200 baht more expensive than fan-only car tickets). The price online is exactly what you'd pay in the ticket office. Various travel agencies, some available to contact from outside Thailand, can also procure tickets for delivery or pick up, with fees typically starting at 100 baht.
SRT charges 90 baht to transport a bicycle between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai train station is about 3 km east of the city centre. Plentiful songthaews and tuk-tuks await each train's arrival. If you want to walk, exit the station, cross the open square in front and turn left on the first major road you come to (Charoen Muang Rd); this road goes directly to city centre.
Chiang Mai did have a nice new large air conditioned bus service. These were all over the major city routes but have been discontinued until 2011. There are pedicabs called samlor; the 3-wheeled tuk-tuk; and the most popular, the songthaew.
A songthaew serves as a bus or a taxi.
In lieu of a local bus service, locals get around the city on songthaew (สองแถว). These covered pick-up trucks have two long bench seats in the back (songthaew means "two rows" in Thai), ply fixed routes or to any destination, picking up passengers en route who are going the same way.
The colour of the songthaew indicates its general route or usage. Most common by far are red songthaews (called rod daeng, red truck), which don't follow a specific route and roam the main streets around markets, temples, or the bus/train stations. These are the most convenient to take if you are going somewhere specific. Prices must be negotiated. but expect 20 baht anywhere within the city walls and 40-60 baht outside. Because of the city's somewhat irrational road design, especially inside the old walls, the driver may be forced to take a circuitous route to get to a nearby destination, but it will make no difference in the fare.
Fixed route songthaews congregate around Warorot Market. From Warorot Market, white songthaews travel to the eastern suburban city of Sankampaeng, yellow songthaews travel to Mae Rim in the north, blue songthaews travel to Sarapee and Lamphun in the south, and green songthaews travel to Mae Jo in the northeast. They all charge a 20 baht flat rate.
From Pratu Chiang Mai Market, songthaews also travel to Hang Dong (20 baht) and San Patong, southwest of Chiang Mai.
To catch a songthaew; approach a waiting driver or flag one down on the street, state your destination and if the driver is going that direction he will nod in agreement and give you a price. Negotiate a lower fare if you wish. The price agreed to should be per person; it's a good idea to confirm this with the driver before you leave. On reaching your destination, ring the buzzer on the roof to tell the driver to stop, or most likely the driver will pull over, wait for you to get out and pay.
By tuk-tuk or samlor
Tuk-tuks are a quick, though noisy way to get around. Fares are usually 30-40 baht for a short hop (as of July 2012 it seems that the minimum has gone up to 40 baht for pre-arranged locations) and 50-100 baht for longer distances, depending on the proficiency of your bargaining. As a guide, expect to pay 40 baht from the old city to the riverside and Night Bazaar, 40-50 baht to the railway station, and 80-100 baht to the bus station or airport. Tuk-tuks parked near the bus and train stations will ask you for something like 120-150 baht. Just haggle or walk away to the nearest road and stop a passing tuk-tuk or songthaew there.
According to expats, the highest fee for a tuk-tuk at any time of day or night should be 150 baht for any location in town.
The fee seems to be based on multiples of 20 baht which is the smallest note. It is a good idea to stock up on notes and coins as whenever you offer a note higher than the agreed fee the driver has no change!
A few samlor (three-wheeled bicycles) still cruise the streets and will happily take you to a temple for the same price as a tuk-tuk, though at a considerably quieter and slower pace.
Chiang Mai has metered taxis, though it can be difficult to persuade the driver to switch the meter on. If you do prevail, the flag fall is 30 baht for the first 2 km, then 4 baht/km after that. Otherwise you will have resort to bargaining a fare.
You cannot generally hail taxis in the street. To book a taxi, call +66 53 279-291, state your destination and the call centre will give you a quote; or contact individual drivers via the mobile phone numbers displayed on their vehicles.
By motorbike or motorcycle
A motorbike is a convenient and cheap way to get around town or reach the outlying sights. There are an abundance of nearly indistinguishable rental outfits in town, and most guest houses can arrange rentals. Automatic 110cc and 125cc bikes capable of carrying two people are the easiest to jump on and ride away with if you don't have riding experience, but off-road bikes and larger street bikes are also an option. A valid international drivers licence isn't required to rent.
Motorbikes run about 150 baht/day for a 110cc motorbike and 150+ baht/day for a Honda Wave 125; supplied with helmets and a security chain. If you rent longer term, e.g., by the month, those rates can be as low as 2,400 to 2,700 baht per month, averaging 80-90 baht per day. Several dealers will agree to these rates. Currently a Honda PCX rents for 350-500 baht per day in the city centre. Monthly rates may lower the daily average.
Larger machines cost 700 baht/day for a V-twin chopper or larger sport-bike. Expect discounts when renting for a week, month, or longer.
Rentals will require a deposit (generally prudent opinion would say that while many ask for a passport you should under no circumstances leave your passport [with anyone] as collateral). It is recommended that you use your discretion to make this assessment as reputable vendors will cause no problems leaving the passport for a month each time. Remember that if you want to leave the country you will need the passport; and that you must ALWAYS carry a photocopy of the passport and visa/entry stamp pages. In this case an additional photo ID isn't a bad idea. Most shops will accept a photocopy with a cash deposit of around 3,000-5,000 baht. This is a much better alternative. While the petrol/gas tank may be full on pick-up, it is not uncommon for shops to deliver a bike with just enough fuel to go make it to a service station. In any case, return the bike with as much or more fuel than received to avoid any penalties. Also check out the relative mechanical merit of the bike being offered. Focus especially on the brakes, the degree of "pull" needed for the handlebar lever, and the travel needed for the foot brake. Check that indicators and headlights work properly, and the tires are reasonably OK.
Some rental agreements claim to insure you but generally only cover the bike for theft or damage. Don't expect much in the way of compensation if something bad such as an accident occurs. Regardless of who is at fault, assume that you will be considered the guilty party.
The police frequently fine riders (including passengers) 500 baht (some officers will allow you to pay 100 or 200 baht on the spot "to avoid paperwork and travelling to the station, etc.") for not wearing a helmet, plus you usually have to go to the police station the next day to collect your licence.
Traffic inside the old city walls is subdued enough to make biking a safe and quick way to get around. Bike rentals are plentiful; rental costs 30-250 baht/day depending on the bike quality.
Car hire services are available both in the city centre and at the airport. Cars typically offered include the Toyota Vios, Altis, and Yaris, and the Honda City and Jazz. Typical rates for newer models are 1,200-2,000 baht per day. Expect a slight discount when renting weekly. Utility pickups such as the Toyota Hilux or Fortuner SUV are also available. Many places offer minivans such as 10-seat Toyota Commuters with a driver from about 2,000 baht per day plus fuel. Older Suzuki Carribean 4WDs are a cheaper option at around 600-800 baht per day, but they are relatively difficult to drive and less mechanically reliable than a standard passenger car.
Some car rental companies in Chiang Mai:
Alpha Chiang Mai Car Rental 18/2 Santitham Rd, Chang Phueak. Tel +66 85 714 4045
Avis 60/27 Chaing Mai Airport. Tel. +66 53 201 7989
The old city is only a mile square, and as such is easy to walk around. The airport is also quite close to the old part of town--about 2.5 km--so if you have the energy and an hour to spare, you can even walk to and from the airport. Note that this is not necessarily a pleasant experience as the sidewalks are uneven (or non-existent) and Chiang Mai gets hot during the day, especially during the hot season, and rainy during the rainy season. The cost of a taxi or songthaew from the moat area to the airport is around 150 baht.
Hiring a car or minivan with driver
This is is a great option for travelling to places outside Chiang Mai city, and the price is often similar to hiring a car and driving yourself. You'll also be able to relax and enjoy the scenery in air-conditioned comfort. The cost for a private car with driver is generally from 1,500 baht per day plus fuel depending on the type of vehicle and where you are going. The driver will typically pick you up with a full tank of fuel and you pay at the end. Large Toyota Hi-Ace, Nissan Urvan and newer Toyota Commuter minivans go for around 2,000 baht per day plus fuel. Most hotels and some guest houses can arrange it for you, in addition to vehicle rental outlets and the many travel agencies in town.
Bo Knows, Bo is a highly experienced, certified tour guide who offers customized, individual tours in Chiang Mai and northern Thailand for individuals and small groups. Bo has a strong focus on fair, alternative and eco-friendly tourism. Daily tours start around 800 baht per person. Mobile: +66 833 253 053, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Courtyard of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a clear day, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ, Huai Kaeo Rd, 30 baht, ) is 18 km from town, sitting at a 1,073 m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died, which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site. The temple offers grand views over the city, but no reward is without effort as you must accent the 300-plus steps of the Naga-lined stairs. The climb may be a strain in the high altitude's thin air for the less fit, so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht. For the Visaka Bucha holiday in June or July each year, it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4-5 hours.
In the vicinity there are several other attractions you may want to consider visiting. The Bhuping Royal Palace Gardens are 4 km further along the road from Wat Prathat, with a reasonably easy walk along the meter-wide road shoulder. Or you can get a shared songthaew from Wat Prathat for 30 baht, but you may have to wait until it fills up. Further along the road is a hill tribe village, and although tourist-oriented, is really worth the trip. There are many shops for local handicrafts, etc. These are the people from the far north of the country, many originally from Myanmar. There are two areas in the village that require entrance fee: 10 baht to enter a flower garden (where women can take pictures using traditional clothes) and a hill tribe opium museum (the museum is in a very poor condition); and 10 baht to enter the hill tribe waterfall (man-made).
Getting there is a source of much consternation by many travellers. Clearly marked songthaews leave from Pratu Chang Phuak. Prices are fixed at 40 baht up and 30 baht down; but the drivers wait until they have sufficient (up to 8) passengers before they depart, potentially making for a lengthy wait. Most guidebooks advise taking a songthaew from Mani Nopharat Rd, resulting in the drivers milking the tourist cash-cow and raising their price from a reasonable 40 baht to a ludicrous 500 baht.
Another option is to take a songthaew from your hotel to the northern gate of Chiang Mai University for 20 baht (if you are close to the city walls), where there will be several songthaews waiting on Huai Kaeo Rd to get a full load of passengers for a trip up the mountain. They seem to congregate around the Chiang Mai Zoo, so if you just say "zoo" to the driver he will know what you're talking about. Prices range from 40 baht for a one-way trip to Wat Prathat to 180 baht for a full round-trip tour, including the temple, Bhuping Palace Gardens, and the the hill tribe village, with an hour at each location, but you may have to wait until there are sufficient people who want the same tour or be prepared to pay more. You can also get between many of these by buying point-to-point tickets at the time you want them, or walking some segment. Any songthaew up the mountain road may be a trial for those prone to motion-sickness, so take appropriate precautions.
There are several little annoying charges to pay for foreigners. To enter the Doi Suthep itself is free for Thais, and 30 baht for foreigners. Tour operators will ask 700 baht for a tour.
The journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing. The final 12 km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling.
There are more than 300 temples in Chiang Mai and its outskirts, with a dozen stand-outs of historical or architectural significance within walking distance of each other. Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai exhibit a mixture of Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand.
Though certain temples on the conventional tourist circuit can be overrun with loud groups it is not hard to find many less well-known, but no less interesting, temples quietly and gently crumbling in the absence of tourist hordes. Whichever you visit, keep in mind that the temples are sacred religious places of deep cultural significance for the locals. Show respect by wearing appropriate attire (long pants for men, modest tops and skirts for women, no bare shoulders or plunging necklines and women must wear a bra). You must take off your shoes before entering the temple or other buildings, but they may be worn in the courtyard. Taking photographs of Buddha images is no problem, but it is polite to ask before taking pictures of monks or locals. All temples are free.
Inside the old city walls
Wat Phra Singh, Corner of Singharaj Rd and Rajdamnern Rd. Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from the rain, floods and pests. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen. To enter the temple is free for Thais, and 20 baht for foreigners. The ticket is in a leaflet form containing useful information and map of Wat Phra Singh complex.
Wat Chiang Man, Rajpakinai Rd. The oldest royal temple in the city. Presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded (1296), it is famed for two Buddha images, which according to legend are 1,800 and 2,500 years old. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang, Prapokklao Rd. Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai are the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the chedi (pronounced jedee) to a height of 86 m. After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991-92, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million baht. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
Wat Phrachao Mengrai, Ratchamanka 6, Phra Sing (near Heuan Phen Restaurant), ☎ +66 53 278 788 . An atmospheric temple with two Wihan buildings, off the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling. One of the Wihan buildings houses an important Buddha image: Phra Buddha Rupa Phra Chao Mengrai.
Outside the old city walls
Wat Jet Yod (วัดเจ็ดยอด. Sometimes called Wat Chet Yot), Superhighway (about 1 km north of the Huay Kaew Rd/superhighway intersection). The history and unusual architecture scattered under the yawning canopy of ancient trees is an pleasant antidote to the flash and bustle encountered at popular temples. Established in 1455 to host the eighth World Buddhist Council, many features of the grounds imitate significant places of the Buddha's enlightenment. Originally called Botharam Maha Vihata in honour of the venerated Bodhi tree, it came to be known as Wat Jet Yod by locals, after the seven spires (Jet Yod) protruding from the roof of the Vihara. The square-sided design of the Virhra is a replica of Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, though the translation has distorted proportions somewhat. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals that adorned the walls depict angels with a distinctly Indian flavour. The grounds also hold some more recently built, but abandoned looking, eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls, overshadowed by a fully intact, though more diminutive, replica of 'Chedi Luang that was built around 1487 to house the ashes of King Tilokarat.
Wat Suan Dok (Suthep Rd). A large open-sided hall with a jumble of roughly hewn Buddhas with a huge dazzlingly whitewashed chedi behind.
Wat Umong, off Suthep Rd (at the end of a long narrow road, off Suthep Rd. Turn at the Italian restaurant.). An ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk who liked to wander in the countryside, hence the isolated location where the monk could stay quietly and meditate. It is unusual in that it has tunnel-like chambers in the ground, some of the walls of which still have the original paintings of birds and animals visible. The large stupa is magnificent, and there is an eerie statue of a fasting, emaciated Buddha next to it. You can also take a break by the ponds, where you can feed the fish and turtles.
There are many art galleries and exhibitions in Chiang Mai, featuring contemporary artwork of both local Thai and Myanmar artists.
The Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Centre building
Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, in the very centre of the old city on Prapokklao Rd, between Rajdumnern Rd and Rajwithee Rd, ☎ +66 53 217793. 08:30-17:00 daily except M. This fully modernised multimedia history and cultural education centre has guides dressed in elegant traditional Thai clothing who will usher you into an air-conditioned room to watch an English-subtitled orientation video about Chiang Mai and the north. Next, you will be pointed to a series of rooms documenting the region's history and culture in chronological order from the pre-Muang period (7,000-12,000 years ago) to the early river civilizations, to the early kings through the wars with the Burmese and the last dynasty, to the city today and its plans for the future. Other rooms are devoted to Buddhism and other regional beliefs, agricultural history, hill tribe peoples and other regional cultures, and a run-down of the royal dynasties. The exhibits consist of a smart visual mix of video, scale models, enlarged photos, wall murals and text in Thai and English.90 baht.
Chiang Mai National Museum, On the Super Highway (within walking distance of Wat Chet Yot), ☎ +66 53 221308, . 09:00-16:00 W-Su. Offers an insight into the history of Chiang Mai.100 baht.
Chiang Mai Numismatic Museum (Treasury Hall), 52 Ratchadamnoen Rd, ☎ +66 53 22 4237/8. M-Sa 09:00-15:30.
Chiang Mai University Art Museum, corner Suthep and Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 944833. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. There are exhibitions by undergraduates from the Fine Arts Department at Chiang Mai University. These change often and the standard of work on display by the students is of a high standard. Each month there is usually at least one art exhibition featuring the works of artists from Southeast Asia. The museum also hosts musical concerts - often free - in the adjoining theatre.Free.
The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Hilltribe Research Institute Museum, which unfortunately closed after a fire in January 2011.
Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Soi 13 Srimankalajarn Rd, ☎ +66 53 211 891, . Daily, 09:00-17:00. One of Asia's most unusual museums housing butterflies, beetles, and beyond. Also has a large selection of minerals. Some explanations in English, some in Thai.300 baht.
Postal Museum, Mae Ping Post Office. Tu-Sa 08:30-16:30. Free.
Gardens and nature
Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (about 800 m north of the Holiday Inn, on the east side of the Ping River). A serene place of history and remembrance.
Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium, 100 Huay Kaew Rd (at the foot of Doi Suthep), ☎ +66 53 893 111, . Daliy, 09:00-17:30. Extremely popular with Thai tourists, and so expect long queues. While better than some zoos, the animals are nevertheless kept in small enclosures. Operates an unpleasant dual pricing system whereby non-Thais are charged approximately double the price of Thai nationals. Additional charges also apply for both the panda exhibition and the aquarium. There are more stalls selling the usual trinkets than enclosures, and more human visitors than animals. Not much to recommend, including that the journey from the city centre can be lengthy because of long queues of cars, the dual pricing system, and the less-than-ideal conditions for the animals. The car parking facilities are best described as chaotic.100 baht.
Dokmai Garden, . This garden displays 120 different edible fruit plants, 140 different vegetables, 200 native orchid species, in total over 1000 vascular plants. Of these, 500 have been selected for presentations on aluminium signs with informative information (English, Japanese, and Thai). The plants have scientific names. The area is compact (4 ha or 10 acres) and surrounded by plantations of teak, bananas, longan, and dry dipterocarp savannah. It is near Opkhan National Park, and between the famous Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep National Parks. The garden also hosts natural populations of the atlas moth and the golden birdwing butterfly, and is visited by over 80 wild and free bird species. The garden is a member of the SEABG (Southeast Asian Botanical Gardens network) and collaborates with Chiang Mai University (mushrooms), Mae Jo University (fish), Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (plants), the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Opkhan National Park.
Phu Ping Palace (Royal Winter Palace), Suthep 50200 (on Rt 1004, beyond Doi Suthep). This royal winter palace has lavishly landscaped gardens and is open to the public daily 08:30-11:30 & 13:00-15:00 when the Thai royal family is not in residence. Dress code strictly applied: dress modestly or pay 15 baht for fisherman's pants to cover your lack of it. This includes ANY leg above the ankle for either gender). The palace itself (built in 1961) is not particularly exciting, but the extensive gardens are picturesque with some amazing plant life, including carefully curated tropical flowers, as well as centuries-old trees and giant bamboo. A sign at the bottom of the hill near the zoo indicates when it's closed. It is close to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, so travel directions are similar.50 baht, children 10 baht.
Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, 100 Moo 9, Mae Ram (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 12 km to garden on left.), ☎ +66 53 841 234, . Daily, 08:30-17:00. Lovely gardens in a mountain foothills setting. Run by the Botanical Garden Association, Thailand.
Baanchang Elephant Park, 147/1 Rachadamnern Rd, ☎ +66 53 814174 or +66 89 6355206, . Aside from being one of the cheapest places to appreciate these wonderful animals in Chiang Mai, Baanchang treats these animals extremely well and the love and care displayed by Mahouts (elephant caretakers) contrasts markedly with that displayed at many other local elephant 'camps'. For those who stay overnight, the hosts host a night by the campfire putting on rural entertainment such as making sticky rice in bamboo and releasing fire lanterns into the night sky. A true gem of Chiang Mai which can be accessed from many of the local hotels and hostels.
Eddy Elephant Care Chiang Mai, 87 Sripoom Rd, ☎ +66 53 222 525 (email@example.com), . One of the interesting activities in Chiang Mai is getting close to a real elephant. Eddy is the owner who takes care of his 7 orphan elephants from generation to generation. He ensures you will enjoy the private tour. You will learn about elephant behaviours and also you will learn how to control and bathe them as you are a mahout (elephant caretaker). You will be able to ride them through the jungle. The elephants are not inside a park, not inside a camp nor a farm. This is a group of elephant owners who care for them at home as if they were part of their family.2,300 baht for a day including lunch and transportation.
Elephant Nature Park, ☎ +66 53 818932, . Approximately 60 km north of Chiang Mai is a sanctuary for rescued and distressed elephants. They are not here to perform or do tricks and people visiting here will leave with a whole new understanding of these magnificent creatures. Day and overnight visits as well as one week volunteering opportunities can be booked via their website. During the day visit you will feed and bathe the elephants, watch them wander around the 150 acre area, and will be provided with a buffet lunch. They will also pick and drop you off at your hotel in Chiang Mai.Adult, 2,500 baht.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp, 119/9 Tapae Rd, ☎ +66 53 206 247 or +66 53 206 248, . An elephant camp in the hills about an hour's drive north of the city centre. It has an elephant show, which includes elephants playing football and painting. You can also take half hour or one hour elephant rides. Not exactly a place to bring a PETA activist, but many (people) do enjoy the performances.
After football, Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand. It can be seen in three different stadiums:
Kawila Boxing Stadium, (not far from Narawat Bridge, a short block south of Tha Phae Rd in the Night Bazaar). Real muay Thai fights (almost) every Friday at 20:00 with 10 bouts ranging from young novices to local champions to locals vs foreigners. The smallest of the three stadia it is nearly open-air, but with a new tent covering and good lighting. This is much more authentic than the frenzied beer bar atmosphere of the other two locations.400-600 baht.
Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium, (Loi Kroh Rd in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex.). Fights are usually held 3-4 nights per week. Look for flyers posted up all over the old city. They usually have about 8 fights and feature Thai fighters as well as a few matches with foreign fighters. This may not be the best location to see muay Thai with a family, as it is surrounded by "girlie bars" and during a break between the fights a group of ladyboys will put on a dance and occasionally strip. After about 23:00 the complex is opened up for free, letting all the vendors (flower sellers, et al.) in. If you are on a tight budget you may be able to see a few of the remaining fights for free this way.Admission is 400 baht for normal seating or 600 for VIP..
Tha Phae Boxing Stadium, (Moon Muang Rd near Tha Phae Gate.). It hosts around 8 fights per show, including a few matches with foreign fighters. This is the largest of the three stadiums and has food as well as beverages served. Gambling is prominently featured.
Alliance Francaise, 138 Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 275 277, . Screens films at 20:00 on Friday nights. In French, but frequently sub-titled in English. See the website for calendar of showings. Alliance also has an extensive library as well as exhibitions.
Chiang Mai Vista Cinema (Kad Suan Kaew)), (on Huay Kaew Rd), . The ticket prices vary depending on the duration of the film. The place is not very popular among the locals since it is a bit old and worn. No digital or 3D films shown at Vista. 80-120 baht.
Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza, . Ticket prices around 120-260 depending on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats. If you would like to avoid the crowd, avoid going on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights. Make sure to check the language of the film prior to booking. Some children's movies are dubbed into Thai.
Festivals & exhibitions
Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival. Takes place 20-22 January at Ban Bo Sang, Sankampang. The festival is in the form of a "street fair" in which the central road of the village is used, with shops on both sides. Shops are decorated in Lanna-style, most with the well-known umbrellas, as well as with traditional lanterns. In addition there are contests, exhibitions, cultural performances, local entertainment and assorted shows day and night. There is a grand procession decorated with umbrellas and local products, a variety of handicrafts for sale, northern-style khantoke meals, and the Miss Bo Sang pageant.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Staged every year during the first weekend in February. The city is awash with vibrant colous ranging from the electric orange and lilac colours of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Year, is echoed by beds of scarlet salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colourful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of colour that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiang Mai aptly gives the city its name "Rose of the North". On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Suan Buak Haad near the city centre. Many types of flower, miniature trees, and orchida are put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers. The best part of the flower festival is on Saturday. The parade lines up from the train station to Narawat Bridge so the police close most of Jarenmuang Rd around 08:00. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiang Mai Governor's home. The parade route goes down Tha Phae Rd to the gate and turns left and follows the moat to Suan Buak Haad City Park. The parade moves at a slow pace and stops several times so there is plenty of time to take pictures of the colourful floats, pretty girls and hill tribe people in native costume. The paraders hand out roses to spectators lining the road. When the parade finishes everyone heads to Suan Buak Haad where all the floats, award winning flower growers and landscape projects are all on display. There are plenty of food stalls in the park, and in the late afternoon the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival starts. The party goes well into the evening until the new Flower Festival Queen has been chosen. This is a great time to visit Chiang Mai, as the air is cool and the evenings fresh and clear. If you want to see the festival make sure you book your hotels and flights well in advance.
Inthakin or Tham Boon Khan Dok is the City Pillar Festival in Chiang Mai. This is a six-day festival where the city pillar spirits are propitiated to ensure the continuity of the city. Occurs in May or June as part of the Northern Thailand lunar calendar. Very large event focused around Wat Chedi Luang.
Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals If you like candles placed in colourful paper lanterns, fireworks, beautiful girls in traditional dress, parade floats, lots of food, and parties, don't miss the Loi Krathong festival, which in Chiang Mai lasts for 3 full days, the last night being that of the 12th full moon of the year (which is usually in November). In the small town of Mae Jo, north of Chiang Mai, they start the festival on Saturday night by simultaneously launching thousands upon thousands of hot air balloons called Khom Loy.
Loi Krathong coincides with the northern Thai (Lanna) festival known as "Yi Peng" (Thai: ยี่เป็ง). Due to a difference between the old Lanna calendar and the Thai calendar, Yi Peng is held on a full moon of the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar ("Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month" in the Lanna language). A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (Thai: โคมลอย), literally: "floating lanterns") are launched into the air where they drift with the winds. The festival is meant as a time for tham bun (Thai: ทำบุญ), to make merit. People decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with khom fai (Thai: โคมไฟ): intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms. Khom thue (Thai: โคมถือ) are lanterns which are carried around hanging from a stick, khom khwaen (Thai: โคมแขวน) are the hanging lanterns, and khom pariwat (Thai: โคมปริวรรต) which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside. Chiang Mai has the most elaborate Yi Peng celebrations, where both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are celebrated at the same time resulting in lights floating on the waters, lights hanging from trees/buildings or standing on walls, and lights floating by in the sky.
Orchid Fair. (January) is the biggest orchid fair of the year, with an orchid market, activities and more.
Flower festival float
Khom Loy hot air balloons launch
Songkran Festival. The Thai Water Festival is celebrated as the Thai new year from April 13-15 (though it may begin a day or two early). The most obvious sign that you're in the middle of the festival is when you get soaked by someone pouring a bucket of water over you, or squirting you with a water gun! This tradition evolved from people tossing water that had been poured over holy statues, since this water was expected to be good luck. Now, it takes the form of a free-for-all water fight, and you will undoubtedly be drenched. It's also a way of staying cool during the very hot and humid month of April. Just be sure to put your cell phone in a plastic bag!
Fah Lanna Massage,  186/3 Loy Kroh Rd, near the night bazaar, down the street from McDonald's, past Royal Lanna Hotel. (mobile: +66 89 695 0802 or +66 82 030 3029; firstname.lastname@example.org). A small and very cozy massage shop close to the Iron Bridge. Clean, friendly and professional, Fah Lanna gets continuously the highest ratings in customer reviews. First customers get a gentle foot-bath with scrub and comfortable clothes to change into and after the massage they offer ginger tea and a cold towel. The decoration and the music they play are beautiful and add to the experience. After collecting 10 stamps (1 stamp per 1 hour treatment) they give a free massage. Massages here are excellent and prices are very reasonable, starting from 200 baht.
Green Bamboo Massage, 1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1 (mobile: +66 89 827 5563). Is a small and very charming studio inside the moat with a fair and sustainable concept, located in a typical wooden Thai house. The certified staff is highly trained in the arts of ancient Thai massage therapy. The owner uses real home made cosmetics and even created her own aloe vera oil. Choose from a great variety of treatments and packages for fair prices (start at 200 baht/hour).
Le'Lux Massage, (near Sompet Market on Soi 6 of Moon Muang Rd). Excellent staff and ambiance. Services include Thai massage (150 baht/hr), oil massage (200 baht/hr), scrubs, manicure (150 baht), pedicure (150 baht), and more. Tea and water are included.
Let's Relax, 2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Chang Khlan Rd. Does professional massage in very clean if not downright sterile surroundings complete with air-con, the sound of running water and gentle scents. A 45-minute foot reflexology session costs 350 baht, nearly twice the price of the competition, but is worth every satang after a long trek.
Nantana Massage Shop, (near Sompet Market on Soi 6). Has very knowledgeable and friendly staff, and air-con. Thai massage 150 baht/hour; oil, foot, and neck/shoulder massage also available.
The Sun Massage, Loi Kroh Rd, opposite 7-11. Recently relocated to Loi Kroh, the shop sports a very clean, and pleasant modern decor. The masseuses are very friendly, and provide decent, skilled massages. A traditional Thai massage goes for 199 baht/hour. There is a white table in front of the shop where the masseuses often hang out when they're not working.
Viang Ping Massage & Spa, Tha Phae Rd, Soi 2. Tel +66 53 874 071 Opposite Wat Bupparam. A very clean & well-run business , professionally run by Fern, manager-proprietor. All massages based on the Lanna, Northern Thai style, using pressure points & energy lines. Home-made coconut oil & natural facial, body scrub & wrap products. Fern also teaches massage & spa to individuals or occasionally to small family groups. Prices average, 200 baht for Thai, foot or head & shoulder massages. 250 baht for oil. Loyalty cards for regular customers, free massage after 10 visits.
Motorcycle touring is a great way to explore Northern Thailand. One good day trip out of Chiang Mai is up and over Doi Suthep, which will take you up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and beyond the mountain to the reservoir.
Motor-scooter touring as far as Mae Hong Son and suitable for the less experienced motorcyclist.
Raft trips down the Maetang River are offered by organised by several companies and can often be combined with elephant riding or mountain biking. During the dry season (Jan-Feb) water levels are relatively low with only grade 2-3 rapids, but during the rainy season (Jun-Oct) higher water levels make for a more exciting grade 4-5 trip.
Peak Adventure Tour offers 10 km rafting trips that can be combined with elephant riding or ATV driving.
Rainforest Canopy Walk
An activity normally associated with Central America, Thailand is now emerging as a world-class canopy tour destination.
AFECT runs a course exploring canopy bio-diversity .
Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Adventure Tour  (~3,299 baht) Zipline through the 1,500 year old rainforest high above the forest floor. 5 km of ziplines connect lookout platforms, lowering stations and sky bridges, making the experience a full zipline canopy tour. After the tour you can hike up alongside the Mae Kompong Waterfall in Chiang Mai, or take a tour of the natural wildlife habitat surrounding the Chonburi location. Allow 7 hours total for the tour from pickup to drop off. Earliest collection time 05:30.
Mae Ping River Cruise, 133 Charoenpratet Rd, Changklan (Wat Chaimongkol boat landing, between Hotel Chedi and Ping Nakara), ☎ +66 53 274 822 (email@example.com, fax: 053-818627), . 08:30-17:00. Two hour cruise with a refreshment stop at a Thai farmer's house. Hotel pick-up.450 baht.
Aerobics, . Aerobics sessions are held in the car park of Tesco Lotus on the superhighway every weekday from 17:30. The sessions are very popular and tourists or visitors to Chiang Mai are welcomed. Regular water aerobics classes, incorporating Tai Chi and yoga exercises, are held at the Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool
Cricket, . The north of Thailand may seem an odd place to find an international cricket tournament. Every year since 1988 more than 200 cricketers from around the world gather at Chiang Mai for the tournament. The week-long tournament for amateur players, with a sprinkling of test stars, it is held at the historic Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club, generally at the start of April.
Extreme Sports Centre (X Centre), 816 Moo 1, Rim Thai, Mae Rim (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 3 km. X Centre on the left), ☎ +66 53 297 700, . Daily, 09:00-18:00. Kiwi-run business, totally buttoned-down and professional. Bungy jumping; off-road buggies; dirt bikes; paintball; indoor drift carts; Xorb ball; sports bar and restaurant. Taxis available from Chiang Mai at 09:30, 13:00, 15:00.
Football (soccer) - Go to watch the local Football team. Chiang Mai FC play at 700 Year Stadium. Fixtures and info in English http://www.chiangmaifootballclub.com/ or visit the The Red Lion English pub near the Night Bazaar two hours before the game to get a free ride (nearly always available).
Rock Climbing - Approximately 55 km east of Chiang Mai lies Crazy Horse Buttress, a 60 m, orange- and black-streaked monolith jutting out of the green Mae On farming valley. Crazy Horse boasts more than 130 bolted routes between (French system) grades 5 and 8a, which makes it an ideal destination for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Spend several days exploring every part of the crag, or just spend a day or an afternoon above ground as a break from exploring the magnificent caves of the region. Climbing guides and information are also available from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures  and The Peak .
Mountain Biking - Just west of Chiang Mai lies the beautiful Doi Suthep National Park, its summit at 1650 m, 1300 m above the valley floor. Chiang Mai Mountain Biking runs daily downhill trips and nature cross country rides see 
Tennis - There are several places to play tennis in Chiang Mai: Gymkhana Club, Chiang Mai- Lamphun Rd ; Chiang Mai Land Village, Chiang Mai Land Rd; Imperial Chiang Mai Resort & Sports Club, 284 Moo 3, Don Kaew, Mae Rim ; Lanna Sports Club, Chotana Rd; Palm Springs, 120 Moo 5, Mahidol Rd; and Chiang Mai Sports Complex (700 Year Stadium, Irrigation Canal Rd (Rt 121 to Mae Rim), which has 12 courts. All courts are bookable in advance and at most flood lighting makes it possible to play in the evening when it is cooler. There is an additional charge to cover the cost of electricity.
Yoga - The diversity of yoga studios in Chiang Mai rounds out the image of Chiang Mai as a centre for massage training, healing and spas. Yoga studios such as Wild Rose Yoga  in the old city, the Yoga Room  for Ashtanga Yoga south of the city, Sattva Yoga north of the city , Kaomai Lanna , and the Spa Resort  for residential yoga retreats all contribute to this community.
Chiang Mai swimming pools open to the public vary in quality, cleanliness and accessibility. On balance, those pools which are operated to internationally recognised standards of water quality are those which are privately owned by foreign investors.
Seven Hundred Year Stadium - a huge sports complex built for the Southeast Asia Games, held in Chiang Mai in the early 1990s, and now a public sports and recreation centre. Located on the outer ring road (Irrigation Canal Rd) Route 121, towards Mae Rim. It is about 8 km from city centre and takes about fifteen minutes to get there by tuk-tuk/taxi. The pool is sanitised using chlorine.
Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool and Resort - open to tourists and other visitors. There are 3 swimming pools and deck. To get there, take Huay Kaew Rd (Route 1004) from the city towards Doi Suthep. At the intersection of Routes 1004 and 121, follow the signs for Mae Rim. From the intersection, travel 1.2 km towards Mae Rim and turn left at the 5th bridge over the canal. Go straight for 600 m to the end of the road following signs for "Sang Serene House" and turn right. The Centre of the Universe is 300 m on the right. It is 6 km from the city and takes 10-15 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi. A detailed map and directions in Thai and English can be printed from their website  The pool is sanitised using salt water.
Hotel Pools - Some upmarket hotels such as The Orchid and the Amari Rincome Hotel on Huay Kaew Road, allow "outsiders" to use their pools on payment of a fee. Travelling time from the city centre is around 10 minutes. These are sanitised using chlorine.
Chiang Mai Land Swimming Pool - is in "Chiang Mai Land" off Chang Klan Rd. Open to the public. Prices are 50 baht per adult and 30 baht per child. It has a pool deck and also has a restaurant and pool-side service. The pool is about 5.5 km from the city centre and takes between 10-12 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi. The pool is sanitised using chlorine.
The lake at Huay Tung Tao - This is a reservoir within surrounding woodlands, and is located further along the Irrigation Canal Road than the Centre of the Universe and after the 700 Year Sports Stadium, as you head towards Mae Rim (Route 121). The lake is about 12 km from the city centre and takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi. 20 baht entrance fee.
Waterfalls and natural pools - at the foot of Doi Suthep on Huay Kaew Road. Look out for a large Buddhist Shrine on your left after travelling past the the entrance to Chiang Mai Zoo. Turn left into the market at the back of the shrine, and keep walking up the hill. You will come to the waterfalls after about 5 minutes. There is no charge for entry. The pools at the bottom of the waterfalls are not really big enough for swimming but are a great place to cool off at the height of summer. During the dry season some of the waterfalls dry up. Head for the high ground and you will still find pools full of fresh water! There are usually quite a few students hanging out there from the nearby university, who will happily practice their English conversational skills with you. About 7 km from the city centre, it takes 10-15 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi to get there.
The Playhouse Complex, (on Changpueak Rd), . The Playhouse Theatre is Chiang Mai’s newest & trendiest attraction. Start your evening with a unique dining experience in Kinnaree Park. Set in an eco-friendly environment, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls offering a real Lanna experience with traditional dance and a delicious northern Thai buffet before entering the theatre adjacent to the restaurant. The 350-seat capacity theatre hosts two shows per day at 20:00 and 22:00. Presenting Sequins & Dance, a fun and happy performance of wholesome entertainment that's full of sparkle, movement, and emotion. Performed by 30 Thai performers, it is exciting. Family, individual, or group bookings welcome.Adult, 1,000 baht; child, 500 baht. Including Thai buffet (Saturdays): adult, 1,300 baht; child, 650 baht..
Wat Chom Tong, Tambon Ban Luang, Amphoe Chom Tong (about 60 km southwest of the city) +66 53-826869 / +66 53-826180. the home temple of the meditation master Achan Tong, and offers residential courses in Vipassana Meditation on an on-going basis.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (under See). The International Buddhist Centre offers short and long residential courses in Vipassana meditation in English. A brand new centre, including accommodation blocks and Vitara (chanting hall), is now open.
Wat Ram Poeng, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (4 m southwest of the city) +66 53-278620, . Offers facilities for retreats and meditation instruction. Ten day minimum stay required for introduction to Vipassana Meditation techniques. English speaking monks are available to assist foreigners. For non-native English speakers, long-term students from your home country may be available to offer translation services.
Wat Suan Dok Th Suthep, Chiang Mai (1 km west of the Old City Moat), +66 53-278967. Has a meet and greet for tourists and monks, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon between 17:00 and 19:00. Also, you can sign up for a 24-hr introduction meditation retreat (they are offered on Tuesdays).
Wat Umong, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (3 and a half miles out of town) +66 53-277248 (08:30-16:00), . Offers meditation courses and Dharma instruction in English every Sunday 15:00-18:00.
Life Events Shamanic Studies Provides spiritual consultations, shamanic initiation workshops and meditation retreats in English and Russian. An initial one-on-one consultation with Diana Manilova is required before attending any other event. +66 53-894-708 for sessions by appointment behind Kad Suan Kaew shopping center.
Thai boxing (Muay Thai)
Team Quest Thailand, 114/3 Moo.1, Phadeed (ป่าแดด) Rd (A 5 minute walk from Central Airport Plaza or a short drive from the airport), ☎ +66 86 091 1536 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A gym for muay Thai and mixed martial arts. Train with top trainers from the biggest stadia in the country, including current Thailand champion, Hong Thong Lek.
Air's Thai Culinary Kitchen, 9/1 Nongprateep Rd -- +66 53 249326, +66 81 9936564. Set in 1.6 acres of tranquil, landscaped grounds in a private house. The kitchen’s unique design draws from professional experience and is purpose-built, and surrounded by herb and spice gardens.
Baan Thai Cookery School, 11 Ratchadamnoen Rd, Soi 5, near Tha Phae Gate, +66 53-357339/ +66-16714120. Courses include a cookbook and market tour. Full day or evening classes
Chiang Mai Kitchen Cooking School +66-97002099. 20 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai. The organic herb and vegetable garden supplements ingredients that are purchased at the morning market. Before and/or after your day in the kitchen, you can stay overnight in their traditional Thai bamboo house.
Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, at 1-3 Moon Muang Rd, +66 53-206388 (fax: +66 53 206387), . Offers 1/2/3/4/5-day courses. 990 baht for 1 day course.
Classic Home Cooking, (+66 53 219 056) Choose any dish from more than 50 dishes on their menu. 6 dishes per day for morning class and 4 dishes for evening class. The cooking class runs every day in a house.
Cooking Class Asia. Interactive cooking class vacations for people who want to make Thai cooking and culinary discovery the focus of their holiday in Chiang Mai.
Gap's School Of Thai Culinary Art Has its office at Gap's House, 3 Rajadamnern, Soi 4 +66 53 270 143. High standards, well organised, your own stove, 1 teacher per 5 students.
Grandma's Thai Recipes, +66 53 121656. Traditional Thai cooking instruction. Vegetarian-friendly. Restaurant and booking office located in the centre of town just north of Tha Phae Gate. 48 Chaiyapoom Rd (15 minutes out of town, transportation provided).
A Lot Of Thai Cooking School, +66 53 800 724. A family-run home cooking class, taught by the owner. Welcome to vegetarians and people with any kind of food restriction. Courses include a market tour and a recipe book is provided for later use.
Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, +66 53 329 091. Friendly and knowledgeable staff provide a course on local and traditional recipes. The course includes a market tour and provides you with the recipes for the dishes that you create.
Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, 21 Moonmuang Rd, Soi 5, +66 53 418 309. Market tour, cook book. Accommodates vegetarian cooking. Small classes and fun staff.
Sompet Cookery School, 56 Patan Rd, +66 53 214 897. Learn to cook traditional Thai food at a riverside home. Daily courses, morning and afternoon. A recipe book with colour photographs provided for each dish, suggesting many ways to prepare and serve Thai food.
Smile Thai Cookery School, +66-53-800-567-8. They teach you to prepare good Thai dishes with real techniques that you can take back home. The class runs Monday–Friday in a fun environment. You can discover that the good Thai food is not that difficult to make.
Spicyhouse Cooking School, +66 85 713 5425 42/1 Ratchamanka Rd next to Wat Kha Phao. Small classes, maximum 5, taught by the owner. Participants choose 5 dishes for a full day or 3 dishes for half day. Market tour and cook book included. Students eat what they cook. Vegetarians welcome.
Thai Cottage Cookery School, 25/2 Ratchadumnern Rd, Soi 1, ☎ +66 5332 6608, . Participants learn 5 dishes in a full day, including making curry paste from scratch 800 baht. 3-course half-day courses are available 600 baht. Market tour and cook book included. Modifications for vegetarians are easily made. Tu and Kat are excellent teachers and a lot of fun.600-800 baht.
Green Bamboo Massage, 1/1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1, ☎ +66 89 827 5563, . Offers individual daily or weekly courses in traditional Thai massage, Thai yoga massage, Tok Sen massage, and Thai oil massage. Seminars are run by Ms. Mesa, a certified and experienced expert in these arts.
Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai (TMC), . A government-registered school of Thai massage.
Viang Ping Massage & Spa, 2/4 Tha Phae Road, Soi 2 (opposite Wat Bupparam), ☎ +66 53 874 071. Thai and oil massage courses, also spa courses. All courses run by Fern are individual or occasionally small groups of friends.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong
Green Dragon Tai Chi Center and Personal Training, 459/4 Nong Hoi (behind the Nong Hoi Market, two minutes from the Holiday Inn Riverside), ☎ +66 856 245 776 (email@example.com). Run by Kruh Alexander, holder of a master's degree in sport science, licensed trainer for Tai Chi and Qi Gong, heart sports, and fitness sports. Offers customized weekend courses for health and relaxation, especially for beginners, in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, the 18 Movements, the 8 brocates/Shaolin style, 24 Yang Form, 108 Yang Form old frame, Inner Qi Gong after grandmaster Zhi-Chang-Li and standing meditation after Grand Master Frankie Dow (Chan Kwaan Chung).
Chiang Mai is a great place to shop. Sprawling markets during the day and night carry items from cheap trinkets to skilfully made local craft. ATM's can be found all around, but all charge 150 baht to foreign cards, except for Aeon. The most conveniently located Aeon ATMs can be found at Central Airport Plaza Chiang Mai (southwest of Old Town) on the 3rd floor, and at Tesco Lotus north of Old Town at the superhighway (at the corner with Atsadathon Rd), ground floor.
Mengrai Kilns, 79/2 Arak Rd, Samlan 6, ☎ +66 53 272 063 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Celadon green-glazed ceramics. Sift through their pile of rejects in the covered area to the right of store and find something interesting for 20 baht.20-500 baht.
Nok 'Em Ded Designs, 162/5 Prapokklao Rd, Prasingh (from Tha Phae Gate, go straight on Rachadamnern Rd, turn left at 2nd intersection. Shop is on left, opposite Wat Puntao & Wat Chedi Luang.), ☎ +66 53 280 960, +66 87 034 4067 (email@example.com), . M 12:00-20:00, Tu-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-23:00. Unique styles from simple to extravagant. English-speaking owners & staff. Jewellery is handmade by the artist owners. Great quality tee shirt collection toofrom 50 baht.
Palmy Shoes, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 81 472 0607 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Handmade leather shoes and accessories. The owners speak English and all shoes are made locally by local manufacturers.1,000-2,500 baht.
Modern shopping malls sell all the usual big brand products; worth investigating for electronic goods as prices can be negotiated down to a bargain.
Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport (เซ็นทรัลแอร์พอร์ตพลาซ่า), corner Thipanet Rd and Mahidon Rd. About half a mile from the airport is a somewhat adventurous walk from the terminal. It has several floors, with a food court, banks/ATMs and multi-screen cinema. It also has a Cultural Centre attached selling many crafts, a large food market and an extensive selection of Thai ready-to-eat stalls in the basement.
Kad Suan Keaw, corner Huay Kaew Rd and Bunreuangrit Rd. Has many decent shops, restaurants and banks/ATMs.
Night Bazaar, Chang Khlan Rd (between Tha Phae Rd and Si Donchai Rd). 17:00-23:00. A huge outdoor market stretching along both sides of the road with the Night Bazaar Building at the centre of the maelstrom. It can take a concerted effort to find something interesting among the near identical stalls selling tourist-oriented trinkets, t-shirts and pirated gear. You rarely will see Thai people shopping here. To get there, walk out from Tha Phae Gate in the old city and walk for 3/4 of a kilometre until you see a street to your right with tons of little stalls, take that right and then it all starts.
Sunday Walking Market, Ratchadamnoen Rd (from the inner-east side of Tha Phae Gate). Su 16:00-23:00. The street is blocked off to traffic for local craft vendors to layout their handmade wares.
Saturday Walking Market, Wualai Rd. Sa 17:00-23:00. In the old silver working district, it's a smaller version of the Sunday market with most of the same vendors.
Warorot Market (กาดหลวง / Kad Luang), Tha Phae Rd and Chang Moi Rd. 07:00-17:00. This sprawling indoor market is where the locals shop and is worth a visit to look over the plethora of fabrics, spices, tea and dried fruit piled up along the aisles. Across the road is a flower and fruit market and an out-of-this-world fireworks stands. At night the street is packed with snack stalls.
Along Rt 1006 (Charoen Muang Rd) just past the superhighway (Rt 11) are various factories offering tours on how the wares are made and showrooms. Silverware, silk, furniture and brass items generally priced with the cashed up tourist in mind, but the tours might be worth a look to see how things are made. They are generally open during normal daytime hours.
A bowl of Chiang Mai's signature dish, Khao Soi Kai, with pickled cabbage and lime to add to taste
Chiang Mai's restaurants offer a wide range of food, second only to Bangkok. Naturally it's a good place to sample northern Thai food: in particular, hunt down some khao soi, yellow wheat noodles in curry broth, traditionally served with chicken (kai) or beef (neua), but available some places as vegetarian or with seafood. Another local specialty is hang ley, Lanna-style pork curry. For those tired of eating rice or noodles there's also a wide range of excellent international food restaurants, from cheap hamburger stands to elaborate Italian eateries.
When you come to Chiang Mai you should try a khantoke dinner and show. Although these are just for tourists it is still a nice way to spend an evening. The first khantoke dinner was held in 1953 by Professor Kraisi Nimanhemin who wanted to host a special event for 2 friends leaving Chiang Mai. Two more such dinners were held, both in 1953, thus "khantoke" dinners are not "historic", but rather a relatively recent invention. Khantoke literally means small bowl, low table (khan = small bowl. tok = low table) There are also many garden restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent Thai meal in a beautiful setting.
The range and value of Western food in Chiang Mai is unsurpassed in Northern Thailand and there is a full range of restaurants from Australian/British/Irish, through French and German to Italian, Spanish, American and Mexican. In fact considering how remote Chiang Mai is from the major centres of population in Asia, it is remarkable how many Western restaurants there are! this is one city where eating Thai is not the only option.
Markets & roadside stalls
Transient groups of roadside stalls set up in the evening selling basic but good Thai food that may well be the most authentic you will find.
Anusarn Market, Chang Khlan Rd. A busy outdoor night market with lots of little Thai, Indian, and Western restaurants and food vendors. Great atmosphere.
Kalare Food Centre, Chang Khlan Rd (opposite the Night Bazaar Building). 17:00-22:00. Has a large open-air food court, featuring free Thai classical dance performances nightly. All food is paid for with pre-purchased coupons.mains 20-50 baht.
Suthep Road outdoor eating, (Past Canal Rd, by the university). Dozens of food carts set up every evening around from around 17:00 until about 22:00, with a huge variety of very inexpensive food, and tables set up along the sidewalk.
Funkydog Cafe, Moonmuang Rd, Soi 6. Local handmade coffee from a local hill tribe. Fantastic Thai family cooking. All fresh and made by hand, great atmosphere and music, low-cost food. Genuine owner who will keep you informed of all the natural products you should eat. The yellow curry is recommended.
Kuaytiaw Reua Koliang, Moon Muang Rd (near Ratchamankha Rd; no English sign). Serves authentic kuaytiow reua (literally "boat noodles", rice noodles in dark broth with beef). It's good stuff anyway.25 baht.
Muan Baan, Moon Muang, Soi 7. A variety of Thai meals, for breakfast and lunch. The food is excellent and the owners and staff are very pleasant and helpful.
Ratana’s Kitchen, Tha Phae Rd. Popular for its wide range of Thai dishes and a huge vegetarian selection. Both smoking (inside, air-conditioned) and non-smoking areas are available. Visa/Mastercard accepted.30-60 baht. (18.78815,98.9956)
Re-Feel Café, 48/4-5 Rachawithi Rd. Great Thai food, good atmosphere, friendly staff and free billiards.
Sailomjoy Restaurant, 7 Rachadamnern Rd (near Tha Phae Gate). Daily 07:30-16:00.. Delicious food (Thai, Western and vegetarian), friendly service, and simple and relaxed atmosphere.
Ghekko Garden Bar and Restaurant, (opposite the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel). Highlights are lemon grass beef and sun-dried beef. Their chilli crab is also worth a try. Enquire at the bar blackboard as to daily specials.
Huen Phen, 112 Ratchamanka Rd. daily 08:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00.. Specialises in Northern Thai food, and is popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Lunch in the air-conditioned hall is decent enough, but dinner in the profusely decorated old house in the back is little short of magical. Best of all is the price: a bowl of Khanom jiin naam ngiaw (Shan-style pork rib noodles), a plate of som tum (green papaya salad) and some sticky rice will cost less than 100 baht!
Ob Luang. daily 10:00-14:00 and 17:00-24:00.. Serves genuine Thai-Chinese cuisine in a secluded garden setting on the Ping River.
Sila Aat, (on the southern edge of the Kalare Market). daily 15:00-24:00. Fresh seafood and a wide selection of Thai and northern/Lanna specialties. Operated by two sisters.
Galae Garden Restaurant, (at the end of Suthep Rd), ☎ +66 53 278 655. Thai & Northern Thai food and grilled specialties in a delightful outdoor setting.
Khum Khantoke, (in Chiang Mai Business Park), ☎ +66 53 304 121. daily 19:00-22:00. Traditional North Thailand Cuisine. Reservations are a good idea to get a good seat.All you can eat 350 baht.
Old Chiang Mai Culture Centre, 185/3 Wualai Rd, ☎ +66 53 275097. daily 19:00-21:30. The first commercial khantoke dinner in Chiang Mai more than 30 years ago. They have the best northern Thai food of any of the khantoke establishments. However the seating, show, and music are not as good as others.
Mike's Hamburger Stand, corner Chaiyapoom Rd and Changmoi Rd. Brightly-lit with just stools and a counter in an open shop.
Woody's Fine Fast Food, 56 Chaiyapoom Rd (next to 7/11 near Spicy Nightclub). 17:00-late. Kebabs, hamburgers, hot dogs, falafel, chips, beer and soft drinks. Free Wi-Fi. Stays open after most restaurants have closed.
Amazing Sandwich, 20/2 Huay Kaew Rd, . M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 08:00-16:00. Choose any of the ingredients on their list and they'll build a sandwich for you exactly how you like it. They also serve breakfasts and have bagels.
Chiangmai Saloon, 30 Ratchawithi Rd, ☎ +66 08 1930 2212, . American-style burger and Southwestern steakhouse. Friendly staff, nice atmosphere, music videos, and sports on three 10 foot screens, pool tables and free Internet, free popcorn and peanuts, over 50 kinds of margaritas, Chang beer on tap. Kitchen open from breakfast until late, everyday. Another outlet at 80/1 Loi Kroh Rd.
The Duke's Steak House & Pizzeria (Duke's Night Bazaar), Chiang Mai Pavilion, 1st and 2nd Floor, Chiang Klan Rd (opposite Royal Princess Hotel), ☎ +66 53 818 603. 10:30-24:00. Excellent American-style dishes and desserts: ribs, burgers, pizza, cheesecake, etc. Full bar with local and imported beers and wines. Great family atmosphere, kid's menu, no loud music or entertainment, just good food. Eat in, take out, call for delivery
The Duke's Steak House & Pizzeria (Duke's Ping River), 49/4-5 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (south of the Narawat Bridge; 50 m north of TAT Chiang Mai), ☎ +66 53 249 231. 11:00-23:00. See Duke's Night Bazaar listing.
El Toro Restaurant & Pub, 5/2 Loi Kroh Rd. New Mexico-style Mexican food prepared by experienced cook. Free food 17:00-19:00 every Friday.
La Fourchette, (across from Wat Chedi Luang). M-Sa, 18:00-23:00. Authentic French restaurant in the centre of the old city. Large selection of imported meats and wines at affordable prices. Romantic open-air seating area with upstairs art gallery.
Harrad's Cafe (Proper English Food & Thai Specials), Nantharam Rd (next to Saturday Walking Street and Chiang Mai Gate), ☎ +66 89 700 5697, . 10:00-21:00. This place serves some of the best Khao Soi and English pies. Not your typical roadside Thai restaurant, Harrad's not only has some of the best English and Thai food in Chiang Mai but is more affordable than other places. The staff give you free water and make you feel comfortable. It's a great break from the Saturday Walking Street market and is also right across the street from Chiang Mai Gate.mains 40-50 baht.
Mong Pearl Cafe, Huay Kaew Rd (from the old city: 300 m after the ring road (Hwy 121), on your right), (email@example.com). 08:00-20:00. A favourite with Westerners because of the great service, good English, nice aesthetics and delicious food and drinks.
O'Malley's Irish Restaurant, 149-14/15 Changklan Rd, ☎ +66 53 271 921. International cuisine and Guinness on tap.
Pern (Previously called SoupaSteak), 26/5-6 Huay Keaw Rd (opposite Shell gas station on the way to Doi Suthep), ☎ +66 86 111 7766, . Budget pork and chicken steaks.
Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant, 60 Keaw Nawarat Rd, Soi 1 (in front of Watket Temple), ☎ +66 53 306 254, . Open for lunch & dinner with a range of traditional Italian soup, pasta, antipasti, meat, and vegetarian dishes.
The House, 199 Moonmuang Rd, ☎ +66 53 419011. 18:00-late. Old 1930s colonial style house in town centre. Pacific rim & fusion food
Piccola Roma Palace Italian Restaurant, corner of Charoenprathet Rd & Sri Donchai Rd, ☎ +66 53 820 297. Open lunch & dinner amid beautiful surroundings. Serving residents for over 15 years.
Fuji, Central Airport Plaza. While perhaps not a special restaurant in that it is not unique to Chiang Mai (it's actually a large chain) for those seeking reasonably priced Japanese food, Fuji is a must. Expect to pay 120 baht and up for each dish (for instance, a single sushi roll), however there are several spectacular set meals that offer great "bang for your buck", e.g., the Fuji Sashimi Set which can easily fill up a sushi lover for 190 baht. Another outlet in Panthip Plaza.
Gigantea, 300 Chang Moi Rd, ☎ +66 53 233 464. daily 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00. Owned and managed by a cute Japanese-Thai husband and wife team, this restaurant is known as the best Japanese restaurant among Japanese residents in Chiang Mai. Although the menu is limited, ingredients are always fresh, cooking and presentation are excellent. Lunch is best value for money, with set meals costing around 140-200 baht.
Kanson Sushi Bar, Kotchasan Rd, Soi 1. A little hidden in a side street, but visible from the main road near Tha Phae Gate. Delicious and very good value for money (250 baht will fill you).
Gogi Jib Stone Grill Barbecue (Korean BBQ), 29/3 Kotchasarn Rd (just outside Tha Phae Gate), ☎ +66 84 454 1943. 12:00-23:00. Modern and friendly Korean barbecue spot offering high quality beef and pork as well as other Korean traditional dishes. Great artwork on the colourful walls and groovy tunes floating over conversation. The staff are very attentive and the owners are right there to give a quick Korean lesson. 295 baht and up includes unlimited side dishes.
It can be hard to find strictly vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, as fish and oyster sauce are used frequently, and the local Buddhist monks themselves often eat fish. (Thus, asking for your dish to be prepared "like the monks", which works in other places, does not get the same results in Chiang Mai). There are a few completely vegetarian options, however.
Aum, 65 Moonmuang Rd/Mun Mueang Rd, Chiang Mai (just inside Tha Phae Gate.), ☎ +66 053-278315, . 08:30-14:30, 17:00-21:00; closed on the 1st and 2nd of each month. Best khao soi in town! She makes a mushroom stock from scratch with barely any sugar-unlike other places. No MSG. Interesting yet relaxed interior with shelves of books and a cozy upstairs area.
Blue Diamond, Muan Muang Rd, Soi 9. M-Sa 08:00-21:00. Thai and Western, huge selection of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great salads, fruits, juices, noodle dishes, bakery, good breads.
Gulf Restaurant, Anusarn Market (in the very corner inside Anusarn Mkt, next to the pharmacy). open late. Lebanese owner/chef caters to middle eastern food lovers. Large portions of delicious tabbouleh, tahini salads, and humus alongside fresh falafel and simply brilliant flat bread (a secret recipe). Shisha/nargila/water pipes are available (mint & grape flavour is a new favourite) as well as mint tea.
ImmAim/Pun Pun (the other Pun Pun!), Santhitam Rd (near the YMCA, at the south end of Santhitam Rd, follow signs for 'Pun Pun'.). Not quite sure why there are two Pun Puns, but this one is definitely good. A mix of Thai and other styles, run by laconic locals and linked to a local farm. The falafel is lovely (but different) and the salsa it comes with is delicious. Pasta can be quite sweet, and the cookies are great.
Khun Churn, Nimmanhemin Rd, Soi 15, ☎ +66 53 224 124. daily 09:30-22:00. Thai vegetarian. A lunch buffet is available every day from 11:00-14:30 for 129 baht. Closes at 14:30 on the 16th of every month.
Ming Kwan Vegetarian Buffet, Ratchadamnoen Rd (opposite the police station). days only. A different range of Thai vegan dishes from the norm. A focus on faux-meats (the veggie sausage is great!) and the faux-fish in curry-sauce was good. Of course, bamboo shoot stir-fry, noodle-soups, etc., means there's lots to try. They cook during the day, so other dishes appear from the kitchen often.
Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant, Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Rd, Chiang Mai (inside the temple compound behind the monk chat building in an outdoor courtyard with a large boddhi tree and tables with umbrellas.), ☎ +66 86 101850. 09:00-15:00, closed W. Thai vegetarian with organic ingredients from local farmers and many vegan-friendly options. Run by a local self-reliance and seed-saving centre outside the city.
Taste from Heaven, 237 Tha Phae Rd, ☎ +66 53 208803. Thai vegetarian with vegan options. Owned by a friendly English expat, this restaurant offers curries and noodle dishes in a comfortable and clean setting, with both indoor and garden seating.
Unknown Buddhist Buffet, Phrapokkloa Rd (yellow fronted shop, 80 m north of Phatoo Chiang Mai (the Southern gate) on the right next to the Kodak Shop). daily 06:00-16:00. Delicious vegan buffet is available at super cheap prices. There are a few great dishes: the tofu, mushroom, and lemon grass wrapped in banana leaves is addictive; the het-hom (shitake) and other protein/gluten goodies are lovely; the steaming noodle soup is a great addition to a meal if you've rocked up late and want to warm up the buffet dishes. The earlier the better at this joint. When dishes run out, they aren't remade. Also, you can buy some vegan supplies from here.
(See note about tap water under "Stay Safe" below)
Chiang Mai's nightlife scene is the most happening in the North, although still a far cry from Bangkok's hot spots. This guide will show where you can hangout, meet some of the most beautiful girls in Thailand, get outrageous or do whatever takes your fancy. There are discos, karaoke bars, and live music everywhere. The busiest nightlife zones are near Tha Phae Gate, Loi Kroh Road and along Charoenrat Road on the eastern bank of the Ping River.
Bars and pubs
Many, but by no means all, of Chiang Mai's tourist-oriented bars and pubs are located along Loi Kroh Road. In addition to the street bars, a large Beer Bar Centre can be found at the Night Bazaar end of Loi Kroh. Here you will find around 30 bars ranging from sports bars that feature big screens to watch sports and play pool, to Pattaya-style girlie "beer bars", to even bars staffed exclusively by kathoeys (ladyboys). The centre also features a Muay Thai boxing ring that has exhibition bouts for free or a voluntary donation, and on Thursdays real competition boxing that requires a small entrance fee unless your bar has provided you with complimentary viewing. And for extra fun, the occasional westerner tries his hands/feet/knees/elbows, usually with hilarious results.
Also take a stroll along Moon Muang Road and its side sois. Here you can find small expat hangouts, go-go bars and sports bars. Most have pool tables and hostesses, along with music videos or various TV sport programmes. Be aware despite their charm and friendliness, the pressure to purchase lady drinks can end up with a very surprising "check bin" (tab) at the end of the night. A few of these bars recommended by expats are:
Crank Tavern, (bottom of Ratchapakinai Rd (near Chiang Mai Gate)), ☎ +66 819 527 699, . A beautifully recycled wood furnished bar with free Internet and friendly staff. Good pub food, and is a great place to have a meal and spend a relaxing evening. Also home of Crank Adventures for excellent mountain bike tours and bike hire.
Dragonfly Bar, 8/1 Loi Kroh Road, . One of the smaller bars at the top of Loi Kroh but also one of the most cozy. What really make this place stand out is the friendly staff and the fact that this bar has two floors so you can get away from the bustle of street level and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere from the balcony.
Half Moon Pub, Soi 2 Moon Muang (around the corner from Topnorth Guesthouse), ☎ +66 853 205023. 10:00 till late. Sports bar with many regulars and tourists. Darts & pool area, big TV, really nice international cuisine, especially the burgers but also good Thai & Indian dishes. Excellent (can be loud) music, friendly atmosphere and beautiful women.
Kat Bar, (Loi Kroh in the Beer Bar Centre). Hosted by the feisty and effervescent Jane who always has a great selection of music of your choice played as loud as you like, together with free pool and a wonderful group of really friendly girls to ease your shyness. Always a great favourite as it does not have girls of the pushy, "buy me a drink" type but the quality service always ensures their welcome visitors want to come on back.
Next Place, (on Moon Muang Rd, on the inside of the moat right near Tha Phae Gate). No pressure to buy lady drinks, free pool for customers and friendly staff
So Cool. With cheap prices and, as the name suggests, a very cool atmosphere, this bar is sure to satisfy. The decor is excellent.
2Gether Bar & Restaurant, (Loi Kroh Soi 1, just past Number 1 Bar on the left). open 11.00-1.00. Very reasonable prices, 10-30% less than others in the Loi Kroh neighbourhood, and no pushy "lady drink" rip-offs here (no ladies). This bar has a very good atmosphere. The hostess is the charming Mai. There is a free pool table, but don't expect an easy game if she is playing. Pool tournaments regularly. A little-known fact about this place: it serves terrific food. E.g., a large baguette sandwich for less than 100 baht.Leo beer, 60 baht.
The Writers Club, 141/3 Rachadamnern Rd (Rachadamnern Rd, about 2 km into the old city from Tha Phae Gate.), ☎ +66 53 814 187, +66 53 814 187. This is an old fashioned bar and restaurant for Southeast Asia's community of authors, journalists and screenwriters, though everyone's welcome. A good, informal source of information about Southeast Asia. This is where the some of those writing guide books gather.
There are also some regular bars with a normal atmosphere:
Café Souvannaphoum, 20/1 Ratchamanka Rd (near Moon Muang), ☎ +66 53 903-781. M-Sa, 17:00-01:00. A decent wine bar with comfortable seating and relaxing music, great escape from the busy street scene
Chiangmai Saloon, Two locations: 80/1 Loi Kroh Rd, 150 m from Night Bazaar and 30 Rachawithi Rd, inside the moat, ☎ +66 806 752 169, and +66 819 302 212, . American-style burger and Southwest steakhouse, friendly staff, nice atmosphere, big screen music videos and sporting events, pool tables and free Internet, free popcorn and peanuts, over 50 kinds of margaritas, Chang beer on draft. Kitchen open from breakfast until late everyday.
The Olde Bell British Pub, (on Loi Kroh Rd next to the Raming Lodge Hotel, behind the Bank of Ayudhya foreign exchange booth), . 09:00-24:00. Well-established tourist and expat pub with a lively and friendly atmosphere. Browse the range of recent international newspapers, catch up on the latest information about Chiang Mai from your hosts Pedr and Beer (what a great name for a pub landlady!) or just grab a seat at the bar and join in the chat! Modern British cuisine and Indian curries. British and continental cheese boards are a speciality of the house. Main meals from 105 baht. Traditional British pub atmosphere. A pool table, dart board and even a small on-site bookshop. Draught Guinness, Tiger, Heineken, Kilkenny Irish Beer and the powerful local brew, Chang, are all on tap. The bottled selection includes English ciders and British & Australian beers as well as all the local brews. Trivia quizzes are held every Tuesday at 20:30 and at the weekends live sports are shown. Members of the Royal British Legion are entitled to discounts.
The Pub, 189 Huay Kaew Rd (near Amiri Rincome Hotel), ☎ +66 53 211 550, . 07:00-23:00. Long- established English-style pub, has had a makeover and extended the bar and the restaurant but kept its charm. Great selection of food and drinks, including roast dinners on Sundays. Has an outside area where you can sit and enjoy the tranquillity of a tropical garden, and has recently added bungalows for those wishing to linger longer.Bungalows, 800+ baht.
The Red Lion English Pub, 123 Loi Kroh Rd (Night Bazaar, just past McDonald's and Burger King.), ☎ +66 53 818 847, . 10:00-01:00. Draught Guinness and Heineken. Imported Blackthorn Cider and Fuller's London Pride as well as Belgian and German beers. Pub favourites including bangers 'n mash, fish 'n chips, steak & kidney pie as well as steaks and pasta. International and Thai food. Menu in 7 languages including Japanese and Chinese. A great place to relax after shopping at the Night Bazaar. Live sports on a HD big screen including Premier League Football, Aussie Rules, Rugby and Formula 1 (weekends only) and a great selection of classic pop and rock videos from the 60s to the 80s during the week. The Red Lion is also the home of The Chiang Mai FC Expats supporters club. They meet two hours before the match at the pub. Visitors welcome. A free ride to the game is usually available.
West of the city centre, the area around Nimmanhaemin Rd is a popular hangout for younger Thais, perhaps due to its proximity to Chiang Mai University. The pubs tend to straddle a fine line between bar, restaurant, and nightclub, and feature loud music interspersed with live bands fronted by musicians who are most likely hitting the books in the daytime. Tourists looking for something racier are better off staying in the east side of town. Little English is spoken in this part of town. Little doesn't mean none, however, and the staff of many bars, being students, still can understand what do you want, or even sometimes can speak reasonably well.
BangRak, Nimmanhaemin Rd,Soi 6. Hangout spot for a primarily student crowd. Weekend nights are standing room only and the clubbing atmosphere is complete; weekday nights are a little slower. Well air-conditioned, and no entrance charge but you'll be expected to purchase some drinks. Open 18:00-01:00.
Mo'C Mo'L, Huay Kaew Rd. Pub and restaurant near Chiang Mai University, there are many zones in the restaurant: coffee shop, dining outdoors near the small pond, dining indoors with live music.
Monkey Club, Nimminheimin Rd, Soi 9 +66 53-226997 -8. Another hot spot for students and 20-somethings, with a variety of live music. Open 17:00-01:00.
Warm Up Bar This chain bar/restaurant/club has several venues in Thailand. The venue in Chang Mai is a lot less touristy and the dance hall packed to the brim of Thai students.
Many smaller (usually no live music, but offer TV, generally with football or other sports) roadside Thai bars around this area, but outside of more up-market Nimmanhaemin Rd, they are cheap (50 to 65 baht for a large Chang or Leo is common). Often they have a discount if you buy 3 bottles of their proffered beer at one go, with a price of 129, 119 or even 109 baht for all three. The posters about those "promotions", if any, are in Thai language only. If you can't read Thai, look for the numbers mentioned above, and, if in doubt, ask the staff. Often (if they can speak enough English) the staff will tell you about this offer themselves, if they have one. Expats sometimes can be seen in those small bars, but generally most of the customers are Thais.
The area along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoenrat Rd is famous for jazz, rock, pop, Thai, and country and western live music, along with restaurants serving Thai, Western, and Chinese food. Coming from the centre of the city, just walk from the night bazaar across the Narawatt Bridge, from where all the restaurants can be seen along the river on the left.
Most bands in Chiang Mai play for about an hour, and then move on to do the same at another restaurant or pub, so don't be surprised to see the same band twice if you switch venues.
Took playing at his club, La Brasserie, on the River Ping.
Boy Blues Bar, (in the Kalare Centre (near the food hall) in the Night Bazaar on the mezzanine floor opposite the dancing stage), . 19:00-01:00. The owner, "Boy", plays great blues guitar and is a nephew of Chiang Mai legend "Took", of the now defunct Brasserie. Monday night is jamming night and some great visiting musicians have made this often memorable. Bangkok blues legend, Chai (of Chai's Blues Bar fame), often joins in, as do Chiang Mai's local brass section greats Roddy and Craig. Well worth a visit.>
The Bridge Bar, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 11, ☎ +66 81-595 0678. Open every night till one o’clock. Live music every night, except Monday: Brit pop, rock, Thai. Mostly Thais go to this bar but you will as well get to see some expats, Age: 22-32. Service is excellent and if you happen to go there by yourself, for sure someone will come up to talk to you. The menu includes delicious cocktails: "Mango Kiss", "Velvet"! Cheap beer & Sangsom (Thai rum) as well as snacks. The outside sitting area is perfect if you want to talk.
The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Rd, ☎ +66 53 243 239, . The live music starts around 19:00 with dinner music from the Eagles, Beatles, or soft jazz. Starting at 21:00, the music changes to more rock and pop songs. Full bar service serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. The restaurant gets very crowded, so get here early to get a table. The Riverside also offers a nightly dinner cruise departing at 20:00 for 110 baht/person extra.
The Good View, 13 Charoenrat Rd, ☎ +66 53 241886, . Thai and western varieties of rock, jazz, pop and country music entertain in the evening. Their extensive menu offers more than 150 Thai, Chinese, and Western dishes, including curries, noodles, rice, and pizza. Soft drinks and a full bar serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. Again, if you want a good, river view table, get there early.
The North Gate Jazz Collective, (inside the city moat and east of Chang Puak Gate), . The North Gate has easily become one of the most popular, regular destinations for Chiang Mai's young expat community. With nightly jazz performances starting around 21:30 with different performers and occasional guests from the audience, the North Gate offers something unique to the often repetitious Chiang Mai live music scene. Mixed bag in terms of quality, sometimes great sometimes mediocre. In addition to nightly music performed by true lovers and technicians of jazz, the North Gate offers a variety of drinks not normally found within Chiang Mai, notably red and white wine, mojitos, and other mixed drinks. The staff is quick and efficient and prices are reasonable.
Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Charoenrat Rd (next to Gallery Restaurant), ☎ +66 53 248 601. Good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.
Discovery, (opposite Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre and Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel). A small club with live band, DJ, and huge screens showing music videos. Good for drinking nights and letting loose. Bring ID/passport as they can be strict with entry especially on weekend nights.
Hot Shots, (at Pornping Tower Hotel). A Thai place with live music most nights, reasonable drink prices and no cover charge for foreigners or locals.
Mandalay has a younger Thai crowd. Foreigners pay a cover charge. Locals don't. Even overseas Asians seem to get in for free. The manager doesn't seek Western tourists, but if you don't mind dual pricing, this is a peek into the world of young Thais at play! Every local person will tell you that this is only a gay bar.
Spicy is a hectic after-hours place with good drinks, dancing and lots of girls looking to party. Be forewarned, many are bar girls, so do not be surprised if they ask for money to go home with you.
Chiang Mai is a popular destination for gay tourists and many gay people have retired here. Highlights of the vibrant gay scene include:
Garden Bar & Restaurant, 2/25 Soi Viangbua, Chotana Rd (across the street from Adams Apple), ☎ +66 53 215376. Outdoor garden bar and restaurant serving Lebanese, Western and Thai food. Popular meeting place for gay expats and tourists.
Glass Onion, Room 1 project, 61, Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 218 479. Sophisticated wine bar popular with the gay community.
Golden Ball (Bon Tong), corner of Tewan Rd and Santitham Rd, ☎ +66 53 406 043, . Northern Thai-style outdoor bar and restaurant. Packed with very friendly staff and fun atmosphere.Drinks start at 45 baht for a large Chang beer..
Soho Bar & Guesthouse, 20/3 Huay Kaew Rd (about 100 m from the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall, opposite the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel), ☎ +66 53 404 175, +66 85 029 8485, +66 82 695 9930 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Expats, tourists, and Thai men.
Chiang Mai has sprouted a thriving coffee culture, having an abundance of roadside stalls to Starbucks-style chains seemingly every few metres. The dilettante baristas consistently squeeze out a decent cup from their electric machines regardless of the price or opulence of their premises. A standard espresso or long black (Americano) is 30 baht, iced around 35 baht and upwards of 45 baht for more elaborate milk and sprinkles.
@.ju Coffee, 52 Ratchamanka. Run by 'Oil', this little place has excellent espresso-based drinks, free WiFi, or ten minutes on the computer with your coffee. Very modern design; seating in the front is open-air while the back is air conditioned. Oil herself speaks excellent English and is happy to give you the low-down.
Bitter Sweet, Huay Kaew Rd. The noisy location is made up for by the excellent espresso. Internet is free, and the 'fishbowl' inside is both air conditioned and sound proofed against the rush of traffic.
Doppio Ristr8to, 15/3 Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 215 278. A trendy art cafe featuring an award-winning barista, choices of single-origin beans and a varied drink menu. Very friendly atmosphere and a much higher standard for quality than is normally seen in Thailand.
The Shack Cafe, 41 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 6 (opposite Giant Guest House, near Da's Bakery). This cozy spot, nestled comfortably between a bakery and a leather shop, at the quiet part of the popular soi 6, serves excellent coffee in a relaxing atmosphere. Free WiFi. Serves a la carte breakfasts, a daily Thai dish, and great all-you-can-eat BBQs every W & Sa.(18.792238,98.990869)
Wawee Coffee, Many locations around the city. Looks much like a Starbucks, but nice mugs if you drink it there. Inside is well air-conditioned, outside is under a canopy (they mist water in the heat of the afternoon). The staff pride themselves on their decorative drinks (look for the panda-topped latte.) Internet available for small fee.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai is generally cheap, even by Thai standards. All types of lodging are available from inexpensive guesthouses with little or no service to the typical high rise hotels and elaborate garden resorts. The latest boom is Thai-style boutique resorts located near the old city centre. Several have been built since mid-2005. They offer excellent service in quiet garden settings. Most are fairly small with as few as 8 rooms and a pool, and are decorated with Thai crafts and antiques.
Some of the cheapest accommodation may refuse guests who are not also booking a trekking package. If so, please remove them from Wikitravel.
Evenings in Chiang Mai are cooler than Bangkok and the south during the dry season, so air conditioning may be less of a priority.
For long-term (more than 1 month) visitors, simple but comfortable studio rooms (20-30 sq.m. with A/C, TV, fridge, outside window, parking, often WiFi [charged separately]) should cost 4,000 to 6,000 baht/month, plus utilities. Many of the best value places are located in the northwest (between Huay Kaew and Chang Phueak Rds, especially behind the superhighway) of the city and around Chiang Mai University (including the highway west of the airport), but there are some in other parts of the city as well. Some may offer daily rates (400-600 baht). Pay attention to the price of electricity when comparing. While the official price is just over 3 baht/kWh, almost all apartments/condos charge 5 to 10 baht, typically 6. More luxurious rooms and apartments are also available, for the price, and are more likely to be found online,
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
less than 500 baht
over 1,500 baht
Guesthouses and Boutique Hotels
7 Century Guest House, 270 Ratchaphakinai Rd, Sripoom, ☎ +66 53 287 541 and +66 81 43 88 175 (email@example.com). checkout: 12:00. Newly renovated guest house, but somehow already a bit worn. 2 single (150 baht), 4 double (180-220 baht) and 1 triple rooms (250 baht). Singles can be a bit mouldy due to poor drainage and ventilation. Good hot shower (private for single rooms, shared for double and triple). Terrace. Free Wi-Fi. If they have a laptop free you can borrow it to take to your room. Fan in rooms. Kitchen free to use. Soft beds. Service also available in good German. Help with booking trips, treks, motorbikes and other things. Friendly staff.150-250 baht.
B.R. Hotel, Morakot Rd (northwest corner of the moat, from where Huay Kaew Rd turns to the left, drive straight (north) 700 m, turn left on Morakot Rd and you'll see the sign on the right side), ☎ +66 53 220 061. checkout: 12:00. Simple, but cozy Thai hotel. Fan rooms are often sold out, however 299 baht for an A/C room with TV and small balcony is an excellent value during hot or wet season. No Wi-Fi (but Truemove 850 MHz 3G works perfectly). While the hotel is not far from the centre, the closest place where you can catch a public songthaew (near Kad Suan Kaew Mall) is almost 1 km away, so the place is better suited for those who rent a motorbike. Free parking. On the nearby intersection with Hasadhisawee Rd, there are numerous and cheap food stalls in the evening. Hotel staff generally doesn't speak any English. If no vacancy, there's Inthanon Hotel next on the same road, priced ~50 baht more.199 baht fan, from 299 baht A/C. (18.8021,98.9804)
Bed and Terrace Chiang Mai Guesthouse, 10 Kotchasarn Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 449 708 and +66 83 828 5599 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Thai modern-style guest house with terrace, comfortable rooms with double windows to see the panoramic mountain view.500 baht.
FWD House Hostel (Box dorm with 10 single beds), 78 Ratmakka Rd, Pha Sing, Oly City, Chiang Mai (4.3 km from Chiang Mai International Airport, 4.5 km from the Chiang Mai train station, 5 km from the bus station), ☎ +66 82 623 3349 (email@example.com). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 11:00. Located on Ratmanka Rd, just a 10-minute walk to the temples and the main strip of bars in Chiang Mai, and a minute walk to the Sunday night market. Owner and staff are welcoming, friendly, can cater to your personal needs, and also make you feel at home.180 baht.
Giant Guest House 1 & 2, Giant 1, 24/1 Moon Muang Rd, Sriphum. Giant 24 Rachamanka Rd, Prasingha., ☎ +66 87 182 1611 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkout: 12:00. Cheap basic rooms, hot showers, free Wi-Fi, free shared computer, free bicycles, free water, Reggae bar attached (Freedom Bar 16:00-24:00). Can book everything here and sightsee by bicycle. Kitchen with cooking lessons available and massage school 200 m away. Keep an eye out for only the 300 baht room left after they pick you up in the airport, they will give you this price in front of the guest house. 100 baht dorms, 180 baht single fan room (shared bath), 250 baht queen bed with fan (private bathroom). Monthly rates 3,500 baht, single room with fan and shared bathroom (1 person).
Green Tulip Guest House, 18 Samlan Rd, ☎ +66 53 278 367, . Guest house with a roof-top garden, Internet café and large screen TV in the lobby. Beautifully decorated and designed with elegant wood floors throughout the building. Choice of fan and air-con rooms with shared or private bathrooms.250-650 baht.
Hollanda Montri Guest House, 365 Charoen Rat Rd, ☎ +66 53 242 450, . Family style guest house fan or air-con rooms and with a tropical garden on the banks of the Mae Ping River.500 baht..
Julie Guest House, 7/1 Prapokklao Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 274 355, . Popular guest house located in a quiet part of the old city near Tha Phae Gate. This guest house is notorious for filling quickly (quite often by 09:00) as it is listed in some guide books. The lounge area is often full of travellers. Food and drinks are served. The in-house travel agency can do all sorts of bookings for you. Free Wi-Fi, but it doesn't always work.from 100-180 baht (fan room without/with en suite).
Lek Guesthouse, 22 Chaiyaphum Rd, ☎ +66 53 252 686 (email@example.com), . checkout: 12:00. All rooms have fan and private bathroom with hot water. Hidden in a quiet alley. Free Wi-Fi. single, 250 baht; double, 300 baht.
Linda Guesthouse, 456/67 Soi Banditpatana (close to the railway station, follow the sign at Charoen Muang Rd), ☎ +66 53 246 915 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +66 53 246 915). East of Tha Phae Gate, easy accessible by songthaew routes. Very clean rooms. The guest house also offers many trekking tours. The staff speaks German, English, and Thai. Family-like atmosphere. Cheap and very good food around the clock, freshly made.100-300 baht, reduced cost for longer stays possible.
A Little Bird Guesthouse, 17 Soi 1 Ratvithi Rd, ☎ +66 53 289 577 (email@example.com), . checkout: 12:00. Cheap basic dorms with hot shower and free Wi-Fi. An easy place to meet other travellers in a good location.100 baht mixed dorm; 120 baht female dorm.
Mint House, 80-82 Prapokklao (Soi 5). Near Chiang Mai Gate., ☎ +66 86 253 1743. Really friendly and helpful staff. Centrally located, clean and good prices for dorms and rooms. Rooms have dedicated bathrooms that, strangely, are not en suite, but all across the hallway. Keep an eye out for room rates changing after you've already checked-in (e.g., +100 baht). Don't be a wimp when this happens.Single 200 baht, double 300 baht, dorm 120 baht.
Parami Guesthouse, ☎ +66 53 266 139, . A small cozy family-run guest house.300-550 baht.
Ping River Inn, ☎ +66 81 993 5187 (firstname.lastname@example.org). checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. A basic but clean inn along the Ping River near Nakorn Ping Bridge and the yellow songthaew route. Hot showers, two bottles of free drinking water, towels, roof access, cable, and free Wi-Fi. If the foot bridge over the river ever gets fixed, the Ping River Inn will be within five minutes walking distance of Warorot Market.390-540 baht. (N 18° 47.36',E 99° 0.4')
Riders Corner (Rider's Corner Bar & Restaurant), 357, Moon Muang Rd, ☎ +66 87 048 1787 (email@example.com), . Rooms are newly renovated, clean and comfortable. Hotel room rates are 350–600 baht. Full breakfast is available. Locked parking for motorcycles is provided.350-600 baht. (N 18° 47.692′,E 98° 59.606′)
Siri Guesthouse, 31/3 Moon Mueang, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 326 550. A family-run guest house on a popular, but quiet lane. Fan and air-con rooms, all with bathrooms and hot water. Free Wi-Fi.700 baht.
Spicy House, (walk into the old city down Rachadamnern from Tha Phae Gate; turn left at Soi 4; walk almost all the way down to Ratchamanka), ☎ +66 84 613 4776 (Mim). (firstname.lastname@example.org). Perhaps the friendliest little guest house in Chiang Mai. Beloved by backpackers everywhere for its low cost and friendly atmosphere. Mim, the owner, gives a free meal for guests every night. She is also an expert chef, and Spicy House serves as a cooking school sometimes. Spicy House is in the dead centre of the Chiang Mai action, but down a quiet soi where you can withdraw from it when needed.
Tha Phae Inn, 164-166 Tha Phae Rd (about 400 m east of Tha Phae Gate on the north side), ☎ +66 53 234 640 (fax: +66 53 252 790). Family-run guest house. Friendly. Excellent value/location combination. Basic double rooms with bathrooms, hot water & small TV. Free Wi-Fi. Common area with tables so you can bring food and eat. Refreshments for sale on-premises.200-300 baht.
Boonthavon Apartment Hotel, 39 Soi 1, Rajchadamnern Rd (walk from Tha Phae Gate into the old city down Rajchadamnern Rd; turn right after 10 m at Soi 1. Follow it round (300 m) till nearly the end; Boonthavon is on your left.), (email@example.com), . Dead central, and probably the cleanest hotel in Chiang Mai. Extremely friendly staff (only a few of whom speak English). Security entrance. A short walk to the Tha Phae Gate in the old city (nice central location). Monthly rentals are available at 6,000 baht with a 5,000 baht deposit (on top of the 6,000 baht, there are additional charges: electricity is 7 baht per kilowatt, 600 baht for unlimited Internet, 200 baht for cable TV, and 200 baht for water). Location is great. Just around the corner is a great little cafe called "Angel's" which serves a mix of Thai food and really great Western breakfasts. The location of the hotel is also a short walk to several excellent restaurants and cafes such as the UN Irish Pub, New Delhi Indian Restaurant, and Loco Elvis Tex-Mex.Double room with balcony, private bathroom, air conditioning, mini-fridge, and small TV is 550 baht with an additional 50 baht per day for Internet.
Centre of the Universe (Chiang Mai Swimming Pool and Resort), near Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium (Google Map Ref: 18.8201,98.9584), ☎ +66 81 473 0746 or +66 53 327 808 firstname.lastname@example.org, . With only 3 detached Thai-style bungalows in a private garden, this has to be the smallest boutique hotel with the biggest swimming pool in Chiang Mai. Very friendly and helpful staff. Each room has A/C, TV, Wi-Fi, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and access to 3 swimming pools.1,200-1,500 baht. (N 18 49.189,E 98 57.509)
Chiang Mai Apartments, 9/2 Boon Muang Rd, Soi 7 (across from the Sri Pat Guesthouse (no sign)), ☎ +66 53 22 51 40. Very central, clean and bright rooms. Excellent quality. Free Wi-Fi in room.650 baht (fan)- 950 baht (aircon), both including a modest breakfast.
Cool Guesthouse, 87 Sripoom Rd , Sripoom (close to Changpuak Gate), ☎ +66 53 21 26 18, . Small boutique guest house with patio and garden. Free bicycle use for guests. English, French, and Spanish speaking staff. Each room has A/C and fan, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, safe box.500-800 baht.
Elliebum, 114/3-4 Ratchamakka Rd, ☎ +66 53 814 723 (email@example.com), . Friendly boutique guesthouse, beautifully furnished, spacious, spotlessly clean, air conditioned, en suite twin or double rooms. Breakfast included1,000-1,400 baht.
Hub53, 53 Kan Klong Chon Pra Tan Rd, ☎ +66 89 118 8810, . Has seven A/C rooms with wood furnishings, cable TV, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, room safe, telephone, keycard access, and refrigerator, a balcony, private toilet and bath with hot shower, free Wi-Fi, and a free English newspaper daily.1,100 baht.
Lai-Thai Guest House, 111/4-5 Kotchasarn Rd, ☎ +66 53 271 725 or +66 53 206 438 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A large northern Thai style guesthouse with hotel-like facilities and services. All 110 air-conditioned rooms en suite with hot shower are decorated with traditional wooden floors and bamboo walls, equipped with minibar, cable & satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.500-780 baht.
Nice Mum Lodge, Loi Kroh Rd, Soi 2 (less than 50 m off Loi Kroh Rd), ☎ +66 83 204 4111, . Oddly named, but a superior accommodation. Very well situated, close to shops, bars, restaurants, the Night Bazaar. Spotlessly clean if somewhat austere. Run by the affable Mr. Pong, who speaks good English. Great plumbing, showers, large flat screen TVs with Western programming, fridge. Secure, covered parking for those turning up with expensive rides. Highly recommended. Free, excellent Wi-Fi.800+ baht.
Royal Peninsula Hotel, Assadatorn Rd, Northeast (a few hundred metres from the corner of the city square to the north of Tha Phae Gate). Good rooms, air-con, hot water, bar fridge and TV.900 baht.
Sakulchai Place, Huay Kaew Rd, Soi 10, ☎ +66 53 211 982, . Spacious and clean. Standard, deluxe and superior rooms available for daily/weekly/monthly rates. Internet (Wi-Fi/LAN), air-con, hot showers. New building, modern rooms. In the trendy Nimmanhaemin district across from shopping mall and 5-10 minute walking distance to night life, cafes, restaurants.
Smile House Boutique, ☎ +66 53 800 567-8, . A wooden house which is simply decorated to create a peaceful atmosphere. The rooms are beautifully decorated700-1,200 baht.
Sri Pat Guesthouse, 16 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 7, ☎ +66 53 218 716. Nice guest house with air conditioning, TV, private shower, fridge and a little balcony. Try getting a room on the street side, since the other side has a water pump working during the night which can be annoying in some rooms.900 baht.
Viangbua Mansion, 3/1 Viangbua Rd, ☎ +66 53 411 202, . Deluxe serviced-apartments for daily rental. Offer a wide range of services and some degree of security. Located in a somewhat remote northwest area of the city.900 baht.
Baan Orapin, 150 Charoen Rat Rd, ☎ +66 53 1616 4016, . Only 6 rooms in a beautifully restored old Thai house set in a small garden. Air-con, hot water.3,000 baht.
Four Seasons Resort, ☎ +66 53 298 181, . In the tranquil countryside amid working paddy fields and water buffalo. Spa and Thai cooking classes on the groundsover 20,000 baht.
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa, 135/9, Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 252 999 (email@example.com), . Nicely designed with hand-carved fretwork.over 4,200 baht.
RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort, 33 Chang Klan Rd, ☎ +66 53 999 333 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +66 53 999 332), . A luxury boutique resort on the bank of the Mae Ping River and the centre of Chiang Mai. Only minutes away from Chiang Mai Airport and the night bazaar. 4,400-24,000 baht.
BP Chiang Mai City Hotel, 154 Ratchamanka Rd, ☎ +66 53 270-711 (email@example.com), . A mid-sized hotel with a small fitness centre and pool.1,000-2,000 baht.
The Castle, 8/3 Ratchiangsan Rd, Soi 2, ☎ +66 53 209-093, . Up-scale place built like a Spanish villa.990-1,200 baht.
Central Duangtawan Hotel, 132 Loi Kroh Rd, ☎ +66 53 905 000 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Excellent four-star hotel with cheaper Internet rates. However the Internet connection speed there is terribly slow. Probably a little cheaper than similar hotels as it's in the red-light district, but the area seems quite safe and the hotel is of very high quality. For those not staying at the hotel, for 200 baht, you can use the high quality gym on the fourth floor (includes a Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna, as well as a large L-shaped swimming pool that looks out on downtown Chiang Mai).1,450-2,950 baht.
Chedi Chiang Mai, 123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 253-333, . A modern hotel on the grounds of the former British Consulate. 84 deluxe rooms and club suites, all with a private courtyard it also features a fitness and health club, two bars, a restaurant featuring Thai, Indian, and Western cuisine, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool.from 10,400 baht.
Empress Chiang Mai, 199/42 Chang Klan Rd, ☎ +66 53 253-199 (email@example.com, fax: +66 53 272467), . Four-star luxury hotel in traditional Lanna style with 375 rooms and suites, a convention centre, sauna rooms, outdoor swimming pool, business centre and massage parlour. Good breakfast and friendly staff.1,500-5,500 baht.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, 51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Rd, Moo 1, ☎ +66 53 888-888, . In the traditional Lanna style, this resort includes a spa, cooking classes, kid's club and fitness centre. The resort caused some local controversy when it built a fake temple based on one of Thailand's most holy sites in its grounds.
The Rim Chiang Mai, 51/2 Arrak Rd (close to Wat Phra Sing), ☎ +66 53 903999 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Newly built four-star hotel in traditional Lanna style, 36 rooms, outdoor swimming pool, tropical garden, fitness club and spa, restaurant (Thai & Western cuisine) and very friendly staff.from 3,200 baht.
Chiang Mai, like most of Thailand, is quite safe, even at night. The dark streets can look forbidding, but crime is rare and visitors shouldn't worry unduly. As always, travellers should take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas. Don't carry valuables in a bag after dark as the most common tourist-related crime here is bag-snatching by youths on motorbikes. Mind your bag especially if you are walking on a dark street at night.
The safest approach is to act like your Thai hosts and wear reasonable clothing (shoulders and chest covered), medium-length skirts, long shorts or long pants, speak in a moderate tone of voice, and avoid flashing money or jewellery. Not only will respectable Thais appreciate your behaviour, you are much less likely to become a target of criminal activity.
Unfortunately some scams from Bangkok have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai. Two in particular are worth watching out for: the gem scam, where you are talked into buying near-worthless gems at far above their real value; and the tuk-tuk scam, where a smooth-talking tuk-tuk driver tells you that the attraction you want to see is closed, and instead offers you a sightseeing tour for 20 baht (or some similarly unrealistic number). Needless to say, the tour will either consist of nothing but overpriced gift shops, or will smoothly segue into the gem scam. See the "Stay Safe" section of the Bangkok article for more details.
Chiang Mai's smoke levels can be discomfiting, and sometimes dangerous, during rice field-burning season, approximately January through March. The whole of northern Thailand often falls under a thick pall in this period, with hundreds of thousands treated for smoke inhalation. There are typically dozens of deaths. For example in 2007, 58 people died of smoke-related heart attacks. If you intend to visit at this time, you are well-advised to check on smoke levels in advance. Thousands of residents (foreign and Thai) leave Chiang Mai at this time to escape the smoke. The government is apparently uninterested in fixing the problem: in 2007, famously blaming it on Korean barbecue restaurants, which were then all closed down! Presently, the 'solution' is to spray the streets with water to 'moisten the air'. There is no political will to tackle the burning of rice fields, which is the cause of the smoke. In March 2012, dangerous PM10 particles measured over 200 mcg per cubic metre of air in Chiang Mai, well above the 'unsafe' level of 120 mcg (the Thai government standard, which is more than twice the maximum level set by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) at 50 mcg). Neighbouring areas were as bad or worse (Chiang Rai for example was at 306 mcgs), so moving on to a neighbouring province will generally not help. The pall of smoke stretches from northern Laos, across Thailand, to eastern Burma.
Tap water should be regarded as non-potable. Liquids from sealed bottles nearly always are, and should be used wherever possible. Nearly all restaurants use ice made by professional ice-making companies and is generally safe. There are street side water vending machines (1 baht per litre) throughout the city. Using one saves money and a lot of plastic refuse.
Grace Dental Care Clinic, 45 Soi 11 Nimmanhemin Rd, ☎ 66 53 894 568 - 69 (email@example.com), . M-F, 09:00-20:30; Sa-Su, 09:00-17:00. Modern, state-of-the-art dental clinic. Many of the practitioners there, about 15 total, have studied abroad. Most, if not all, speak excellent English, as does the staff.
Many guest houses, hotels, cafes, shopping malls, and even swimming pools, offer Wi-Fi connections. These are usually free or available for a small charge. If you are travelling with your laptop you should be able to connect to the Internet within a 500 m radius of your Chiang Mai city-based accommodation at little or no cost.
In November 2012, the Ministry of Information announced the launching of 3,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in Chiang Mai. The program, called ICT Free Wi-Fi for the Public by AIS, offers a download speed of 10 Mbps for up to five hours a month. Hotspots can be found near schools, shopping centres, hospitals, and government offices. Those interested must sign up for the free service at , after which you will receive a user ID and password.
Internet cafes abound and can be found everywhere within the city. Prices vary from 10 baht/hour (in "gaming" places filled with local kids) to 60 baht/half-hour (2 baht/minute) and up. Most places charge per 15 or 30 minute block, others by the minute. The cheapest and most comfortable places with fast connections, webcam, microphone and Skype, can be found along Huay Kaew Road near the main entrance to Chiang Mai University, where the cost is 10-20 baht.
Buddy Internet, 12 Huay Kaew Rd (northeast corner of the moat, opposite the Central Department Store), ☎ +66 53 404 550. 08:00-24:00.
Crank Tavern, 3/2 Ratchaphakhinai Rd (near Chiang Mai Gate). Internet is free if you by a drink. They have fast ADSL equipped with Skype and you will be in comfortable surroundings. Also good for bike hire and tours.
As everywhere in Thailand, GPRS/EDGE is a cheap and convenient option to access Internet if you have a laptop and local SIM card. TrueMove 850 MHz 3G covers most parts of the city. For more details, refer to the Thailand article.
South Korea, V Group Building, 3rd Floor, 50 Huay Kaew Rd, Tambon Chang Puak, Amphoe Mueang +66 5322-3119 Ext : 206,210 (fax: +66 53-22-5661). 
Sweden, Svenska Konsulatet i Chiang Mai, 11 Sermsuk Rd, Mengrairasmi, +66 53-220844 (fax: +66 53-210877).
USA, U.S. Consulate General, 387 Witchayanon Rd, +66 53-252629 (fax: +66 53-252633), .
There are laundromats and laundry services all over town, but they all wash cold. There is a laundromat that has 3 machines that can do hot washing as well on Chaiyapum Rd (road along the moat from Si Phum corner to Tha Phae Gate) about half way between Sompet market and Tha Phae Gate. Opposite there is a cafe from where you can watch your stuff while having a beer.
Chiang Dao - an hour north of the city, and a good starting point for treks into the mountains
Lampang - urban Northern Thailand without the commercialism, 100 km southeast of Chiang Mai
Lamphun - a scenic town with a long history and a longan festival, 26 km southeast of Chiang Mai
Mae Hong Son - a picturesque little town with lush valleys, rocky streams and a small lake, 235 km from Chiang Mai on Rt 1095. By public bus about 6 hours.
Nan - the former capital of a small kingdom filled with history and temples and surrounded by mountains
Pai - a tourist-oriented town, offering a relaxed atmosphere with a broad traveller & backpacker scene. Popular with hippies.
Mae Sai - Tachilek, Myanmar - Five hours north of Chiang Mai on the Thai-Myanmar border lie Mae Sai (Thailand) and Tachilek (Myanmar) best known for their border markets. A popular place to pop over border for a few hours before renewing your Thai visa. Note that there are no consular services so you cannot get a new visa here. It is possible to get a 14-day Thai visa on re-entry to Thailand which can come in very handy if you do not have any time left on your current Thai visa. The Myanmar fee for a same day entry permit is 10 USD or 500 baht (so it is better to use USD). Many people buy western alcohol (esp, wine) while in Myanmar due to the very large duties imposed in Thailand.
Chiang Khong - Huay Xai, Laos - Six hours by bus (from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal, east of the old town, daily 08:30) to the border where you can catch a boat across the Mekong River to the Lao side (bus will actually stop about 1 km shy of the border, tuk-tuks will be waiting to take you the remainder of the way). From there, slow (2-day) and fast (6-8 hour) boats ply the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Buses are also available to Luang Prabang and north to Luang Namtha.