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Chiang Mai

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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.
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.
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 jewelry. Not only will respectable Thais appreciate your behavior, you are much less likely to become a target of any criminal activity.
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 jewelry. Not only will respectable Thais appreciate your behavior, you are much less likely to become a target of any criminal activity.
Unfortunately some '''scams''' from [[Bangkok]] have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai as well. 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.
Unfortunately some '''scams''' from [[Bangkok]] have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai as well. 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.

Revision as of 15:33, 11 August 2010

Ancient city wall and moat

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 AD, 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 back trip until the 1920s. This isolation helped preserve Chiang Mai's distinctive charm intact to this day.

Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city (City is chiang in the northern Thai dialect while 'mai' is new, hence Chiang Mai - "New City"). Sections of the wall dating to their restoration a few hundred years 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 Thanon Chang Klan, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guesthouses are located.Loi Kroh Rd is the center of the city's nightlife . 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 Thapae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh.

Get in

By plane

Chiang Mai Map

Chiang Mai International Airport [24] (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 [25] - a well-known Asian low-cost airline, flies from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi airport), Phuket, and also Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Usually it's a cheapest choice if you book at least a week before, with price tag (as of July 2009) just above 1000 baht from Bangkok and 2000-2500 baht from KL/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.
  • Air Mandalay [26] - from/to Myanmar
  • Bangkok Airways [27] - to Ko Samui (flights from Ko Samui are indirect), from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Sukhothai; flights from/to Jinghong (China) and from/to Siem Reap (Cambodia) have been cancelled due to the downturn in tourism.
  • China Airlines [28] - from/to Taipei, Taiwan
  • Korean Airlines [29] - Four flights weekly from Seoul/Incheon
  • Lao Airlines [30] - from/to Luang Prabang (Laos), from there the flight continues onward to Vientiane
  • Nok Air [31] - Thai (semi-)low-cost carrier, flies from/to Bangkok (Don Mueang airport, from 1400 baht and up) and Mae Hong Son. Starting from 17 January 2010, they also fly from/to Udon Thani, ticket price is 2400 baht. The latter, while still 4 times more expensive than bus, is more than twice cheaper than Lao Airlines' flight to Vientiane, which is easily accessible from Udon Thani. Nok Air only allows bookings of up to 3 months in advance.
  • One-Two-Go [32] (low-cost division of Orient Thai Airlines [33] ) files from/to Bangkok (Don Mueang). They fly 23-26 years old McDonnell Douglas MD-83 jets, but if you do not afraid - it's often a cheapest (1450-1750 baht) option if you book during the last days before flight. One-Two-Go also only allows bookings of up to 3 months in advance.
  • SGA [34] - Recently renamed 'Nok Mini'. - from/to Chiang Rai (twice daily), Mae Hong Son (once daily), Nan (Daily) and Pai (once daily). Their tickets are booked via Nok Air website.
  • Silk Air [35] - from/to Singapore
  • Thai Airways [36] - from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi airport only, from 2500 baht and up, but sometimes there are promo fares as low as 1500) and Mae Hong Son; in addition, flights from and/or to Phuket & possibly Nan may also be available seasonally. Direct flights from/to Kunming (China) have been cancelled.

International departure hall at Chiang Mai Airport

The airport is some 3 km south-west 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 center for 15 baht, or charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 baht. Most hotels and upper price range guesthouses offer cheap or free pick-up/drop-off services.

By bus

Buses to Chiang Mai leave from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit), there are dozens of them every day. The cheapest, non-aircon, stop-everywhere government buses take around 12 hours; non-stop VIP 24/32-seaters and 1st class buses manage the trip in 9 hours on a good day. Price for the 1st class bus (quite comfortable and fast) is around 500 baht; VIP 32-seater is around 600 (well worth the difference in a long trip like this due to larger seats and/or legroom); as always in Thailand, this includes some snacks as well as 30-baht food coupon which you can use during 20-25 minutes stop in the middle of the way. Khao San road so-called "VIP" buses may be cheaper, but actually you may end up in a 2nd class bus or worse, and security in those buses is also questionable. Chiang Mai also has good bus connections to practically everywhere in the North, and major destinations/hubs in the North-East (Isaan); there's even a direct service to Pattaya and Rayong in the East.

By train

Various rapid, express and sleeper services leave from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station, taking 12-15 hours depending on the service selected. Sprinter trains are entirely second class air-con, have no sleeper berths, and are the only ones which cannot transport bicycles. Daytime trains are entirely second and third class, with no sleeper berths; the first "overnight" train of the day departs Chiang Mai at 2:50PM and arrives in Bangkok at 5:30AM, with later services arriving at 6:40AM, 7:00AM and 9:10AM. [37]

The overnight trains - especially second class sleeper berths - are very popular, safe, comfortable and fun, and good value too - sleeper fares start at 491 baht for an upper berth in a 2nd class fan carriage. 2nd class lower berths are slightly more expensive but also slightly wider than upper berths; air-con is of course about 30% more expensive than non-aircon. Those who wish to avoid sharing the relatively basic second class "bathroom" facilities can book a private first class two-berth cabin (the attendant cleans the first class bathrooms frequently).

In the train (2nd sleeper class at least), you will be offered food (several types of set Thai dinner in the evening, and of Western or Thai breakfast in the morning) and drinks by the train staff - food quality is OK (more like from a street stall than from a restaurant), although the prices are a bit high for what you get, especially for drinks - 40 baht for a glass of Orange juice, around 100 for a beer! Bringing your own food/drinks is not a problem. Breakfast for 100 baht and especially dinner for around 150 are worth trying, however, if you do not want to rely on fast food during your trip.

Tickets can be purchased up to 60 days in advance on any station in Thailand, not only from the point of your departure. Advance booking is advisable year-round, but especially between November and March and around Songkran in April - see SRT timetables and prices [38]. On the larger stations (including Chiang Mai) you can pay for the ticket using your VISA/MasterCard - this is fairly safe, as SRT is a state-owned company.

From February 2009, SRT has opened an e-ticketing [39] website, an excellent option for those wishing to book from outside Thailand (or in the places in Thailand where there are no railway stations, such as islands). However, it is still a bit tricky to register - you have to avoid any special characters while filling a 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, when purchased online, is exactly what you'd pay in the ticket office.

SRT advises to buy tickets only in their ticket offices (or via e-booking). In Bangkok, touts may approach you near Hua Lamphong station, trying to deflect you into one of the nearby travel agencies, stating this is a ticket office - just ignore them, the ticket offices proper are inside the main station building. Travel agencies, however, may be worth checking, if you can't pay with a credit card and wish to avoid extra visit to the station - just make sure they charge you the actual price (available on the e-ticketing site for all classes) plus reasonable commission, not the silly "tourist" price. The latter is especially probable in the Khao San Road agencies; in Chiang Mai, however, they are often honest, with extra 60 baht or so well worth what you get for this (the songthaew return trip to the station will set you back 40 baht, plus at least 40 minutes).

SRT charges 90 baht to transport a bicycle between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai train station is about 3km east of the city centre, across the Ping River and near the main Post Office, at the intersection of Charoen Muang Road and Rat Uthit Road (27 Charoenmuang Road). If you arrive late it would be better to take a songthaew to town (many of these meet every train that arrives). If you do 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 Road); this road goes to the city centre.

Get around

Chiang Mai now has a new large air conditioned bus service. You can see these nice air conditioned white buses all over the major city routes. There are also pedicabs called samlor; the 3-wheeled tuk-tuk; and the most popular, the songthaew.

By songthaew or seelor

A songthaew

The most common way to get around Chiang Mai is by songthaew (สองแถว), also known as rod-daeng. These are covered pick-up trucks with two rows for sitting in the back, and indeed songthaew means "two rows" in Thai. Rod Daeng means red truck, though not all trucks are red. The colors of the trucks indicate which routes they travel. Red ones center inside the old city.

Seen everywhere, to board one just put your arm out and look at the driver, who will stop. Then tell the driver which street you want to go to, and if he is going that way, he will nod his head "yes"; if not, he will say "no" and go on. Don't worry - there will be another one right behind him. When the driver turns down the street you want, start looking for where you want to get off and press the switch located on the roof of the cab. The driver will pull over, let you out, and then you pay him. The fare should be 20 baht for regular trips around town. If you specify a hotel or establishment, the driver will think you want to hire him for a private trip, and the price will be much higher. Negotiate any price beforehand if you want to go to a specific address. The best way to avoid this "charter" situation is to discuss your destination and not the price; asking for a price is interpreted as asking for a charter. Then, when you arrive, hand the driver the correct change. If the driver demands more, then it is up to you to work out a fair payment, but armed with this information, you should have a reasonable idea of the proper fare, and that will aid you in your bargaining.

The colour of the songthaew indicates its general route or usage. Most common by far are red songthaews (hence the alternative rod daeng, "red car" name), which roam the main streets in the city itself. Warorot Market (by the Ping River) is the most common terminus for songthaews that travel along fixed routes. 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 north-east. The flat rate cost along these fixed routes is 20 baht.

From Pratu Chiang Mai market, songthaews also travel to Hang Dong (20 baht) and San Patong, south-west of Chiang Mai.

You may see songthaews out on the highways in the countryside, travelling to and from small towns and villages. It is probably not proper for them to do this (as such travel is supposed to be done by bus companies), but in Thailand people will find a way to make some extra money.

By tuk-tuk or samlor

Tuk-tuks serve as Chiang Mai's taxis, going point to point for 30-40 baht for a short hop and 50-100B for longer distances depending on your haggling skills. Normally (that's what local farangs and Thais pay), 30 baht will get you a few blocks away, 40 - from the old city to riverside and Night Bazaar, 40-50 - to the railway station, 50-60 - to the bus station or airport, 80-100 - to the city suburbs behind Super Highway. Tuk-tuks parked near the bus and train stations will ask you for something like 80-100 baht - just haggle or walk away to the nearest road and stop passing-by tuk-tuk or songthaew there. A few three-wheeled bicycles (samlor) still cruise the streets and will go your way for the same price as tuk-tuks, which is a great way to see the inner city temples. Try taking a samlor from Wat Prasing Temple to Wat Chedi Luang Temple in the early evening around sunset, or around the inner city at sunrise to see the monks walking around with their bowls collecting alms from the citizens.

By taxi

Chiang Mai has Bangkok-style metered taxis, but unlike in Bangkok it's very hard to persuade the driver to use the meter. Rates are very reasonable at 30 baht for the first 2 km and 4 baht/km after that, . Dial +66 53-279291 state your destination and the call centre will give you a quote. Individual drivers can be contacted using their mobile phone numbers which are displayed on the vehicle, again few will use their meters.You cannot generally hail taxis in the street.

By bus

Chiang Mai's has an on-again, off-again local bus service. There are currently 5 routes and fares are a flat 15 baht. Route 4, connecting to the airport, is probably the most useful.

By motorcycle

Chiang Mai has an abundance of motorcycle rental services, with choices aplenty. Typical Asian motorbikes can be rented, such as Honda 100cc and 125cc models Dream, Wave (step-through) and Click (automatic), but off-road bikes and larger street bikes can also be found quite easily. Renting a small bike starts around 100 baht/day for a 100cc motorbike, 120+ baht/day for a Honda Wave 125, with insurance; larger machines can climb to 700 baht/day for a V-twin chopper or larger sport-bike, also with insurance. Expect discounts when renting for a month or more.

Passports are usually taken as a deposit, but some shops will accept a photocopy with a cash deposit of around 5,000 baht (apx. $150 USD). As with any other tourist town in Thailand (except possibly in Bangkok), a valid international permit (IDP) isn't required by the rental shop.

Though locals may not use one, always ensure you have a decent helmet: it's your life!!! Police occasionally setup random checkpoints and fine those not wearing a helmet (including passengers) a 200 baht penalty, plus you usually have to go to the police station the next day to collect your license. Also, do 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. Similarly, ensure the indicator & headlights lights work properly, and the tires are reasonably OK. Any insurance you secure will ever only cover the bike. As a visitor in Thailand, if an accident occurs - and despite who is at fault - assume you will be considered at fault.

Motorcycle, bicycle and car rental is available at Jaguar Car & Motorcycle 2 Soi 1, Ratchawithi Road (behind Sompet Market), Amphoe Muang, Tel: +66 (0)81 882 4580. The owners (Mr. Share and his sister) speak decent English but do not have email or a website. Reasonable prices and vehicles are well-maintained. 100cc Hondas are around 100 THB/day, Honda Click (automatic) are about 150 THB/day. Honda Jazz rental cars are 1,000 THB/day. Discounts for longer (monthly) rent. Also rent bicycles. Open 8am-6pm.

For those seeking some extra horsepower Harley Davidson rentals (1450cc) are available at Harley Tours Thailand, tel +66 (0) 89-560-4954. This is an Australian owned business with a fleet of over 6 motorcycles to choose from. Rates can run you about 3,000 baht per day.

By bicycle

Within the old city walls biking is still an easy option to get around. You can get everywhere in town within 10 minutes and it saves the hassle of negotiating with tuk-tuk drivers all the time. Bikes rentals are offered at every other street corner, and for a simple bike start from 30 baht/day. You can pick up quality bikes for a comfortable ride at "Crank Tavern" near Chiang Mai Gate. They run well-organised tours in the mountains around Chiang Mai as well. Chiang Mai Biking has a big fleet of mountain bikes for rent incl: lock , repairkit, sparetyre, multitool and on request lights for the ones that like to go out in the eveninghours.

By car

Car hire services are available both in the city center and at the airport. Typical cars that can be rented include Toyota Vios, Altis, Yaris, Honda City, Jazz. Typical rates for newer models are 1200-2000 baht per day. Expect a slight discount when renting weekly. Utility pickups such as Toyata Hilux and Fortuner are also available. Many places offer minivans such as 10-seater Toyota Commuter with driver from about 2000 baht per day plus fuel. Older Suzuki Caribean 4WD jeeps 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.

On foot

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.

Hiring a car or minivan with driver

This is is a great option for traveling 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 1500 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 2000 baht per day plus fuel. Most hotels and some guesthouses can arrange it for you, in addition to vehicle rental outlets and the many travel agencies in town.



The Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center building
  • Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center - This fully modernised multimedia history and cultural education centre is in the very centre of the old city on Prapokklao Road between Rajdumnern Road and Rajwithee Road. If travelling by tuk-tuk or songthaew, it's easiest to ask for the "Three Kings Monument" (Saam Kasat); it's the large, elegant white building just behind the statue. Guides dressed in elegant traditional Thai clothing 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. The museum is open 8:30AM-5PM except Mondays. Admission is 90 baht. +66 53-217793
The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Hilltribe Research Institute Museum
  • Hilltribe Research Institute Museum - Founded in 1965 as a result of a proposal by the noted anthropologist Prof. W.R. Geddes, who was doing research with the hilltribe peoples at the time, the Institute Museum offers exhibits concerning the lives and cultures of nine hilltribe peoples in Thailand: the Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Yao, Hmong, Karen, Lua, Khamu, and H'tin. Also included are a non-hilltribe ethnic minority, the Mlabri, associated by some with the 'spirit of the yellow leaves'. The Mlabri population has dwindled to only approximately 180 individuals at present. The daily lives of the various hilltribe peoples are illustrated through exhibits of photographs, agricultural implements, household utensils, artefacts associated with the various traditional religions, musical instruments, and ethnic costumes. Some exhibits include models dressed in complete traditional costumes depicting daily activities, such as a Hmong family having a meal or a Lisu man serenading his sweetheart. The Institute has established a new museum in a three-story pavilion located on the attractively landscaped grounds of Ratchamangkala Park (Suan Lor Gao) on Chotana Road, just a fifteen minute drive from the city center. At present the museum is open weekdays 9AM-4PM, with a slide and video show available daily 10AM-2PM. Special group tours at weekends are possible with advance notice. For more information contact the Hilltribe Institute Museum, Chotana Road +66 53-210872 / +66 53-211933
  • Chiang Mai National Museum [40](Located along the SuperHighway, within walking distance of Wat Chet Yot [41]which may usefully be visited on the same trip) Offers an insight into the history of Chiangmai. Tel. (053) 221308 09.00PM - 04.00PM Wednesday to Sunday Closed on : Monday, Tuesday and National Holidays. Admission Fee:100 Baht
  • Chiang Mai Numismatic Museum (Treasury Hall), 52 Ratchadamnoen Road, tel: 053-22 4237/8. M-Sa 9AM-3:30PM.
  • Chiang Mai University Art Museum, corner of Suthep and Nimmanhaemin Roads, tel: 053-944833. Tue-Sun 9AM-5PM (free). There are exhibitions by undergraduates from the Fine Arts Department at Chiangmai 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 South East Asia. The museum also hosts musical concerts - often free - in the adjoining theatre. Within the same grounds there is a traditional Thai massage school which is associated with the university's Department of Physical Therapy.
  • Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Srimankalajarn Road, Soi 13 (the road links Huay Kaew Road and Suthep Road - the entrance from the latter is near Suan Dok Hospital); Tel: 053-211891. One of Asia's most unusual museums housing butterflies, beetles and beyond. Daily 9AM-5PM (300 baht).
  • Postal Museum, at Mae Ping Post Office, (1-2 km south of Wat Phra Singh). Tu-Sa 08:30-16:30 (free).
  • Art Galleries and Exhibitions [42] There are many art galleries and exhibitions in Chiang Mai, featuring contemporary artwork of both local Thai and Myanmar artists.


Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai show off a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand. Elements from Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon temples have all been used in one form or another. Intricate woodcarvings and protective Naga serpent staircases add a flamboyance that reflects an awesome reverence for the Buddhist religion. Gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and stupas trimmed with gold filigree combine to heighten the overall effect.

To date, there have been some 300 temples constructed in Chiang Mai and its outskirts. Visitors should take the time to visit the most revered temples in the city, built during the noble Lanna Thai dynasty. The largest ones draw crowds, but it's well worth wandering off the beaten path and finding a temple not on the tour bus circuit. If you are short of time, and want to see contrasting architectural styles, three temples to visit are: Wat Chet Yot [43], Wat U-Mong [44] and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep [45]. Wat U-mong is best visited early evening between 5PM and 6PM when you will hear the monks chanting their Buddhist prayers. There is a lake within the temple grounds, home to hundreds of catfish and terrapins, where locals gather at sunset to feed the fish.

The Thai patrons of Chiang Mai's temples are pleased to see that visitors take an interest in the images and traditions of Lord Buddha's teachings. All that they ask is that temple visitors 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 brassier) so that monks and worshippers will not be offended within the sacred temple grounds. Shoes are removed before entering the temple (but may be worn in the outer courtyard). Watch and follow the example of locals on how to behave when entering that part of the temple housing a Buddha image. There is no problem taking photographs of Buddha images but it is polite to ask before taking pictures of monks or locals.

Courtyard of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, [46]. Established in 1383, this magnificent temple overlooks the city from its 1,073m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep, which peaks at 1,685m. It is famous for its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a good clear day. Although Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiang Mai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and knelt down - which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site. Clearly marked songthaews to Doi Suthep leave from Pratu Chang Phuak, passing Chiang Mai University and the zoo on the way. Prices are fixed at 40 baht up and 30 baht down; the drivers wait until they have sufficient (up to 8) passengers before they depart. Most guidebooks advise picking up a sawngthaew from Th Mani Nopharat, but these seem to have increased in price from a reasonable 40b to a ludicrous 500b. Don't encourage these charlatans to milk the tourist cash-cow any further - if you are going from the centre take a regular sawngthaew to the zoo and change there. The trip takes about 30 minutes one way. Alternatively, the 18km journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing. The final 12km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling. During July 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. Entrance to the temple is free for Thais or 30 baht for foreigners. For those who don't want to climb the 300-plus steps, there's a cable car for an additional 20 baht (total 50 baht for foreigners).
  • Wat Phra Singh, in the centre of the city at the intersection of Singharaj and Rajdamnern Road (west end) and is probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of particular note historically is Wihaan 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.
  • Wat Chiang Mun, Rajpakinai Road. 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 1800 and 2500 years old. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Mun 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, Prapokklao Road. Located directly in Chiang Mai centre, this is the site of a formerly massive pagoda that was unfortunately destroyed 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 meters. After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991-92, during which time it was reconstructed at a cost of several million baht. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, it is now every bit as impressive as it was when it was first built, and one of Chiang Mai's top tourist attractions. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
  • Wat Phra Jao Mengrai, off Ratchamankha Road (near Heuan Phen). An atmospheric wooden temple away from the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling in the absence of tourist hordes.
  • Wat U-Mong, off Suthep Road, near the main entrance to Chiangmai University. 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. Proverbs or wise sayings, written in Thai and English on discreet signboards, are displayed on many of the trees in the gardens, adding to the Temple's mystical ambience. Recently renovated (2007), it is well worth a visit.


  • Elephant Nature Park [47] +66 53-818932 . Approximately 60km 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.
  • Maesa Elephant Camp, 119/9 Tapae Road, Muang District, +66 53-206247 or +66 53-206248, [48]. An elephant camp in the hills about a half hour's drive north of the city center. 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 do enjoy the performances.

  • Baanchang Elephant Park 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 carers) 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 whioch can be accessed from many of the local hotels and hostels.

Gardens and nature

  • Bhuping Palace is on the same road beyond Doi Suthep (22 km from town). 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. 50 baht for foreigners, 20 baht for locals, 10 baht for children. Dress code strictly applied. A sign at the bottom of the hill near the zoo will indicate when it's closed.
  • Chiangmai Zoo, at the foot of Doi Suthep, [49]. Home to over 7,000 animals in a wooded natural environment.
  • Dokmai Garden, [50]. This garden displays 120 different edible fruit plants, 130 different vegetables, in total more than 800 vascular plants. Of these, 500 have been selected for pesentations 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 very 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. The garden collaborates with Chiangmai University (mushrooms), Maejo University (fish), Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (plants), Tourism Authority of Thailand and Opkhan National Park.
  • The Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery is a serene place of history and remembrance. It's on Thanon Chiang Mai-Lamphun about 800m north of the Holiday Inn (formerly the Sheraton). It's on the east side of the Ping River to the southeast of the old city.


There is a multitude of things to do in Chiangmai. For example, aerobics, ballooning, bird watching, bungy jumping, cinema, cooking classes, cricket, cycling, elephant riding, fishing, flying, golf, go-karts, hill-tribe treks, horse riding, karaoke, line-dancing, massage schools, pool, rafting, river boat trips, swimming, tennis, walking, water sports, zoo.

Indoor and Outdoor Activities

  • Aerobics Aerobics sessions are held in the car park of Tesco Lotus on the Superhighway every weekday from 5.30PM The sessions are very popular and tourists or visitors to Chiang Mai are made very welcome. Regular water aerobics classes, incorporating Tai Chi and yoga exercises, are held at the Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool [51]
  • Bicycle tours or exploration either on your own, renting a bike, or joining a well organized bicycle / mountain-biking tour is a great way to see the North and the country side. Crank Adventures [52] has fantastic off the beaten track single day and multi-day mountain bike adventures. Northern-Trails [53] is a reputable cycling operator offering many cycling programs, from day trips to multi-day circuits. Chiang Mai Biking [54] provides recreational cycling excursions, anyone who can ride a bicycle may join their excursions. In addition to a delightful tour experience, there is no better way to touch, smell and see the real Thai way of life. Pedalers Pub & Grille [55] is another tour operator offering multi-day cycling tours in the area.
  • Cinema
    • Chiang Mai Vista Cinema (Kad Suan Kaew) [56]
    • Major Cineplex (Airport Plaza) [57]
  • 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. [58]
  • Culture
    • AFECT is the oldest organization for Hill Tribes in Asia and runs very interesting cultural tours [59]
  • Elephant Rides Many tour companies in Chiang Mai offer elephant rides alone or as part of a larger package. If you're uncomfortable seeing trainers throw rocks at the disobedient ones or guide them by hitting their heads with pointed barbs, you'd probably prefer the Elephant Nature Park [60]. The Park is a sanctuary for abused animals, and while you can't ride the elephants, you can spend a day or a few days bathing and feeding them. The Park's founder was named an Asian Hero by Time Magazine in 2005 for her work to save these giant and friendly creatures. Information and tour arrangements can be found online.
    • Elephants are a large part of Thailand’s tourist trade, and the smuggling and mistreatment of elephants for tourist attractions is quite a widespread practice. Be aware that elephants are often separated from their mothers at a young age to be cruelly trained under captivity for the rest of their lives. Organizations such as The Elephant Nature Park are an ethical alternative for elephant tourism.
  • Fishing, Spend a half day or more game fishing with your own guide Suvit. Note that the half day trip takes you to a fishing park, not "proper" fishing as such but landing a 15kg+ Giant Mekong catfish is a lot of fun. [61].
  • Fishing in rivers and lakes, Fishing for native species in natural waters only is offered by Asian Angling Adventures, who specialize in lure or fly-fishing. The venues are the various reservoirs and rivers near Chiang Mai. [62].
  • Golf.
  • Karting, bungy jumping, off road buggies, and paintball, [63]. Certainly a very popular option for thrill seekers although slightly pricey compared to other tours that local companies offer. A bonus however is that the adventure company provides pick-up and drop-off services from and to your hotel.
  • Massage:
    • Let's Relax, 2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Chang Khlan Road. 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.
    • Green Bamboo Massage, 1 Moon Muang Road, Soi 1(mobile: +66(0)898275563)[64]. 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 homemade cosmetics and even created her own aloe vera oil. Choose from a great variety of treatments and packages for fair prices (start with 200 Baht/hour).
    • The Sun Massage, Loi Kroh Road, Opp 7-Eleven. Recently relocated to Loi Kroh, the shop sports a very clean, and pleasant modern decor. The masseuse are very friendly, and provides decent, skilled massages. A traditional thai massage goes for 199 baht/ hour. There is a white table in front of the shop where the masseuse often hang out when they're not working.
  • Motorcycling:
    • Motorcycle touring (Enduro-Moto Cross) is a great way to explore Northern Thailand - the GT-Rider[65] website has a wealth of information, including routes and maps for both short and long rides. One route out of Chiang Mai not mentioned is a day trip up and over Doi Suthep, which will take riders up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and beyond the mountain to the reservoir. [66]
    • Motorcycle touring (Road Bikes) is the most popular way to discover Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand - Thai Motorcycle Tours[67] are the most established company in the region who offer 4 tours (The Mae Hong Son Loop, the Golden Triangle, Nan and Sukhothai) and a variety of day rides.
    • Motor-scooter touring is another great way to explore the region going out as far as Mae Hong Son and suitable for the less experienced motorcyclist. Motorbike Thailand[68] offers great tours using Honda 125cc scooters riding into some of the more remote regions and also offer rider training on route.
  • Muay Thai (Thai boxing, the national sport of Thailand):
    • Kawila Boxing Stadium not far from Narawat Bridge, has real Muay Thai fights every Friday at 20:00 with 10 bouts ranging from young debutant fighters, local champions, and locals vs foreigners. Entry is 600 baht (as of March 2008).
    • Chiang Mai Muay Thai - Chay Yai Gym In Nong Hoi, about 10 minutes from downtown. Top northern fighters train foreigners for a day, a week, or a month at a time. Accommodation available near the gym.[69]
    • Lanna Muay Thai on Soi Chiang Khian, off Huay Kaew Road, near Centre of the Universe Chiangmai Swimming Pool[70], Muay Thai coaching[71]
  • Rafting - Rafting down the Maetang river is offered 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.[72]
  • Rainforest Canopy Tours 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 [73] Flight of the Gibbon Adventure Tour [74] zips people through spectacular old-growth rainforest high above the forest floor. 2km of ziplines connect tree platforms, lowering stations and skybridges. Located in the mountains outside of Chiang Mai, the area is also much cooler than in the city. After the tour you can hike up alongside the Mae Kompong Waterfall.
  • River Cruise in Scorpion Tailed Boat along Ping River A pleasant way to get a feel for the Chiang Mai city and its layout is to take a boat trip on the Ping River. Cruises operated by Scorpion Tailed River Cruises[75][76] Cruise down the river you'll know more about the history of Ping river and local people life by the describer who show you the old picture of places which located near the river bank. And stop at the a riverside local village for a look around garden,here have fruit, herb and flower , plus a yellow mango and sticky rice for the customer. Tours depart from a jetty 200 meters north of Nakorn Ping Bridge every two hours between 9AM and 5PM. Trips take about 90 minutes and cost 500 Baht, including transportation to and from your hotel
  • Rock Climbing - Approximately 35 miles east of Chiang Mai lies Crazy Horse Buttress, a 60-meter, 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 multiple 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. More information on the area is available in the Guide to Rock Climbing in Northern Thailand [77]; climbing guides and information are also available from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures [78] and The Peak [79].
  • Swimming Pools in Chiangmai Open to the Public
    • Chiang Mai swimming pools open to the public vary in quality, cleanliness and accessibility. On balance, those pools which are operated to internationally recognized standards of water quality are those which are privately owned by foreign investors.
    • There is an Olympic Pool at the Seven Hundred Year Stadium - a huge sports complex built for the South East Asia Games, held in Chiangmai in the early 1990's, and now a public sports and recreation center. This is located along the outer ring road (Irrigation Canal Road) Route 121, towards Mae Rim. It is about 8 kilometers from the city center and takes about fifteen minutes to get there by tuk-tuk/taxi. The pool is sanitized using chlorine.
    • In the same vicinity as the Seven Hundred Year Stadium is the privately owned Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool and Resort [80] which is open to tourists and other visitors. There are 3 swimming pools, a restaurant and a bar, with views of the mountains from the gardens and pool deck. To get there, take Huay Kaew Road (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 kms towards Mae Rim and turn left at the 5th bridge over the canal. Go straight for 600 metres to the end of the road following signs for "Sang Serene House" and turn right. The Centre of the Universe is 300 metres 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 [81] The pool is sanitized using salt water.
    • Some hotels, e.g. The Orchid and the Amari Rincome Hotel on Huay Kaew Road, allow "outsiders" to use their pools on payment of a fee. Traveling time from the city center is around 10 minutes. These older hotel pools are sanitized using chlorine.
    • Chiang Mai Land Swimming Pool is in "Chiang Mai Land" off Chang Klan Road. Open to the public current (2008) 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 5.5km from the city center and takes between 10-12 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi. The pool is sanitized using chlorine.
    • For 20 Baht entrance fee you can take a dip in 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 kilometers from the city center and takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi.
    • There are also 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 traveling past the the entrance to Chiangmai 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 water falls are not really big enough for swimming but are a great place to cool off at the height of the summer. During the dry season some of the water falls 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 kilometers from the city center, it takes 10-15 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi to get there.
  • Tennis
    • There are several places to play tennis in Chiang Mai: Amari Rincom Hotel, 1, Nimmanhemin Road, Anantasiri Court, 90/1 Chiang Mai - Lampang Super-Highway; Chiang Mai Land Village, Chiang Mai Land Road; Gymkhana Club, Chiang Mai - Lamphun Road [82];Imperial Chiang Mai Resort & Sports Club, 284 Moo 3, Don Kaew, Mae Rim [83]; Lanna Sports Club, Chotana Road; Palm Springs, 120 Moo 5, Mahidol Road, and Chiang Mai Sports Complex (700 Year Stadium, Irrigation Canal Road (Route 121 to Mae Rim), which has 12 courts. All courts are bookable in advance and at most floodlighting makes it possible to play in the evening when it is cooler. There is an additional charge to cover the cost of electricity.

Festivals & exhibitions

Flower festival float
  • Chiang Mai Flower Festival is staged every year during the first weekend in February. The city is awash with vibrant colors ranging from the electric orange and lilac colors 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. Every type of flower, miniature tree and orchid is 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 Narawatt bridge so the police close most of Jarenmuang Road around 8AM. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiang Mai Governor's home. The parade route goes down Thapae Road 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 hilltribe people in costume. The people in the parade 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.
Khom Loy hot air balloons launch
  • Loi Krathong Festival 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".
  • Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival Takes place 20th-22nd 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 stores on both sides. Stores 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 kantoke meals, and the Miss Bo Sang pageant.
  • The 2nd Orchid Fair (January) is the biggest orchid fair of the year, with an orchid market, activities and more.
  • Royal Flora Exposition, [84]. A magnificent showcase of 50,000 orchid plants representing nearly 10,000 orchid species, plus much more.



  • Wat Chom Tong, Tambon Ban Luang, Amphoe Chom Tong (about 60km south-west 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 [85] (under See). offers short and long courses in Buddhist meditation.
  • Wat Ram Poeng, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (4 miles south-west of the city) +66 53-278620, [86]. 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 (1/2 a mile 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 hrs. Also, you can sign up for a 24-hrs 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), [87]. Offers meditation courses and Dharma instruction in English every Sunday 15:00-18:00.

Thai Cooking

  • Air's Thai Culinary Kitchen , 9/1 Nong Prateep Rd., Chiang Mai -- +66 53 249326, +66 81 9936564, [88]. A choice of tailor-made itinerary. 10 minutes drive, from the city hotel; 800 meters from Chiang Mai Railway Station. 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 itself with herb and spice gardens.
  • A Lot Of Thai Cooking School, +66 53-800724, [89]. A family run home cooking class. Teach by the owner for every class. Welcome for vegetarian and any kind of food restriction. Courses included Market tour and provides a recipe book from which you can cook by yourself at a later date.
  • Baan Thai Cookery School, 11 Ratchadamnoen Road, Soi 5, near Thapae Gate, +66 53-357339 / +66-16714120, [90]. Courses include a cook book and market tour. Have full day or evening classes
  • Chiang Mai Kitchen Cooking School +66-97002099, [91]. Just 20 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai, and offers a fresh approach to Thai cooking instruction. The organic herb and vegetable garden supplements ingredients are purchased at the morning market. Before and/or after your day in the kitchen, stay overnight in their charming, traditional Thai bamboo house.
  • Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, at 1-3 Moon Muang Road, +66 53-206388 (fax: +66 53-206387), [92]. Offers 1/2/3/4/5-day courses. 990 Baht for 1 day course. Recommended by Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide, Frommer's and Stefan Loose guide books.
  • Cooking Class Asia, [93]. Cooking Class Asia offers interactive cooking class vacations to 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 53-270143, [94]. High standards, proper organisation, your own stove, 1 teacher per 5 students.
  • Grandma's Thai Recipes, +66 53 -121656, [95] Provides traditional Thai cooking instruction. Vegetarian Friendly. Restaurant and Booking Office located in central town just north of Thapae Gate. 48 Chaiyapoom Rd.(Cooking School 15 minutes out of town, transportation provided).
  • Kao Hom Cooking School, +66 53-862967 [96]
  • Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, +66 53-329091, [97] Friendly and knowledgeable staff provides a course on local and traditional recipes. The course includes a market tour and provides you with the recipes that the dishes that you create.
  • Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, 21 Moonmuang Road, Soi 5, +66 53-418309. Market tour, cook book. Accommodates vegetarian cooking. Small classes and fun staff. Highly recommended.
  • Sompet Cookery School, 56 Patan Road, +66 53-214897. learn to cook traditional Thai food at a riverside home. Daily courses, morning and afternoon. A recipe book with color photographs provided for each dish, suggesting the many ways to prepare and serve Thai food.
  • Carving lessons, +66 53-285056. Learn how to carve on fruit and vegetable, with pictures and notes to take away and refer to later at home.
  • Smile Thai Cookery School If you want to experience the real Thai food and learn to prepare good Thai dishes with the real techniques that you can take back home. The class runs Monday – Friday in a fun environment, you'll discover that the good Thai food is not that difficult to make. (+66-53-800-567-8) [98]
  • Classic Home Cooking, (+66 53219056) We are the only one cooking school in Chiang Mai where you can choose any dish from more than 50 dishes of our menu. 6 dishes per day for morning class and 4 dishes for evening class. The cooking class is running every day in our own house. [99]

Thai Language

  • AUA [100]
  • How to Learn Thai [101] tel. 081-441-8061 [102] 41 เจริญสุข, ต. ช้างเผือก อ. เมือง, เชียงใหม่m 50300, Thailand, offers individual tutoring and 1-4 student custom-tailored Thai language courses
  • Payap University [103]
  • YMCA [104]

Thai Massage

  • Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai (TMC) [105] is a Thai government-registered to teach Thai massage.
  • Green Bamboo Massage - Chiang Mai,1/1 Moon Muang Rd.,Soi 1, phone=0898275563, [106]. Offers individual daily or weekly courses in Traditional Thai Massage. Seminars are run by Ms. Mesa, a certified and experienced expert in this art.


Jade Fountains, Central Airport Plaza Shopping Mall

Chiang Mai has great shopping and an internationally renowned night bazaar. There are also vendor booths that line other streets after dark, selling all types of merchandise including antiques, silks, silver, art, electronics, and knock-off and copycat merchandise, such as watches, handbags, and designer label clothing, all at very negotiable prices.

Animal Souvenirs: Rare and endangered species are often sold at markets for pets in Thailand, and many other animal products are sold as luxury items. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures (starfish, etc.), fur, feathers, teeth, wool, and other products, as they are most likely the result of illegal poaching, and contributes greatly to animal endangerment and abuse.

There are two large shopping malls...Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport and Kad Suan Keaw. Both have shops found in large cities in most countries.

  • Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport appears the more modern of the two, is about half a mile from the airport...a somewhat adventurous walk from the terminal. It has several floors, with a food court, banks/ATMs, and multi-screen theater. It also has a "Cultural Center" attached where many crafts can be seen/bought, as well as a large food market and an extensive selection of Thai ready-to-eat stalls in the basement.
  • Kad Suan Keaw is much closer to downtown, and has many decent shops, restaurants and banks/ATMs.
  • Night Bazaar is a huge market covering a long outdoor stretch of Chang Khlan Road between Tha Phae Road and Si Donchai Road, with the centre of the maelstrom in the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar Building, three stories of shopping under a Thai temple-style roof. The bazaar area ACTUALLY straddles both sides of the street, with a gauntlet of street vendors along both sidewalks at night. It opens at about 5 PM, but many vendors open about 7 PM until 11 or so. It's not just a place to shop, but possibly Chiang Mai's largest tourist attraction, with products from Northern Thailand and neighboring countries, especially those associated with Thailand's hill tribes - but take all claims with a grain of salt and bargain hard for good prices.
  • Sunday Walking Market starts around 14:00 and lasts until 22:00, (during the rainy season it doesn't start until 17:00 hrs) with local craftpersons operating stalls along Rajdumnern Road on the inner-east side of the moat near Tapae Gate. The street is blocked off from traffic so there is plenty of room to walk. Unlike the sellers on Chang Khlan Road, who peddle many fake designer goods, excellent hand made items are displayed and sold. At the 5 temples on this road you can enjoy real Northern Thai food and snacks.
  • Saturday Walking Market on Wualai Road (the street that shoots off at an angle just outside the Chiang Mai gate on the south side of the old city) officially starts at 17:00, but don't come till around after 18:00 as can be very hot, most months of the year and vendors arrive later, although the road will be closed to cars from about 16:00 onwards; it's pretty much over by 23:00. It's the old silver working district, and some shops stay open late on this day. It is more popular with locals and the also called the Wualai Walking Street is a must see. Like the better-known and more tourist oriented Sunday Market, there's lots of food and local crafts.
  • Warorot Market (กาดหลวง Kad Luang) - north of Nawarat Bridge and west of the Ping River between Thapae Roads and Chang Moi Road. This sprawling outdoor market is where the locals shop, and is well worth a visit for those who enjoy shopping for fabrics, clothes, herbs and spices and hard to find items. It also includes a beautiful flower market and fruit, and out-of-this-world fireworks stands.
  • Ware Factories - along route 1006 (Charoen Muang Rd.) just past the Superhighway (route 11), East of Chiang Mai center, there are various factories which offer short tours on how the wares are made and showrooms where pieces may be purchased. Silverware, silk, furniture, brass and more can be found here. Each factory and the ware produced there are housed in individual buildings along the busy route, so it's best to have a car, driver or tour bus to make the visits easier. The prices are generally high, but the tours are worth the visit if you enjoy learning how things are made. They are generally open during typical day time 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 with chicken (kai')) or beef (neua), but available some places as vegetarian or with seafood. Another local speciality is hang ley, Lanna-style pork curry. For those tired of eating rice or noodles there's also a wide range of excellent western food restaurant in Chiang Mai, from cheap hamburger stands to elaborate Italian eateries.



  • Anusarn Market, Chang Khlan Road (same side of road as "Galare Food Centre" but much further up beyond Loi Kroh crossroad towards Sri Dornchai) is a busy outdoor night market with lots of little Thai, Indian and Western restaurants and food vendors. Great atmosphere.
  • Funkydog Cafe, North end of Moonmuang Road Soi 6 (on the left hand side, opposite Eurana Boutique Hotel). Local handmade coffee from a local hill tribe. Fantastic Thai family cooking. All fresh and made by hand, great atmosphere and music, all food for 60 baht. Genuine owner who will keep you informed of all the natural products you should eat. The yellow curry is to die for.
  • Kalare Food Centre, Chang Khlan Road (opposite the Night Bazaar Building), has a large open-air food court, featuring free Thai classical dance performances nightly. All food is paid for with coupons; most mains 20-50 baht.
  • Kuaytiaw Reua Koliang, Moon Muang Road (near Ratchamankha Road; no English sign) serves authentic kuaytiow reua (literally "boat noodles", rice noodles in dark broth with beef). It's good stuff anyway at 25 baht a pop.
  • Ratana’s Kitchen, Tha Pae Road (near Tha Pae Gate), has a wide range of Thai dishes at low prices (30-60 baht for many) and a huge vegetarian selection.
  • Re-Feel Café, 48/4-5 Rachavithi Road offers great (cheap) Thai food, good atmosphere, friendly staff and free billiards.
  • Sailomjoy Restaurant, 7 Rachadamnoen Road (near Tha Phae Gate) Inexpensive and delicious food (Thai, Western and vegetarian), friendly service, and simple and relaxed atmosphere. Open: Daily 7:30AM to 4:00PM.
  • Suthep Road - By the University, past the Canal Road, has 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.
  • Muan Baan, Moon Muang Soi 7 (about 100m in from Moon Muang road, on right) offers a variety of both Thai and Western meals, for breakfast and lunch. The food is excellent & inexpensive, and the owners and staff are very pleasant and helpful. Highly recommended.


  • "Daily Delight" Coffee Shop & Restaurant 119/4 Thapae Rd, ph 053 209070. Great coffee espresso, cappuccino and specialty coffees. A good range of western and Thai food (most dishes 50-65 baht).
  • Mike's Hamburger Stand, on the corner of Chaiyapoom Road and Chang Moi Road (along the east side of the moat) and on Nimmanhaemin Road (across from Soi 1) are brightly-lit, "old-school" joints - just stools and a counter in an open shop.
  • Sodas Restaurant, located in Sompet Mall on the moat road between Thapae and the northern corner opposite the foot bridge. Formerly Sodas Fish and Chips in the old city. Budget Western, Fish & Chips, Mexican and Thai meals. Fresh coffee and free refill, fruit shakes, cold beer and soft drinks. A range of breakfasts and western meals at budget prices. Off street car and motorcycle parking. Free online PC for customers.
  • Woody's Fine Fast Food, 56 Chaiyapoom Road (On the moat road, half-way between Thapae Gate and Spicy Pub, next to the 7/11.), 0857 229708. Open 5PM to late. Serves Kebabs (Gyros), Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Falafel, Chips (Fries), Beer, Liquor and Soft Drinks. Stays open after most restaurants have closed. (18°47'27.60N,98°59'35.39E)


On the east bank of the Ping River north of Nawarat Bridge is a cluster of restaurants that double up as nightlife spots - see the listings under Drink


  • Ghekko Garden Bar and Restaurant - Located opposite the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. Offers good priced Thai food as well as a small western selection. highlights are lemongrass beef and sundried beef. Their chilli crab is also worth a try. Also make wonderful drinks such as mango daquiry. Enquire at the bar blackboard to daily specials.
  • Huen Phen, 112 Ratchamankha Road, 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 still leave you change from 100 baht! Open daily 08:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00.
  • Just Kao Soy - a reasonably priced restaurant with excellent kao soy and vegetarian curry broth.
  • Ob Luang[107] - serves genuine Thai-Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices in a secluded garden setting directly on the Ping River. Open daily 10AM-2PM and 5PM-12AM.
  • Sila Aat - Located on the southern edge of the Kalare Market (sometimes referred to by farang as the 'Kalare Food Centre'), the Sila-Aat Restaurant offers fresh seafood (fresh on ice or from the huge tanks) as well as a wide selection of Thai and Northern/Lanna specialties. Operated by two sisters, the restaurant has [by far!] the best seafood in Chiang Mai. Open daily from 15:00 to 24:00, the Sila-Aat offers a good selection of Thai and western alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.


  • Asahi Japanese Restaurant[108], Original Japanese-style restaurant with choice of 100+ dishes near the Nightbazaar. Open daily 11AM-2PM and 5PM-11PM. Tel: 053-275 323
  • Fuji, 1st branch Central Airport Plaza, 2nd branch Panthip Plaza is a great and reasonably priced Japanese restaurant. 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 sets that offer great "bang for your buck", for instance the Fuji Sashimi Set which can easily fill a sushi lover for 190 baht.
  • Gigantea,300 Chang Moi Road (off eastern side of moat) Tel.053-233-464, Open 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 sets costing around 140-200 baht.


  • Amazing Sandwich, 20/2 Huay Kaew Road (north-west corner of the moat, opposite the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel) [109] - choose from the many items on their list and they'll build a sandwich for you your way. They also serve breakfasts and have bagels. Open daily 8AM-10PM (Sunday close 4PM).
  • Chiangmai Saloon [110], Two locations: 80/1 Loi Kroh Rd., 150m from Night Bazaar, +66 08-0675 2169, and 30 Ratchawithi Rd., inside the moat, +66 08-1930 2212. American-styled burger and Southwest 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 draft, kitchen open from breakfast until late, everyday. All World Cup 2010 games shown live on three big screens.
  • El Toro Restaurant & Pub, 5/2 Loi Kroh Road. New Mexico style Mexican food at its finest prepared by experienced cook. Free food 5PM-7PM every Friday.
  • O'Malley's Irish Restaurant, Anusarn Market, 149-14/15 Changklan Road +66 53-271921 - international cuisine and Guinness on tap.
  • Red Lion English Pub & Restaurant [111], Loi Kroh Rd, just past McDonald's and Burger King in the Night Bazaar +66 53-818847 - International and Thai food. All the pub favourites like Bangers 'n' Mash and Fish 'n' Chips as well as Steaks, Pies and Pasta. Draught Guinness Heineken and Tetley's Bitter.
  • The Dukes [112] +66 53-249231 is located 50 meters north of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office at 49/4-5 Chiang Mai - Lumpoon Road, south of the Narawat bridge on the east side of the Ping River. Excellent American style dishes and desserts - ribs, burgers, pizza, cheesecake, etc. Full bar with local and imported beers and wines. Great family atmosphere, no loud music or entertainment, just good food.
  • The Olde Bell: British Pub[113] +66 53 -275948 or +66 87 8119468. Located on Loi Kroh Rd, next to the Raming Lodge Hotel and about 300m from the moat. Modern British cuisine, Indian Curries, Thai and Hill Tribe dishes are served up by attractive bar staff. British and Continental Cheese boards are a speciality of the house. Traditional British Pub Atmosphere: A wide range of beers, ciders and wines are kept in the well stocked bar.
  • The Meeting Restaurant & Café, 6/1 Soi 1, Kotchasarn Road. Have a talk with the friendly managers. Closed Sundays.


  • Kosher Restaurant, 89/15 Changklan Road (100 m from Empress hotel).

Vegetarian: It can be hard to find safely vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, as fish and oyster sauce are used frequently, and the local Buddist 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.

  • Blue Diamond, Soi 9 Muan Muang Rd. Thai and Western, strictly Vegetarian, huge selection of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great salads, fruits, juices, noodle dishes, bakery, good breads. Open: 08.00 to 21.00 Mon to Sat (Closed Sundays).
  • Khun Churn, Nimmanhemin Road, Soi 15 +66 53-224124 - Thai vegetarian. Open 9:30AM-10PM, closes at 2:30PM on the 16th of every month. A lunch buffet is available every day from 11AM-2:30PM.
  • Taste from Heaven 237 Thapae Rd, Chang klan, Chiang Mai. 053-208803. Thai vegetarian with vegan options. Owned by a friendly English ex-pat, proceeds to go Elephant Nature Park. A short walk or ride from the Night Market, this restaurant offers curries and noodle dishes in a comfortable and clean setting, with both indoor and garden seating
  • Tianzi Asia[114]-Serves organic and macrobiotic food, and carries a large assortment of teas and other products from Yunnan, China. Situated near the Nightbazaar. Open Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM. Tel: 053-449 539
  • Nice Vegetarian[115]- Serves a large variety of vegetarian food, along with fresh fruit and vegetables drinks. Breakfast menu also available. Open Mon-Sat 8AM-6PM. Tel: 085-866 2747



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 Prof Kraisi Nimanhemin who wanted to host a special event for 2 friends leaving Chiang Mai, 2 others were held both in 1953 and thus "Khantoke" dinners are not "authentic" but a relatively recent invention. Khantoke literally means Small bowl, low table (Khan = small bowl. Tok = low level table) There are also many garden restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent Thai meal in a beautiful setting.

  • Baan Rom Mai Garden Restaurant, Changklan Plaza, 191/12 Changklan Road +66 53-820031 /2. Open daily 10:00-midnight.
  • Galae Garden Restaurant, at the end of Suthep Road +66 53-278655 / +66 53-811041 - Doi Suthep foothill location at edge of a sparkling reservoir. Thai & Northern Thai food and grilled specialties in delightful outdoors.
  • Khum Khantoke, in Chiang Mai Business Park +66 53-304121 - be entertained while you dine on traditional North Thailand Cuisine. Reservations are a good idea to get a good seat. Family style all you can eat 350 baht. Nightly 19:00-22:00.
  • Le Grand Lanna Garden Restaurant, 51/3 Sankampaeng Road +66 53-262569 is a must see for its architectural teak splendor. Open daily.
  • Old Chiang Mai Culture Center 185/3 Wualai Road +66 53-275097 - the first commercial Khantoke Dinner in Chiang Mai more than 30 years ago. They have the best Northern Thai food of any of the Kantoke establishments however the seating, show and music are not as good as at Khum Khantoke. Nightly 19:00-21:30.
  • Palutside Gaad Tawanron Garden Restaurant, on a reservoir. Thai and English food. Wat Fai Hin behind CHiang Mai University, Suthep Road +66 53-216576 / +66 53-216039.
  • Saenkham Terrace Garden Restaurant, Clubhouse Ban Naifan 2, 199/163 T. Maehea +66 53-838990 - open daily 11:00-22:00.
  • Alois Bavarian Restaurant, Soi 8, Phrapoklao Road +66 53-278515 - authentic Bavarian specialties - open Tue-Sun, 11:30-23:00.
  • Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant, (in front of Watket Temple), ''+66 53''-306254, [1]. Open lunch & dinner.
  • Fillmore East Bar & Grill, Charernrasd Road +66 53-262416 - seating on two dining terraces facing Mae Ping river. Delicious USDA Beef, lamb, veal, chops, burgers. Excellent homemade deserts such as pecan, pumpkin and apple pie with large choice of toppings. The bar is separate from the riverside dining area so you can enjoy a romantic dinner in peace.
  • Piccola Roma Palace Italian Restaurant, at corner of Charoenprathet Road & Sri Donchai Road near Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel +66 53-820297 / +66 53-271256 - open lunch & dinner. An unforgettable dining experience amid beautiful surroundings. Serving residents over 15 years.
  • The House, 199 Moonmuang Road +66 53-419011 - old 1930's colonial style house in town center. Pacific rim & fusion food. Open 18:00.


  • Whole Earth, 88 Sridonchai Road +66 53-282463 - open 11:00-21:00.


(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 Tapae 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 where 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 view your favourite sports and play pool, to Pattaya-style girlie "beer bars", to even bars staffed exclusively by kathoeys (ladyboys), the choice is yours. 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 ocaasional 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 sports programs. 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 those similar bars recommended by expats are:

  • So Cool, with cheap prices and, as the name suggests, a very cool atmosphere, this bar is sure to satisfy. The decor is excellent and the beers are as cold as they get .
  • 2gether Bar,now at Chaiya Phum soi 1 opposite Tuskers Bar and Restaurant, [116]. Very reasonable prices 20-30% less than others in the Loi Kroh neighbourhood, and no pushy "Lady Drink" ripoffs here. Your hostess is the very charming Mai, free pool table but don't expect an easy game if Mai is playing. Great music and interesting mix of more discerning and witty expats PLUS a bevy of beautiful, single female visitors are always dropping by, (including Mai of course!) .
  • Crank Tavern, Bottom of Ratchapakinai Road (Near Chiang Mai Gate) +66 819 527699, [117] is a beautifully recycled wood furnished bar with free Internet, great tunes and friendly staff. Now with what are becoming known as the best pub meals in Chiang Mai its a great place to have a meal and spend a relaxing evening. Also home of Crank Adventures (see above) for excellent mountain bike tours and bike hire.
  • Half Moon Pub, Soi 2 Moonmuang (around the corner from Topnorth Guesthouse), +66 853 205023, [118]. Open 10AM till late, 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.
  • Number One, Loi Kroh Road Soi 1 - friendly bar with free Internet and pool table. Plenty of talkative expats and pretty hostesses. The hostesses are not allowed by the management to ask customers for lady drinks (however, they'll be glad to accept one, if you do offer yourself), but they're still friendly even if you won't buy. Multiple large TV screens (mainly sport or news translations), food is also available, as well as Belgian beers (from 150 baht). Free wi-fi.
  • Tuskers, Chaiyaphum Soi 1, +66 871 804 665, [119]- a long established bar and restaurant with a large beer garden and covered bar area. Friendly welcoming staff and frequented by locals,expats and tourists. Tuskers holds regular events, offers live sports and party nights.
  • [email protected], Changklan Rd. 100/1 (The Plaza 4th floor, Night Bazaar), +66 53 235 771, [120]. Open daily 11:30-02:00, Nice and clean bar with excellent food and drinks. Thai and western kitchen, many draughts and cocktails. 22 flatscreens and 1 beamer to watch the sport action from 16 different channels simultaneously. Even request you channel to watch. Nice view over the Night Bazaar. Parking place available.

There are also some bars with a different atmosphere:

  • Café Souvannaphoum, 20/1 Ratchamankha Road, (near Moon Muang) +66 53 903-781. A decent wine bar with comfortable seating and relaxing music, great escape from the busy street life, open M-Sa: 17:00 - 01:00.
  • Chiangmai Saloon [121], Two locations: 80/1 Loi Kroh Rd., 150m from Night Bazaar, +66 08-0675 2169, and 30 Ratchawithi Rd., inside the moat, +66 08-1930 2212. American-styled 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 Pub 189 Huay Kaew Road (near Amiri Rincome Hotel) +66 53-211550, [122]. long established olde worlde English pub in the true tradition, 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 tranquility of a tropical garden, and has recently added bungalows for those wishing to linger longer.
  • The Red Lion English Pub:[123] A great location in the heart of the famous Night Bazaar, just past McDonald's and Burger King. Draught Guinness, Heineken and Tetley's bitter. Imported ciders as well as Belgian and German beers. All the pub favourites like Fish n Chips, Steak & kidney pie as well as Thai food. Menu in 7 languages including Japanese!! A great place to relax after shopping in the Night Bazaar. Live sports on big screen including Premier League Football, Aussie Rules, Rugby and Formula 1.The Red Lion is also the Unofficial home of The Chiang Mai FC Expats supporters club. They meet at 4pm at the pub on match days. Visitors welcome.
  • The Olde Bell: British Pub and Ex-Services Club[124]. on Loi Kroh Rd (next to the Raming Lodge Hotel and behind the Bank of Ayuthaya foreign exchange booth) in the heart of Chiang Mai's entertainment district, within walking distance of most hotels. Draught beers including Heineken and Tiger, Ciders including Dry Blackthorn and Olde English and a good wine selection as well as Great British/Australian food, are the hallmarks of this traditional British Pub with a cosy and friendly atmosphere. Open from 9.00a.m. for British and Continental Breakfasts.Monday night is World Music night with various themed promotions, Tuesday is Quiz Night & Thursday Beatles Night. At the weekend live sports are shown including English football,Rugby, Formula 1, Golf, Tennis and A.F.L. Aussie Rules. A pool table and dart board are available. The Olde Bell is the Chiang Mai home of The Royal British Legion and members are entitled to discounts.

West of the city center, the area around Nimmanhaemin Road is a popular hangout for younger Thais, perhaps due to its proximity to Chiang Mai University. The pubs, as they are called here, 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 - however, little doesn't mean none, and the staff of many bars, being students, still can understand what do you want, or even sometimes can speak reasonably well.

  • BangRak, Nimmanhaemin Road 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 cover charge, but you'll be expected to purchase some drinks. Open 18:00-01:00.
  • Mo'C Mo'L, Huay Kaew Road - pub and restaurant near Chiang Mai University, there are many zone in the restaurant: coffee shop, dining outdoor near the small pond, dining indoor with live music.
  • Monkey Club, Nimminheimin Road Soi 9 +66 53-226997 -8 - another hot spot for the students and 20-somethings, with a variety of live music. Open 17:00-01:00.
  • Simmbar - decent prices and good crowd. very nice staff.
  • Warm Up Bar This chain bar / restuarnt / club has several venues in Thailand. The venue in Chang Mai is a lot less touristy and the dancehall packed to the brim of Thai students.

Many smaller (usually no live music, but have TV, generally with football or some other sports) roadside Thai bars around this area, but outside of more up-market Nimmanhaemin Rd., being cheap (50 to 65 for big Chang or Leo is common), often have a discount if you buy 3 bottles of their favourite beer at once, with 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, 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.

Live music

The area along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoenrat Road 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 center 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.

  • La Brasserie, 37 Charoenrat Road +66 53-241665 - this riverside venue is not famous for its food, but the music is great, and there's a good selection of cocktails and spirits. Acoustic guitar is played outside (19:00-midnight) while in the bar you can catch the famous Took and friends (23:00-01:00) who play old Hendrix, Dylan, Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and other favorites.
  • Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Charoenrat Road (next to Gallery Restaurant) +66 53-248601 - good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.
  • The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Road +66 53-243239 [125]. 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 70 baht/person extra.
  • The Good View, 13 Charoenrat Road +66 53-241886, [126]. 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, riverside-view table get there early.
  • The North Gate Jazz Collective, inside the city moat and east of Chang Puak Gate, [127]. The North Gate has easily become one of the most popular, regular destinations for Chiang Mai's young ex pat community. With nightly jazz performances starting around 9:30 PM 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.


  • 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.
  • Discovery - opposite Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre and Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel. Is 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.
  • Spicy is a hectic after hours place with good drinks, dancing and lots of girls looking to party - be warned, they almost always ask for money. Also be warned of the washroom staff who will provide you with an invigorating massage whilst you are washing your hands or worse when you are at the urinal and then ask for a tip. A place for farang men to pick up prostitutes.
  • Mandalay has a younger Thai crowd. Foreigners pay a cover charge - which locals don't. The manager doesn't seek Western tourist business, but if you don't mind dual pricing, this is a great insight into the world of young Thais at play!

Gay bars

Chiang Mai is a popular destination for gay tourists and many gay people have retired here. It has a vibrant gay scene, highlights include:

  • Glass Onion, Room 1 project, 61, Nimmanhaemin Rd., Telephone: 66(0)53218479. Sophisticated wine bar popular with gays, opposite "Warm Up"
  • Golden Ball (Bon Tong in Thai), Santitham Road (At Junction with Tewan Road), Chang Phuak Tel: 66(0)53406043, [128]. Northern Thai style outdoor bar and restaurant. Local prices: Drinks start from 45 baht for a large Chang beer. Packed with very friendly staff and fun atmosphere.
  • Garden Bar & Restaurant 2/25 Soi Viangbua, Chotana Rd., Chang Puak Telephone: 66 (0)53215376. Outdoor garden bar and restaurant serving Lebanese, Western and Thai food. Popular meeting place for gay ex pats and tourists.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget budget
Mid-range midrange
Splurge splurge

Accommodation in Chiang Mai is generally cheap even by Thai standards. All types of lodging are available from inexpensive guest-houses 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 center - several have been built since mid-2005, and 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. Evenings in Chiang Mai are cooler than Bangkok and the south during the dry season, so air conditioning may be less of a priority


  • Bow Chiang Mai Guesthouse (Bow Guesthouse), 15 Moon Muang Soi 9 (Located in the north east corner of the old city). Very clean rooms, and courteous staff. Great location on a quiet soi, with plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. The adorable Chillout Bar is right next door. 500 baht per night for aircon. This may be the low season price..
  • Baan Kwanta, Soi 8, Jedyord-Uyen Road, Changpheuk (1.2 km. from Chiang Mai University), +66 869-713-054 (), [2]. A brand new apartment (en-suite with hot water) opened in Jan 2008. This place is suitable for quiet and non-smoking residents. From 500 baht per day or 2,600 - 3,200 baht per month.
  • Backpacker House, +66 53-811700 or +66 81-9939911, [3]. Simple lodging near the airport and university. 6-bed dorms (en-suite and hot water) 170 baht/person; standard rooms from 560-720 baht including breakfast.
  • Baan Lanna Moon New budget longstay boutique studio apartments. [129] Fully furnished, 5 minutes walk from Night Bazaar and Chiang Mai nightlife, free WiFi, private pool, very quiet and discrete. Monthly rates from 5,000 Baht, Daily: 600 Baht when available. Has bedbugs in at least one room july 2010.
  • Bed and Terrace Chiang Mai Guesthouse, 10, Kotchasarn Rd 5, Changklan, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100 (just a few minutes walk from the Night Bazaar), +66(0)53449708 and +66 (0)838285599 (), [4]. Thai modern style guesthouse, located at center city near night bazaar and sunday market at Thapae gate, great facilities with terrace, comfortable rooms with double windows to see panoramic mountain view. start at 450 Baht per night.
  • Ben Guesthouse, 4/4, 4/11 Chiangmai-Lamphun Rd, Soi 2 Muang, [5]. Very friendly staff, Good food. Free bikes! Fun, but not touristy location. 200 baht a room.
  • Le Bateau Ivre ('The Drunken Boat') Guesthouse/Restaurant, 141/8 Ratchadamnoen Rd (opposite U Chiang Mai Hotel, 20 mins from airport, train or bus station), +66 053272012 (), [6]. checkout: 12 midday. . From 350 baht to 500 baht a night. 350-500baht. Restaurant/Guest house. French and Thai cuisine. Air Con, TV, free WiFi/internet.
  • Centerplace Guest House, 17/2 Loi Kroh Soi 1 (100 metres down Loi Kroh Soi 1 on right hand side, 15 minutes drive from airport,train and bus station), +66 053 271169 (), [7]. checkin: 1PM or earlier if room clear; checkout: 12 midday. Friendly, clean and centrally located 5 minutes stroll to nightlife, restaurants and the famed evening Night Bazaar. Centerplace also have larger apartments in the adjacent City House Condo building for long-stay guests. Office hours are from 07:30 to 19:00 - 7 days a week. from 200 baht.
  • Green Tulip Guest House, 18 Samlan Road (near Wat Phrasing), +66 53-278367, [8]. Brand new guest house with a restaurant, 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 Guesthouse, 365 Charoenrat Road (bit north on same road as The Riverside and Good View) +66 53-242450 [130] - family style guesthouse with a tropical garden on the banks of the Mae Ping River, 10 minutes from the center of town by taxi. Fan/air-con rooms 500 baht.
  • Home Place Hotel, 9 Soi 6 Tapae Road. +66 53-276468 offers double-bed rooms and twin-bed rooms with fan or air-con (250-450 baht). All rooms have hot shower and cable television. It's very clean and staff is quite friendly.
  • J & J Guesthouse, Prapokklao Road Soi 5. checkin: 11AM. A basic, but clean and comfortable guesthouse. The staff are wonderful and welcoming, and offer some of the best prices for onward travel to Laos, private taxi to any nearby attractions, or minibuses to surrounding villages/towns. 350/450 baht (fan/aircon).
  • Julie Guesthouse, 7/1 Prapokklao Road Soi 5, +6653274355, [9]. Popular, familiar and chilly Guesthouse located in a quiet part of the Old City 5 minutes from Tha Phae Gate. Includes a restaurant (Thai and Western Food) and Adventure-Tour specialized travel agency. This guesthouse is notorious for filling quickly (quite often by 9AM all rooms will be taken), as it is listed in Lonely Planet, so either reserve a room, or have a fall-back plan ready. 100-300 baht (fan room with/without ensuite).
  • Kavil Guesthouse, 10/1 Ratchadamnoen Road Soi 5 +66 53-224740 - A family run guesthouse on a popular, but quiet lane. Fan and air-con rooms, all with bathrooms and hot water. Walking distance to many tourist sites including the Sunday Walking Street and Wat Phra Singh. On-site "no-pressure" tour agency available for booking treks, cooking classes, and other activities. Wi-Fi available as well as good western breakfasts and Thai food. Rooms start at 180 baht per night.
  • Lanna Orchid Inn, 15/2 Kochasarn Road, Chiang Mai (Just off Loi Koh Road, you will see it well sign-posted from Wat Pantong, located near the Old Quarter of Loi Koh Road), +66 53285256 (). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Also offers air-con rooms from 500 baht From 350 baht (far room).
  • Lek Guesthouse, 22 Chaiyaphum Road (Located near the corner of Tha Phae and Chaiyaphum Road across the canal in north east part of the old town. 5min walk to Warorot Market. 15min walk to Nigh Bazaar.), +66 252 686 (), [10]. Economic and clean, hidden in a quiet alley within a walking distance from Tae Phae and Warorot Market. Free WiFi. Vegetarian restaurant with buffalo steaks(!?) downstairs. 150bht single, 200bht double. (May 2010) All rooms have fan and private bathroom with hot water..
  • Pachkit House, 8/1 Arak Road Soi 7 [131] - Clean family-run guesthouse/apartment in the Old City. 15 minutes walk to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and Central Kad Suan Kaew Department Store. Bathroom in every room with hot/cold shower; each room has fridge, TV with cable and free 1024 Kbps ADSL hook-up. There are also a few computers for free Internet use in the café next to reception. Rates from 650-850 baht/day with daily cleaning and sheet change, monthly rental rate also available (starting at 4500 baht). Can be quite noisy, especially in the mornings, due to a large number of barking dogs in the neighborhood.
  • Parami Guesthouse +66-53-266-139 [132] - A small cosy family run B & B Guesthouse with travel agency and massage studio. Rooms from Bath 300 per night. TAT (Tourist Authority Thailand) -licensed travel agency.
  • Rendezvous Guesthouse & Café, +66 53 213763 or +66 53 419009 (, fax: 66 53 217229), [11]. Very nice family run guesthouse (Preecha and Juliwaan). Both fan and air-con rooms, all with refrigerator, cable TV, balcony, 24 hour WiFi and ensuite bathroom. Wonderful convenient location just off the Sunday Walking Market Street inside the old city near the Thapae Gate. Delicious food both Thai / Western (good steak also) and excellent coffee / espresso. Restaurant open 7AM till 10PM but closes early Sundays. Great place to book quality tours since owner has been in business over 30 years and knows the better operators. Quiet lane directly overlooking Wat Samphow (วัดสำเภา) with motorbike rental and laundry service nearby. Staff is very friendly and owner speaks good English, German and some French also.
  • Rux-Thai Guesthouse, 11/2, Loy Kroh Road Soi 1, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai 50100 (150 m. south of Thapae Gate, 3 min. to Night Bazzar), +66 53-208737 or +66 53-208739 (, fax: +66 53 208740), [12]. Nice, clean and quiet guesthouse with 70 air-conditioned rooms en suit with hot shower, equipped with minibar, cable & satellite TV. Its restaurant serves Thai, Chinese and European food. 24 hours front-desk. Other services are sight-seeing & trekking tour, Thai massage, laundry and free Wi-Fi. Rates from 450.- to 600.-Baht, connection rooms available.
  • The Garden Guesthouse Chiang Mai, 139 Rachadamnorn Road, T. Pra Singh +66 84-8098768, [133] is in the center of the old town. Live music nights including "The Chiang Mai Blues Club" [134] every Wednesday at 8:30 PM. Free use of their PC, Internet and Wi-Fi for customers.
  • Top North Guest House, 15 Moon Muang Road, Amphur Muang +66 (0) 5327 8684 [135] just inside the city walls. Old but clean rooms, internet cafe, ticket office and a bar represent excellent vaue for money (Twin room without a/c 400-500bht). But this place has had its best time. was mentioned in older LP's, which might have ruined it.
  • Wild Orchid Guesthouse, Loh Kroh Road, near The Saloon - Very clean and comfortable rooms with cable TV, fan, free wifi from 250 Baht single or 300 Baht double. Friendly owners, daily cleaning. We stayed a week here, was the best wifi connection we've had in a long time.
  • Yourhouse Guesthouse 8 Soi 2 Ratvithi Road +66 53-217492 [136] - traditional Thai teak wooden house, situated in a small lane in the old part of Chiang Mai, just a 5-minute walk from Tha Phae Gate. Excellent restaurant, and offers a variety of traveller services (e.g. tickets, visas). Very friendly staff. Offer TAT-licenced treks.


Bed and Terrace Chiang Mai Guesthouse, 10, Kotchasarn Rd 5, Changklan, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100 (just a few minutes walk from the Night Bazaar), +66 (0) 53 449 708 and +66 (0) 83 828 5599, [13]. Located near night bazaar and walking street at Thapae Gate. Bright corner rooms with terrace, great facilities, panoramic mountain view and very cozy atmosphere. start at 450 Baht per night.

  • 3Sis Bed and Breakfast, 1 Soi 8 Phrapokklao Road, +66 53-273243 (), [14]. Opened in early 2006, this quiet guesthouse with friendly staffs is right in the middle of the old city. Clean, very comfortable, and tastefully furnished in contemporary Thai style. Bed and breakfast from 1300 baht, vacation lodge from 1650 baht (rooms are much nicer and worth the extra money, discount possible).
  • Affordable Chiang Mai, Huay Kaew Road +66 48-098768 [137] is a comfortable, clean and convenient place to stay. One month stay from USD320, including motorbike.
  • The Castle Chiang Mai 8/3 Rajchiangsan Road soi 2 kor , Haiya, Muang, Chiang Mai +66 53-209093 [138] is an affordable place, nice and clean and also close to the night bazar. The price around 26$ (include breakfast)
  • Baan Orapin, 150 Charoenrat Road +66-16164016 [139] - this "boutique B&B" with just 6 rooms is in beautifully restored old Thai house set in a small garden. Air-con, hot water and far more character than any other hotel in this price range. Walking distance to the Night Bazaar and the riverside restaurants. Rates from 1600 baht for a double.
  • Ban Sabai Village,219 Moo 9, San Pee Sua, Tel 053 854 778-9, [email protected], [140]. Small boutique resort. Spa, restaurant, inconvenient location 5 km away but once-daily free shuttle service to city.
  • Bossotel Chiang Mai, 10/4 Soi Railway Road (next to the Railway Station), +66 (0) 5324 9045-8 (, fax: +66 (0) 5324 9099), [15]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. THB 1200 and up.
  • BP Chiang Mai City Hotel, 154 Ratchamankha Rd., Tel 05327 0711, [email protected], [141]. A mid-sized hotel with a small fitness center and pool. A five minute walk to Wat Phra sing and Wat Chedi Luang . 1000-2000 Baht during the high season.
  • Central Duangtawan Hotel, 132 Loi Kroh Road, [142]. Excellent four-star hotel with Internet rates at affordable prices and the night market at your doorstep. However Internet connection speed there is terribly slow. Probably a little cheaper than similar competitors as it's in the red-light district, but the area seems quite safe and the hotel is of very high quality.
  • Centre of the Universe, Chang Khian (near Phucome Hotel and Lanna Muay Thai Boxing School) [143]. 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 Chiangmai. Very quiet and a perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown, yet only 15 minutes from the city centre. Very friendly and helpful staff. 1,200 Baht (low season) includes breakfast. Each room has aircon, TV, WiFi, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities. There are 3 swimming pools - a 25 metre lap pool, a junior pool for children, and a shallow pool for toddlers.
  • Chiang Mai Gate Hotel, 11/10 Suriyawong Road (south of the moat) +66 53-203895 -9 [144]
  • Chiang Maan Residence, [145]23 Soi 1 Rachapakinai Road (north of the moat) +66 53-418498, +66 87-0048973 A boutique accommodation. It is a old wooden house renovated to be a nice place to stay. Located in the old city of Chiang Mai (next to Wat Chiang Man [146] ). Rates 1050 baht.
  • Elliebum, 114/3-4 Rachamakka,[147], +66 53-814723, [email protected] [148]. Friendly boutique guesthouse and coffee shop in the historical city. Beautifully furnished, spacious, spotlessly clean, air conditioned, en-suite twin or double rooms. Rates 1000 to 1400 baht, breakfast included.
  • Eurana Boutique Hotel, 7/1 Moonmuang soi7, Sriphum Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200, +66 53 214 522, +66 53 219 402-3, [16]. Eurana Boutique Hotel gives a unique experience, which offers more than just an accommodation. The atmosphere offers resort experience in town, and is a place where you can feel distinctively different from the surrounding busy areas. Best rates on official website start at THB 1,300.00.
  • Hub53 [149] is located along Kan Klong Chon Pra Tan Road. It is a five-minute walk to Nimman Haemin Road, which is popular for its nightlife, and Chiang Mai University. It has seven (7) air-conditioned rooms that has handsome wood furniture, 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 Internet connection, and a free English newspaper daily. Address: 53 Kan Klong Chon Pra Tan Road, Suthep, Chiang Mai, Mueang, Thailand. Phone Number: 66 89 118 8810. Price: THB 1,100
  • Lai-Thai Guest House, 111/4-5 Kotchasarn Road, Chiang Mai 50100 (200 m. south of Thapae Gate, 5 min. to Night Bazzar), +66 53-271725 or +66 53-206438 (, fax: +66 53 27 27 24), [17]. A large northern Thai style guesthose with hotel-like facitities and services. All 110 air-conditioned rooms en suit with hot shower are decorated with traditional wooden floors and bamboo walls, equiped with minibar, cable & satellite TV. Its swimming pool and restuarant are popular hangout for travelers and families. Other services are sight-seeing & trekking tour, Thai massage and free Wi-Fi throughout the place. Rates from 500.- to 780.-Baht, family rooms available.
  • Lotus Hotel, 2/25 Viangbua Road, Tambol Chang-Phuak, +66 53-215376 [150] advertises itself as "The Hub of Chiang Mai's Premier Gay Entertainment Center" (sic). Rooms are individually decorated and have air-con, TV, radio, 'phone, 'fridge, and safe; rates 900-2500 baht.
  • Montri Hotel, 2-6 Ratchadamnoen Rd,+66 53-211070 [151] Located just behind the Thapae Gate. Its outdoor cafe and bar, Brix, is a great place to sit and people watch. Live band on weekends. Rates from 990 Bhat, including breakfast (high season). Ask for a room in the NEW wing.

  • Pornping Tower, 46-48 Charoenprathet Road +66 53-270099 (fax: +66 53-270119) [152] offers not only an amusing name, but slowly fading grandeur at affordable prices. Located near the Night Bazaar, the hotel has a pool and the Bubbles disco, among the most popular in Chiang Mai - and a source of some noise pollution if trying to sleep. The newer and quieter Tower Wing is a bit more expensive than the older Front Wing. 1,000 baht and up (with breakfast).
  • Raming Lodge, 17-19 Loi Kroh Road, T. Chang Klan, A. Muang +66 53-271777 (fax: +66 53-270039) [153] - great boutique hotel between the night market and the old city. Unique Lanna architecture. Recently added a new swimming pool right outside the hotel by the car park. Food at the restaurant is reasonably priced as are the massages (Thai massage 300 baht/hour). Great place to stay with prices starting at 1,800 baht (Internet rates start at 75 baht/hour).
  • River View Lodge, 25 Charoenprathet Road Soi4 +66 53-271109-10 [154] - overlooking the Ping River. All rooms are twin, decorated in Northern Thai style with individually controlled air-conditioning. Private shower, telephone and personal safe. Has a beautiful tropical garden with several intimate pavilions, patios and riverside swimming pool. Less than 10 minutes Walking distance to the Night Bazaar. Rates from 1,450 baht for River Side room with balcony.
  • Suriwongse Hotel, 110 Changklan Road, Muang, Chiangmai 50100, Thailand, (66-53) 270-051, [18]. The hotel offers a range of facilities catering to both local and overseas visitors alike: 120 spacious and well decorated deluxe rooms and suites, most of which offer a view of the Doi Suthep mountain range. .
  • Sri Pat Guesthouse, 16 Soi 7 Moon Muang Rd +66 53-218 716

Nice guesthouse close to the city centre. Rooms start at 900 Bath, have air conditioning, TV, private shower, fridge and a little balcony. Basic breakfast is available for an extra 100 Bath. Try getting a room on the street side, since the other side has a water pump working in the night which can be annoying in some rooms.

  • Scorpion Tailed Boat Village,Riverside Resort,381/1 Near Farham Temple,(bit north on same as The Riverside and Good View)Charoen Rad Rd.,T.Wat ket A.muang Chiang Mai 50000 +66 53 245888,+66 81 9609398[155][156]The Mud House by Riverside (Just one mud resort in Chiang mai City,just a few minutes’ walk from many of the top local tourist attractions, including the revered Night Bazaar, the Ping River’s shop houses, and Warorot Market and the nearby flower market.Scorpion Tailed boat village It s a wonderful place to stay. It s located along the river. The surrounding is so tranquil with green trees and nice flowers. The room is clean and customer friendly. There is also a clever dog, quite funny. The price is not high. It' s a nice place with good combination of quality and price. , these countrified bungalows are located. The Thai cabins are formed like a boat , the park win over thanks to the calm, intimate atmosphere and the traditional tranquillity.Rate from 1,200Bht.-2,500 Bht. Excursions along the Ping River by Scorpion Tailed Boat River Cruise.
  • TaNiTa (Riverside) Resort, 25/2 Moo 3, Chonpatan Road, A. Sarapee +66 81-8846334 (fax: +66 53-892110) [157] - Northern Lanna Thai style from teak with beautiful garden a hotel mainly visited by foreign tourists because very quiet and private place, in a good location between the Ping River and Baan Tawai. Some rooms offer wonderful mountain and river views. It's a good mid-range option with prices starting at 1,200 baht for River Side room with balcony.
  • YMCA International Hotel, 11 Mengrairasmi Semsuk Road +66 53-221819 [158] - tucked away in an area northwest of the moat, the hotel is just a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride away from the Night Bazaar and many tourist venues.
  • Smile House Boutique (+66-53-800-567-8)[159] a ‘wooden’ house which is simply decorated to create sense of simplicity that brings you an amazingly peaceful atmosphere. The rooms are beautifully decorated and in an economical cost. Only 150 meters to the Chiang Mai Gate and Saturday (Wua Lai Street) walking street. (700-1200 baht)


  • Ban Shewe Wana Suite Resort, (+66)53-240-020, [19]. Based at Shewe Wana, Chiangmai’s most intimate boutique resort and spa, you can join in the excitement of the city’s vibrant life and relax in the tranquillity of our shady retreat. .
  • Butterfly [160], 181 Moo 6, T. San Pee Sua, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50300. Tel: +66 53 115-270. [161], [email protected] - an eclectic chic resort set on the banks of the Ping river that runs through town, right on the edge of town with it's own shuttle to town center. Conveniently located 10 mins up-river from the old town and on the same road river-side road as popular bars, restaurants and quality shops such as The Riverside, Brasserie, Villa Cini and Soep Moei Arts. Decorated in a bohemian artsy style with lots of space and river-front. It's private, stylish and offers more than it's money's worth. Rates range from Baht 2,500-4,500. All rooms fitted with air-jet tub with two outdoor pools with in-built jacuzzi, a funky lounge/bar and free wireless internet resort-wide. On site restaurant serves all-day Thai and western cuisine with splashes of home-made Indian dishes. A venue that attracts writers, performing artists, journalists and business executives.
  • Chedi Chiang Mai, 123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 +66 (0) 53 253 333 [162] - a new stylish, modern design hotel located on the banks of the Mae Ping River on the grounds of the former British Consulate. Just a short walk from the Night Market and close to the inner city. 84 deluxe rooms and club suites, all with a private courtyard it also features a fitness and health club, 2 bars, a restaurant featuring Thai, Indian and Western cuisine, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool. Rates start at 10,400 baht.
  • dusitD2 chiang mai, 100 Chang Klan Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 +66 5399 9999 [163] - just outside the city walls right next to the Night Bazaar, probably more convenient than the Oriental or Four Seasons a way outside of town. Most of the sights are within walking distance (not a short walk, but a comfortable walk). Rates over 3,000 baht.
  • Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road +66 53-298181 (fax: +66 53-298189) [164] - set in the lush and tranquil countryside amid working paddy fields and water buffalo (the downside of this being, obviously, a less than central location). Featuring a spa and Thai cooking classes within its grounds, if it wasn't for all the mystical temples and fabulous bargains to be found within Chiang Mai, you might never want to leave. If you can afford it, look into the residences, otherwise the garden rooms are equally spectacular and well worth the 17,000 baht they start at - if you can foot the bill.
  • Lannawadee The Granary Resort, On Ping River bank, San pe sua Rd., Muang district, Chiang Mai 50300 +66 (0) 53 110 833, (0) 53 110 834 [165] - All our houses are made from teak wood. The furniture and accessories have been carefully handcrafted in an antique style. All houses are built in the authentic Lanna style of old rice granaries (storehouse). These two storey houses are the rooms and are our way of keeping alive the beauty of our Lanna architectural heritage. Stroll in the lush, beautiful garden, smell the gorgeous orchids and many, many other varieties of Thai flowers. Lounge by the lovely swimming pool right next to the Ping River. Rates 3,750-6,650 baht(nett) incl. Breakfast, Airport transfer, Tax and Vat.
  • Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai, 108 Chang Klan Road · Tambol Chang Klan, [166], +66(53) 253 666, Just 7km from Chiang Mai International Airport, 384 guest rooms, Each room overlooks Doi Suthep Mountain.
  • Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew, 21 Huay Kaew Road (northwest corner of the moat) [167] - rates 2000-6000 baht.
  • Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, 51/4 Chiang Mai - Sankampaeng Road Moo 1 T. Tasala A. Muang +66 53-888888 [168] - done in the traditional Lanna style of Northern Thailand, this resorts spreads across 60 acres of serene, natural landscapes, incorporating picturesque rice paddies, tropical hardwoods and exotic plantations. The resorts also includes a spa, cooking class, kids club, fitness center, as well as a cultural center. It's truly a unique experience, but the resort caused some local controversy when it built a 'fake' temple based on one of Thailand's most holy sites in its grounds.
  • Pacific Mansion (long-term-splurge), 16 Hassadhisewee Road, T.Changphuak (northwest of the moat) +66 53-404515 [169] is within walking distance of the "Central" shopping mall and a ten-minute tuk-tuk ride away from the Night Bazaar. Popular with many Japanese tourists.
  • Palm Spa Village, 399/14 Moo 2, Tambol Rimtai, Amphur Maerim, Chiang Mai, 50180, [20]. The genuine warmth and discretion of traditional Thai hospitality, perfected by Palm Spa Village's impeccable service, ensures an unforgettable experience. .
  • Panviman Chiangmai Spa Resort, 197/2 Moo1, Tambol Ponyang Aumpher Maerim, Chiangmai, [21]. is nestled high up in the hills, surrounded by tropical forests, flower gardens and orchards, in Maerim, north-west of Chiang Mai. The resort lodges a unique adventurous experience among the natural beauty of Northern Thailand. .
  • Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa, 135/9, Charoenprathet Road, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 +66 (0) 53 252999 email [email protected] [170] - Hotel with a nice architecture with hand-carved fretwork. Rates start at 4,200 THB.
  • Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel, 104/1, Charoen Muang soi 2, Charoen Muang Rd., T. Wat Gate, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 +66 (0) 53 302898 [171] - Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel is a small luxury property, set amidst the backdrop of Chiang Mai’s rich architectural history, inspired by traditional Lanna design and fused with contemporary Oriental- colonial styles. The hotel has 30 rooms designed to complement the proximate natural aesthetics of Wat Gate while respecting the time-honored techniques of northern architects. Puripunn Hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from many of the top local tourist attractions, including the revered Night Bazaar, the Ping River’s shop houses, and Warorot Market and the nearby flower market.
  • Sukantara Cascade Resort & Spa, 12/2 M.8, T. Maeram, A. Mae Rim, Chiangmai, [22]. Sukantara Resort and Spa lies on the sloping bank of a mountain stream in the verdant Chiangmai highland. Mountain water cascades over boulders in the stream, creating tiered waterfalls right below the Lanna-Balinese-style guest cottages, which are surrounded by breathtaking landscape. .
  • Viangbua Mansion, 3/1 Viangbua Road, Chang Puek, Muang +66 53-411202 [172] - offers deluxe serviced apartments for daily, weekly and monthly rental. Perhaps one of the most expensive housing options in the city at a monthly rate of 12,000 - 100,000 baht, but they do offer a wide range of services and some degree of security. Located in a somewhat remote northwest area of the city.

Stay safe

Tap water is generally not 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 dispensaries (1 THB per liter) throughout the city.

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.

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 jewelry. Not only will respectable Thais appreciate your behavior, you are much less likely to become a target of any criminal activity.

Unfortunately some scams from Bangkok have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai as well. 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.



Many guesthouses, hotels, cafes, shopping malls, and even swimming pools, offer WiFi connections. These are usually free or available for a small charge. If you are travel with your laptop you should be able to connect to the Internet within a 500 metre radius of your Chiangmai city-based accommodation at little or no cost.

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 Chiangmai University, where the cost is 10-15 Baht per hour.

  • Crank Tavern, 3/2 Ratchapakinai 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.
  • Buddy Internet, 12 Huaykaew Road (Northweast corner of the moat, opposite the Central Department Store), Tel: 053 404 550. Open 08:00-midnight.

As everywhere in Thailand, GPRS/EDGE is a cheap and convenient option to access Internet if you have a laptop and local SIM card. For more details, refer to the Thailand article.


  • Main Post Office''' - Charoenmuang Road. Tel: 053 241070, 053 245376.
  • Phra Sing Post Office - Singharat Road (a three-minute walk south of Wat Phra Singh)
  • Airport 24 hr Post Office-60 Moo 3, Airport Road, T Suthep, A Muang, Chiang Mai 50200. Tel: 053 277382.
  • Changphuak Post Office'-195/8-9, Changphuak Road, T Changphuak, A Muang, Chiang Mai 50300. Tel: 053 222483.
  • Changklan Post Office- 186-186/1, Changklan Road, A Muang, Chiang Mai 50100. Tel: 053 273657.
  • Maeping Post Office- 24 Praisanee Road, A Muang, Chiang Mai 50100. Tel: 053 252036-7.


  • Directory enquiry service: 183/1133
  • International and domestic operator assisted service: 100
  • Overseas dial-out code: 001
  • AT&T International operator for collect calls: 001 999 11111

Emergency contacts

  • Police - emergencies: 191
  • Police - Tourist: 1155, 053-278559
  • Fire: 053-241777
  • Rescue Team: 053-218888

Embassies & consulates

  • As-flag.png Australia, 165 Sirimungklajarn, T. Suthep, A.Muang, +66 53-219726 or +66 53-400232 / +66 53-221083 (fax: +66 53-219726).
  • Bg-flag.png Bangladesh, 95 Huay Kaew Road, T. Suthep, A.Muang +66 53-53 212373 - 4 (fax+66 53-53 223524).
  • Ch-flag.png China, 111 Changlo Road, Haiya District, +66 53 -276125, 272197, 200424 (admin office) (fax: +66 53-274614) [email protected].
  • Fi-flag.png Finland, 104-112 Thapae Road, +66 53-234777.
  • Gm-flag.png Germany, Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany, 199/163 Moo 3, Baan Nai Fun2, Kan Klong Chonpretan Road, Tambon MaeHia, tel+fax: +66 53-838735.
  • Uk-flag.png Great Britain, British Consulate, 198 Bumrungraj Roadm +66 53-263015 (fax: +66 53-263016) [email protected][173].
  • In-flag.png India, 33/1, Thung Hotel Road, Wat Kate, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 +66 53-243066 (fax: +66 53-247879) [174]
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, Airport Business Park, 90 Mahidol Rd. T.Haiya, A. Muang +66 53-203367 (fax: +66 53-203373)[175].
  • Sf-flag.png South Africa, 2nd Floor Chiang Inn Hotel, 100 Changklan Road, Amphor Muang +66 53-270070-6 (fax: +66 53-274299 / mobile: +66-1 8412629).
  • Ks-flag.png South Korea, V Group Building, 3rd Floor, 50 Huay Kaew Road,Tambon Chang Puak, Amphoe Mueang +66 5322-3119 Ext : 206,210 (fax: +66 53-22-5661). [176]
  • Sw-flag.png Sweden, Svenska Konsulatet i Chiang Mai, 11 Sermsuk Road, Mengrairasmi, +66 53-220844 (fax: +66 53-210877).
  • Us-flag.png USA, American Consulate General, 387 Witchayanond Road, +66 53-252629 (fax: +66 53-252633), [177].

Get out

  • 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, 100km southeast of Chiang Mai
  • Lamphun - a scenic town with a long history and a longan festival, 26km southeast of Chiang Mai
  • Mae Hong Son - a picturesque little town with lush valleys, rocky streams and a small lake, 235km from Chiang Mai on route 1095, by public bus about 6 hours.
  • Nan - the former capital of a small kingdom filled with history and temples and surrounded by mountains
  • Huay Dtom - a three hour trip straight south one route 106 will bring you to the largest Karen village in Thailand boasting one of the largest Karen temples, a replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda of Burma (legend has it that the Shwedagon was built by the Karen), and robust weaving and jewelry industries marked by the weaving cooperative and OTOP store.
  • 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. Myanmar charges 500 Baht for a 15-day permit to visit the local area only. Your passport stays at the border - talk to the Thai officials at the border and they will direct you where to get the two passport photocopies you need. They will hold your passport. You will surrender one of the stamped copies of your passport and pay the B500 on the Myanmar side. (they no longer accept US dollars as at mid 2010). Regular Minibus service is available from local tourist companies to Mae Sai and then across the bridge to Tachilek, Myanmar--usually with a same-day return (depart Chiang Mai about 7-8am, return 5-6pm, for those needing a border entry on the visa).
  • Pai - a predominantly tourism-oriented town, offering a relaxed atmosphere with a broad traveler & backpacker scene. Popular with hippies.
  • Laos - Bus to Chiang Khong 6 hours (Greenbus company from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal every day at 8:30am). The border is open daily 8am to 6pm and the quick river crossing costs 40 baht. Immigration, passport control and currency exchange are in one building on the Laos side. 30-day tourist visas are available on arrival for $30-42 for most nationalities. The price is slightly higher paid in Thai baht. Slow boats (2 days) and speed boats (6 hours) go to Luang Prabang daily and you can buy tickets directly at the boat ramps or through an agent for slightly more money. Currently about 200,000 kip or $25 for slow boat, 1500 baht or $45 for speedboat.
Another Laos option is an overnight bus (12 hours, 650 baht) to Udon Thani, change of bus stations, and either a direct buss to Vientiane (if a Laos visa has been purchased in advance) or to Nong Khai and from there a Tuk Tuk to the Friendship bridge.

Another way to get around is to hire a car with driver for one or two days. Should cost about B1600 per day (try the travel companies). You can do Doi Inthanon, a day trip in itself. Stop in a local hotel nearby,then travel to the hot springs and geyser, the umbrella factory, the Ganesh Temple (well worth a look), and the archeological diggings in that direction also. A good two day outing.

Routes through Chiang Mai
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