Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่) is the hub of Northern Thailand and the Capital City of the Province of this name. 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".
Ancient city wall and moat
Founded in 1296 CE, Chiang Mai is a culturally and historically interesting city, at one time the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. Located among the rolling foothills of the Himalayan Mountains 700 km north of Bangkok, it could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant trek until the 1920s. This isolation helped keep Chiang Mai's distinctive charm intact.
Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city (city is chiang in the northern Thai dialect while mai is new, hence Chiang Mai or New City.) Sections of the wall dating to their restoration a few decades ago remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains.
Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city walls are more than 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles, decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree. The most famous is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.
Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east towards the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Chang Klan Rd, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guest houses are located. Loi Kroh Rd is the centre of the city's night life. The locals say you've not experienced Chiang Mai until you've seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten a bowl of kao soi, and purchased an umbrella from Bo Sang. Of course this is touristic nonsense, but the Kao Soi, Bo Sang umbrellas, and Doi Suthep are important cultural icons for Chiang Mai residents. Ratchiangsaen Rd hosts the main Sunday night walking street market from Tha Phae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh.
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Check Chiang Mai's 7 day forecast at TMD.go.th
Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of much of Central, Eastern and Southern Thailand. Chiang Mai has a tropical wet and dry climate, tempered by the low latitude and moderate elevation, with warm to hot weather year-round, though nighttime conditions during the dry season can be cool and are much lower than daytime highs. The maximum temperature ever recorded is 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) in May 2005. As with the rest of Thailand there are three seasons.
- A cool/dry season from mid Oct-mid Feb (it's really only cool at night, and a few days here and there in Dec/Jan)
- A hot season from mid Feb-mid Jun (hot, hot, hot)
- A wet season from mid Jun-mid Oct (hot and wet, though cooler than the hot season, clouds and the occasional downpour help cool things off)
However, note that it can be hot in the cool season (during the day), wet in the cool/dry season (though days go by without rain, it is not unheard of), and dry (and hot) in the wet season. One nice thing about the wet season is that the prevalence of clouds can moderate the heat.
From late February through April (and sometimes into May) is the region's burning season. This is throughout Northern Thailand, Northeastern Myanmar, and Northern Laos during this time. Traditional "Slash-and-burn" agriculture, waste from rice and maize harvests is burned this time of year, together with forest clearing and general trash disposal. This is a time of moderate to severe health impacts. The air pollution may be tracked at aqicn.org. The Fire Mapper website using satellite data can show the extent of the burning in the region (and globally).
International departure hall at Chiang Mai Airport
Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) handles both domestic and regional international flights. The route from Bangkok is one of the busiest in the country. Thai Airways flies daily almost every hour, with additional flights in the peak tourist season. There are currently (Sep, 2016) 15 different airlines that fly into and out of CNX (with a 16th, Thai Viet Jet beginning operations later in Sept, 2016), including:
- Air Asia  A well-known Asian low-cost airline, has domestic flights from/to Bangkok (Don Mueang airport), Phuket, Krabi, Hat Yai. Used to be the cheapest option if you booked at least a week before, but now it's true only during the best promotional offers (typically available months before the flight). Regular fare for tickets to Bangkok, including taxes, is from 1,400 baht (with fees for luggage, food, seat reservation easily adding almost half of that). Promotional fares can be much less. Prices can be significantly higher if you book just a few days before, or want a specific day/flight
- Bangkok Airways  A full-service carrier positioning itself as an "Asia's boutique airline", flies to from/to Ko Samui, Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), Krabi, Phuket and Udon Thani. Surprisingly, Bangkok Airways can be cheaper than the budget airlines, particularly if you book just a few days ahead. From 1,390 baht to Bangkok.
- Kan Air . Kan Air flies to and from from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phitsanulok, Ubon Ratchathani, Pattaya (U-Tapao), and Phuket. They also can be hired (for a premium) for charter flights to other airports, such as Mae Sariang. Note: as of 03 April 2017 Kan Air was grounded from all except their Pai and Mae Hong Son flights. There is no information about when flights to other airports will resume.
- Nok Air  Thai (semi-) low-cost carrier, flies from/to Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport more than 10 times a day (typically from 1,500 baht. Promo fares can be as low as 800-900 baht). They also fly from/to Udon Thani once a day, the price is 1,000-2,000 baht (2014) and while it's still more expensive than a bus, it's much cheaper than the price of the Lao Airlines flight to Vientiane, which is easily accessible from Udon Thani. When buying a Nok Air ticket online, always check the extra baggage fee, which can be confusing when travelling first time with Nok, you get 15 Kilo for free, Unlike Air Asia, you pay for all checked baggage after selecting flight. Just simply uncheck the extra baggage and insurance fee to save a waste of money.
- Thai Airways  - from/to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport only, from 2,500 baht and up, but sometimes there are promo fares as low as 1,500) and Mae Hong Son; in addition, flights from and/or to Phuket & possibly Nan may also be available seasonally.
- Thai Lion Air  A subsidiary of the leading Singaporean low-cost carrier, Lion Air, started operations in Thailand in December 2013, and offers attractive fares to Bangkok Don Mueang airport (starting from 820 baht, including snacks and 15 kg check-in baggage) with several flights a day and numerous onward destinations available from Bangkok. THai Lion Air have a new fleet as of February 2015.
- Thai Smile  A low cost subsidiary of Thai Airways flies to/from CNX from both BKK and DMK.
- There are many more airlines and code-sharing with airlines which connect through BKK or DMK to CNX. Book ahead, and use apps for up-to-date pricing. Depending upon time-of-day it can cost from 500-1,500 THB (or more for first class) for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai run. Nearly the same price, more comfortable, much faster, and usually safer than a bus or a train.
Note that nearly all of these airlines have mobile apps that make it easy to check prices, buy, and check in ahead of time.
- Air Asia flies from/to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Hangzhou, China
- Air China  from/to Beijing, China, and Wuhan, China
- Bangkok Airways  from/to Yangon, Myanmar, and Mandalay, Myanmar
- British Airways from/to Bangkok
- Cathay Pacific  and Hong Kong Express  - from/to Hong Kong.
- China Airlines  - from/to Taipei, Taiwan
- China Eastern Airlines  from/to Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
- China Southern Airline  from/to Guanzhou, China, and Changsha, China
- Dragon Airlines  from/to Hong Kong
- Golden Myanmar Airways  from/to Yangon, Myanmar
- Hong Kong Express  from/to Hong Kong
- Korean Airlines  - Four flights weekly from Seoul/Incheon
- Lao Airlines  - from/to Luang Prabang in (Laos), from there the flight continues onward to Vientiane
- Shandong Airlines  - from/to Chongqing, China
- Sichuan Airlines  - from/to Chengdu, China
- Silk Air  - from/to Singapore
- Spring Airlines  from/to Shanghai, China
- Tigerair  - from/to Singapore
- V Air - from/to Taipei, Taiwan
Transit into the city
The airport is some 3 km southwest of the city center, only 10-15 minutes away by car. Legal airport taxis charge a flat 160 baht for up to 5 passengers anywhere in the city, except the Arcade Bus Terminal, which costs 200 baht; 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.
There are public buses, even though the information counter in the airport will tell you there are not (and of course all taxi/tuktuk drivers will support this claim) and you have to take the 40 baht shuttle. If you want to wait for the infrequent bus, go outside of the airport terminal turn left and walk for 100 meters until you see the bus stop. We took bus number 9 (runs from 5:30 am) to town for only 20 baht. Have your hotel address at hand or even better a map (aka a screenshot) where the hotel is clearly marked and show it to the bus attendant. They will tell you if it's on their route. (September 2016) Alternatively, take bus #4 to the city center for 15 baht, or charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 baht per person. Most hotels and some upmarket guesthouses offer cheap or free pick-up/drop-off services. Note that the public bus system is generally not used by many people, and has few buses operating. It is also one of the ugliest buses around and has few markings for what it is. Frankly there are so many transportation options already operating that run at reasonable cost, that a local city bus, while it might seem reasonable and appropriate to people from the west, is really not a great option (no timetable, and unclear how long one has to wait most of the time).
160 baht is the current rate for a taxi to central Chiang Mai. If you are alone outside the airport grounds, you might get asked by a police officer asking if you are lost, just say you are getting a public bus to Chiang Mai. They will tell you its very far, when it is not. Just wait for a grey bus to pull over. Always go to a public bus stop outside the airport. Stop getting the chance of getting fined by police for Jaywalking. The other option is if you are alone travelling, just start talking to people in the plane and offer to share the taxi fare to Chiang Mai, as the price for the taxi is generally the same for a carload as for one person.
If you arrive after midnight, catching a songthaew will be a problem. There will not be any around. If you are lucky, one may pull up after dropping off passengers. It is better to get people from your same flight to share a taxi into town.
Uber and Grab Taxi are viable alternatives, especially the fixed price Uber (Grab are known to demand a larger fixed price, refuse to use the meter, and refuse passengers if they do not agree, the old Taxi scams are alive and well.)
Chiang Mai has two official bus stations, consisting of 3 terminals:
- Arcade Bus Station (Bus Terminals 2 and 3, Tel. +66 53 242664) — At the far end of Kaeo Narawat Rd just before it meets the superhighway. Buses from and to destinations outside Chiang Mai Province use this station. It effectively has two terminals, separated by a tuk-tuk stand and a road.
- Terminal 3 is the larger of the two. It has an Internet cafe, small food vendors, ATMs, the ticket windows for Green Bus (cannot book online, but the schedules are) , which serves Chiang Mai province and the rest of Thailand with more comfortable but more expensive seats that the local buses (at Chang Puak Bus Station, see below), and numerous other ticket sellers. Buses for Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Ubon, Korat, Nan, Luang Prabang, Mae Sot depart from here.
- Terminal 2 has a tourist police office, ATMs, food vendors, and many ticket sellers, including the booking office for government buses. Buses depart from here for Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Udon. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what buses go to which destination from which terminal. There is a good deal of overlap.
- Chang Puak Bus Station (Bus Terminal 1, Tel. +66 53 211586) — Off Chang Phuak Rd, on the north side of the moat, about 1 km north of Chang Puak Gate. This station handles local bus service within Chiang Mai Province including Mae Rim, Chiang Dao, Fang, Tha Ton, Phrao, Hot, Chom Thong, Doi Tao, and Samoeng.
- see travel mobile applications that also provide timetables, maps, tickets, landmarks or visit Tourism of Thailand (TAT) webpages.
A variety of daily buses leave frequently from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit), offering varying choices of price, comfort and speed.
- Rattling government buses make frequent stops at every minor township. The journey takes around 12 hrs and costs 400 to 800 Baht (express is more expensive).
- Non-stop 24/32-seaters and 1st class buses such as Nakhon Chai Air provide larger seats and snacks; making the long trip more comfortable. They manage the trip around 9 hours and cost around 800 baht. Be cautious about the so-called "VIP" buses touted on Khao San Rd. They may be cheaper, but you may end up crammed into a 2nd class bus or worse. Reliable VIP buses like Sombat tour, New Viriya, Bangkok Busline with reclining seats can be booked online in advance, as well as through third party travel agents.
At Arcade Bus Station, upon arrival, public songthaews wait near Terminal 3, adjacent to the road that bisects the two terminals. Look for local people getting into them, and ask the driver if he goes to your destination (don't forget to confirm the price). A shared trip to Tha Phae Gate (south edge of the old town) should cost 20 baht per person, though you may have to wait for a driver who agrees, and also this level of service means the vehicle will stop along the route to pick up and disembark passengers, as would a local bus service. Virtually all songthaews will pass Warorot Market (city centre, just after crossing the river), from where it's just 1 km walk to Tha Phae Gate, or numerous (see "Get around" section) songthaews to other areas.
Alternatively, you can charter the whole songthaew or take a tuk-tuk. The drivers will approach you once you've arrived and will ask as much as 80-100 baht to the city centre/Tha Phae Gate, showing you a bogus price list with "fixed" prices. Bargain, it's just 5-6 km, so the fair price for tuk-tuk there is 80-100 baht, and is not more than 120 baht even to the opposite side of the city. It may be difficult to bargain with these drivers, however. A good idea is to ignore them from the start, walk out to the nearby street, and catch a passing tuk-tuk/songthaew there. If your luggage is light, you can walk to the centre, but it's quite a long walk, as the Arcade bus station is located in the city's northeast outskirts. There is a small shopping center a block to the east of Arcade Bus Station terminal #3, with coffee shops, restaurants and a decently stocked smaller Rimping market, if you depart from Arcade and still have some time to kill.
Songthaew touts may ask foreign tourists for an outrageous 150 baht per person for a shared ride to town. Challenged, they may drop to 100 baht, but standard fare is 20-30 baht for shared (not privately reserved) transportation at a sedate pace. Similar prices are demanded by tuk-tuk drivers, though those are more expensive to operate. 80-100 THB from Arcade to the moat area is common and not unreasonable, and is faster unless during rush hour. The main point is to be clear on whether you are hiring for a point-to-point transportation, or simply as one or more passengers with stops along the route. The former is faster (sometimes) and better for a group, the latter is per passenger as a charge and may meander a bit. Some drivers will agree to a larger fee, but then stop along the way, anyways. Best to relax and take things as they come.
Services from Bangkok's train station in Hua Lamphong leave on a regular daily schedule  and take 14-16 hours to reach Chiang Mai. If you go by night train (recommended), try to choose one which arrives late to get an opportunity to see the landscapes. They are really impressive, with bridges, forest, villages and fields.
Daytime services leave at 08:30, and 14:30 with second-class (281 baht) and third-class (121 baht) carriages. The seats in each class differ in softness and width and become uncomfortable after 10+ hours.
Overnight sleepers provide comfortable bunks with clean sheets and pillows in first- and second-class. First-class beds (~1,400 baht) are in private two-bed compartments; in some trains first class compartments have only one berth and cost 500 baht more than usual, and whole compartments can be booked for single occupancy for the same amount. In second-class (~900 baht), the carriages are open but each bunk has a curtain for privacy. First-class is always air-con, second class is sometimes air-con. There are usually four trains per day with sleeper accommodation, though only two of these will have first-class compartments. Station staff will be able to help you.
Newer types of carriages are kept clean; the toilet and floors are regularly mopped during the journey. However the older type of second class carriages may have unpleasant toilet compartments (messy floors, bad odour even from the journey start). Vendors make regular rounds selling snacks, drinks and lacklustre meals. Vendors will try to inflate the prices for tourists so be prepared to get ripped off, haggle, hop off quickly at stations or bring your own. Since 2015 State Railways of Thailand stopped selling alcoholic beverages on all trains, and bringing your own alcohol is not permitted on board.
In second-class, the bunks are arranged lengthways along the train, with only a curtain separating the berths and the central aisle. At some point in the evening, or on request, the attendant hinges down the top bunk to form the upper single berth and adjusts the seats to form the lower single berth. In the morning, bunks are folded away leaving pairs of facing seats. Be aware - on a recent train trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the latch securing the heavy upper berth to the carriage wall unlocked itself, causing the berth to come crashing down above the heads of seated passengers. It was only luck that no-one was struck by the falling frame, as the weight could have caused serious injury.
In first-class, the bottom bunk is used as a bench seat before having a futon mattress deployed onto it in the evening.
If you're not in the mood for bed when your carriage mates are bedding down, you can head off to the dining car, which provides fairly good food and drink at not too great a premium. Later in the night, the dining car can turn into a disco, complete with loud music and flashing lights.
Tickets can be bought up to 60 days in advance at any station in Thailand. Booking in advance is advised, especially for the popular 2nd-class overnight sleepers. Larger stations accept payment with Visa/MasterCard. This is fairly safe, as SRT is a state-owned company. Since February 2015 trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can be booked online, even more than 60 days in advance.
SRT has rules set for the advance booking based mostly on the percentage of the whole trip. Like, say, Chiang Mai - Bangkok tickets can be bought 60 days in advance, Chiang Mai - Phitsanulok or Sukhothai would be 30 days, while Ayutthaya is still 60 days (because it's over half of the trip). This has to be taken into consideration when planning trips from Chiang Mai - as trains are usually full, especially during high season (Oct-Feb, Apr).
1st and 2nd class air-con sleeper tickets are 150-200 baht more expensive than fan-only car tickets. Various travel agencies, some available to contact from outside Thailand, can also procure tickets for delivery or pick up, with fees typically starting at 200 baht. If at the train station they said that at train is sold out, try the small agencies, they may still find you a ticket (although unlikely because ticket is usually issued for a name and passport number). Be aware of 'scalping' and do not pay ridiculously high prices.
SRT charges 90 baht to transport a bicycle between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai train station is about 3 km east of the city centre. Plentiful songthaews and tuk-tuks await each train's arrival. If you want to walk, exit the station, cross the open square in front and turn left on the first major road you come to (Charoen Muang Rd); this road goes directly to city centre.
Last time advice: the air conditioning can be very powerful. Don't forget to bring a jacket with you or you are going to spend a bad night.
Timetables and ticketing options
Trainsport Timetables - completes most of the departure times and trip duration to and from Chiang Mai.
12Go - all departures Bangkok <-> Chiang Mai with seating, comfort information and availability
Thailand's road fatality rate is the second highest in the world - if you wouldn't ride in a vehicle without a seat belt in your home country - you should do the same in Thailand. That means using a taxi - somewhat more inconvenient, more expensive but definitely safer. In groups of 2 or more, taxis are competitive and with luggage a necessity (see the taxi section below). Songthaew (red trucks) are becoming more difficult to flag especially during rush hour and TukTuk's, while loved by tourists, are uncomfortable, noisy, polluting and unsafe.
By local bus
There are newly introduced local buses in Chiang Mai. The most useful bus for visitors are B1 and B2. Both white coloured buses stationed at the main road in between Bus Station Chiang Mai and Arcade Bus Station. Bus B1 route is Bus Station - Chiang Mai Railway Station - Thaphae Gate - Zoo and vice versa. Bus B2 route is Bus Station - Thaphae Gate - Chiang Mai Airport and vice versa. Both pass by Wororot Market. The minimum fare is 15 baht.
A songthaew serves as a bus or a taxi.
In lieu of a local bus service, locals get around the city on songthaew (สองแถว). These covered pick-up trucks have two long bench seats in the back (songthaew means "two rows" in Thai), and travel fixed routes picking up passengers en route who are going the same way. Some can also be hired outright.
The colour of the songthaew indicates its general route or usage. Most common,by far, are red songthaews (called rod daeng, red truck), which don't follow a specific route and roam the main streets around markets, temples, or the bus/train stations. Prices must be negotiated. but expect 20 baht per person anywhere within the city walls and 40-60 baht outside. Drivers often ask tourists for more than this. I recommend a taxi instead (see below)
Fixed route songthaews congregate around Warorot Market. From Warorot Market, white songthaews travel to the eastern suburban city of Sankampaeng, yellow songthaews travel to Mae Rim in the north, blue songthaews travel to Sarapee and Lamphun in the south, and green songthaews travel to Mae Jo in the northeast. They all charge a 20 baht flat rate.
From Pratu Chiang Mai Market, songthaews also travel to Hang Dong (20 baht) and San Patong, southwest of Chiang Mai.
From Songthaew to Taxi
Any of the Red songthaew (rod daeng) can give you taxi service if you ask for it. Then you sit up front, with AC if it's on, and go direct to your destination. This is going to cost you more than 20 bhat but you can often negotiate a fare that's less than a taxi (usually 150 bhat one way in the city). If you stay is short, at the dentist for example, the driver will wait and bring you back. Also, taxis don't cruse the streets so they can be hard to find, songthaew are always around.
To catch a songthaew; approach a waiting driver or flag one down on the street, state your destination and if the driver is going that direction he will nod in agreement and give you a price. Negotiate a lower fare if you wish. The price agreed to should be per person; it's a good idea to confirm this with the driver before you leave. On reaching your destination, ring the buzzer on the roof to tell the driver to stop, or most likely the driver will pull over, wait for you to get out and pay.
By tuk-tuk or samlor
Tuk-tuks are a quick, though noisy way to get around. Fares are usually 40-50 baht for a short hop and 50-100 baht for longer distances, depending on the proficiency of your bargaining. As a guide, expect to pay 50-100 baht from the old city to the riverside and Night Bazaar, the railway station, and 100-150 baht to the bus station or airport. Tuk-tuks parked near the bus and train stations will ask you for something like 120-150 baht. Just haggle or walk away to the nearest road and stop a passing tuk-tuk or songthaew there.
According to expats, the highest fee for a tuk-tuk at any time of day or night should be 150 baht for any location in town. Well, "any location in town" needs to be better defined. If you are trying to go from the Zoo to the Arcade Bus Station, good luck with that. The point is, Tuk Tuks tend to charge more. Find a Rot Daeng (red truck) or other color if you are not in a hurry and want to pay less (and perhaps go farther).
The fee seems to be based on multiples of 20 baht which is the smallest note. It is a good idea to stock up on notes and coins as whenever you offer a note higher than the agreed fee the driver may have no change! True indeed.
Some Tuk Tuks will have signs indicating they can be hired at an hourly or daily rate. This is far more economical and the drivers are happy to hang out in their tuk tuk waiting for the riders to visit wherever they want to go.
A few samlor (three-wheeled bicycles) still cruise the streets and will happily take you to a temple for the same price as a tuk-tuk, though at a considerably quieter and slower pace. Mostly these are used by local elderly for trips to the market. Quite charming.
Note that in many cases a Taxi is the same price (or less) than a Tuk Tuk.
There are several taxi companies in Chiangmai - you need a phone to use them - bring a GSM phone with you and use the SIM card the mobile companies give you at the airport. Taxis do not cruise the streets - you find them at the airport, railway station, bus station and hotels. If you have luggage, you will probably take a taxi when you arrive - ask the driver for his phone number - then get one or two more taxi numbers in case he is busy.
One service advertises a fare of 150 baht to destinations around the old city - higher fares outside of the city. If you have 4 people in your party this is a good rate. Late at night transportation is hard to find, so carry those taxi numbers with you. Tuk Tuks are around at night but I don't consider them safe (no seat belts, no doors) or comfortable (noisy, windy) be safe, call a taxi.
As of November 2016, Uber works in Chiang Mai, rides between Nimman area and the old city cost 50-60 baht, comfortable AC-ed cars and a short wait (at least in the center) makes it definitely the best transportation option. Grab Taxi (like Uber) is a mobile app that one can use to get around Chiang Mai. You can enter the pick up and drop off destinations and it will give you either a fare estimate or fixed rate depending on the type of taxi service you request. There are reports that Grab Taxi is reverting back to the bad habits of current taxis, which is demanding a fixed fare (that is high) and refusing to accept the passenger and use the meter, if they do not agree. Reports that Uber has suspended their service or is no longer operating in Chiang Mai are false (as of 02-Apr-2017).
By scooter or motorbike
A motorbike (what North Americans call a scooter) is a convenient and cheap way to get around town or reach the outlying sights. If you have never ridden a motorbike before Chiangmai is not the place to learn. If you must rent find a quiet street and practice BEFORE you get into traffic. There are an abundance of nearly indistinguishable rental outfits in town, and most guest houses can arrange rentals. Automatic 110cc and 125cc motorbike capable of carrying two people are the easiest to operate (for those with limited motorbike experience), but step-through Honda Waves are also very popular, and off-road bikes and larger street bikes are also an option. A valid Thai or international drivers licence is legally required to rent, though most places will not require it.
Motorbikes are 100-150 baht/day for a 110cc motorbike and 150-200 baht/day for a Honda Wave 125cc, which is faster if you plan to drive uphill to e.g. Wat Doi Suthep. They come supplied with helmets and a security chain. If you rent longer term, e.g., by the month, those rates can be as low as 2,400 to 2,700 baht per month, averaging 80-90 baht per day. Several dealers will agree to these rates.
Larger machines cost 700 baht/day for a V-twin chopper or larger sport-bike. Expect discounts when renting for a week, month, or longer.
Rentals will require a deposit (generally prudent opinion would say that while many ask for a passport you should under no circumstances leave your passport with anyone as collateral). Let them make a copy of your passport and return it. However, this will require a larger deposit (5,000 THB or so). Remember that if you want to leave the country you will need your passport; and that you must ALWAYS carry a photocopy of the passport and visa/entry stamp pages. An additional photo ID isn't a bad idea. Most shops will accept a passport photocopy with a cash deposit of around 3,000-5,000 baht. This is a much better alternative to surrendering your passport. While the petrol/gas tank may be full on pick-up, it is not uncommon for shops to deliver a bike with just enough fuel to go make it to a service station. In any case, return the bike with as much or more fuel than received to avoid any penalties. Also check out the relative mechanical merit of the bike being offered. Focus especially on the brakes, the degree of "pull" needed for the handlebar lever, and the travel needed for the foot brake. Check that indicators and headlights work properly, and the tires are reasonably OK (top up tire pressure air at the nearest service station)
Some rental agreements claim to insure you but generally only cover the bike for theft or damage. Don't expect much in the way of compensation if something bad such as an accident occurs. Regardless of who is at fault, assume that you will be considered the guilty party.
The police frequently fine riders (including passengers) 500 baht for not wearing a helmet, plus you usually have to go to the police station the next day to pay the fine and to collect your licence. Some officers will allow you to pay 100 or 200 baht on the spot "to avoid paperwork and travelling to the station, etc.".
A note about helmets. If you care about your face at all, the half-helmets that are most popular will not provide any safety. I personally know someone whose half helmet caused him to become deaf in one ear as the bottom edge crushed the nerves in his ear from an accident that blindsided him. If he had a full-face helmet he would still have hearing in that ear, and if he was wearing no helmet, he would be dead. Wear a full-face helmet! There are helmet shops everywhere in Chiang Mai, and getting a full-face helmet that fits properly is an investment that is well worth it (less than 1,000 THB), if you are going to be doing any amount of riding.
Traffic inside the old city walls can be somewhat subdued, the roads are flat, and the distances are short (2km on each side of the moat) to make bicycling a quick way to get around. Bicycle rentals are plentiful; rental costs 50 -250 baht/day depending on the bike quality. Few companies provide bicycle helmets - if you plan to ride a bicycle, be safe and bring your own helmet. There are many potholes in Chiangmai streets so stay alert for obstacles, not to mention dogs that might chase you down small alleys. Keep to the left (not intuitive for North American/European cyclists). Also, realize you do not have the right of way, so asserting that could end in tears.
Car hire services are available both in the city centre and at the airport. Cars typically offered include the Toyota Vios, Altis, and Yaris, and the Honda City and Jazz. Typical rates for newer models are 900-2,000 baht per day, depending on season and model. Expect a slight discount when renting weekly. Utility pickups such as the Toyota Hilux or Fortuner SUV are also available. Many places offer minivans such as 10-seat Toyota Commuters with a driver from about 2,000 baht per day plus fuel. Older Suzuki Carribean 4WDs are a cheaper option at around 600-800 baht per day, but they are relatively difficult to drive and less mechanically reliable than a standard passenger car.
Some car rental companies in Chiang Mai:
- Chiang Mai Alpha Car Rental 18/2 ถนนสันติธรรม, อ.เมือง จ. เชียงใหม่, 50300 Chiang Mai Tel +66 85 714 4045
- Avis 60/27 Chaing Mai Airport. Tel. +66 53 201 7989
- Budget 201/2 Mahidol Rd, Haiya, Muang. Tel. +66 53 202 8712
- Chiang Mai Transfers, 22 Kanthika Apartment,Soi Tantawan, Viangbua Rd., Chang Puak, Mueang, Chiang Mai 50300, ☎ +66 81 970 1060 ([email protected]), .
- Sixt rent a car (Car rental Chiang Mai with Sixt rent a car), . Chiang Mai Airport, Sanambin Road, Moo.3,Suthep 50200 Chiang Mai.
- Thai Rent-a-Car Chiang Mai Airport, 60 Airport Rd, Suthep District. 1st Floor Domestic Arrival Hall (Exit 1). Tel. +66 53 904 188
The old city is only a mile square, (say, 2.5 sq km) and as such is easy to walk around. The airport is also quite close to the old part of town--about 2.5 km--so if you have the energy and an hour to spare, you can even walk to and from the airport. Note that this is not necessarily a pleasant experience as the sidewalks are uneven (or non-existent) and Chiang Mai gets hot during the day, especially during the hot season, and rainy during the rainy season. The cost of a taxi or songthaew from the moat area to the airport is around 150 baht.
Hiring a car or minivan with driver
This is is a great option for travelling to places outside Chiang Mai city, and the price is often similar to hiring a car and driving yourself. You'll also be able to relax and enjoy the scenery in air-conditioned comfort. The cost for a private car with driver is generally from 1,500 to 2,000 baht per day plus fuel depending on the type of vehicle and where you are going. The driver will typically pick you up with a full tank of fuel and you pay at the end. Large Toyota Hi-Ace, Nissan Urvan and newer Toyota Commuter minivans go for around 2,000 to 2,500 baht per day plus fuel. Most hotels and some guest houses can arrange it for you, in addition to vehicle rental outlets and the many travel agencies in town.
There are many tours that will take you to places outside of the city. Travel companies, hotels and guest houses can arrange tours. Be sure to ask if the tour you are booking uses a truck or a van. Avoid trucks as they are uncomfortable (you will sit in the back on a bench seat without air conditioning) and unsafe (no seat belt). If your agent can't tell you, try another company. The car or van option mentioned above is better and just as cheap if you have a group.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Courtyard of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a clear day, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ, Huai Kaeo Rd, 30 baht, ) is 18 km from town, sitting at a 1,073 m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died, which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site. The temple offers grand views over the city, but no reward is without effort as you must ascend the 300-plus steps of the Naga-lined stairs. The climb may be a strain in the high altitude's thin air for the less fit, so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht. For the Visaka Bucha holiday in June or July each year, it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4-5 hours.
In the vicinity there are several other attractions you may want to consider visiting. The Bhuping Royal Palace Gardens are 4 km further along the road from Wat Prathat, with a reasonably easy walk along the meter-wide road shoulder. Or you can get a shared songthaew from Wat Prathat for 30 baht, but you may have to wait until it fills up. Further along the road is a hill tribe village, and although tourist-oriented, is really worth the trip. There are many shops for local handicrafts, etc. These are the people from the far north of the country, many originally from Myanmar. There are two areas in the village that require entrance fee: 10 baht to enter a flower garden (where women can take pictures using traditional clothes) and a hill tribe opium museum (the museum is in a very poor condition); and 10 baht to enter the hill tribe waterfall (man-made).
Getting there is a source of much consternation to many travellers. Clearly marked songthaews leave from Pratu Chang Phuak. Prices are fixed at 50 baht up and 50 baht down; but the drivers wait until they have sufficient (up to 8) passengers before they depart, potentially making for a lengthy wait. Most guidebooks advise taking a songthaew from Mani Nopharat Rd, resulting in the drivers milking the tourist cash-cow and raising their price from a reasonable 50 baht to a ludicrous 500 baht.
Another option is to take a songthaew from your hotel to Chiang Mai Zoo for 20 baht (if you are close to the city walls), where there will be several songthaews waiting on Huai Kaeo Rd to get a full load of passengers for a trip up the mountain. They seem to congregate around the Chiang Mai Zoo, so if you just say "zoo" to the driver he will know what you're talking about. From the zoo prices range from 40 baht for a one-way trip to Wat Prathat to 180 baht for a full round-trip tour, including the temple, Bhuping Palace Gardens, and the the hill tribe village, with an hour at each location, but you may have to wait until there are sufficient people who want the same tour or be prepared to pay more. You can also get between many of these by buying point-to-point tickets at the time you want them, or walking some segment. Any songthaew up the mountain road may be a trial for those prone to motion-sickness, so take appropriate precautions.
There are several little annoying charges to pay for foreigners. To enter the Doi Suthep itself is free for Thais, and 30 baht for foreigners. Tour operators will ask 700 baht for a tour. You can easily walk up the stairs to the temple but many visitors are encouraged to take the cable car. The cable car ride is short about 5 mins and inside a metal sheet tunnel - therefore no view at all.
The journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing. The final 12 km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling. Road condition is good but the winding and steep road require some driving and riding experiences.
There are more than 300 temples in Chiang Mai and its outskirts, with a dozen stand-outs of historical or architectural significance within walking distance of each other. Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai exhibit a mixture of Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand.
Though certain temples on the conventional tourist circuit can be overrun with loud groups it is not hard to find many less well-known, but no less interesting, temples quietly and gently crumbling in the absence of tourist hordes. Whichever you visit, keep in mind that the temples are sacred religious places of deep cultural significance for the locals. Show respect by wearing appropriate attire (long pants for men, modest tops and skirts for women, no bare shoulders or plunging necklines and women must wear a bra). You must take off your shoes before entering the temple or other buildings, but they may be worn in the courtyard. Taking photographs of Buddha images is no problem, but it is polite to ask before taking pictures of monks or locals. All temples are free.
Inside the old city walls
- Wat Phra Singh, Corner of Singharaj Rd and Rajdamnern Rd. Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from the rain, floods and pests. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen. To enter the temple is free for Thais, and 20 baht for foreigners. The ticket is in a leaflet form containing useful information and map of Wat Phra Singh complex.
- Wat Chiang Man, Rajpakinai Rd. The oldest royal temple in the city. Presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded (1296), it is famed for two Buddha images, which according to legend are 1,800 and 2,500 years old. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
- Wat Chedi Luang, Prapokklao Rd. Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai are the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the chedi (pronounced jedee) to a height of 86 m. After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991-92, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million baht. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
- Wat Phrachao Mengrai, Ratchamanka 6, Phra Sing (near Heuan Phen Restaurant), ☎ +66 53 278 788 . An atmospheric temple with two Wihan buildings, off the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling. One of the Wihan buildings houses an important Buddha image: Phra Buddha Rupa Phra Chao Mengrai.
- Wat Jet Yod (วัดเจ็ดยอด. Sometimes called Wat Chet Yot), Superhighway (about 1 km north of the Huay Kaew Rd/superhighway intersection). The history and unusual architecture scattered under the yawning canopy of ancient trees is an pleasant antidote to the flash and bustle encountered at popular temples. Established in 1455 to host the eighth World Buddhist Council, many features of the grounds imitate significant places of the Buddha's enlightenment. Originally called Botharam Maha Vihata in honour of the venerated Bodhi tree, it came to be known as Wat Jet Yod by locals, after the seven spires (Jet Yod) protruding from the roof of the Vihara. The square-sided design of the Virhra is a replica of Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, though the translation has distorted proportions somewhat. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals that adorned the walls depict angels with a distinctly Indian flavour. The grounds also hold some more recently built, but abandoned looking, eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls, overshadowed by a fully intact, though more diminutive, replica of 'Chedi Luang that was built around 1487 to house the ashes of King Tilokarat.
Big Buddha at Wat Phra That Doi Kham
- Wat Suan Dok (Suthep Rd). A large open-sided hall with a jumble of roughly hewn Buddhas with a huge dazzlingly whitewashed chedi behind.
- Wat Umong, off Suthep Rd (at the end of a long narrow road, off Suthep Rd. Turn at the Italian restaurant.). >An ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk who liked to wander in the countryside, hence the isolated location where the monk could stay quietly and meditate. It is unusual in that it has tunnel-like chambers in the ground, some of the walls of which still have the original paintings of birds and animals visible. The large stupa is magnificent, and there is an eerie statue of a fasting, emaciated Buddha next to it. You can also take a break by the ponds, where you can feed the fish and turtles. free.
- Sacred Heart Cathedral, 225 Charoenprathet Road Tambon Chang Khlan, Amphoe Muang (3 min. south of the Old Steel Bridge on the city wall side of the river), ☎ 0-5327-1859 (fax: 0-5321-1876). Daily Roman Catholic Mass Monday to Saturday in Thai: 7 PM. Sunday Mass in Thai: 6:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 6:00 PM. Sunday Mass in English: 11 AM. free.
Outside the old city walls
- Wat Phra That Doi Kham, (From Canal Road (Thanon Khlong) take a right at the Night Safari junction. At the Ratchaphruek elephant roundabout take the last exit and drive about 2km until you see a sign on your left. Drive up the hill.). 08.00 - 17.00. A temple area with a long history and a 17 meter Buddha statue, the biggest in Chiang Mai. Also has a large platform for some nice views over the southern parts of the city. free. (18.75959,98.918065)
There are many art galleries and exhibitions in Chiang Mai, featuring contemporary artwork of both local Thai and Myanmar artists.
The Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Centre building
- Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, in the very centre of the old city on Prapokklao Rd, between Rajdumnern Rd and Rajwithee Rd, ☎ +66 53 217793. 08:30-17:00 daily except M. This fully modernised multimedia history and cultural education centre has guides dressed in elegant traditional Thai clothing who will usher you into an air-conditioned room to watch an English-subtitled orientation video about Chiang Mai and the north. Next, you will be pointed to a series of rooms documenting the region's history and culture in chronological order from the pre-Muang period (7,000-12,000 years ago) to the early river civilizations, to the early kings through the wars with the Burmese and the last dynasty, to the city today and its plans for the future. Other rooms are devoted to Buddhism and other regional beliefs, agricultural history, hill tribe peoples and other regional cultures, and a run-down of the royal dynasties. The exhibits consist of a smart visual mix of video, scale models, enlarged photos, wall murals and text in Thai and English. 90 baht.
- Chiang Mai National Museum, On the Super Highway (within walking distance of Wat Chet Yot), ☎ +66 53 221308, . 09:00-16:00 W-Su. Offers an insight into the history of Chiang Mai. 100 baht.
- Chiang Mai Numismatic Museum (Treasury Hall), 52 Ratchadamnoen Rd, ☎ +66 53 22 4237/8. M-Sa 09:00-15:30.
- Chiang Mai University Art Museum, corner Suthep and Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 944833. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. There are exhibitions by undergraduates from the Fine Arts Department at Chiang Mai University. These change often and the standard of work on display by the students is of a high standard. Each month there is usually at least one art exhibition featuring the works of artists from Southeast Asia. The museum also hosts musical concerts - often free - in the adjoining theatre. Free.
The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Hilltribe Research Institute Museum, which unfortunately closed after a fire in January 2011.
- Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Soi 13 Srimankalajarn Rd, ☎ +66 53 211 891, . Daily, 09:00-17:00. One of Asia's most unusual museums housing butterflies, beetles, and beyond. Also has a large selection of minerals. Some explanations in English, some in Thai. 200 baht.
- Postal Museum, Mae Ping Post Office. Tu-Sa 08:30-16:30. Free.
- Art in Paradise, 199/9 Changklan Rd (500 meters south from Night Bazaar), . Illusion art museum where you can get take funny photos in "3D" scenes. Adults THB 300 (THB 180 for Thais), children THB 200 (THB 120 for Thais).
Gardens and nature
- Bua Tong Waterfalls, (Travel north from Chiang Mai up Route 1001 approximately 50 to 60km), ☎ +66 94 740 2294. Vary. Located in the Sri Lanna National Park, this unique destination is often not listed in any of the major guide books, and tends to be discovered through word of mouth from traveler to traveler. A fairly simple, rather scenic motorbike ride along Route 1001, this trip should take around 45 - 60 minutes at a comfortable, leisurely pace. Known as the "Sticky Waterfalls" due to the limestone deposits that are prevalent throughout. These mineral deposits provide a grippy surface for hands and feet, allowing one to travel UP a waterfall with relative ease. Very likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an absolute must see. Key notes: More powerful in the rainy season (June through September). A popular destination for Thai families on the weekends, so the area will be busier during this time. Some travelers have had a problem seeing the sign leading off of the main road down to the waterfalls; along the way there is a sign stating "Bua Tong 18km". This sign can be used as a reference point, so upon seeing this sign, simply keep track of your motorbike odometer from there and the area will be hard to miss.
- Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (about 800 m north of the Holiday Inn, on the east side of the Ping River). A serene place of history and remembrance.
- Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium, 100 Huay Kaew Rd (at the foot of Doi Suthep), ☎ +66 53 893 111, . Daily 09:00-17:30. Extremely popular with Thai tourists, and so expect long queues. While better than some zoos, the animals are nevertheless kept in small enclosures. Operates an dual pricing system whereby non-Thais are charged approximately double the price of Thai nationals. Additional charges also apply for both the panda exhibition and the aquarium. There are more stalls selling the usual trinkets than enclosures, and more human visitors than animals. Not much to recommend, including that the journey from the city centre can be lengthy because of long queues of cars, the dual pricing system, and the less-than-ideal conditions for the animals. The car parking facilities are best described as chaotic. 100 baht.
- Mae Sa Waterfall, (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel ~7 km to waterfall on left.), ☎ +66 53 210 244. 08:30-16:30. Set in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. The path winds up for almost 2 km to the 8 tiers of cascades. There are many secluded areas off the trail for picnics. Crowded on weekends and holidays. Foreigners, 100 baht; Thais, 20 baht.
- Phu Ping Palace (Royal Winter Palace), Suthep 50200 (on Rt 1004, beyond Doi Suthep). This royal winter palace has lavishly landscaped gardens and is open to the public daily 08:30-11:30 & 13:00-15:00 when the Thai royal family is not in residence. Dress code strictly applied: dress modestly or pay 15 baht for fisherman's pants to cover your lack of it. This includes ANY leg above the ankle for either gender). The palace itself (built in 1961) is not particularly exciting, but the extensive gardens are picturesque with some amazing plant life, including carefully curated tropical flowers, as well as centuries-old trees and giant bamboo. A sign at the bottom of the hill near the zoo indicates when it's closed. It is close to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, so travel directions are similar. 50 baht, children 10 baht.
- Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, 100 Moo 9, Mae Ram (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 12 km to garden on left.), ☎ +66 53 841 234, . Daily, 08:30-16:30. Thailand's oldest and foremost botanical garden. Dedicated to the conservation of Thai flora, it holds collections of, and carries out research on rare and endangered species. Lovely gardens in a mountain foothills setting. Run by the Botanical Garden Association, Thailand. Adult, 40 baht; child, 20 baht; car, 100 baht.
- Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, (Take the Canal Road from the city for about 9km south. Turn right at Night Safari junction). A big garden with loads of pretty flowers like orchids. Also has a temple, a (rather worn out) playground for kids, and a bug museum 100THB. (18.747506,98.925036)
- Doi Inthanon, (A bus (from Chiang Mai to the base of the mountain, and another smaller minibus up) , Hire van , Private car (best option), or motorbike (bigger bikes recommended). Some hearty souls ride bicycles up, but for the experienced cyclist only.). Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand. It is in Chom Thong District, Chiang Mai province (2565 meters above the sea level) The second-highest peak of this range is Doi Hua Mot Luang (2330 meters above sea level) Doi Inthanon is the source of many rivers, where the Bhumipol Dam is situated and generate the electrical power. Doi Inthanon has cool weather and high humidity through the year, particularly on the top. In winter, frost is a regular occurance. And in summer, despite hot weather in central Chiang Mai and nearby districts, it is still very cool on the top of Doi Inthanon and tourists should be prepared with thick clothes. Doi Inthanon is popular with both Thai and foreign tourists. In the wet season the many waterfalls are lovely, and in the cool season, the lower temperatures are novelty.
It is extremely important to research your elephant tour. Please note that "An elephant’s back is not made for weight bearing; an elephant’s weight is carried on his thick pillar-like legs and his stout neck, not his back, which is relatively weak."
Aside from spinal injuries and other dangers of elephant riding, elephants have had to undergo Phajaan to make them fit for riding; an extremely painful process in which the elephant is beaten and deprived of sleep, food and water for up to several weeks. National Geographic reports on the use of nails and sticks stabbed into the ears and feet of an elephant undergoing Phajaan.
While a source of great amusement, be sure to choose your tour responsibly. Some have reported elephants in distress and what looked like painful, horrible conditions for the animals. Ask other tourists and check online before choosing. When in doubt, choose a no-ride sanctuary rather than a riding park. It is important to understand that elephants are considered livestock under Thai law, and as such owners can treat them in any way they please. This often includes beating, stabbing, or blinding them, or subjecting them to Phajaan. Elephants generally will not accept riders on the trekking seat unless they have undergone the Phajaan. It is encouraged that visitors do their own research to draw their own conclusions. A good, although not foolproof, sign for spotting elephant mistreatment is holes in or pieces missing from the ear. When in doubt, choose a non-riding sanctuary.
Every year there are reports of tourists who ride or come close to so-called 'domesticated' elements, maimed or killed by them, and many more of their mahouts (handlers) who are mainly Myanmar immigrants in poverty, are regularly killed. These are large, dangerous mammals.
- Baanchang Elephant Park, 147/1 Rachadamnern Rd, ☎ +66 53 814174 or +66 89 6355206, . 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 during the months from November to January. Can be accessed from many of the local hotels and hostels.
- Chai Lai Orchid, 202 Moo 9 T. Mae Win, Mae Wang, ☎ +66 86 923 0867 ([email protected]), . Situated in a beautiful valley, the Chai Lai Orchid is a non-profit riverside eco-lodge that offers unique 1-2 day treks and day trips from Chiang Mai. Guests are invited to feed, bathe and play with the elephants in gorgeous surroundings. The project also supports local hill tribes by running an employment and education program to help combat the human trafficking of migrants from Burma.
- Eddy Elephant Care Chiang Mai, 87 Sripoom Rd, ☎ +66 53 222525 ([email protected]), . One of the interesting activities in Chiang Mai is getting close to a real elephant. Eddy is the owner of 7 elephants, He ensures you will enjoy the private tour. You will learn about elephant behaviours and also you will learn how to control and bathe them as you are a mahout (elephant caretaker). You will be able to ride them through the jungle. 2,300 baht for a day including lunch and transportation.
- Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, 119/10 Thapae Rd., ☎ +66 53 273415 ([email protected]), . 08:00-22:00. EJS is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Founded in July 2014, it is a joint initiative between members of the Karen hill-tribes and Chiang Mai locals who were concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand. The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary project also provides many Karen people with employment, education, and financial support. Half-day, Full-day, and Overnight visits to the Sanctuary are available. Weekly volunteering opportunities can also be arranged. Half Day Visit: 1,500 baht; 1 Day Visit: 2,400 baht; 2 Day Visit: 3,900 baht; Weekly volunteer: 11,500 baht.
- Elephant Nature Park, 209/2 Sridornchai Rd., ☎ +66 53 818932 ([email protected]), . 08:00-17:30. Approximately 60 km north of Chiang Mai is a sanctuary for rescued and distressed elephants. They are not here to perform or do tricks and people visiting here will leave with a whole new understanding of these magnificent creatures. Day and overnight visits as well as one week volunteering opportunities can be booked via their website. During the day visit you will feed and bathe the elephants, watch them wander around the 50 acre sanctuary, and will be provided with a buffet lunch. They will also pick and drop you off at your hotel in Chiang Mai. This park seeks to prove that free elephants are a viable alternative form of tourism to beating and training elephants to accept riders. Day Visit: 2,500 baht; Overnight 5,800 Baht; Weekly volunteer: 12,000 baht.
- Mae Sa Elephant Camp, 119/9 Tapae Rd (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel about 10 km. On the left.), ☎ +66 53 206247 or +66 53 206248, . 08:00-15:00. An elephant camp in the hills about an hour's drive north of the city centre. It has an elephant show, which includes elephants playing football and painting. Like elephants used in the elephant trekking industry, young elephants used for painting must be broken and experience the pain of the phajaan process. Over this time baby elephants are starved, shackled, and beaten, until their spirit is completely broken and will submit to the will of their captors. Once young elephants have undergone this process they can being learning to paint. You can also take half hour or one hour elephant rides. Not exactly a place to bring someone who cares about animal welfare, but many (people) do enjoy the performances. Show times are 08:00, 09:40, and 13:30. Admission, 200 baht. Rides, 1,200 baht/hour; 800 baht/30 min..
- Patara Elephant Farm, T.Baan Pong A.Hang Dong, Chiangmai, Thailand, ☎ +66-819922551 or +66-816710958, . A trip to Patara consists of a hands-on-experience where each visitor is given an elephant to take care of for a half-day or a full day. This program is called “Elephant Owner for a Day,” and its goal is for visitors to better understand elephant health and behavior by caring for an elephant. These activities include feeding the elephant, checking its health, bathing it, learning how to communicate with it, and ride it. Elephant Owner for a Day program: 4200 baht..
- Tong Bai Elephant Tour, 111/70 K-Park Business Mahidol Road,T.Nonghoi, A.Muang, 50000 Chiangmai, Thailand, ☎ +66-53141356 (“[email protected]"), . Give yourself the opportunity to experience a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the elephants of the Tong Bai Foundation. You will experience the serenity and the friendliness of the elephants and will be brought closer to their affectionate world. The Tong Bai Elephant Tour welcomes all including children. The Tour is not for those who want to see elephants perform shows, dance and paint pictures. “Tong.
There are around 12 different hilltribe groups in Thailand, most of which live in northern Thailand and play an important part in the cultural tapestry. Visiting hilltribe villages as part of a trek or tour, is a popular activity in Chiang Mai although most within 1-2days travel of Chiang Mai are likely to be touristic. So if you're seeking an authentic experience, it's important to research properly the right tour for you, and the right way to visit. Many villagers are not so welcoming towards visitors nowadays, as they have had negative experiences with tourists in the past.
- Thailand Hilltribe Holidays, ☎ +66 (0)855 480884 / +66 (0)899 569897, . Offers responsible tours around northern Thailand, specialising in cultural immmersion, visiting authentic hilltribe villages and hilltribe homestays in an ethical way.
After football, Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand. It can be seen in three different stadiums:
- Kalare Boxing Stadium, (behind the Night Bazaar). Real Muay Thai fights every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday starting at 9:30PM lasting about 4 hours. 400-600 baht.
- Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium, (Loi Kroh Rd in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex.). Fights are usually held 3-4 nights per week. Look for flyers posted up all over the old city. They usually have about 8 fights and feature Thai fighters as well as a few matches with foreign fighters. This may not be the best location to see muay Thai with a family, as it is surrounded by "girlie bars" and during a break between the fights a group of ladyboys will put on a dance and occasionally strip. After about 23:00 the complex is opened up for free, letting all the vendors (flower sellers, et al.) in. If you are on a tight budget you may be able to see a few of the remaining fights for free this way. Admission is 400 baht for normal seating or 600 for VIP..
- Tha Phae Boxing Stadium, (Moon Muang Rd near Tha Phae Gate.). It hosts around 8 fights per show, including a few matches with foreign fighters. This is the largest of the three stadiums and has food as well as beverages served. Gambling is prominently featured.
- Flight of the Gibbon, ☎ 053 010 660 (toll free: +66 53 010 660, [email protected]), . Zipline canopy tours. And gibbons. 3999B.
- Mountain Biking in Chiang Mai (Mountain Biking in Chiang Mai), . There are a number of mountain biking trails in Chiang Mai, many of which located on Doi Suthep which is the large mountain overlooking Chiang Mai city. If you have your own mountain bike you can take a Songteaw from Huai Kaeo Aboretum to one of the many drop off points on the mountain, or a cycling tour company can provide transportation and bike hire. the price of a Songtaew varies but expect to pay 400-500THB, a Songteaw can carry up to 4 bikes so it works out cheaper in a group. Cycling trails range from beginner to pro with a number of XC trails or pure downhill trails. The trails are generally very well maintained and popular among visitors to Chiang Mai and locals.
- Mountain Biking Chiang Mai, 1 Samlan Road, A.Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 (50 meters South of Wat Phrasingh), ☎ +66 081-024-7046, . Variety of mountain bike tours out of Chiang Mai and surrounding areas
- Backstreet Academy Chiang Mai, Various locations (Book Online), ☎ +66 088-252-3337, [email protected], . Offers many alternative experiences with locals, including things like glass blowing workshop, scrap metal welding workshop, silversmithing class, fishing with locals and many more. An award-winning social enterprise based throughout Southeast Asia connecting you with highly skilled artisans and locals who will show you something different. Great for those looking for something different and fans of community tourism.
- Chiang Mai Golf Courses, Various locations (Book Online or Call), ☎ +66 080-891-4973 ([email protected]), . There are some top-quality golf courses in Chiang Mai. Every golf courses will have the rental golf club for rent, if you don't bring it from home.
- Alliance Francaise, 138 Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 275277, . W nights, 19:30. Screens French films, but frequently sub-titled in English. See the website for calendar of showings. The Alliance also has an extensive library as well as exhibitions.
- Chiang Mai Vista Cinema (Kad Suan Kaew)), (on Huay Kaew Rd), . The ticket prices vary depending on the duration of the film. The place is not very popular among the locals since it is a bit old and worn. No digital or 3D films shown at Vista. 80-120 baht.
- Major Central Chiang Mai Airport, Airport Plaza, . Ticket prices around 120-260B depending on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats.
- Major CentralFestival Chiang Mai, Central Festival, . Ticket prices around 120-260B depending on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats. There is also IMAX and DFX screens at CentralFestival with higher prices.
- SF Cinema, Promenada Mall, . Ticket prices around 120-260B depending on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats.
If you would like to avoid the crowd, avoid going on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights. Make sure to check the language of the film prior to booking. Some movies are dubbed into Thai, some with Thai subtitles, look for (TH) vs. (EN/TH) on the listing. Tickets can be purchased online with seating choices.
Festivals & exhibitions
- Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival. Takes place 15-17 January 2016 at Ban Bo Sang, Sankampang. The festival is in the form of a "street fair" in which the central road of the village is used, with shops on both sides. Shops are decorated in Lanna-style, most with the well-known umbrellas, as well as with traditional lanterns. In addition there are contests, exhibitions, cultural performances, local entertainment and assorted shows day and night. There is a grand procession decorated with umbrellas and local products, a variety of handicrafts for sale, northern-style khantoke meals, and the Miss Bo Sang pageant.
- Chiang Mai Flower Festival, . Staged every year during the first weekend in February (7-9 February in 2014). The city is awash with vibrant colous ranging from the electric orange and lilac colours of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Year, is echoed by beds of scarlet salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colourful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of colour that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiang Mai aptly gives the city its name "Rose of the North". On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Suan Buak Haad at the Southwest corner inside the moat of the old city. Many types of flower, miniature trees, and orchids are put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers. The best part of the flower festival is on Saturday. The parade lines up from the train station to Narawat Bridge so the police close most of Jarenmuang Rd around 08:00. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiang Mai Governor's home. The parade route goes down Tha Phae Rd to the gate and turns left and follows the moat to Suan Buak Haad City Park. The parade moves at a slow pace and stops several times so there is plenty of time to take pictures of the colourful floats, pretty girls and hill tribe people in native costume. The paraders hand out roses to spectators lining the road. When the parade finishes everyone heads to Suan Buak Haad where all the floats, award winning flower growers and landscape projects are all on display. There are plenty of food stalls in the park, and in the late afternoon the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival starts. The party goes well into the evening until the new Flower Festival Queen has been chosen. This is a great time to visit Chiang Mai, as the air is cool and the evenings fresh and clear. If you want to see the festival make sure you book your hotels and flights well in advance.
- Inthakin or Tham Boon Khan Dok is the City Pillar Festival in Chiang Mai. This is a six-day festival where the city pillar spirits are propitiated to ensure the continuity of the city. Occurs in May or June as part of the Northern Thailand lunar calendar. Very large event focused around Wat Chedi Luang.
- Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals If you like candles placed in colourful paper lanterns, fireworks, beautiful girls in traditional dress, parade floats, lots of food, and parties, don't miss the Loi Krathong festival, which in Chiang Mai lasts for 3 full days, the last night being that of the 12th full moon of the year (which is usually in November). In the small town of Mae Jo, north of Chiang Mai, they start the festival on Saturday night by simultaneously launching thousands upon thousands of hot air balloons called Khom Loy.
- Loi Krathong coincides with the northern Thai (Lanna) festival known as "Yi Peng" (Thai: ยี่เป็ง). Due to a difference between the old Lanna calendar and the Thai calendar, Yi Peng is held on a full moon of the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar ("Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month" in the Lanna language). A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (Thai: โคมลอย), literally: "floating lanterns") are launched into the air where they drift with the winds. The festival is meant as a time for tham bun (Thai: ทำบุญ), to make merit. People decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with khom fai (Thai: โคมไฟ): intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms. Khom thue (Thai: โคมถือ) are lanterns which are carried around hanging from a stick, khom khwaen (Thai: โคมแขวน) are the hanging lanterns, and khom pariwat (Thai: โคมปริวรรต) which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside. Chiang Mai has the most elaborate Yi Peng celebrations, where both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are celebrated at the same time resulting in lights floating on the waters, lights hanging from trees/buildings or standing on walls, and lights floating by in the sky.
- Orchid Fair. (January) is the biggest orchid fair of the year, with an orchid market, activities and more.
Khom Loy hot air balloons launch
- Songkran Festival, . The Thai Water Festival is celebrated as the Thai new year from April 13-15 (though it may begin a day or two early). The most obvious sign that you're in the middle of the festival is when you get soaked by someone pouring a bucket of water over you, or squirting you with a water gun! This tradition evolved from people tossing water that had been poured over holy statues, since this water was expected to be good luck. Now, it takes the form of a free-for-all water fight, and you will undoubtedly be drenched. It's also a way of staying cool during the very hot and humid month of April. Just be sure to put your cell phone in a plastic bag!
Chiang Mai, Thailand “second city” and the “Rose of the North” may well be one of Southeast Asia’s most livable cities and has spas, health resorts, and wellness centers. It is more manageable than Bangkok, yet is home to a wide variety of health centers, not to mention parks, golf courses, mountains, and fantastic trekking.
Visitors are spoilt for choice between modest retreats, boutique hotels, or full-blown wellness centers. Should your needs be more surgical, Chiang Mai has a number of top drawer medical facilities, including the highly rated, JCI-accredited Chiang Mai Ram hospital.  A number of fine spa and massage establishments are located in the heart of Chiang Mai, probably within 15 minutes or so of your hotel, and include the following:
- Makkha Health&Spa, Top 3 of the best spas in Chiangmai (Tripadvisor) 38/1 Ratchamanka Soi 8 PhraSing Mueang, 50200 Chiang Mai, Thailand (Near PhraSingh Temple 150m), ☎ +66 53 271423 ([email protected]), . The newly renovated house in 50-year-old ancient house is now become a full-service health spa.The house still maintains the old cultural interior and exterior designs. Natural wood is the main decorative material of the spa.The beautiful green nature and the serene sounds of water bubbling surrounding the house can make the customers feel calm and relaxed.The Makkha Health and Spa is located in the center of Chiangmai old city which is surrounded by the old canals and beautiful temples.Only one minute walking to Wat PraSingha temple and Sunday Walking street .Free Shuttle Service within Chiangmai city. 300+ baht.
- Oriental Massage, 332-334 Thapae Road,Chang moi soi3 (Opposit of Mahawan temple, 300m.befor Taepae gate), ☎ +66 91 805 9990. Oriental has a private massage room for oil aroma massage with air con. Professional massagers, polite and friendly staffs. You will feel comfortable and most relaxing in our place.You also can do shopping in night market walking street after massage which is available on Sunday. 200+ baht.
- Nanthikan Massage, 181 Moonmuang Soi 6 (In front of Somphet Market, northeast side of the old town, upstairs), ☎ +66 86 187 5598, . Nanthikan has a great massage shop on the second floor at Somphet Market (so away from street noise) and with air con. Professional massages, great ambiance, super fun and friendly staff. You can find cheaper massages in other places, but you'll see that the extra baht here is worth every penny! Delicious tea and dried fruit are served while you wait or after the massages. Nanthika also offers personalized massage courses. 250+ baht.
- Fah Lanna Massage, 186/3 Loi Kroh Rd (near the Night Bazaar, down the street from McDonald's, past Royal Lanna Hotel.), ☎ +66 89 695 0802 or +66 82 030 3029 ([email protected]), . A small and very cozy massage shop close to the Iron Bridge. Clean, friendly and professional, Fah Lanna gets continuously the highest ratings in customer reviews. First customers get a gentle foot-bath with scrub and comfortable clothes to change into and after the massage they offer ginger tea and a cold towel. The decoration and the music they play are beautiful and add to the experience. After collecting 10 stamps (1 stamp per 1 hour treatment) they give a free massage. Massages here are excellent and prices are very reasonable. 200+ baht.
- Green Bamboo Massage, 1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1, ☎ +66 89 827 5563, . A small and charming studio inside the moat with a fair and sustainable concept, located in a typical wooden Thai house. The certified staff is highly trained in the arts of ancient Thai massage therapy. The owner uses real home made cosmetics and even created her own aloe vera oil. Choose from a great variety of treatments and packages for fair prices. 200+ baht/hour.
- Le'Lux Massage, (near Sompet Market on Soi 6, Moon Muang Rd). Excellent staff and ambiance. Services include Thai massage (150 baht/hr), oil massage (200 baht/hr), scrubs, manicure (150 baht), pedicure (150 baht), and more. Tea and water are included.
- Let's Relax, (2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Chang Khlan Rd). Does professional massage in a 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, (near Sompet Market on Soi 6). Very knowledgeable and friendly staff, and air-con. Oil, foot, and neck/shoulder massage also available. Thai massage, 150 baht/hour.
- Sun Massage, Loi Kroh Rd, opposite 7-11. Very clean and pleasant modern decor. The masseuses are very friendly, and provide decent, skilled massages. There is a white table in front of the shop where the masseuses often hang out when they're not working. Traditional Thai massage, 199 baht/hour..
- Viang Ping Massage & Spa, Tha Phae Rd, Soi 2 (opposite Wat Bupparam.), ☎ +66 53 874 071. Very clean and well-run business, professionally run by Fern, manager-proprietor. All massages based on the Lanna, northern Thai-style, using pressure points & energy lines. Home made coconut oil and natural facial, body scrub, and wrap products. Fern also teaches massage and spa services to individuals or occasionally to small groups. Prices average, 200 baht for Thai, foot or head & shoulder massages. 250 baht for oil. Loyalty cards for regular customers, free massage after 10 visits.
- Motorcycle touring is a great way to explore Northern Thailand. One good half-day trip out of Chiang Mai is up and over Doi Suthep, which will take you up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and beyond to Doi Pui. From there some trails can lead down to the back of Huay Tung Tao, a reservoir for relaxing besides and eating fish. Careful, some of these roads are dirt, experienced motorcyclists only. More extensive touring includes the Samoeng Loop, and farther afield to Pai and Mae Hong Son, or Doi Inthanon, or Chiang Dao. If going for more than an hour or two (it is 90 minutes to Chiang Dao, and several hours around the Samoeng Loop), then consider a larger motorbike, such as a 500cc. For around town, a ride to Chiang Dao (best to overnight at Chiang Dao Nest 1), then a 125cc is fine. Don't try Pai on a 125cc (esp. not with a passenger) unless very experienced (and with good kit and full face helmet).
- Something Different Tour 15 Soi 5, Kotchasan Rd. (+66)53-449-600 ([email protected]). They offer motor bike tours (along with other types of tours). Ranging from one day to four days. You can either drive the motorbike (if you have experience) or ride as an passenger. They also give you the option to ride off road; a great way to see the country side. The staff works hard to make sure each you have the best experience possible. This tour company is one of the non-touristy companies. Each tour is small and intimate, and you will get to experience a different aspect of Thailand. They also have a guest house where you can stay. Prices range from 100 baht for a dorm with shared bathroom and 300 baht for a two person room with your own bathroom. A true gem, when it comes to tour companies.
Raft trips down the Mae Tang River are offered by organised by several companies and can often be combined with elephant riding or mountain biking. During the dry season (Jan-Feb) water levels are relatively low with only grade 2-3 rapids, but during the rainy season (Jun-Oct) higher water levels make for a more exciting grade 4-5 trip.
- Peak Adventure Tour, 302/4 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd, ☎ +66 53 800567. Offers 10 km rafting trips that can be combined with elephant riding or ATV driving.
Zipline canopy tours
- Flight of the Gibbon (Zipline Adventure Tour), ☎ +66 53 010660 ([email protected]), . Zipline through the 1,500 year old rainforest high above the forest floor. 5 km of ziplines connect lookout platforms, lowering stations, and sky bridges, making the experience a full zipline canopy tour. After the tour you can hike up alongside the Mae Kompong Waterfall. Allow 7 hours total for the tour from pickup to drop off. Earliest collection time 05:30. ~3,599 baht.
- Mae Ping River Cruise, 133 Charoenpratet Rd, Changklan (Wat Chaimongkol boat landing, between Hotel Chedi and Ping Nakara), ☎ +66 53 274 822 ([email protected], fax: 053-818627), . 08:30-17:00. Two hour cruise with a refreshment stop at a Thai farmer's house. Hotel pick-up. 450 baht.
- Chiang Mai Tubing & Beach Club, 154 Moo 5, Mae Ho Phra (40 km north of Chiang Mai), ☎ +66 (0)80 064 4649, . 10:30-18:00. Offers river tubing tours on the Mae Ping river lasting 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the season. Afterwards, activities such as beach volleyball, frisbee, slack lining or relaxing in a hammock, can be enjoyed at the Beach Club. 399-599.
- Aerobics, . Aerobics sessions are held in the car park of Tesco Lotus on the superhighway every weekday from 17:30. The sessions are very popular and tourists or visitors to Chiang Mai are welcomed. Regular water aerobics classes, incorporating Tai Chi and yoga exercises, are held at the Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool
- Cricket, . The north of Thailand may seem an odd place to find an international cricket tournament. Every year since 1988 more than 200 cricketers from around the world gather at Chiang Mai for the tournament. The week-long tournament for amateur players, with a sprinkling of test stars, it is held at the historic Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club, generally at the start of April.
- Extreme Sports Centre (X Centre), 816 Moo 1, Rim Thai, Mae Rim (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rt 107. Turn onto Rt 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 3 km. X Centre on the left), ☎ +66 53 297 700, . Daily, 09:00-18:00. Kiwi-run business, totally buttoned-down and professional. Bungy jumping; off-road buggies; dirt bikes; paintball; indoor drift carts; Xorb ball; sports bar and restaurant. Taxis available from Chiang Mai at 09:30, 13:00, 15:00.
- Rock Climbing - Approximately 55 km east of Chiang Mai lies Crazy Horse Buttress, a 60 m, orange- and black-streaked monolith jutting out of the green Mae On farming valley. Crazy Horse boasts more than 130 bolted routes between (French system) grades 5 and 8a, which makes it an ideal destination for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Spend several days exploring every part of the crag, or just spend a day or an afternoon above ground as a break from exploring the magnificent caves of the region. Climbing guides and information are also available from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures .
- Mountain Biking - Just west of Chiang Mai lies the beautiful Doi Suthep National Park, its summit at 1650 m, 1300 m above the valley floor. Chiang Mai Mountain Biking runs daily downhill trips and nature cross country rides see 
- Table Tennis - The Chiang Mai Table Tennis Club is located at the Muang Chiang Mai Stadium complex 700 meters north of the Chang Phueak (northern) Gate. Going east on Sanamkela Road, turn left into the stadium complex. Follow the road to the left (you will go past two buildings and a skateboard park). The Table Tennis Club house has a big sign outside. It is open every day beginning around 4pm, and is open until late in the evening. There is a 25 Baht fee to play. Several good quality tables, with good flooring and lights.
- Tennis - There are several places to play tennis in Chiang Mai: Gymkhana Club, Chiang Mai- Lamphun Rd ; Chiang Mai Land Village, Chiang Mai Land Rd; Imperial Chiang Mai Resort & Sports Club, 284 Moo 3, Don Kaew, Mae Rim ; Lanna Sports Club, Chotana Rd; Palm Springs, 120 Moo 5, Mahidol Rd; and Chiang Mai Sports Complex (700 Year Stadium, Irrigation Canal Rd (Rt 121 to Mae Rim), which has 12 courts. All courts are bookable in advance and at most flood lighting makes it possible to play in the evening when it is cooler. There is an additional charge to cover the cost of electricity.
- Yoga. The diversity of yoga studios in Chiang Mai rounds out the image of Chiang Mai as a centre for massage training, healing and spas. Yoga studios with regular classes include Wild Rose Yoga  in the old city, Sattva Yoga  north of the city, Kaomai Lanna , Freedom Yoga  and the Chiang Mai Mala Dhara Eco Resort . Yoga teacher training courses are available at Wise Living Yoga Academy  and Pranaya Yoga Teacher Training.
Chiang Mai swimming pools open to the public vary in quality, cleanliness and accessibility. On balance, those pools which are operated to internationally recognised standards of water quality are those which are privately owned by foreign investors.
- Seven Hundred Year Stadium, (on the outer ring road, Irrigation Canal Rd—Route 121, towards Mae Rim. It is about 8 km from city centre and takes about fifteen minutes to get there by tuk-tuk/taxi.). A huge sports complex built for the SE Asia Games, held in Chiang Mai in the early 1990s, and now a public sports and recreation centre. The pool is sanitised using chlorine.
- Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool and Resort, ("take), . Open to tourists and other visitors. There are 3 swimming pools and decks. A detailed map and directions in Thai and English can be printed from their website. The pool is sanitised using salt water.
- Hotel Pools. Some up-market hotels such as The Orchid allow non-guests to use their pools on payment of a fee. Travelling time from the city centre is around 10 minutes. Sanitised using chlorine.
- Chiang Mai Land Swimming Pool, ("in). Open to the public. It has a pool deck and also has a restaurant and pool-side service. The pool is sanitised using chlorine. Adults, 50 baht; children, 30 baht.
- Huay Tung Tao Reservoir, (head north on 121 or 118. Takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi.). A reservoir in surrounding woodlands. No swimming allowed. A restaurant offers lakeside dining at personal salas along the shore. Admission, 20 baht..
- Waterfalls and natural pools, (at the foot of Doi Suthep on Huay Kaew Rd. Look for a large Buddhist shrine on your left after travelling past the the entrance to Chiang Mai Zoo. Turn left into the market at the back of the shrine, and keep walking up the hill. You will come to the waterfalls after about 5 minutes. About 7 km from the city centre, it takes 10-15 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi to get there.). The pools at the bottom of the waterfalls are not really big enough for swimming, but are a great place to cool off at the height of summer. During the dry season some of the waterfalls dry up. Head for the high ground and you will still find pools full of fresh water. However, be aware that there are a variety of dangers in swimming in these pools, including leptospirosis which is endemic in Thailand with thousands of reported cases every year.  Free.
- Chiang Mai Food Tours, (Meet at Somphet Market), ☎ +66 89 1263657 ([email protected]), . Chiang Mai Food Tours provides culinary tours in Chiang Mai, including Taste of the North & Old Town Chiang Mai Walk that includes the tasting of 10 or more Northern Thai menus from 6 local eateries, as well as visits to local landmarks. The tour takes about 4 hours and is available everyday except Sunday. from 990 baht.
- Wat Chom Tong, Tambon Ban Luang, Amphoe Chom Tong (about 60 km southwest of the city), ☎ +66 53 826869/+66 53 826180. The home temple of the meditation master Achan Tong. Offers residential courses in Vipassana meditation on an on-going basis.
- Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, . The International Buddhist Centre offers short and long residential courses in Vipassana meditation in English. A brand new centre, including accommodation and a vitara (chanting hall), is now open.
- Wat Ram Poeng, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (4 km southwest of the city), ☎ +66 53 278620,, . Offers facilities for retreats and meditation instruction. Ten day minimum stay required for introduction to Vipassana meditation techniques. English-speaking monks are available to assist foreigners. For non-native English speakers, long-term students from your home country may be available to offer translation services.
- Wat Suan Dok, Suthep Rd (1 km west of the Old City Moat), ☎ +66 53 278967. Has a meet- and-greet for tourists and monks, every M W F afternoon between 17:00 and 19:00. Also, you can sign up for a 24-hr introduction meditation retreat (they are offered on Tu).
- Wat Umong, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (~6 km out of town), ☎ +66 53 277248, . Offers meditation courses and dharma instruction in English every Su 15:00-18:00. Open 08:30-16:00
Thai boxing (Muay Thai)
- Team Quest Thailand, 114/3 Moo.1, Phadeed (ป่าแดด) Rd (A 5 minute walk from Central Airport Plaza or a short drive from the airport), ☎ +66 86 091 1536 ([email protected]), . A gym for muay Thai and mixed martial arts. Teamquest is popular with local expats. Train with top trainers from the biggest stadia in the country. Very basic onsite accommodation also available.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong
- Green Dragon Tai Chi Center and Personal Training, 459/4 Nong Hoi (behind the Nong Hoi Market, two minutes from the Holiday Inn Riverside), ☎ +66 856 245 776 ([email protected]). Offers customized weekend courses for health and relaxation, especially for beginners, in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, the 18 Movements, the 8 brocates/Shaolin style, 24 Yang Form, 108 Yang Form old frame, Inner Qi Gong after grandmaster Zhi-Chang-Li and standing meditation after Grand Master Frankie Dow (Chan Kwaan Chung).
- Every morning at 6 AM at Suan Buak Haad Park (in the south west corner of the old city) you can join the locals for free during their Tai Chi routine. These also take place at the 3 Kings Monument.
- Air's Thai Culinary Kitchen, 9/1 Nongprateep Rd, ☎ +66 53 249326; +66 81 9936564, . On 1.6 acres of the tranquil, landscaped grounds of a private house. The kitchen's unique design draws from professional experience and is purpose-built, and surrounded by herb and spice gardens. Offers Course A and Course B. Each is 3 days in length, 08:30-15:00. Free transport to/from hotel. 2,700 baht.
- Baan Thai Cookery School, 11 Ratchadamnoen Rd, Soi 5 (near Tha Phae Gate), ☎ +66 53 357339; +66 16 714120, . Courses include a cookbook and market tour. Time: 9:40am. - 4:00 pm. Class Size: 2-9 people 900 baht / day.
- Chiang Mai Kitchen Cooking School, ☎ +66 97 002099. 20 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai. The organic herb and vegetable garden supplements ingredients that are purchased at the morning market. Before and/or after your day in the kitchen, you can stay overnight in their traditional Thai bamboo house.
- Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, 1-3 Moon Muang Rd, ☎ +66 53 206388 (fax: +66 53 206387), . Offers 1-2-3-4-5-day courses. 990 baht for 1 day course..
- Classic Home Cooking, ☎ +66 53 219056, . Choose any dish from more than 50 dishes on their menu. 6 dishes per day for morning class and 4 dishes for evening class. The cooking class runs every day in a house.
- Gap's School Of Thai Culinary Art, 3 Rajadamnern, Soi 4, ☎ +66 53 270143, . Well organized, your own stove, 1 teacher per 6 students, but only one group. Book at Gap's House (See sleep section). 1 or 2 day classes, 900 bath/day. They know reasonable about vegetarian cooking (not vegan), but you will have to insist (multiple times) on it. (18.786969510,98.958169620)
- Grandma's Thai Recipes, 48 Chaiyapoom Rd (15 minutes out of town, transportation provided), ☎ +66 53 121656, . Traditional Thai cooking instruction. Vegetarian-friendly. Restaurant and booking office located near Tha Phae Gate.
- A Lot Of Thai Cooking School, ☎ +66 53 800 724, . A family-run home cooking class, taught by the owner. Vegetarians and people with any kind of food restrictions welcome. Courses includes a market tour and a recipe book is provided for later use.
- Pantawan Cooking, ☎ +66 85 0322007, . Traditional family run business, drawing on 10 years of restaurant experience and authentic Thai recipes handed down over 3 generations. The school is a Thai teak wood house in its own green garden with pond and resident geese, ducks. Staff are fluent in English and French as well as Thai. Market trip, recipe and certificate are included
- Red Chili Cooking School, 164/4 Suthep Rd, ☎ +66 82 0285035 ([email protected]), . Aon is an enthusiastic & passionate chef bringing his experience at Four Seasons and other restaurants to share his knowledge of Thai cuisine with you. His recipes are not only delicious, but with his experience in food carving he teaches you ways to present your food beautifully, all in his home under a thatch roof gazebo. Each day has 2 classes, starting at 8:30AM and 3:30PM. Free transport provided to/from hotel. Feel free to contact him anytime via phone or email for more information or to book your flavorful adventure.
- Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, ☎ +66 53 329091, . Friendly and knowledgeable staff provide a course on local and traditional recipes. The course includes a market tour and provides you with the recipes for the dishes that you create.
- Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, 21 Moonmuang Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 418309, . Features a short market tour, and gifts a recipe book. Accommodates vegetarian cooking. Small classes (10 or less) and fun staff with a great sense of humor! Full-day option on the farm is 1000B and includes a short train and bike ride to a country home where you can cook in the open air. You can learn to make a different dish for each of the five courses - stir-fry, curry, soup, appetizer, and dessert. Approximately 8:30 am - 4 pm. Half-day options also offered. 1000 - 1800 Bath / day.
- Sompet Cookery School, 56 Patan Rd,, ☎ +66 53 214 897. Learn to cook traditional Thai food at a riverside home. Daily courses, morning and afternoon. A recipe book with colour photographs provided for each dish, suggesting many ways to prepare and serve Thai food.
- Spicyhouse Cooking School, 42/1 Ratchamanka Rd (next to Wat Kha Phao), ☎ +66 85 713 5425. Small classes, maximum 5, taught by the owner. Participants choose 5 dishes for a full day or 3 dishes for half day. Market tour and cook book included. Students eat what they cook. Vegetarians welcome.
- Thai Cottage Cookery School, 25/2 Ratchadumnern Rd, Soi 1, ☎ +66 5332 6608. Participants learn 5 dishes in a full day, including making curry paste from scratch 800 baht. 3-course half-day courses are available 600 baht. Market tour and cook book included. Modifications for vegetarians are easily made. Tu and Kat are excellent teachers and a lot of fun. 600-800 baht.
Recipe book by Small House Cooking School
- Small House Chiang Mai Thai Cooking School, 189/73 M.6 Nonghan Sansai, ☎ +66 9567 44550, . Northern Thai & Thai cooking classes in a very small group. Instructor is well trained from Thai culinary school and 5-star hotel in Chiang Mai. Price 800-1,500 Baht.
- AUA, 24 Ratchadamnern Rd (~200 m from the Tha Phae Gate), ☎ +66 53 278 407, . The AUA Thai Studies Department was established in 1985 to meet the language and cultural needs of foreigners working, visiting, or residing in Chiang Mai. Individual or group instruction. AUA used to occupy buildings on both sides of Ratchadamnern, but now is only on the north side of the street. The south side buildings have been razed and the grounds are being developed (Sep 2016).
- Centre for Thai Studies, Chiang Mai University Language Institute, 239 Hauy Kaew Road, Suthep, Muang,, ☎ +66 53 943 755, . Website has on-line application form and FAQ, offers both 1-Year courses and short conversational programs
- Payap University, (Super-highway Chiang Mai - Lumpang Road), ☎ +66 53 241 255 x7238, . Run by the South East Asian Institute of Global Studies, the Thai and Southeast Asian Studies Program at Payap University is a one- or two-semester academic program for students primarily interested in becoming proficient in the Thai language and knowledgeable about Thai culture. Course start dates are few and far between, and it is difficult to determine when they are without visiting the campus and talking with the staff.
- Green Bamboo Massage, 1/1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1, ☎ +66 89 827 5563, . Offers individual daily or weekly courses in traditional Thai massage, Thai yoga massage, Tok Sen massage, and Thai oil massage. Seminars are run by Ms. Mesa, a certified and experienced expert in these arts.
- Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai (TMC), . A government-registered school of Thai massage.
- Viang Ping Massage & Spa, 2/4 Tha Phae Road, Soi 2 (opposite Wat Bupparam), ☎ +66 53 874 071. Thai and oil massage courses, also spa courses. All courses run by Fern are individual or occasionally small groups of friends.
- Wandee Ancient Thai Massage School, Phrapokklao Road. Prasing Soi4/8, ☎ +66-81-5318874, . 9 a.m 8p.m.. traditional Thai massage,oil massage, foot massage and herbal ball massage courses done by an ancien teacher of Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang mai.
- Burma Study Center, Nimmana Haeminda Road Lane 13, Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand, . Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m. (closed Sundays). A wonderful organization with great resources and reading materials about Myanmar. The center is dedicated to serving refugees from Myanmar who flee their country to escape political persecution and violence. BSC provides English language classes, legal counsel and other services to Myanmar refugees living and working in Chiang Mai; they also host wonderful public events and welcome walk-ins to visit and enjoy their impressive library. Free.
Chiang Mai is a great place to shop. Sprawling markets during the day and night carry items from cheap trinkets to skilfully made local craft. ATM's can be found all around, but all charge 200-220 baht to foreign cards, in addition to a less-than-favorable exchange rate.
Most places do not accept credit cards, except for shopping malls and the like. It is very much a cash society.
- Mengrai Kilns, 79/2 Arak Rd, Samlan 6, ☎ +66 53 272 063 ([email protected]), . Celadon green-glazed ceramics. Sift through their pile of rejects in the covered area to the right of store and find something interesting for 20 baht. 20-500 baht.
- Nok 'Em Ded Designs, 162/5 Prapokklao Rd, Prasingh (from Tha Phae Gate, go straight on Rachadamnern Rd, turn left at 2nd intersection. Shop is on left, opposite Wat Puntao & Wat Chedi Luang.), ☎ +66 53 280 960, +66 87 034 4067 ([email protected]), . M-Sat 10:00-20:00, Sun 10:00-23:00. Unique styles from simple to extravagant. English-speaking owners & staff. Stone & Silver Jewellery handmade by the artist owners. Great quality ladies clothing, kids clothing, cool t-shirt collection, accessories and a variety of gift items. Prices to suit all budgets.
- Palmy Shoes, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 81 472 0607 ([email protected]), . Handmade leather shoes and accessories. The owners speak English and all shoes are made locally by local manufacturers. 1,000-2,500 baht.
- Kaber, 58/2 Inthawarorot (opposite Tree Sis Coffee). 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.. Ingenious 2-storied second hand clothes shop with endless range of pre-selected used and really vintage items. from 100 baht.
Modern shopping malls sell all the usual big brand products; worth investigating for electronic goods as prices can be negotiated down to a bargain.
- Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport (เซ็นทรัล แอร์พอร์ต พลาซ่า), corner Thipanet Rd and Mahidon Rd. About half a mile from the airport is a somewhat adventurous walk from the terminal. It has several floors, with a food court, banks/ATMs and multi-screen cinema. It also has a Cultural Centre attached selling many crafts, a large food market and an extensive selection of Thai ready-to-eat stalls in the basement.
- Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center, Maya 55 Moo 5, Huay Kaew Road, Nimmanhaemin, ☎ +66 (0) 5208 1555, . 10:00 - 22:00.
- Kad Suan Keaw, corner Huay Kaew Rd and Bunreuangrit Rd. Has many decent shops, restaurants and banks/ATMs.
- Night Bazaar, Chang Khlan Rd (between Tha Phae Rd and Si Donchai Rd). 18:00-24:00. A huge indoor/outdoor market stretching along both sides of the road with the Night Bazaar Building at the centre of the maelstrom. It can take a concerted effort to find something interesting among the near identical stalls selling tourist-oriented trinkets, tee shirts and pirated gear. You rarely will see Thai people shopping here. To get there, walk out from Tha Phae Gate in the old city and walk for 3/4 of a kilometre until you see a street to your right with tons of little stalls, take that right and then it all starts.
- Saturday Walking Market, Wualai Rd. Sa 17:00-23:00. In the old silver-working district, it's a smaller version of the Sunday market with most of the same vendors.
- Sunday Walking Market, Rachadamnoen Rd (from the inner-east side of Tha Phae Gate). Su 16:00-23:00. The street is blocked off to traffic for local craft vendors to layout their handmade wares. Can be very crowded, almost claustrophobic.
- Warorot Market (กาดหลวง / Kad Luang), Tha Phae Rd and Chang Moi Rd. 07:00-17:00. This sprawling indoor/outdoor market is where the locals shop and is worth a visit to look over the plethora of fabrics, spices, tea, and dried fruit piled up along the aisles. Across the road is a flower and fruit market and an out-of-this-world fireworks stand. At night the street is packed with snack stalls.
Along Rt 1006 (Charoen Muang Rd) just past the superhighway (Rt 11) are located various factories offering tours of their manufacturing process and showrooms. Silverware, silk, furniture and brass items generally priced with the cashed up tourist in mind, but the tours might be worth a look to see how things are made. They are generally open during normal daytime hours.
A bowl of Chiang Mai's signature dish, Khao Soi Kai
, with pickled cabbage and lime to add to taste
A stall or market that is very popular with tourists - especially 'farang' without much knowledge of the taste of genuine Thai food - can't be 'trusted' as a place to amaze your tastebuds. A stall that has plenty of local Thai customers is more likely to be authentic - though generally they might not seek tourists (their menu in all-thai emphasizes this) and speak no word of English - they can be worth the visit. These shops, which seem to have been along the canal at some point before the tourist boom, have moved to back roads or further away because of the increasing costs in rent. A basic understanding in Thai will be very useful in opening up a whole new range of gourmet possibilities.
Chiang Mai's restaurants offer a wide range of food, second only to Bangkok. Naturally it's a good place to sample northern Thai food: in particular, hunt down some khao soi, yellow wheat noodles in curry broth, traditionally served with chicken (gai) or beef (neua), but available some places as vegetarian or with seafood - see listings below. Another local specialty is hang ley, Lanna-style pork curry. There is also a wide range of excellent international food restaurants, from cheap hamburger stands to elaborate Italian eateries.
When you come to Chiang Mai you should try a khantok or khantoke dinner and show. Although these are just for tourists it is still a nice way to spend an evening. The first khantok dinner was held in 1953 by Professor Kraisi Nimanhemin who wanted to host a special event for 2 friends leaving Chiang Mai. Two more such dinners were held, both in 1953, thus "khantoke" dinners are not "historic", but rather a relatively recent invention. Khantok literally means small bowl, low table (khan = small bowl. tok = low table) There are also many garden restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent Thai meal in a beautiful setting.
The range and value of Western food in Chiang Mai is unsurpassed in Northern Thailand and there is a full range of restaurants from Australian/British/Irish, through French and German to Italian, Spanish, American and Mexican. In fact considering how remote Chiang Mai is from the major centres of population in Asia, it is remarkable how many Western restaurants there are! This is one city where eating Thai is not the only option.
Markets & roadside stalls
Transient groups of roadside stalls set up in the evening selling basic, but good Thai food that may well be the most authentic you will find.
- Anusarn Market, Chang Khlan Rd (same side of road as 'Galare Food Centre' but much further up beyond Loi Kroh crossroad towards Sri Dornchai). A busy outdoor night market with lots of little Thai, Indian, and Western restaurants and food vendors. Great atmosphere.
- Kalare Food Centre, Chang Khlan Rd (opposite the Night Bazaar Building). 17:00-22:00. Has a large open-air food court, featuring free Thai classical dance performances nightly. All food is paid for with pre-purchased coupons. Mains 20-50 baht.
- Suthep Road outdoor eating, (Past Canal Rd, by the university). Dozens of food carts set up every evening around from around 17:00 until about 22:00, with a huge variety of very inexpensive food, and tables set up along the sidewalk.
- Sukontha Buffet, 46/1 Huay Kaew Rd., ☎ 66 53 21 5666. Local buffet near CMU. 190 baht will get you a wide range of Thai food at a massive buffet. Two rows of tables for maybe 50m full of cooked and uncooked food. The uncooked food you can bring to your table and cook on a small table grill that also has a ring around it for boiling your soup concoctions. Open in the evenings. Tell the tuktuk "sukonthan moogata." 190 baht.
- Funkydog Cafe, Moonmuang Rd, Soi 6. Local handmade coffee from a local hill tribe. Fantastic Thai family cooking. All fresh and made by hand, great atmosphere and music, moderately priced food. Genuine owner who will keep you informed of all the natural products you should eat. The yellow curry is recommended.
- Tanya (Food Drink Ice Cream), 55 Ratvithi Road (After first traffic light away from the moat and across from a school.). 9am-8pm; sun: 9am-3pm. A small restaurant catering mostly to the Middle School students from the school across the street. Portions are a little skimpy but the flavor and quality of the food is excellent. Rice and noodles from 15 baht and Tom Yam from 25. Ice cream and other snacks are equally cheap. Large bottles of Chang cheaper than 7-11! 20+ baht.
- Just Khao Soy, 108/2 Charoen Prathet Rd (behind Night Bazaar), ☎ +66 53 818641. Until 22:00. Restaurant specializing in khao soy and other northern Thai specialties. Especially suited to Westerners, though priced to match. One of the few spots to find khao soy at night in Chiang Mai. Most authentic version is "Chiang Mai-style" with organic chicken on the bone, but they sometimes run out of it before closing so arrive early. Many other versions available 100-200 baht.
- Kanjana Restaurant, 2 Ratpakinai Rd 2 (lat/long 18,788566, 98,990212). Delicious food at really low prices. Friendly staff.
- Khao Soi Khun Yai, Sri Poom Rd (on the main road, small entrance on the left just after Wat Kuan Kama & Sri Poom soi 8). 10:00-14:00. Arguably the best khao soi in Chiang Mai according to multiple blogs & a few foodies. Small portions but easy to order multiple bowls & try the various styles/meats. Simple operation, but Khun Yai (grandma) has been cooking up this speciality for 45 years with home grown & pickled condiments. 30 baht.
- Kiat-O-Cha (Kiat-O-Cha Khao Man Kai), 41-43 Intrawarorot Rd (On the corner to Rachadamnoen Soi 6, near Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center (Old City)). Daily 05:00-15:00. A Hainanese chicken rice & Satay restaurant has been open since 1957. An unmissable Hainanese chicken rice dish, an authentic Thai dish (originated as a traditional Chinese dish), is served with specialised sauce and (unlimited refills) clear chicken broth. This family-friendly restaurant also serves Pork Satay (served with peanut sauce & cucumber relish) and Crispy Fried Chicken & Pork. 30-100 baht. (18.78970,98.98635)
- Kuaytiaw Reua Koliang, Moon Muang Rd (near Ratchamankha Rd; no English sign). Serves authentic kuaytiow reua (literally "boat noodles", rice noodles in dark broth with beef). It's good stuff anyway. 25 baht.
- Muan Baan, Moon Muang, Soi 7. A variety of Thai meals, for breakfast and lunch. The food is excellent and the owners and staff are very pleasant and helpful.
- Ratana’s Kitchen, Tha Phae Rd. Popular for its wide range of Thai dishes and a huge vegetarian selection. Both smoking (inside, air-conditioned) and non-smoking areas are available. Visa/MasterCard accepted. 30-60 baht. (18.78815,98.9956)
- Re-Feel Café, 48/4-5 Rachawithi Rd. Great Thai food, good atmosphere, friendly staff and free billiards.
- Sailomjoy Restaurant, 7 Rachadamnern Rd (near Tha Phae Gate). Daily 07:30-16:00.. Delicious food (Thai, Western and vegetarian), friendly service, and simple and relaxed atmosphere.
- Ghekko Garden Bar and Restaurant, (opposite the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel). Highlights are lemon grass beef and sun-dried beef. Their chilli crab is also worth a try. Enquire at the bar blackboard as to daily specials.
- Huen Phen, 112 Ratchamanka Rd. daily 08:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00.. Specialises in Northern Thai food, and is popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Lunch in the air-conditioned hall is decent enough, but dinner in the profusely decorated old house in the back is little short of magical. Best of all is the price: a bowl of Khanom jiin naam ngiaw (Shan-style pork rib noodles), a plate of som tum (green papaya salad) and some sticky rice will cost less than 100 baht!
- Ob Luang. daily 10:00-14:00 and 17:00-24:00.. Serves genuine Thai-Chinese cuisine in a secluded garden setting on the Ping River.
- Sila Aat, (on the southern edge of the Kalare Market). daily 15:00-24:00. Fresh seafood and a wide selection of Thai and northern/Lanna specialities. Operated by two sisters.
- Galae Garden Restaurant, (at the end of Suthep Rd), ☎ +66 53 278 655. Thai & Northern Thai food and grilled specialities in a delightful outdoor setting.
- Khum Khantoke, (in Chiang Mai Business Park), ☎ +66 53 304 121. daily 19:00-22:00. Traditional North Thailand Cuisine. Reservations are a good idea to get a good seat. All you can eat 350 baht.
- Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre, 185/3 Wualai Rd, ☎ +66 53 275097, . daily 19:00-21:30. The first commercial khantoke dinner in Chiang Mai more than 30 years ago. They have the best northern Thai food of any of the khantoke establishments. However the seating, show, and music are not as good as others. 750 baht.
- Mike's Hamburger Stand, corner Chaiyapoom Rd and Changmoi Rd. Brightly-lit with just stools and a counter in an open shop.
- Paradise Pizza, 7/2 Ratchawichi Road (Across the street from the U.N. Irish Pubin the old city.), ☎ +66 53 418 409, . 11:00-late. Authentic New York style pizza. Slices or whole pies available. Made with fresh ingredients included imported Italian tomatoes. Available toppings: Garlic, Onion, Pineapple, Peppers, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Olives, Meatballs, Bacon, Sausage, Hamburger, Ham, Pepperoni, Chicken, Mushrooms. Calzone also available. Drinks: Beer, water and soft drinks. Free Wi-Fi. 2 slices plus a drink for just 139 baht. (18.7904237,98.991874)
- Woody's Fine Fast Food, 56 Chaiyapoom Rd (next to 7/11 near Spicy Nightclub). 17:00-late. Kebabs, hamburgers, hot dogs, falafel, chips, beer and soft drinks. Free Wi-Fi. Stays open after most restaurants have closed.
- Vintage Park, 54 Si Don Chai Road, 50100 Chiang Mai (Just walk east from the Chiang Mai Gate (the southern one) on Rat Chiang Saen Road and continue on Si Don Chai at the junction. Just follow the road until you see a big sign saying 'Vintage Park' on the right hand side.). 9:00 - 00:00 (midnight). Located in an open Space covered by awnings, the decoration is a mixture of vintage and modern style - very appealing! The food tastes amazing and you've got a lot to choose from: American Diner food, Japanese and Thai cuisine is ready to be ordered. You definitely should try the Grizzly Burger with Lava Cheese and the Sushi (although it seems as the Sushi chef isn't always there.. You'll have to see). There are mostly locals, we were the only 'Farangs' on our visit there. Great atmosphere - you won't regret your dinner here! mains from 80B.
- Puccini Italian Restaurant, "42, ☎ 053 280 762. Real Italian food, using only the best, organic ingredients. Home made pasta, excellent pizza, and large wine selection. Located next door to the Porn Ping Tower, near night bazaar.
- The Duke's Steak House & Pizzeria (Duke's Night Bazaar), Chiang Mai Pavilion, 1st and 2nd Floor, Chiang Klan Rd (opposite Royal Princess Hotel), ☎ +66 53 818 603, . 10:30-24:00. Excellent American-style dishes and desserts: ribs, burgers, pizza, cheesecake, etc. Full bar with local and imported beers and wines. Great family atmosphere, kid's menu, no loud music or entertainment, just good food. Eat in, take out, call for delivery.
- Duke's Ping River, 49/4-5 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (south of the Narawat Bridge, 50 m north of TAT Chiang Mai), ☎ +66 53 249 231. 11:00-23:00.
- La Fourchette, (across from Wat Chedi Luang), . M-Sa, 18:00-23:00. Authentic French restaurant in the centre of the old city. Large selection of imported meats and wines at affordable prices. Romantic open-air seating area with upstairs art gallery.
- Harrad's Cafe (Proper English Food & Thai Specials), Nantharam Rd (next to Saturday Walking Street and Chiang Mai Gate), ☎ +66 89 700 5697, . 10:00-21:00. This place serves some of the best Khao Soi and English pies. Not your typical roadside Thai restaurant, Harrad's not only has some of the best English and Thai food in Chiang Mai but is more affordable than other places. The staff give you free water and make you feel comfortable. It's a great break from the Saturday Walking Street market and is also right across the street from Chiang Mai Gate. mains 40-50 baht.
- Mong Pearl Cafe, Huay Kaew Rd (from the old city: 300 m after the ring road (Hwy 121), on your right), ([email protected]). 08:00-20:00. A favourite with Westerners because of the great service, good English, nice aesthetics and delicious food and drinks.
- O'Malley's Irish Restaurant, 149-14/15 Changklan Rd, ☎ +66 53 271 921, . International cuisine and Guinness on tap.
- Overstand Coffee, 19/3 Soi 2 Rachamanka (Down the Soi next to De Naga Hotel), ☎ +66 94 626 8311 ([email protected]), . 8 am till 3 pm, closed Tuesdays. Winner Best Breakfast in Chiang Mai 2015 & 2016. Western Cafe (Melbourne meets Williamsburg) Laid back vibe, serving some of the best local coffee in Old City. Tasty breakfasts and open sandwiches on sourdough bread. Oven roasted mushrooms and tomatoes. Chorizo, Bacon & Eggs, Reuben/Cuban. (18.786047,98.9905203)
- Pern (Previously called SoupaSteak), 26/5-6 Huay Keaw Rd (opposite Shell gas station on the way to Doi Suthep), ☎ +66 86 111 7766, . Budget pork and chicken steaks.
- Bagel House Cafe (Real Bagels & Great Coffee), 110 Prapokklao (At the corner of Soi 6, Across Chevrolet Dealer). 8:00-17:00. Big Homemade Bagels & Baguettes, great menu. Breakfasts and great espresso based coffee. Free WiFi. American-style bagels. Prices are a bit high, but if you are hankering for the real thing, this is the place to go.
- Alois Bavarian Restaurant, Phrapoklao Rd, Soi 8 (opposite Golden Fern Guest House), ☎ +66 53 278515, . Tu-Su, 11:30-23:00, closed M. Authentic Bavarian specialities.
- Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant, 60 Keaw Nawarat Rd, Soi 1 (in front of Watket Temple; first soi off of Keaw Nawarat Rd), ☎ +66 53 306254, . Daily, 11:00-14:00, 17:30-22:00. Open for lunch & dinner with a range of traditional Italian soup, pasta, antipasti, meat, and vegetarian dishes. Homemade ice cream is served at 35 baht per serving. Vegetarian pastas are priced at 130-160 baht.
- The House (GINGER & Kafe), 199 Moonmuang Rd, ☎ +66 53 419011, . 10:00-23:00. Old 1930s colonial style house in town centre. Western and Thai food, pacific rim & fusion. Wi-Fi. Grilled fillet steak, 495 baht; hamburger, 250 baht.
- Piccola Roma Palace Italian Restaurant, 144 Charoenprathet Rd (opposite the Chedi Hotel, corner of Charoenprathet Rd & Sri Donchai Rd), ☎ +66 53 820297-8, . Open lunch & dinner amid beautiful surroundings. Serving residents for over 15 years. Menu and recipes on website. Reservations recommended. Call for free transportation.
There are three well known sources of decent Japanese at a reasonable price: Tsunami on Huay Gaew, Matsu on Singharat inside the moat, and Shogun in Sansai Noi. Matsu doesn't have sake, but their chirashi is amazing. Tsunami is known for their various rolls, and about half the menu at Shogun is excellent.
- Tsunami, Chang Phueak, Mueang Chiang Mai District.
- Matsu, Singharat Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai.
- Shogun, Chiang Mai-Doi Saket Rd, ☎ 0966987181.
Chiang Mai has an amazing selection of vegetarian restaurants. The Chiang Mai Vegetarian restaurants map  lists over 50 places. Many other places will offer vegetarian food as well, but be aware that they often don't care if there are some animal ingredients in the food any way (i.e. shrimp paste, fish and oyster sauce). This is only part out of ignorance because even the local Buddhist monks themselves often eat fish. (Thus, asking for your dish to be prepared "like the monks", which works in other places, does not get the same results in Chiang Mai).
- Blue Diamond, Muan Muang Rd, Soi 9. M-Sa 08:00-21:00. Thai and Western, huge selection of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great salads, fruits, juices, noodle dishes, bakery, good breads.
- Khun Churn, Nimmanhemin Rd, Soi 15, ☎ +66 53 224 124. daily 09:30-22:00. Thai vegetarian. A lunch buffet is available every day from 11:00-14:30 for 129 baht. Closes at 14:30 on the 16th of every month.
- Ming Kwan Vegetarian Buffet, Ratchadamnoen Rd (opposite the police station). days only. A different range of Thai vegan dishes from the norm. A focus on faux-meats (the veggie sausage is great!) and the faux-fish in curry-sauce was good. Of course, bamboo shoot stir-fry, noodle-soups, etc., means there's lots to try. They cook during the day, so other dishes appear from the kitchen often.
- Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant, Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Rd, Chiang Mai (inside the temple compound behind the monk chat building in an outdoor courtyard with a large boddhi tree and tables with umbrellas.), ☎ +66 86 101850. 09:00-15:00, closed W. Thai vegetarian with organic ingredients from local farmers and many vegan-friendly options. Run by a local self-reliance and seed-saving centre outside the city.
- Taste from Heaven, 237 Tha Phae Rd, ☎ +66 53 208803. Thai vegetarian with vegan options. Owned by a friendly English expat, this restaurant offers curries and noodle dishes in a comfortable and clean setting, with both indoor and garden seating.
- Unknown Buddhist Buffet, Phrapokkloa Rd (yellow fronted shop, 80 m north of Phatoo Chiang Mai (the Southern gate) on the right next to the Kodak Shop). daily 06:00-16:00. Delicious vegan buffet is available at super cheap prices. There are a few great dishes: the tofu, mushroom, and lemon grass wrapped in banana leaves is addictive; the het-hom (shitake) and other protein/gluten goodies are lovely; the steaming noodle soup is a great addition to a meal if you've rocked up late and want to warm up the buffet dishes. The earlier the better at this joint. When dishes run out, they aren't remade. Also, you can buy some vegan supplies from here.
- Bun Song, (From the train station follow the road down having the tracks on your left, take the first road right and follow it to the end, turn right and after a few meters it is on your left), ☎ 08 9850 4988. Small and ceap Thai eatery in walking distance of the train station. Coordinates: N18° 47.021 E099° 00.766 (18.78362948,99.012737269)
(See note about tap water under "Stay Safe" below)
Chiang Mai's nightlife scene is the most happening in the North, although still a far cry from Bangkok's hot spots. This guide will show where you can hangout, meet some of the most beautiful girls in Thailand, get outrageous or do whatever takes your fancy. There are discos, karaoke bars, and live music everywhere. The busiest nightlife zones are near Tha Phae Gate, Loi Kroh Road and along Charoenrat Road on the eastern bank of the Ping River.
Bars and pubs
Many, but by no means all, of Chiang Mai's tourist-oriented bars and pubs are located along Loi Kroh Road. In addition to the street bars, the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex (CMEC) can be found at the Night Bazaar end of Loi Kroh. Here you will find around 30 bars ranging from sports bars that feature big screens to watch sports and play pool, to Pattaya-style girlie "beer bars", to even bars staffed exclusively by kathoeys (ladyboys). The complex also features a muay Thai boxing ring with mandatory entrance fees and one or two actual matches, and after that clowns and ladyboys.
Also take a stroll along Moon Muang Road and its side sois. Here you can find small expat hangouts, go-go bars, and sports bars. Most have pool tables and hostesses, along with music videos or various TV sport programmes. Be aware that despite their charm and friendliness, the pressure to purchase lady drinks can end up with a very surprising "check bin" (tab) at the end of the night. A few of these bars recommended by expats are:
- 2Gether Bar & Restaurant, (Loi Kroh Soi 1, just past Number 1 Bar, on the left). open 11.00-1.00. Very reasonable prices, 10-30% less than others in the Loi Kroh neighbourhood. This bar/restaurant has a very good atmosphere. The host is the charming Mai. There is a free pool table, but don't expect an easy game if she is playing. A little-known fact about this place: it serves terrific food. A true undiscovered gem in Chiang Mai. E.g., large baguette sandwiches for less than 100 baht. Leo beer, 65 baht.
- Crank Tavern, (bottom of Ratchapakinai Rd (near Chiang Mai Gate)), ☎ +66 819 527699, . A beautifully recycled wood furnished bar with free Internet and friendly staff. Good pub food, and is a great place to have a meal and spend a relaxing evening. Also home of Crank Adventures for excellent mountain bike tours and bike hire.
- Dragonfly Bar, 8/1 Loi Kroh Road, . One of the smaller bars at the top of Loi Kroh but also one of the most cozy. What really make this place stand out is the friendly staff and the fact that this bar has two floors so you can get away from the bustle of street level and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere from the balcony.
- Half Moon Pub, Soi 2 Moon Muang (around the corner from Topnorth Guesthouse), ☎ +66 853 205023. 10:00 till late. Sports bar with many regulars and tourists. Darts & pool area, big TV, really nice international cuisine, especially the burgers, but also good Thai and Indian dishes. Excellent (can be loud) music, friendly atmosphere and beautiful women.
- Kat Bar, (Loi Kroh in the CMEC). 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 back.
- Next Place, (on Moon Muang Rd, on the inside of the moat right near Tha Phae Gate). No pressure to buy lady drinks, free pool for customers and friendly staff
- The Writers Club, 141/3 Rachadamnern Rd (Rachadamnern Rd, about 2 km into the old city from Tha Phae Gate.), ☎ +66 53 814187, +66 53 814187. This is an old fashioned bar and restaurant for SE Asia's community of authors, journalists, and screenwriters, though everyone's welcome. A good, informal source of information about SE Asia. This is where the some of those writing guide books gather. Generally this means septegenarians at the bar, and the food is mediocre at best. Take a pass if you are looking for something memorable.
There are also some regular bars with a normal atmosphere:
- Café Souvannaphoum, 20/1 Ratchamanka Rd (near Moon Muang), ☎ +66 53 903 781. M-Sa, 17:00-01:00. A decent wine bar with comfortable seating and relaxing music, great escape from the busy street scene.
- The Red Lion English Pub, 123 Loi Kroh Rd (Night Bazaar, just past McDonald's and Burger King.), ☎ +66 53 818847, . 10:00-01:00. Cheapest Draught Guinness in Chiang mai, and Heineken on tap as well. Imported Blackthorn Cider and Fuller's London Pride as well as Belgian and German beers. Pub favourites including bangers 'n mash, fish 'n chips, steak & kidney pie as well as steaks and pasta. International and Thai food. Menu in 7 languages including Japanese and Chinese. A great place to relax after shopping at the Night Bazaar. Live sports on a HD big screen including Premier League Football, Aussie Rules, Rugby and Formula 1 (weekends only) and a great selection of classic pop and rock videos from the 60s to the 80s during the week. The Red Lion is also the home of The Chiang Mai FC Expats supporters club. They meet two hours before the match at the pub. Visitors welcome. A free ride to the game is usually available.
West of the city centre, the area around Nimmanhaemin Rd is a popular hangout for younger Thais, perhaps due to its proximity to Chiang Mai University. The pubs tend to straddle a fine line between bar, restaurant, and nightclub, and feature loud music interspersed with live bands fronted by musicians who are most likely hitting the books in the daytime. Tourists looking for something racier are better off staying in the east side of town. Little English is spoken in this part of town. Little doesn't mean none, however, and the staff of many bars, being students, still can understand what do you want, or even sometimes can speak reasonably well.
- Mo'C Mo'L, Huay Kaew Rd. Pub and restaurant near Chiang Mai University, there are many zones in the restaurant: coffee shop, dining outdoors near the small pond, dining indoors with live music.
- Monkey Club, Nimminheimin Rd, Soi 9. +66 53 226997-8. Another hot spot for students and 20-somethings, with a variety of live music. Open 17:00-01:00.
- Warm Up Bar This chain bar/restaurant/club has several venues in Thailand. The venue in Chang Mai is a lot less touristy and the dance hall packed to the brim of Thai students.
Many smaller (usually no live music, but offer TV, generally with football or other sports) roadside Thai bars around this area, but outside of more up-market Nimmanhaemin Rd, they are cheap (50 to 65 baht for a large Chang or Leo is common). Often they have a discount if you buy 3 bottles of their proffered beer at one go, with a price of 129, 119, or even 109 baht for all three. The posters about those "promotions", if any, are in Thai language only. If you can't read Thai, look for the numbers mentioned above, and, if in doubt, ask the staff. Often (if they can speak enough English) the staff will tell you about this offer themselves, if they have one. Expats sometimes can be seen in those small bars, but generally most of the customers are Thais.
The area along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoenrat Rd is famous for jazz, rock, pop, Thai, and country and western live music, along with restaurants serving Thai, Western, and Chinese food. Coming from the centre of the city, just walk from the night bazaar across the Narawatt Bridge, from where all the restaurants can be seen along the river on the left.
Most bands in Chiang Mai play for about an hour, and then move on to do the same at another restaurant or pub, so don't be surprised to see the same band twice if you switch venues.
, on the River Ping.
- Boy Blues Bar, (in the Kalare Centre (near the food hall) in the Night Bazaar on the mezzanine floor opposite the dancing stage), . 19:00-01:00. The owner, "Boy", plays great blues guitar and is a nephew of Chiang Mai legend "Took", of the now defunct Brasserie. Monday night is jamming night and some great visiting musicians have made this often memorable. Bangkok blues legend, Chai (of Chai's Blues Bar fame), often joins in, as do Chiang Mai's local brass section greats Roddy and Craig. Well worth a visit.>
- The Bridge Bar, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 11, ☎ +66 81-595 0678. Open every night till one o’clock. Live music every night, except Monday: Brit pop, rock, Thai. Mostly Thais go to this bar but you will as well get to see some expats, Age: 22-32. Service is excellent and if you happen to go there by yourself, for sure someone will come up to talk to you. The menu includes delicious cocktails: "Mango Kiss", "Velvet"! Cheap beer & Sangsom (Thai rum) as well as snacks. The outside sitting area is perfect if you want to talk.
- The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Rd, ☎ +66 53 243 239, . The live music starts around 19:00 with dinner music from the Eagles, Beatles, or soft jazz. Starting at 21:00, the music changes to more rock and pop songs. Full bar service serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. The restaurant gets very crowded, so get here early to get a table. The Riverside also offers a nightly dinner cruise departing at 20:00 for 110 baht/person extra.
- The Good View, 13 Charoenrat Rd, ☎ +66 53 241886, . Thai and western varieties of rock, jazz, pop and country music entertain in the evening. Their extensive menu offers more than 150 Thai, Chinese, and Western dishes, including curries, noodles, rice, and pizza. Soft drinks and a full bar serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. Again, if you want a good, river view table, get there early.
- The North Gate Jazz Collective, (inside the city moat and east of Chang Puak Gate), . The North Gate has easily become one of the most popular, regular destinations for Chiang Mai's young expat community. With nightly jazz performances starting around 21:30 with different performers and occasional guests from the audience, the North Gate offers something unique to the often repetitious Chiang Mai live music scene. Mixed bag in terms of quality, sometimes great sometimes mediocre. In addition to nightly music performed by true lovers and technicians of jazz, the North Gate offers a variety of drinks not normally found within Chiang Mai, notably red and white wine, mojitos, and other mixed drinks. The staff is quick and efficient and prices are reasonable.
- Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Charoenrat Rd (next to Gallery Restaurant), ☎ +66 53 248 601. Good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.
- Discovery, (opposite Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre and Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel). A small club with live band, DJ, and huge screens showing music videos. Good for drinking nights and letting loose. Bring ID/passport as they can be strict with entry especially on weekend nights.
- Hot Shots, (at Pornping Tower Hotel). A Thai place with live music most nights, reasonable drink prices and no cover charge for foreigners or locals.
- Mandalay has a younger Thai crowd. Foreigners pay a cover charge. Locals don't. Even overseas Asians seem to get in for free. The manager doesn't seek Western tourists, but if you don't mind dual pricing, this is a peek into the world of young Thais at play! Every local person will tell you that this is only a gay bar.
- Spicy is a notorious after-hours place with dancing and lots of girls looking to party. Be forewarned, many expect payment, with negative results if those are not forthcoming.
- Warm Up Cafe The most popular night club in Chiang Mai. Only young locals go here. Live music outdoor area and DJ music inside. Be sure to dress up, all girls here do.
Chiang Mai is a popular destination for gay tourists and many gay people have retired here. Highlights of the vibrant gay scene include:
- Garden Bar & Restaurant, 2/25 Soi Viangbua, Chotana Rd (across the street from Adams Apple), ☎ +66 53 215376. Outdoor garden bar and restaurant serving Lebanese, Western and Thai food. Popular meeting place for gay expats and tourists.
- Glass Onion, Room 1 project, 61, Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 218 479. Sophisticated wine bar popular with the gay community.
- Golden Ball (Bon Tong), corner of Tewan Rd and Santitham Rd, ☎ +66 53 406 043, . Northern Thai-style outdoor bar and restaurant. Packed with very friendly staff and fun atmosphere. Drinks start at 45 baht for a large Chang beer..
- Soho Bar & Guesthouse, 20/3 Huay Kaew Rd (about 100 m from the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall, opposite the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel), ☎ +66 53 404 175, +66 85 029 8485, +66 82 695 9930 ([email protected]), . Expats, tourists, and Thai men.
Chiang Mai has sprouted a thriving coffee culture, having an abundance of roadside stalls to Starbucks-style chains seemingly every few metres. The dilettante baristas consistently squeeze out a decent cup from their electric machines regardless of the price or opulence of their premises. A standard espresso or long black (Americano) is 30 baht, iced around 35 baht and upwards of 45 baht for more elaborate milk and sprinkles.
- Pangkhon, 7 Chang Lor Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, . Passionate about sustainably sourced coffee.
- Ramida Coffee / Fabulous Coffee Roasters, Moon Muang Soi 7 (Under Baan Ramida Guest House, north-east of old city, just in the Soi from the east side of the moat). 12.15pm-6pm. Probably the best value coffee shop in Chiang Mai, owner is a barista champ and he controls everything end-to-end - bean selection, roasting, only he makes your coffee. Known by a growing number of expats who have tried many coffee places in Chiang Mai. Half price of the best coffee shops in the city, yet matches their taste and attention to detail. Meticulous. Groovy little place to watch the world go by. WIFI in the garden area "email="".
- @.ju Coffee, 52 Ratchamanka. Run by 'Oil', this little place has excellent espresso-based drinks, free WiFi, or ten minutes on the computer with your coffee. Very modern design; seating in the front is open-air while the back is air conditioned. Oil herself speaks excellent English and is happy to give you the low-down.
- Bitter Sweet, Huay Kaew Rd. The noisy location is made up for by the excellent espresso. Internet is free, and the 'fishbowl' inside is both air conditioned and sound proofed against the rush of traffic.
- Doppio Ristr8to, 15/3 Nimmanhaemin Rd, ☎ +66 53 215 278. A trendy art cafe featuring an award-winning barista, choices of single-origin beans and a varied drink menu. Very friendly atmosphere and a much higher standard for quality than is normally seen in Thailand.
- The Shack Cafe, 41 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 6 (opposite Giant Guest House, near Da's Bakery). This cozy spot, nestled comfortably between a bakery and a leather shop, at the quiet part of the popular soi 6, serves excellent coffee in a relaxing atmosphere. Free WiFi. Serves a la carte breakfasts, a daily Thai dish, and great all-you-can-eat BBQs every W & Sa. (18.792238,98.990869)
- Wawee Coffee, Many locations around the city. Looks much like a Starbucks, but nice mugs if you drink it there. Inside is well air-conditioned, outside is under a canopy (they mist water in the heat of the afternoon). The staff pride themselves on their decorative drinks (look for the panda-topped latte.) Internet available for small fee.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai is generally cheap, even by Thai standards. All types of lodging are available from inexpensive guesthouses with little or no service to the typical high rise hotels and elaborate garden resorts. The latest boom is Thai-style boutique resorts located near the old city centre. Several have been built since mid-2005. They offer excellent service in quiet garden settings. Most are fairly small with as few as 8 rooms and a pool, and are decorated with Thai crafts and antiques. Prices are going up as more travelers are visiting the city.
Hostel dorm rooms with A.C. could go for as little as 180 but you have to search them out. Budget hotels start at 400 but most charge 500 or more for a double room with AC and private bathroom.
Some of the cheapest accommodation may refuse guests who are not also booking a trekking package. If so, please remove them from Wikitravel.
Evenings in Chiang Mai are cooler than Bangkok and the south during the dry season, so air conditioning may be less of a priority.
For long-term (more than 1 month) visitors, simple but comfortable studio rooms (20-30 sq.m. with air-con, TV, fridge, outside window, parking, often WiFi [charged separately]) should cost 4,000 to 6,000 baht/month, plus utilities. Many of the best value places are located in the northwest (between Huay Kaew and Chang Phueak Rds, especially behind the superhighway) of the city and around Chiang Mai University (including the highway west of the airport), but there are some in other parts of the city as well. Some may offer daily rates (400-600 baht). Pay attention to the price of electricity when comparing. While the official price is just over 3 baht/kWh, almost all apartments/condos charge 5 to 10 baht, typically 6. More luxurious rooms and apartments are also available, for the price, and are more likely to be found online. New: Mentioning electricity is a bit of a scam; its business overhead and shouldn't concern travelers. When guesthouse owners speak of this either ignore or look for other places as there are abundant choices (2014).
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| less than B500
|| over B1,500
Guesthouses and Boutique Hotels
- Supanich Guest House, Rotfai Road (across from Railway Station to Bossotel. Bossotel reception handles bookings.). checkout: 12PM (Noon). Large fan room Shared Bathroom/Toilet B180. Free WiFi, Laundry machine uses B30. (Aug. 2016) Just across from Railway Station. Quiet, clean..
- Panda House Hotel, 427/4 Wichayanon Rd, ☎ +66(0)53251627 ([email protected]), . checkout: 12PM (Noon). Double room for two at 350/450 (fan/AC). The guesthouse is located in a very convenient place right next to the northeast corner of the Old City's moat, yet surprisingly quiet - just a few barking dogs in the evening before bed time. The staff is very polite and helpful, and the manager speaks excellent English. Free amenities for guests include Wi-Fi and luggage storage, and the hotel has scooters for rent at the standard 200 baht/day rate. Rooms are large, 3x5m, and very clean although they are a bit old and could use a layer of new paint. Basically the best value for money in Chiang Mai if you want a private room.
- Chang Home Guest House, 9/3 Line 2 Moon Mueang Rd., ☎ 082-036-5175 (love.changhome[email protected]). checkin: From 8AM to 11PM; checkout: 12PM (Noon). A/C Dorm (Female or Mixed) B180. A few private rooms. It’s located in a small alley, quiet part of the old town, close to Chiang Mai Gate. It’s convenient to go to many different markets. They have a nice garden sitting area with a small artificial pond, which you can’t imagine from their narrow dodgy entrance. 12 Bed Dorm, you’ll find 12 mattresses on the floor in a large room. A/C Dorm, mattresses on the floor and loft bed style top beds. You’ll find a lot of Chinese guests in this Taiwanese-owned guesthouse. Free WiFi, free triple filtered drinking water, free hot water and free ice cubes. You can use the kitchen with an extra charge. Landry machine use B20. (Dec. 2014).
- You & Me Hostel, House No.15, Sriphoom Road, Soi 1, Mueang Chiang Mai, Thailand, 50200 (North east corner of old city. Opposite Tri Gong Residence), ☎ +66 053-287559 or +66 081-3878650 ([email protected]). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. This is a brand new Thai family-run hostel with sparkling clean rooms. Don't let the entrance put you off since it is still under construction. There are fan rooms and A/C rooms with fridge and TV. There is laundry service available. Wi-Fi is included. The family is very friendly and helpful. This hostel is well-situated near the Som Phet market with wonderful food and restaurants. 300-500 baht.
- Trakool Space & Guesthouse, Night BarZaar , Changklan Road, ☎ "+66 ([email protected]). Free WiFi
- 7 Century Guest House, 270 Ratchaphakinai Rd, Sripoom, ☎ +66 53 287 541 or +66 81 43 88 175 ([email protected]). checkout: 12:00. Newly renovated guest house, but somehow already a bit worn. 2 single (150 baht), 4 double (180-220 baht) and 1 triple rooms (250 baht). Singles can be a bit moldy due to poor drainage and ventilation. Good hot shower (private for single rooms, shared for double and triple). Terrace. Free Wi-Fi. If they have a laptop free, you can borrow it to take to your room. Fan in rooms. Kitchen free to use. Soft beds. Help with booking trips, treks, motorbikes and other things. When regular staff aren't there, a surly thai woman who isn't very helpful mans the guesthouse. There are better options for the same price. 150-250 baht.
- 2230 Hostel, 26/1 Nimmana Haeminda Rd, Suthep, ☎ +66 813549711 or +6652 003 831 ([email protected]). checkout: 14:00. A newly renovated hostel. Two people per room, they charge 150-200 Baht for per bed. Environment is great. Small but clean. Safety is good. A place for good rest! For 150-200 baht you can't find a place like this nearby, it’s totally worth! 150-200 baht.
- Lotus Goldstar, Rachadamnoen Road Soi 4 Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, ☎ 085 708 4998. checkout: 12:00. 3 bungalows and 1 room(1 ppl :150 baht/ 2ppl : 200 bath). Free Wi-Fi.Fan in rooms. They have also meals from 40 bath. Papaya salad is a must ! 150-200 baht.
- ZZ House Chiang Mai, 229/2 Tasatoi Rd. Watket Chiangmai, Thailand 50000, ☎ 090-9754547 ([email protected]). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 14:00. Great guest house about 10min out of town. The place is only 3 months old, so all rooms newly decorated. Free Wifi available in rooms. The owner offers free bicycles to get to town and back which takes around 5min. Both Fan and A/C rooms available. Owner very friendly and welcoming and will show you around the town for free! 400-500 baht.
- Eco Resort Chiang Mai (Nomads Eco Resort backpackers), 109 Bumrungrad Road, Tombon Watkate, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50000, Thailand, ([email protected]), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. Set within a huge tropical garden close to the centre of Chiang Mai, Nomads Eco resort offers twin rooms or a larger shared dorm. You can book the twin as a single for a higher price. Wifi available. Swimming Pool in grounds. 400-450 baht.
- B.R. Hotel, Morakot Rd (northwest corner of the moat, from where Huay Kaew Rd turns to the left, drive straight (north) 700 m, turn left on Morakot Rd and you'll see the sign on the right side), ☎ +66 53 220 061. checkout: 12:00. Simple, but cozy Thai hotel. Fan rooms are often sold out and they charge a 50 baht fee to foreigners for the first night, supposedly to cover the cost of transportation to immigration, although no other hotel in Thailand does this. No Wi-Fi (but Truemove 850 MHz 3G works perfectly). While the hotel is not far from the centre, the closest place where you can catch a public songthaew (near Kad Suan Kaew Mall) is almost 1 km away, so the place is better suited for those who rent a motorbike. Free parking. On the nearby intersection with Hasadhisawee Rd, there are numerous and cheap food stalls in the evening. Hotel staff generally doesn't speak any English. Inthanin Hotel next door has better rooms with wifi for 300 baht (fan) and no surcharge for foreigners. 219 baht fan, from 319 baht air-con. (18.8021,98.9804)
- Chiang Mai Hostel, 17 Bumroongburi Rd, Soi 2, Old city, (From Chiangmai gate (east gate), head west or when facing the market there, go left about 15 min walk until you see the small lane Soi 2 on your right. Easy to miss. It's near the southwest corner of the old city.), ☎ +66 053 272414 and +66 089 9553491. checkin: As rooms available; checkout: 15:00. Small, family run hostel a bit distant from the action of the northeast corner bars of the old city but quaint and excellent staff. Not much English there, but their use of google translate can facilitate. If you are looking for something a bit less farang (foreigner), this is a great choice. Market nearby with cheap eats and cold coffee/tea. The bathrooms are shared with hot water but cleaned daily. Perfect for the budget traveler looking for something more authentic in the hustle and commercial bustle of the new Chiang Mai. Common area on first floor with tables that allows you to bring food and booze with no questions asked. Free wifi in all rooms. 350 advertised but ask or bargain for 250 as 350 is the new standard (apr 2014). 250 baht a person.
- Bed and Terrace Chiang Mai Guesthouse, 10 Kotchasarn Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 449 708 and +66 83 828 5599 ([email protected]), . Thai modern-style guest house with terrace, comfortable rooms with double windows to see the panoramic mountain view. 500 baht.
- Bunchun (Bunchun Art), 354/4 Charoenprathet Rd. T.Changklan A.Muang, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand, . Bunchun is run by an amazing individual; A very liberal, generous, and fun transexual named Vee. He takes great care of everyone there. He knows all the local places for food, motorcycle rental, bicycle rental, and whatever facilities a traveller may need. The atmosphere is very hipsterish, so check the Facebook page (linked above) to get at taste. 100 baht fan dorms, 300-500 baht.
- Deejai Backpackers (Box dorm with 10 single beds), 193/1-2, Ratchamanka Rd, T.Phrasing, A.Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 50200, ☎ +66 53 814 777 ([email protected]), . Deejai Backpackers is a family run guesthouse located within Chiang Mai's old city, in the south-west corner. The A/C dorm is 150, whereas the fan dorm is 100. 100-450 baht.
- FWD House Hostel (Box dorm with 10 single beds), 78 Ratmakka Rd, Pha Sing, Old City, Chiang Mai (4.3 km from Chiang Mai International Airport, 4.5 km from the Chiang Mai train station, 5 km from the bus station), ☎ +66 82 623 3349 ([email protected]). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 11:00. Located on Ratmanka Rd, just a 10-minute walk to the temples and the main strip of bars in Chiang Mai, and a minute walk to the Sunday night market. Owner and staff are welcoming, friendly, can cater to your personal needs, and also make you feel at home. 180 baht.
- Giant Guest House 1 & 2, Giant 1: 24/1 Moon Muang Rd, Sriphum. Giant 2: 4 Rachamanka Rd, Prasingha., ☎ mobile: +66 87 182 1611, landline 1: +66 53-227-338, landline 2: +66 53-280-767 ([email protected]), . checkout: 12:00. Cheap basic rooms, hot showers, free Wi-Fi, free shared computer, free water, Reggae bar attached (Freedom Bar 16:00-24:00). Can book everything here and sightsee by bicycle. Kitchen with cooking lessons available and massage school 200 m away. Keep an eye out for only the 300 baht room left after they pick you up in the airport, they will give you this price in front of the guest house. Watch out for the scooter rental company they use as their scooters frequently and mysteriously acquire punctures. 100 baht dorms, 180 baht single fan room (shared bath), 250 baht queen bed with fan (private bathroom). Monthly rates 3,500 baht, single room with fan and shared bathroom (1 person).
- Green Tulip Guest House, 18 Samlan Rd, ☎ +66 53 278 367, . Guest house with a roof-top garden, Internet café and large screen TV in the lobby. Beautifully decorated and designed with elegant wood floors throughout the building. Choice of fan and air-con rooms with shared or private bathrooms. 250-650 baht.
- Hollanda Montri Guest House, 365 Charoen Rat Rd, ☎ +66 53 242 450, . Family style guest house fan or air-con rooms and with a tropical garden on the banks of the Mae Ping River. 500 baht..
- Joker Brothers Guest House, Ratchvithi Rd., Amphoe Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200 (A couple blocks west of the wall on Ratchvithi Rd.), ☎ +66 88 101 8661 ([email protected]), . Fairly basic rooms and dorm, in the north-east corner of the old city, near Tha Phae gate. Free wifi. 80-250 baht..
- Julie Guest House, 7/1 Prapokklao Rd, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 274 355, . Popular guest house located in a quiet part of the old city near Tha Phae Gate. This guest house is notorious for filling quickly (quite often by 09:00) as it is listed in some guide books. The lounge area is often full of travellers. Food and drinks are served. The in-house travel agency can do all sorts of bookings for you. Free Wi-Fi, but it doesn't always work. from 100-180 baht (fan room without/with en suite).
- Lanna Guesthouse, 100 Ratchadamnoen Rd (On main Tha Phae gate road west of center on the north side.), ☎ +66 81 472 4297. checkout: 12:00. Facebook: Lanna Guesthouse Chiangmai, Free Wi-Fi. dm/s/d 100/150/200 baht.
- Linda Guesthouse, 456/67 Soi Banditpatana (Close to the railway station, instead of turning left into town from the main road, Charoen Muang Rd, go right. Turn right down the first soi after the first traffic light. Take the second left and follow the soi as it curves right about 200m.), ☎ +66 53 246 915 ([email protected], fax: +66 53 246 915), . East of Tha Phae Gate, easy accessible by songthaew routes. Very clean rooms. The guest house also offers many trekking tours. The staff speaks German, English, and Thai. Family-like atmosphere. Cheap and very good food around the clock, freshly made. Free wifi. 80-300 baht, reduced cost for longer stays possible.
- A Little Bird Guesthouse [CLOSED], 17 Soi 1 Ratvithi Rd, ☎ +66 53 289 577 ([email protected]), . checkout: 12:00. Cheap basic dorms with hot shower and free Wi-Fi. An easy place to meet other travellers in a good location. 100 baht mixed dorm; 120 baht female dorm.
- Mint House, 80-82 Prapokklao (Soi 5). Near Chiang Mai Gate., ☎ +66 86 253 1743. Really friendly and helpful staff. Centrally located, clean and good prices for dorms and rooms. Rooms have dedicated bathrooms that, strangely, are not en suite, but all across the hallway. Keep an eye out for room rates changing after you've already checked-in (e.g., +100 baht). Don't be a wimp when this happens. Single 200 baht, double 300 baht, dorm 120 baht.
- Parami Guesthouse, 210-212 Charoenrat Rd., 50000 Chiang Mai, ☎ +66 53 266 139, . checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:00. A cozy little (8 rooms) family run Guesthouse. Clean rooms with aircon or fan. Hammocks are available in the tropical garden. Day tours and multiple day trekking tours can be booked and the Guesthouse tours desk. A massage parlor is just next door. Management Swiss / Thai. 350-620 Baht, free Wi Fi.
- Ping River Inn, ☎ +66 81 993 5187 ([email protected]). checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. A basic but clean inn along the Ping River near Nakorn Ping Bridge and the yellow songthaew route. Hot showers, two bottles of free drinking water, towels, roof access, cable, and free Wi-Fi. If the foot bridge over the river ever gets fixed, the Ping River Inn will be within five minutes walking distance of Warorot Market. 390-540 baht. (N 18° 47.36',E 99° 0.4')
- Riders Corner (Rider's Corner Bar & Restaurant), 357, Moon Muang Rd, ☎ +66 87 048 1787 ([email protected]), . Rooms are newly renovated, clean and comfortable. Hotel room rates are 350–600 baht. Full breakfast is available. Owner can be difficult with customers. Locked parking for motorcycles is provided. 350-600 baht. (N 18° 47.692′,E 98° 59.606′)
- Royal Guest House, 5 Kotchasarn Soi 4, Loi Koh Road, Chiangmai 50100 (Just east of east wall, south of Tha Phae gate, on the road that goes to the night bazaar), ☎ 0-5327-1191, 0-5328-2460, 0-5320-6404 ([email protected], fax: 0-5320-6405), . Apparently, the 150 baht rooms are on the 7th floor, no elevator, and fan, but a good view. There are nicer Lanna style rooms on the 2nd floor starting from 650 baht. 150+ baht. (N 18.783627,E 98.994420)
- Siri Guesthouse, 31/3 Moon Mueang, Soi 5, ☎ +66 53 326 550. A family-run guest house on a popular, but quiet lane. Fan and air-con rooms, all with bathrooms and hot water. Free Wi-Fi. 700 baht.
- Spicy House, (walk into the old city down Rachadamnern from Tha Phae Gate; turn left at Soi 4; walk almost all the way down to Ratchamanka), ☎ +66 84 613 4776 (Mim). ([email protected]). Perhaps the friendliest little guest house in Chiang Mai. Beloved by backpackers everywhere for its low cost and friendly atmosphere. Mim, the owner, gives a free meal for guests every night. She is also an expert chef, and Spicy House serves as a cooking school sometimes. Spicy House is in the dead centre of the Chiang Mai action, but down a quiet soi where you can withdraw from it when needed.
- Tapae Inn (Tha Phae Inn), 164-166 Tha Phae Rd (about 600 m east of Tha Phae Gate on the north side of the street), ☎ +66 53 234 640 (fax: +66 53 252 790). Family-run guest house. Excellent value/location combination. Old and basic double rooms with bathrooms, hot water & small TV. The rooms can get very hot. Free Wi-Fi. Common area full of old marketing stuff and with tables so you can bring food and eat. Refreshments for sale on-premises. Coodinates: N18° 47.307 E098° 59.958, Update: 2013-05 Fan 250 bath, AC 350 baht. (18.788454190,98.99930477)
- S.K. House II. checkout: 10am. A quiet fancy hotel for the price, specially the entry hall and the pool. Rooms are big and cleanish. WiFi in entry hall/restaurant. Rooftop sunbathing. Coordinates: N18° 47.628 E098° 59.312 (Update: 2013-05) ~400 baht. (18.793796769,98.988533019)
- Peaceful Guest House, 85/2 Ratchapakinai Rd, Phra Shing, Muang, Chiang Mai, 502000 (Take right on moat road just after Chiang Mai Gate follow several hundred meters, on left side.), ☎ +66 82 385 3826, +66 84 675 3921 ([email protected]), . Dorms 100, single fan rooms 250, A/C 300. Hot shower and free wifi. 100-300 baht.
- Pooh's Place, 59 Rajchapakinai Road, Chiang Mai, 50200 (Take right on moat road just after Chiang Mai Gate follow several hundred meters, on left side.), ☎ landline: +66 (0)53 208 538, mobile: +66 (0)85 0414 971 ([email protected]), . Dorms 100, single fan rooms 300, 350 with A/C. The main business seems to be the eco trekking . 100-350 baht.
- Rose Guest House, (Take right on moat road just after Chiang Mai Gate follow several hundred meters, on left side.), ☎ +66 53 273 869. Dorms 130, single fan rooms 150. 130-150 baht.
- Baan Thai Resort, 41/9 See Ping Muang Rd, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50100 (Take left at the traffic light by the south end of Wua Lai road follow several hundred meters, turn left, on the right side.), ☎ +66 53 275938 ([email protected]). Dorms 200, single fan rooms 350, A/C 500. Pool, Garden, Hot shower and free wifi. 200-500 baht.
- Thaiway Guest House, (about 10 m east of Chiang Mai Gate on the north side), ☎ +66 87 902 1708. Dorms 100, single fan rooms 150. 100+ baht.
- Gap's House, 3 Rajadamnern Soi 4, Chiangmai (From Tha Phae Gate walk in to the old town and take the soi 4 to your left hand), ☎ ++66 5327 8140 ([email protected]), . Houses in a nice garden whit lots of mosquitoes. Has a vegetarian dinner buffet. Doesn't take reservations. Coordinates: N18° 47.226 E098° 59.494 Grumpy owners 370 bath - 900 bath. (18.78710837,98.991563919)
- Boonthavon Apartment Hotel, 39 Soi 1, Rajchadamnern Rd (walk from Tha Phae Gate into the old city down Rajchadamnern Rd; turn right after 10 m at Soi 1. Follow it round (300 m) till nearly the end; Boonthavon is on your left.), ☎ "+66 ([email protected]), . Dead central, and probably the cleanest hotel in Chiang Mai. Extremely friendly staff (only a few of whom speak English). Security entrance. A short walk to the Tha Phae Gate in the old city (nice central location). Monthly rentals are available at 6,000 baht with a 5,000 baht deposit (on top of the 6,000 baht, there are additional charges: electricity is 7 baht per kilowatt, 600 baht for unlimited Internet, 200 baht for cable TV, and 200 baht for water). Location is In a secluded street too dark at night. the building is of concrete and hot, no swimming pool. you can find better accomodations for that price. many things don't work in the room: safety box and ac. Just around the corner is a great little cafe called "Angel's" which serves a mix of Thai food and really great Western breakfasts. The location of the hotel is also a short walk to several excellent restaurants and cafes such as the UN Irish Pub, New Delhi Indian Restaurant, and Loco Elvis Tex-Mex. Double room with balcony, private bathroom, air conditioning, mini-fridge, and small TV is 550 baht with an additional 50 baht per day for Internet.
- Centre of the Universe (Chiang Mai Swimming Pool and Resort), near Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium (Google Map Ref: 18.8201,98.9584), ☎ +66 81 4730746 or +66 53 327808 [email protected], . With only 3 detached Thai-style bungalows in a private garden, this has to be the smallest boutique hotel with the biggest swimming pool in Chiang Mai. Very friendly and helpful staff. Each room has air-con, TV, Wi-Fi, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and access to 3 swimming pools. 1,200-1,500 baht. (N 18 49.189,E 98 57.509)
- Chiang Mai Apartments, 9/2 Boon Muang Rd, Soi 7 (across from the Sri Pat Guesthouse (no sign)), ☎ +66 53 225140. Very central, clean and bright rooms. Excellent quality. Free Wi-Fi in room. 650 baht (fan)- 950 baht (aircon), both including a modest breakfast.
- Cool Guesthouse, 87 Sripoom Rd , Sripoom (close to Changpuak Gate), ☎ +66 53 212618, . Small boutique guest house with patio and garden. Free bicycle use for guests. English, French, and Spanish speaking staff. Each room has air-con and fan, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, safe box. 500-800 baht.
- Elliebum, 114/3-4 Ratchamakka Rd, ☎ +66 53 814723 ([email protected]), . Friendly boutique guesthouse, beautifully furnished, spacious, spotlessly clean, air conditioned, en suite twin or double rooms. Breakfast included 1,000-1,400 baht.
- Hub53, 53 Kan Klong Chon Pra Tan Rd, ☎ +66 89 1188810, . Has seven air-con rooms with wood furnishings, cable TV, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, room safe, telephone, keycard access, and refrigerator, a balcony, private toilet and bath with hot shower, free Wi-Fi, and a free English newspaper daily. 1,100 baht.
- Kaysorn residence, 56 Chediplong Road, Chang Pueak, Mueang Chiang Mia, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50300 ("), ☎ +66-81-868-9428 or +66-98-265-5177 ([email protected]), . clean and quite, good shower and nice view of the nearby temple. The owners are a Thai-Swiss combo, meaning you get on-time service with a smile. Eco and vegetarian friendly breakfast, serving all beverages in glass or stainless steel bottles, OK bikes available sometimes included in the room rate when booking 3 nights or longer stays. Great source of travel info, good free map on site and the management is very helpful with assisting guests.
- Lai-Thai Guest House, 111/4-5 Kotchasarn Rd, ☎ +66 53 271725 or +66 53 206 438 ([email protected]), . A large northern Thai style guesthouse with hotel-like facilities and services. All 110 air-conditioned rooms en suite with hot shower are decorated with traditional wooden floors and bamboo walls, equipped with minibar, cable & satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. 500-780 baht.
- Chiang Mai Moli Boutique Hostel, 22 Chaiyaphum Rd (Alley on left just past 7/11. Short walk down street on right. Plenty of signs - Close to Wat Chomphu). checkout: 11:00. Great guesthouse - recently remodeled (former Lek Guesthouse, new ownership) with beautiful very social courtyard with plenty of seating, restaurant and a bar. Very close to Tha Phae gate a short walk to many bars and restaurants and Sunday Walking Street. Very close to late night hangout Spicy. Good service, rooms are clean. All rooms have fan and private bathroom with hot water. Hidden in a quiet alley. Free Wi-Fi. 999 baht for double private room. Many food stalls and cheap eats nearby on main road along with a daily fruit and vegetable market. Close to the action where you still can get a decent night sleep. double, 999 baht.
- Nice Mum Lodge, Loi Kroh Rd, Soi 2 (less than 50 m off Loi Kroh Rd), ☎ +66 83 2044111, . Oddly named, but a superior accommodation. Very well situated, close to shops, bars, restaurants, the Night Bazaar. Spotlessly clean if somewhat austere. Run by the affable Mr. Pong, who speaks good English. Great plumbing, showers, large flat screen TVs with Western programming, fridge. Secure, covered parking for those turning up with expensive rides. Highly recommended. Free, excellent Wi-Fi. 800+ baht.
- Royal Peninsula Hotel, Assadatorn Rd, Northeast (a few hundred metres from the corner of the city square to the north of Tha Phae Gate). Good rooms, air-con, hot water, bar fridge and TV. 900 baht.
- Sakulchai Place, Huay Kaew Rd, Soi 10, ☎ +66 53 211 982, . Spacious and clean. Standard, deluxe and superior rooms available for daily/weekly/monthly rates. Internet (Wi-Fi/LAN), air-con, hot showers. New building, modern rooms. In the trendy Nimmanhaemin district across from shopping mall and 5-10 minute walking distance to night life, cafes, restaurants.
- Smile House Boutique, ☎ +66 53 800567-8, . A wooden house which is simply decorated to create a peaceful atmosphere. The rooms are beautifully decorated 700-1,200 baht.
- Baan Thai Resort, 41/9 See Ping Muang Rd, Muang, Chiang Mai, 51000, ☎ +66 53 275938. To the south of the muang, near central airport Plaza and Saturday walking street. Several teak-wood Thai houses which reflect on the good old days. Nice garden and pool, friendly & helpful staff. 400-1,500 baht.
- Sri Pat Guesthouse, 16 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 7, ☎ +66 53 218716. Nice guest house with air conditioning, TV, private shower, fridge and a little balcony. Try getting a room on the street side, since the other side has a water pump working during the night which can be annoying in some rooms. Now has it's own swimming pool. 900 baht.
- Viangbua Mansion, 3/1 Viangbua Rd, ☎ +66 53 411202, . Deluxe serviced-apartments for daily rental. Offer a wide range of services and some degree of security. Located in a somewhat remote northwest area of the city. 900 baht.
- Swiss-Lanna Lodge, Rat U-thit Soi 2, Wat Ket, ☎ +66 ([email protected]), . The newly renovated wooden northern Thai Style guesthouse, which is the ideal place for you and your family to rest in and to feel a calming and feel-like-home atmosphere. Extremely friendly & helpful staff speak English and French provide great tourist information. Excellent Service 890+ baht.
- Baan Orapin, 150 Charoen Rat Rd, ☎ +66 53 1616 4016, . Only 6 rooms in a beautifully restored old Thai house set in a small garden. Air-con, hot water. 3,000 baht.
- Baan Sabai Village, 219 Moo 9, San Pee Sua, ☎ +66 53 854 77 ([email protected], fax: +66 53 854 775), . The Ban Sabai Village Resort & Spa is a truly small boutique resort and spa. Four room categories; from standard room to spa and family villas built in northern Thai Lanna tradition. Extensive spa, wellness, yoga, detoxification, weight-loss programs and packages. Last minute, long stay and early bird discounts available. from 1,785 baht.
- Four Seasons Resort, ☎ +66 53 298 181, . In the tranquil countryside amid working paddy fields and water buffalo. Spa and Thai cooking classes on the grounds over 20,000 baht.
- Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa, 135/9, Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 252 999 ([email protected]), . Nicely designed with hand-carved fretwork. over 7,200 baht.
- RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort, 33 Chang Klan Rd, ☎ +66 53 999 333 ([email protected], fax: +66 53 999 332), . A luxury boutique resort on the bank of the Mae Ping River and the centre of Chiang Mai. Only minutes away from Chiang Mai Airport and the night bazaar. 4,400-24,000 baht.
- akyra Manor Chiang Mai, 22/2 Nimmana Haeminda Road Soi 9, ([email protected]), . checkout: 12:00. Five star boutique hotel that offers 30 luxury suites in the famous Nimmana Haeminda road, better known as coffee street. The hotel offers contemporary dining in the Rise rooftop bar and Italics restaurant and provides an exclusive venue for events and weddings. from 4,500 Baht.
- Anantara Chiang Mai (former Chedi), 123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Rd, ☎ +66 53 253-333, . A modern hotel on the grounds of the former British Consulate. 84 deluxe rooms and club suites, all with a private courtyard it also features a fitness and health club, two bars, a restaurant featuring Thai, Indian, and Western cuisine, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool. from 10,400 baht.
- Art Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel Chiang Mai By Compass Hospitality, 21 Soi 3, Nimmanhaemin Road,Suthep,Muang,Chiang Mai 50200, ☎ +66 53 894 888 ([email protected]), . Art themed 5 star boutique hotel in the heart of downtown chiang mai area. 3,000++ baht″.
- Baan Ratchiangsaen, 35 Ratchiangsaen soi 1 T.Hayya Mueng Chiang Mai 5020, ☎ .(+66) 053 274755 ([email protected]), . Boutique hotel in the heart of Chiang Mai's charming Hai Ya tambon (subdistrict) just south of the Chiang Mai gate and the Saturday night market. Clean and chilly swimming pool. Around 1200 baht.
- Ban Shewe Wana Suite Resort, 290,292 Charoen Muang Rd, ☎ +66 53-240-020 ([email protected]), . Based at Shewe Wana. 12,000 baht″.
- BP Chiang Mai City Hotel, 154 Ratchamanka Rd, ☎ +66 53 270-711 ([email protected]), . A mid-sized hotel with a small fitness centre and pool. 1,000-2,000 baht.
- The Castle, 8/3 Rat Chiang saen Rd, Soi 2Ko, ☎ +66 53 209-093, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Cosy little hotel, tiny pool, built like Roman Castle. Great breakfast and free Wi-Fi. 5-10 min walk to the middle of old city. 1100-1,400 baht.
- Central Duangtawan Hotel, 132 Loi Kroh Rd, ☎ +66 53 905 000 ([email protected]), . Excellent four-star hotel with cheaper Internet rates. However the Internet connection speed there is terribly slow. Probably a little cheaper than similar hotels as it's in the red-light district, but the area seems quite safe and the hotel is of very high quality. For those not staying at the hotel, for 300 baht, you can use the high quality gym on the fourth floor (includes a Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna, as well as a large L-shaped swimming pool that looks out on downtown Chiang Mai). 1,450-2,950 baht.
- Empress Chiang Mai, 199/42 Chang Klan Rd, ☎ +66 53 253-199 ([email protected], fax: +66 53 272467), . Four-star luxury hotel in traditional Lanna style with 375 rooms and suites, a convention centre, sauna rooms, outdoor swimming pool, business centre and massage parlour. Good breakfast and friendly staff. 1,500-5,500 baht.
- Dhara Dhevi, 51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Rd, Moo 1, ☎ +66 53 888-888, . In the traditional Lanna style, this resort includes a spa, cooking classes, kid's club and fitness centre. The resort caused some local controversy when it built a fake temple based on one of Thailand's most holy sites in its grounds. 15,799-60,099 baht.
- The Rim Chiang Mai, 51/2 Arrak Rd (close to Wat Phra Sing), ☎ +66 53 903999 ([email protected]), . Newly built four-star hotel in traditional Lanna style, 36 rooms, outdoor swimming pool, tropical garden, fitness club and spa, restaurant (Thai & Western cuisine) and very friendly staff. from 3,200 baht.
Chiang Mai invariably finds itself at the top of travel magazines’ international surveys, and is no longer the sleepy northern Thai village it was a few decades ago. Although the city still retains its cultural charm, it has developed into a modern, fully-developed destination in its own right, complete with many excellent hospitals and treatment facilities, resorts, spas, wellness centers, alternative healing retreats with a distinctively northern Thai flavor.
Medical tourists are increasingly choosing Chiang Mai as their destination of choice for all types of procedures and treatments, including medical, dental, and cosmetic procedures. Aside from the pre- and post-treatment tourism options, the costs are generally lower, the weather is milder, and the overall stress factor is ratcheted down a few notches, perfect for rest and recovery.
Chiang Mai hospitals, aware of the increasing numbers of medical tourists heading north, have geared up to meet the challenge. Many offer special medical tourism packages for international patients and have upgraded their staff and facilities to handle the needs of visitors from different countries. At the forefront of this trend is Chiang Mai Ram International Hospital.
Chiang Mai Ram is the top choice for medical tourists, as it can handle the most complex procedures such as cardiac care, knee replacement, sexual reassignment surgery, and other very specialized medical treatments. It is also well-known for its cosmetic and dermatology departments. Its quality and standards have been recognized internationally, and it is JCI accredited.
In addition to popular dental treatments such as teeth cleaning and whitening, root canals, crowns, and implants, Chiang Mai now has a number of superb dermatology centers and skin-care clinics that specialize in treatments including facial-rejuvenation and hair and cellulite removal. Although Chiang Mai Ram is the north’s flagship hospital, there are a number of other long-established, well-regarded hospitals in Chiang Mai; these include: Chang Puak Hospital, McCormick Hospital, St. Peter Eye Hospital, Lanna Hospital, and Rajavej Chiang Mai Hospital. 
Chiang Mai is also an excellent dental tourism destination. In fact, many visitors prefer Chiang Mai over Bangkok for a number of reasons, especially for more serious, multi-visit procedures. Chiang Mai offers virtually everything that Bangkok has, but the prices for both the treatment and the cost of living in Chiang Mai is less.
There are laundromats and laundry services all over town, but they all wash cold. There is a laundromat that has 3 machines that can do hot washing as well on Chaiyapum Rd (road along the moat from Si Phum corner to Tha Phae Gate) about half way between Sompet market and Tha Phae Gate. Opposite there is a cafe from where you can watch your stuff while having a beer.
There are multiple pick up and return laundry services offered in Chiang Mai, WashDrop (www.getwashdrop.com) and EM'S Laundry Service 082 180 1303 (www.chiangmailaundry.com) both cover a large area of the old and new city. Collecting from home, office and hotel the business offers a full range of laundry services including dry cleaning and same day wash. Prices are normal and the pick up/return is free. Good English is spoken and laundry is returned clean, fresh and on time.
As always, travellers should take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas. Don't carry valuables in a bag after dark as one common tourist-related crime here is bag-snatching by men on motorbikes. Mind your bag especially if you are walking on a dark street at night. Other violence against foreigners is not about theft but consists of deliberately causing traffic accidents or yelling racist insult in the hope of starting a fight.
The safest approach is to act like your Thai hosts and wear reasonable clothing (shoulders and chest covered), medium-length skirts, long shorts or long pants, speak in a moderate tone of voice, and avoid flashing money or jewellery. Respectable Thais appreciate your behaviour but many people in Chiang Mai don't care and you can still easily become a target of criminal activity.
Unfortunately some scams from Bangkok have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai. Two in particular are worth watching out for: the gem scam, where you are talked into buying near-worthless gems at far above their real value; and the tuk-tuk scam, where a smooth-talking tuk-tuk driver tells you that the attraction you want to see is closed, and instead offers you a sightseeing tour for 20 baht (or some similarly unrealistic number). Needless to say, the tour will either consist of nothing but overpriced gift shops, or will smoothly segue into the gem scam. See the "Stay Safe" section of the Bangkok article for more details.
Chiang Mai's smoke levels can be discomfiting, and sometimes dangerous, during rice field-burning season, approximately from early February well into April. The whole of northern Thailand and neighboring Myanmar and Laos often fals under a thick pall in this period, with hundreds of thousands treated for smoke inhalation. There are typically dozens of deaths. For example in 2007, 58 people died of smoke-related heart attacks. If you intend to visit at this time, you are well-advised to check on smoke levels in advance. Thousands of residents (foreign and Thai) leave Chiang Mai at this time to escape the smoke. The government is apparently uninterested in fixing the problem: in 2007, famously blaming it on Korean barbecue restaurants, which were then all closed down! Presently, the 'solution' is to spray the streets with water to 'moisten the air' (which actually does have an effect on reducing the ppm of airborne pollutants). There is little political will to tackle the burning of rice fields, which is the cause of the smoke. In March 2012, dangerous PM10 particles measured over 200 mcg per cubic metre of air in Chiang Mai, well above the 'unsafe' level of 120 mcg (the Thai government standard, which is more than twice the maximum level set by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) at 50 mcg). Neighbouring areas were as bad or worse (Chiang Rai for example was at 306 mcgs), so moving on to a neighbouring province will generally not help. The pall of smoke stretches from northern Laos, across Thailand, to eastern Burma.
Locals can be seen wearing white surgical masks, and this does little good. For actual protection, find a 3M "N95" mask. Many expats spend these few months in more southerly provinces. Keep track of current pollution levels at http://aqicn.org.
Tap water should be regarded as non-potable. Liquids from sealed bottles nearly always are safe, and should be used wherever possible. Nearly all restaurants use ice made by professional ice-making companies and is generally safe. There are street side water vending machines (50 setang to 2 baht per litre) throughout the city. Using one saves money and a lot of plastic refuse, but the quality of the water varies greatly from one machine to the next.
Chiang Mai is home to a large number of stray dogs (sometimes called "soi dogs"). The vast majority will leave you alone if you do not disturb them, particularly during the day when the heat makes them sleepy. Some, however, can be very aggressive and territorial, and while their bark is often worse than their bite it is not unheard of to be bitten (this writer speaks from first-hand experience - see also stories such as Chiang Mai News: Dog Attacks Woman at Chiang Mai Temple). Avoid entering the grounds of empty temples after dark, when the stray dogs that monks have taken in will often be in guard dog mode, and if surrounded by a pack of barking dogs at any time of day be sure to calmly and slowly walk away.If you find yourself cornered with 1 or 2 dogs not so near, reach to the ground as though you have picked up a stone and raise your hand behind your head as though you are going to throw the imaginary stone, and jerk your hand forward as though you are about to throw it. Usually enough to make 1 or 2 dogs run off. Tried-and-tested as most Soi dogs will have been on the the receiving end of a stone or the bluff, so they know what you appear to be doing.
If you do get bitten, always flush the wound with as much water as possible, apply alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you have it on you, and go immediately to the A&E department of the closest hospital. Even the tiniest bites, if the skin is broken, can cause rabies, and the hospital will take this very seriously. Remember that even if you've had rabies jabs in your home country before coming to Thailand, you will still need post-exposure vaccinations as quickly as possible.
With so many sights to see in the surrounding areas, it can be very tempting to hire a motorbike in Chiang Mai. If you're a capable and experienced motorcyclist - go for it and have fun! If not, then think very carefully about the risks involved. Thailand's roads are home to an exceptionally high number of motorbike accidents, and although Chiang Mai roads are certainly not as hair-raising as somewhere like Bangkok, they are no place for a beginner. Do not put your own life, and the lives of others, at risk.
When renting a motorbike always make good picture of both sides of the bike as some people will try to rip you off. Please add any company where you had problems with to the blacklist.
A "Motorbike & Car Rental", 99 moonmuang road sriphum chiangmai: tried to keep deposit saying that we had damaged their bike, although providing pictures, we had a long fight to get the money back.
- CM Mediclinic, 155/28 Moo 2, Soi Yu Yen 10, T Changphuek, A Muang, 50300., ☎ +66 805 362362 ([email protected]), . M-F, 16:30-20:00; Sa, 08:00-17:00. Thai and English speaking healthcare centre/medical clinic providing comprehensive medical services for travelers, such as vaccinations and full health check ups. (18.811109,98.966546)
There are many dental centres around the city and prices are generally good.
- Grace Dental Care Clinic, 45 Soi 11 Nimmanhemin Rd, ☎ 66 53 894 568 - 69 ([email protected]), . M-F, 09:00-20:30; Sa-Su, 09:00-17:00. Modern, state-of-the-art dental clinic. Many of the practitioners there, about 15 total, have studied abroad. Most, if not all, speak excellent English, as do the staff.
Touristic attractions that rely on animal exploitation run rampant. Please avoid endorsing such places, shows, or so called “conservation” projects ("Help us to help them!", sounds familiar?), as even most of the latter are little more than just touristic attractions with little or no real intention of actually helping to release or even protect these animals. If you are considering volunteer positions or day tours with elephants, thoroughly do your research before making any commitments.
At some bars and touristic spots some people may offer you to take your photograph with animals, even baby animals, in exchange for money. Please remember that the most likely way (and many times the only way) these babies were acquired were by poachers killing the mothers, or the entire family. Endorsing this practice only leads to more demand, and more killing.
Moreover, some of the species used are endangered and protected under Thai law, which makes the possession and abuse of many of these animals illegal.
Shipping and Postal Services
The Thai postal system is quite good and offer a variety of local and international shipping options. In Chiang Mai there are many post offices such as the main Phra Sing post office a few blocks south of Wat Phra Sing, and a smaller post office just across the street from the 3 Kings monument. Hours are 8:30am-4:30pm M-F, 8:30am-12:00pm Sa.
- DHL, M Hotel, Tha Phae Gate, ☎ +66 53326 553. World-wide express shipping. Packaging services.
Many guest houses, hotels, cafes, shopping malls, and even swimming pools, offer Wi-Fi connections. These are usually free or available for a small charge. If you are travelling with your laptop you should be able to connect to the Internet within a 500 m radius of your Chiang Mai city-based accommodation at little or no cost.
In November 2012, the Ministry of Information announced the launching of 3,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in Chiang Mai. The program, called ICT Free Wi-Fi for the Public by AIS, offers a download speed of 10 Mbps for up to five hours a month. Hotspots can be found near schools, shopping centres, hospitals, and government offices. Those interested must sign up for the free service at , after which you will receive a user ID and password. This service is not unlimited however, and is restricted to a number of hours per month.
Internet cafes abound and can be found everywhere within the city. Prices vary from 10 baht/hour (in "gaming" places filled with local kids) to 60 baht/half-hour (2 baht/minute) and up. Most places charge per 15 or 30 minute block, others by the minute. The cheapest and most comfortable places with fast connections, webcam, microphone and Skype, can be found along Huay Kaew Road near the main entrance to Chiang Mai University, where the cost is 10-20 baht.
Unlimited (though not spectacularly speedy) 3G wifi can be had for low package prices (399 THB/mo and up) with only a one-month sign-up period from most vendors (AIS, True).
- Buddy Internet, 12 Huay Kaew Rd (northeast corner of the moat, opposite the Central Department Store), ☎ +66 53 404 550. 08:00-24:00.
- Crank Tavern, 3/2 Ratchaphakhinai Rd (near Chiang Mai Gate). Internet is free if you by a drink. They have fast ADSL equipped with Skype and you will be in comfortable surroundings. Also good for bike hire and tours.
As everywhere in Thailand, GPRS/EDGE is a cheap and convenient option to access Internet if you have a laptop and local SIM card. TrueMove 850 MHz 3G covers most parts of the city. For more details, refer to the Thailand article.
- Airport 24-hr Post Office- 60 Moo 3, Airport Rd, Tel: +66 53 277 382.
- Chang Klan Post Office- 186-186/1 Chang Klan Rd, Tel: +66 53 273 657.
- Chang Phuak Post Office-195/8-9 Chang Phuak Rd, Tel: +66 53 222 483.
- Maeping Post Office- 24 Praisanee Rd, Tel: +66 53 252036-7.
- Main Post Office - Charoen Muang Rd, Tel: +66 53 241 070, +66 53 245 376.
- Phra Sing Post Office - Singharat Rd (three-minute walk south of Wat Phra Singh).
- Talat Kam Tieng Post Office – Assadathon Rd, near Tesco Lotus, just off the super highway. This is the post office where you ship/receive bulky objects like bicycles and motorbikes.
- Directory inquiry 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
- Police - emergencies: 191
- Police - Tourist: 1155, 053-278559
- Fire: 053-241777
- Rescue Team: 053-218888
Embassies & consulates
- Australia, 165 Sirimungklajarn, T. Suthep, A.Muang, +66 53 219 726 or +66 53 400 232 / +66 53 221 083 (fax: +66 53 219 726).
- Bangladesh, 95 Huay Kaew Rd, T. Suthep, A.Muang +66 53-53 212373 - 4 (fax+66 53-53 223524).
- Canada, 151 Super Highway, Tambon Tahsala, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai 50000. Tel: +66 5385-0147 or 5324-2292. Fax: +66 5385-0332. Email: [email protected] 
- China, 111 Changlo Rd, Haiya District, +66 53 -276125, 272197, 200424 (admin office) (fax: +66 53-274614) [email protected] 
- Finland, 104-112 Tha Phae Rd, +66 53-234777.
- Germany, Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany, 199/163 Moo 3, Baan Nai Fun2, Kan Klong Chonpretan Rd, Tambon MaeHia, tel+fax: +66 53-838735.
- Great Britain, British Consulate, 198 Bumrungraj Rd +66 53-263015 (fax: +66 53-263016) [email protected].
- India, 33/1, Thung Hotel Rd, Wat Kate, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 +66 53-243066 (fax: +66 53-247879)
- Italy, 19/1 Soi 9 Sirimangkalajarn, T. Suthep, A.Muang, +66 53-212925 (fax: +66 53-224832). 
- Japan, Airport Business Park, 90 Mahidol Rd. T.Haiya, A. Muang +66 53-203367 (fax: +66 53-203373).
- South Africa, 2nd Floor Chiang Inn Hotel, 100 Chang Klan Rd, Amphor Muang +66 53-270070-6 (fax: +66 53-274299 / mobile: +66-1 8412629).
- South Korea, V Group Building, 3rd Floor, 50 Huay Kaew Rd, Tambon Chang Puak, Amphoe Mueang +66 5322-3119 Ext : 206,210 (fax: +66 53-22-5661). 
- Sweden, Svenska Konsulatet i Chiang Mai, 11 Sermsuk Rd, Mengrairasmi, +66 53-220844 (fax: +66 53-210877).
- USA, U.S. Consulate General, 387 Witchayanon Rd, +66 53-252629 (fax: +66 53-252633), .
- Chiang Dao - an hour north of the city, and a good starting point for treks into the mountains
- Thaton (Thailand) - a few hours north of the city, where boats go down the river to Chiang Rai with a beautiful backdrop.
- Lampang - urban Northern Thailand without the commercialism, 100 km southeast of Chiang Mai
- Lamphun - a scenic town with a long history and a longan festival, 26 km southeast of Chiang Mai
- Mae Sariang - A rural non-tourist small town in a lush valley, surrounded by hilltribe villages and pristine nature. 180km from Chiang Mai on Rt 108. By public bus/minivan about 4hrs.
- Mae Hong Son - a picturesque little town set in a mountainous valley, with a strong Shan (ethnic minority) influence who make up the majority of the population. 235 km from Chiang Mai on Rt 1095. By public bus about 6 hours.
- Pai - a tourist-oriented town, offering a relaxed atmosphere with a broad traveller & backpacker scene. Popular with hippies. 180 baht with pick up at hotel, about 3 hrs.
- Mae Hong Son Loop - A minimum 5day trip from Chiang Mai that makes a loop through Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, Pai and finishes back in Chiang Mai
- Nan - the former capital of a small kingdom filled with history and temples and surrounded by mountains
- Bangkok - government run bus for 500-700 baht, about 8-11 hrs, going to Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit)
- Mae Sai - Tachilek, Myanmar - Five hours north of Chiang Mai on the Thai-Myanmar border lie Mae Sai (Thailand) and Tachilek (Myanmar) best known for their border markets. A popular place to pop over border for a few hours before renewing your Thai visa. Note that there are no consular services so you cannot get a new visa here. It is possible to get a 30-day visitors visa on re-entry to Thailand which can come in very handy if you do not have any time left on your current Thai visa. The Myanmar fee for a same day entry permit is 10 USD or 500 baht (so it is better to use USD). Many people buy western alcohol (esp, wine) while in Myanmar due to the very large duties imposed in Thailand.
- Chiang Khong - Huay Xai, Laos - Six hours by bus (from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal, east of the old town, daily 08:30) to the border where you can catch a boat across the Mekong River to the Lao side (bus will actually stop about 1 km shy of the border, tuk-tuks will be waiting to take you the remainder of the way). From there, slow (2-day) and fast (6-8 hour) boats ply the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Buses are also available to Luang Prabang and north to Luang Namtha.
|Routes through Chiang Mai
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