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Chiang Mai

เชียงใหม่
Northern Thailand
700 km from Bangkok
Province of Chiang Mai
Population : 200 000
Thai prononciation : Tchiang maï

Budget

Recomm. stay
2 à 4 jours

Visits

chiang mai

General Information about Chiang Mai

The city is considered as the capital of the North and is very popular with thai people. Chiang Mai is much quieter than Bangkok and has a lot of charm thanks to the town center framed by ramparts with 4 doors and bordered by moats that gives a very bucolic side to the city. According to several sources food in Chiang Mai is one of the most tasty and variedin Thailand. Strolling through Chiang Mai at night is also very pleasant. You can enjoy the many restaurants, music bars and a lively nightlife less boisterous than in Bangkok. There is also the famous Night Bazaar and the Walking Streets on Saturdays and Sundays for shopping and enjoying street food at low prices.

With its 300 temples, the city center, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that overlooks the city and especially the surrounding mountains where you can do many excursions and treks that allow you to meet mountain tribes, you have many things to do in Chiang Mai ! One of the great experiences to live in Chiang Mai is spend the day with the elephants but be careful not to do it anywhere! Important, boycott the places that offer you to ride on the back of elephants ! Elephant nature park is the best palce to go to spend time with elephants. I also recommend you to take one thai cooking class in Chiang Mai.
If you have the opportunity, try to come to Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong (in November) or Songkran (mid-April). These festivals are particularly nice in Chiang Mai especially Loy Krathong which is really beautiful here. Personally, I also like the Chiang Mai Flower Festival which takes place in February. However, it is imperative to book your hotel in advance (see here) for these occasions, otherwise you will have great difficulty finding a room.
Also note that air quality in Chiang Mai is very often very bad from end of February to mid-April. Wearing a N95 mask can be recommended (use website or applications to know the AQI level)

chiang mai

Accommodations in Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai there are plenty of hotels and especially guesthouses. However, in high season, there is not that rooms available in guest houses. Booking in advance is highly recommended during Flower Festival (first week-end in February), Songkran (mid April) and Loy Krathong (november) !
Guesthouses in Chiang Mai are mostly concentrated in the old city center, on Moon Muang Road and near Thapae Gate. This is also the most pleasant part of Chiang Mai and is close to the most interesting temples in the city.

Find accommodation in Chiang Mai

My recommandations

People often ask me what accommodations I recommaend in Thailand, here are my recommandations in Chiang Mai.

swiss-lanna lodge

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

sri pat guest house

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

lamphu house

Hotel in Chiang Mai

all in 1 guesthouse

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

ampawan guest house

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai


See all accommodations in Chiang Mai

Weather & climate in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has a humid and dry tropical climate, temperate. It is hot to hot all year long with possible waves of freshness in December-January during which it happens that temperatures drop below 20 ° C in the morning in the lowlands (between 14 and 18 ° C rarely less) and below 10 ° C (see barely above zero in the most extreme cases) on the peaks of the surrounding mountains. The monsoon begins in May and ends in mid-October. The rainiest months are August and September. But the monsoon remains here less abundant than in the South of the country at the same time.

The best months to go to Chiang Mai are from November to April knowing that in March, April and May, it is very hot (average around 34 ° C in the warmest of the day but it happens regularly that it is 40 ° C and over). It is not directly related to the climate although the lack of rain amplifies the phenomenon but in March, the quality of the air is regularly very bad in Chiang Mai because of the fields burning in the neighborhoods. It sometimes already starts at the end of February and pollution reaches such levels that wearing an N95 anti-particle mask is often recommended.

See weather forecast in Chiang Mai


When to go to Chiang Mai ?

Practical information about Chiang Mai

If you are coming from Bangkok, try to come with the night train. It is very comfortable. It's quite an experience! There are brand new trains, more modern and comfortable that I did not try yet. But book your tickets in advance to make sure you have a sleeper. You can book your trains tickets on line on this website (which I tested and approved).

If you have the opportunity, I recommend you come to Chiang Mai to be here on a Sunday and enjoy the Sunday Walking Street, for me, the best night market in Thailand.
On the surrounding peaks, like Doi Inthanon, the highest mount in Thailand, temperatures can be very cool in the winter, especially in the morning. Take a sweater and maybe a scarf in your suitcase.

My practical videos about Chiang Mai

How to get around in Chiang Mai ?

In Chiang Mai, there are almost all types of transport to get around (but no metro or tram): bus lines, songthaews, motorcycle taxis, samlaws (pedicabs) tuk- tuks and taxis. Red songthaews are the most used to get around the city and go to Doi Suthep. They are always cheaper than tuk-tuks. A ride in Chiang Mai will cost you between 20 and 60 baht.
Prefer to ride in vehicles that already have passengers otherwise you will pay less. To get to Doi Suthep, if you are not a group, hiring a red songthaews to go directly will be the most expensive option. There are specific red cars to the temple. They usually fill up at a stop about one kilometer before Chiang Mai Zoo. So ask a siongthaew to take you to Doi Suthep bus station and then take on another red vehicle to go at the temple (but you will have to wait because it will only leave when it has enough passengers). The ascent costs 40 THB per person. And back down to the zoo is 40 THB, to the old city gates costs between 60 and 70 THB depending on the door.
There are white buses at dock 10 in Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade). they go to the town but seem not very frequent. We rather suggest you take a red songthaew at the banner "Minibus". They only leave when they are full and take you to Thapae Gate, for 20 baht. From Chiang Mai airport, a taxi will ask around 120 baht to take you to the town and a songthaew will ask for 60 THB only and 100 THB to go to the Bus Terminal.
Note that there is a free songthaew between several hotels in the city and Central Airport Plaza, a large shopping mall near the airport. To go to the nearby cities, you have to take the yellow, white or green songthaews. Many leave the Warorot market.

How to ask in Thai to go to Chiang Mai ?

I want to go to Chiang Mai / Yak paï ti Tchiang maï.
Where is Chiang Mai ? / Tchiang maï you ti naï ?

Must-visits in Chiang Mai

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Chiang Mai

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ
My opinion :
A must see. On the top of a mountain, it is the most famous temple in the area. It is very popular with the thais and of course tourists and offers a magnificent view (often more clear in late afternoon) on Chiang Mai
Wat Phra Singh Chiang Mai

Wat Phra Singh

วัดพระสิงห์
My opinion :
The most visited temple in the city, it is a perfect illustration of the nothern architectural style
Sunday Walking Street Chiang Mai

Sunday Walking Street

ถนนคนเดินเชียงใหม่ วันอาทิตย์
My opinion :
This big night market takes place every Sunday night in the center of Chiang Mai including food stands in two temples. A popular ambience. We really suggest you to go even if you will not be alone !
Wat Palad Chiang Mai

Wat Palad

วัดผาลาด
My opinion :
is a charming forest temple with superb refined statues and a quiet and pleasant atmosphere. A small haven of peace often ignored by the many tourists who pass right by each day in their ascent to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep a few kilometers higher.
Saturday Walking Street Chiang Mai

Saturday Walking Street

ถนนคนเดินวัวลาย
My opinion :
Big night market a little less known than Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai Saturday Walking Street also attracts a lot of people and allows you to do a little shopping and have dinner by tasting the local cuisine at the very numerous stalls and street restaurants. The neighboring Silver Temple is also superbly lit and open to the public these evenings.
Silver Temple Chiang Mai

Silver Temple

วัดศรีสุพรรณ
My opinion :
As its name suggests this temple is known for its hall covered internally and externally with silver finely carved or engraved. It is particularly beautiful at night with its colorful illuminations. Next to Saturday Walking Street, it's worth visiting it at the same time you enjoy the traditional Saturday pedestrian street in Chiang Mai.
Bo Sang Umbrella making village Chiang Mai

Bo Sang Umbrella making village

บ่อสร้าง
My opinion :
This village a few kilometers from Chiang Mai is famous for its traditional umbrella making. Throughout the year, you can go there and visit the workshops to see all the stages of the confection and in January is held a big festival. In the village, umbrellas are ubiquitous but there are also workshops of silver work, wood carving...
Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai
My opinion :
It is the elephant sanctuary of reference in Thailand. There, you are sure to live a beautiful and respectful encounter with elephants. Because even if things slowly change (thanks to the work of Lek Chailert the founder of the park and the people she gathered around her), there are still many elephant camps or so-called sanctuaries where animal welfare is not a concern.
Straw King Kong statues Chiang Mai
My opinion :
These giant King Kong statues built with rice straw became in a few months one of the great curiosities in Chiang Mai. They are installed near Huay Thung Tao Lake about ten kilometers from the city.
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