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Chiang Mai

Northern Thailand
700 km from Bangkok
Province of Chiang Mai
S Thai prononciation : Tchiang maï


Recomm. stay
2 à 4 jours


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.

Hotel in Chiang Mai

Hotel in Chiang Mai

Hotel in Chiang Mai

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

Hotel in Chiang Mai

Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

See all accommodations in 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 selection of tours & activities in Chiang Mai

Live Thai rural life for a day Chiang Mai
Banthi Tour

Live Thai rural life for a day

Offered in Englishenglish guide
Spend the day in a small rural village near Chiang Mai and live a summary of the Thai local life in the countryside (rice palnting, breeding, cooking, traditions...).

Two days trek at Doi Inthanon and Ban Pa Pong Piang (Chiang Mai) Chiang Mai
Tee Watertown

Two days trek at Doi Inthanon and Ban Pa Pong Piang (Chiang Mai)

Offered in Englishenglish guide
Discover the nature and life of the Karen hill tribe at Doi Inthanon mountains near Chiang Mai. This tour will also take you to see the most beautiful rice terraces in Thailand!

Sacred Jungle Trail Trek up to Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Thailand Mountain Trail

Sacred Jungle Trail Trek up to Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai

Offered in Englishenglish guide
Trek up to Doi Suthep temple, the most revered temple in Chiang Mai with a guide starting from the monk's trail and then plunging into the jungle. You will come across a forest temple and hidden waterfalls.

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 near 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.
At Chinag Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade), you can take a red songthaew at the banner "Minibus". They only leave when they are full and take you to Thapae Gate, for 20 baht. Same from the train station parking lot. 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. There are now also very practical new ''Smat Buses"one line going to the airport.
Of course, you can get around in Chiang Mai with taxis, privatize a red car or use apps like GRAB, BOLT or Indrive to order a car with driver.
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. You can also use GRAB app (similar to UBER but UBER does not operate in Southestern Asia any more) to order a transportation.

My practical videos about Chiang Mai

Festivals in Chiang Mai ?

Here is a list of the main festivals taking place every year in Chiang Mai. I mention their dates as soon as they are official on Thai Festivals page.
chinese new year celebrations

Chinese New Year celebrations

This festival generally takes place in the month of February

Plus d'infos sur Chinese New Year celebrations

chiang mai flower festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of February

Plus d'infos sur Chiang Mai Flower Festival

festival de la fraise

Festival de la Fraise

This festival generally takes place in the month of February

Plus d'infos sur Festival de la Fraise

lanna saa paper festival

Lanna Saa paper Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of February

Plus d'infos sur Lanna Saa paper Festival

poy sang long

Poy Sang Long

This festival generally takes place in the month of April

Plus d'infos sur Poy Sang Long

chiang mai yee peng festival

Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of November

Plus d'infos sur Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival

chiang mai ping fai festival

Chiang Mai Ping Fai Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of December

Plus d'infos sur Chiang Mai Ping Fai Festival

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

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

My opinion :
The most visited temple in the city, it is a perfect illustration of the nothern architectural style

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

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

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

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.

Ban Pa Pong Piang rice terraces

My opinion :
This tiny village in the mountains of Doi Inthanon has, it is said, the most beautiful rice terraces in Thailand. I do not know if it is true but yes, they are superb. Staying up there in spartan conditions is one of the most beautiful experiences you can experience in Chiang Mai province during the rainy season.

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs

My opinion :
These naturally warm water sources are probably the most famous hots srpings among those close to Chiang Mai. You can soak your feet in the hot mineral water, cook eggs, or bathe fully and swim in the hot mineral water pool and get a massage of course. A nice relaxing outing!

Bo Sang Umbrella making village

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...
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

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.

Sticky Waterfall (Bua Thong waterfall)

My opinion :
The Bua Thong waterfall, a 1-hour drive from Chiang Mai city is nicknamed Sticky Waterfall because of its naturally gripping coating which allows you to climb it by its bed very easily. That's also why people go to visit it: to climb the waterfall!
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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

quand partir à Chiang Mai
When to go to Chiang Mai ?
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All COVID-19 restrictions for coming to Thailand lifted from October 1 !

all covid-19 restrictions for coming to thailand lifted from october 1 !

We have been waiting for it for months, hoping it will happen on July 1, but it will finally be October 1, 2022, when Thailand will lift the last COVID restrictions to enter the country. From this date, it will no longer be necessary to show...

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