Chiang Mai Travel Guide

Chiang Mai has the magic trio of aces for a dream holiday: nature, culture and adventure. You will enjoy an alternative Thailand, a natural green that hurts the eyes, a century-old culture reflected in its imposing temples and palaces and the old Lanna kingdom that lives on in the historic city centre dotted with wooden houses.

So is Chiang Mai a safe? Chiang Mai is a very safe city. The people in Chiang Mai are extremely friendly and welcoming of foreigners. As long as you use common sense, lock up your valuables and don’t get too drunk, you will be absolutely safe in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai

If strong emotions call you in Chiang Mai you have the opportunity to ride on elephants (in Thailand there are elephant sanctuaries where animal abuse is not tolerated), see Bengal tigers in their safari or trek through the inaccessible mountain tribes.

If, on the other hand, you are a lover of culture, you can enjoy any Buddhist temple you find there, such as the Phra That Doi Suthep or the Wat Srisuphan (also known as the Silver Temple); important parks such as the Doi Inthanon or Doi Suthep National Parks; popular festivals such as Loy Krathong; emblematic places and towns such as Chinatown and Giraffe Women and even the national sport par excellence: Muay Thai.

There are many day-trips from Chiang Mai that will allow you to see all this and much more.

Chiang Mai, just like its neighbour Chiang Rai, is a comfortable destination, ideal for a pleasant trip. The climate is milder than in the rest of the country, the atmosphere is entertaining and the food is still delicious. Access to this paradise is easy and fast, with constant connections from the capital city of Bangkok. You only have to choose your preferred means, plane, train or bus.

So if you are planning your trip to Thailand and have the best travel tips, either on your own or through a travel agent, get ready – you are about to enjoy your greatest adventure!

Hotels

If you’re looking for a place to sleep in Chiang Mai, don’t worry. The Thai city welcomes tourists with open arms, with a wide range of establishments, from popular backpacker guest houses to super luxury hotels. The number of hotels in Chiang Mai on offer encompasses very different conditions, even in accommodation of the same category.

Below you can see in detail which type of accommodation in Chiang Mai best suits your needs.

7 cheap hostels in Chiang Mai

Best hotels in Chiang Mai

5 luxury hotels in Chiang Mai

If you are on your honeymoon or simply looking for an unforgettable experience and you don’t want anything to tarnish your memories all over Thailand, we provide you with a list of the 5 best hotels in Chiang Mai that will transport you to heaven.

Our Favorite Hotels in Chiang Mai

Hotel de Origin
99 The Gallery Hotel
By Daowadung
Rainforest ChiangMai Hotel

Flights How to get to the north of the country?

Chiang Mai airport has adapted to the growing tourist pull of the region and offers numerous domestic and international connections to the Asian continent with departures to Seoul, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

If you are looking for a way to travel from Bangkok you will have all the facilities because you will have 33 daily flights from 6.00 am to 10.20 pm. In just one hour you will reach the northern paradise.

It also offers good connections to the other main Thai destinations. If you fly from Phuket they have 3 daily frequencies from 12.40 to 22.45. From Mae Hong Son you have 4 daily flights every day except Saturday.

How to get from the airport to the city

To get to the city from the airport, you have two means of transport, the taxi and the bus. My recommendation is that you use the taxi because it is the fastest and safest way. Besides, the fare is fixed at 120 baht, which avoids you the mischief of the drivers.

If you want a cheaper way, you can take the bus for 25 baht. You will save more than a quarter, although it is less safe.

How to get there by bus or train

If your budget is tighter, you can get to the city for less than the price of the plane. With the logical limitations, the bus and the train are two ideal means of transport to get there for less money.

If you like to travel in peace and quiet and take in the scenery, then the train is for you, because you’ll be enjoying rural Thailand on the ground. In addition, the comfort of a bed ensures a more restful itinerary.

Of course, the trip will take a little longer than the bus ride, not to mention the usual delays. You should know that the rail route is outdated and has been losing passengers for 6 years due to operational problems.

I recommend that you book 2 days in advance during the high season, between November and February, to ensure your preferred timetable. In this way, you will be able to book an air-conditioned compartment to avoid the heat.

To arrive from Bangkok, you have 7 daily frequencies at your disposal. You can choose a second class air-conditioned compartment for 541 baht, less than half of a first class trip.

The bus is the favorite way for most travelers and natives who want to move around Chiang Mai. To get from Bangkok you have all the facilities with departures almost every hour from 5.30 to 22.00 for a price ranging from 400 to 600 baht.

The companies ensure you a pleasant journey on most itineraries with a hostess service providing drinks, snacks and wet towels. I recommend that you arrive at the station in good time because you risk losing your seat due to the large influx of travellers.

What’s the weather like?

Chiang-Mai-Thailand-weather

The weather will never be a problem for you, because you will enjoy one of the most temperate zones in Thailand. The climate in the north of Thailand is considerably cooler than that of hot Bangkok.

As in the rest of the country, this Thai city lacks the usual weather stations. Its climate is reduced to a cooler season, never cold, one of heat and a third of rain.

Cold season – The best time to travel to the Thai city coincides with the cold season from December to the end of February because there is no rain or excessive heat. For this time it is convenient to take warm clothes for the mornings because the minimum temperatures are low. But don’t forget your summer clothes for the central hours of the day, because the thermometer can go up to 30 degrees.

Rainy season – The rainy season, from May to November, is the second best period to travel to the Thai city. At this time the region receives the Monsoons from India which cause frequent torrential rains. The best thing is that you won’t be cold because of the temperatures and you won’t get too wet either. The rains are as intense as they are brief.

Hot season – The worst time to travel is in the dry season from April to June. Avoid these dates if you don’t want to get soaked in heat with a maximum of 40 degrees tropical humidity. The climate is so dry and hot that the lush nature yellows and fires occur.

“Burning Season in Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai, between the end of February and the month of April, the air quality can be terrible due to forest fires (whether natural or man-made), as well as burns in the fields where crops are grown.

This is a cloudy weather condition, which starts a smoking season better known as Smoky Season or Burning Season.

The terrible atmosphere can be improved by the rains or sudden storms that occur during the months of March and April, but you should know that in the month of March, the matter is really problematic.

If you travel with children or elderly people, suffer from asthma or breathing problems, it is not recommended that you visit Chiang Mai in the months of February to April.

I also recommend that if you want to monitor pollution levels, you should download the Air Visual App.

What to see in Chiang Mai

What to do in Chiang Mai which maintains the charm of the remote and unknown past. Despite the urban development the city maintains its historical identity when it survived the southern kingdom of Siam that would eventually form the present day Thailand. Prepare your camera, you will discover the most monumental city of Thailand after Bangkok. It is worth visiting.

The vestiges of the ancient capital of Lanna survive 700 years later in the historic centre, with the presence of its impressive moat and a large part of the walled enclosure. It will allow you the privilege of touring this historical environment with an itinerary enabled as a walk that preserves the 4 bastions of the walled corners.

This city is a place of worship, literally, for the abundance of its Buddhist temples, considered among the best in the country. This selection includes Wat Phra Singh, in the heart of the historic centre. This temple of clear reminiscences of the lanna reign preserves the most important sculpture of Buddha in the city. Wat Chiang Man is the oldest in this city in northern Thailand because it was built by King Mengrai at the founding of the capital in the thirteenth century. Wat Chedi Luang will impress you with its pagoda half-destroyed by an earthquake in the sixteenth century.

He also offers exciting experiences such as his Night Safari. This 320-acre complex next to the Doi Pui Suithep National Park brings together 200 wild species from Asia and Africa. The most harmless animals move freely among the visitors.

The city offers the classic urban attractions such as shopping. You will be able to enjoy the native markets that stand out in the historical centre, such as the Warorot market, the Ton Lamyai flower market and, above all, the Bazaar at night, which will captivate you with its amazing diversity.

If your interests also include Muay Thai or Thai Boxing, the place in Chiang Mai where you can enjoy the fights is the Thaphae Boxing Stadium. Almost every day there is a sample of this ancient practice and representative of Thai culture.

Shopping – The Night Bazaar

First of all, if you still don’t know how to make money in Thailand I recommend you to look at this article I made for you. Then you can make any purchase without any worries.

One of the places that attract the most attention from tourists and that seek to experience (as much or more than a Thai massage or Thai cuisine) are the night markets. All the shopping you have done will be an appetizer for what you will find at the Chiang Mai night bazaar, one of the biggest markets in the whole country. The visit will be a great experience because you will discover amazing treasures for sale. All you have to do is search.

To get to the bazaar you won’t have to go very far, because it’s in the heart of the city, on the Chan Klan road, just a stone’s throw from most hotels. The market is open in the evening from 6pm to 10.30pm, and makes its night-time hours one of its greatest attractions. The leisure activities are completed with a great variety of restaurants of Thai and international food, like McDonald’s and Startbucks, to extend your stay.

If you are looking for the best of Thai cuisine, the best place is where ordinary people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner: the night markets.

The bazaar is a temple of low-cost shopping. You can enjoy countless stalls with all kinds of products including bargains and extravagances. Samurai swords, silk dresses, handicrafts, bags, watches, antiques, video games, shoes, etc. And if you want to have a few laughs you can take some pictures dressed in traditional Thai costumes. You just have to dare and share them in our private Facebook group for travelers to Thailand.

Most recommended restaurants in Chiang Mai

A great variety of restaurants you will see throughout the community of Chiang Mai, because apart from its fascinating cultures and the bags that create its inhabitants, the culinary art and the wide range in their dishes, is part of the extras with which it has this great place and that during your visit you can not miss.

Recommendations of restaurants to go daily for their good prices

1.- Kat’s Kitchen

For those who love to enjoy unique Thai experiences, breakfast in this style is the specialty of this establishment. You’ll find that the restaurant’s particular seasoning will leave you wanting to try all its 5-star dishes. If you are not familiar with Thai cuisine, this is a good place to start.
Address: 17 Ratchamanka Road, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

2.- Khunkae’s Juice Bar / Healthy By Khunkae Chiang Mai

And talking about Thai cuisine is also talking about what you drink during that magical moment that is eating. For lovers of natural drinks, this restaurant has healthy menus, with green smoothies and vegetarian juices being their great option, ideal to start your day off on the right foot. Try all their options and recommend the best one.
Address: 19/3 Moon Muang Road : Soi 7, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

3.- Khao Soi Khun Yai

Thai and Asian food establishment with many recommendations from tourists from all over the world. Be sure to try the specialty of classic Khao Soi. It is characterized by classic Thai menus that exceed any kind of expectation.
Address: Sri Poom Road | Just After Sri Poom 8 Alley, Chiang Mai, Thailand

4.- Taa- Peng- Cat

For those who love to order the most sophisticated Thai menus a la carte, Taa- Peng – Cat offers the best chicken curry panini, or if you prefer they also have other menus for you to select the ones that best suit your palate and what you want to enjoy in your days on the road.
Address: 1 Samlan Rd, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Recommendations of luxury restaurants and high quality food

1.- Fahtara Coffe

For many of the tourists, this restaurant is a very charming place, both for its impressive terrace, and for its surprising menus based on Thai food, mainly its rice with vegetables, prepared by experts. Feel free while you eat and listen to the sound of the water mill in the surroundings.
Address: 57 Wiang Kaew Road, Sripoom, Muang | Corner of Jhaban Road, At Fah Lanna Spa, Chiang Mai 50220, Thailand

2.- Sababa Restaurant Chiang Mai

The specialty of this magnificent restaurant is focused on accompaniments such as hummus, falafel and their great salads. Visit them and face the best of Mediterranean and Israeli food.
Address: 33/10, Charoen Prathet Road : Chang Khlan, Diamond Riverside Hotel, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

3.- Italics & Rise at Akyra Manor Chiang Mai

Finding a restaurant that matches what you are looking for can sometimes be a little difficult, but when you arrive in Chiang Mai you can be sure that the best Thai food identified by its great cream of mushrooms and truffle, apart from Italian and European food, you will find it in this great establishment, fully recommended and with prices according to its quality.
Address: 22/2 Nimmana Haeminda Road, Soi 9, Suthep | Muang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

4.- David’s Kitchen

Specialist in French and Asian food, ideal if you want to find surprising flavors and full of good taste. Don’t forget to recommend the asparagus risotto and find that international food you wanted so much in Chiang Mai.
Address: 113 Bumrungrad Road | Wat Kate Subdistrict, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand

5.- Tikky Café

The great Tikky Café is identified as one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, its best recommendations are focused on Thai food, being its icon the Pad Thai, besides having excellent culinary decorations that make a difference.
Address: 2/2 Arak Soi 3 | Sriphum, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Nightlife and Leisure: What you can find at night

The night in the city is a quiet version of the one in Bangkok, although it offers enough alternatives to party until 2.00 (the schedule is extended in some discos). You won’t have problems finding bars with live music, discos or of course karaoke, which are the weakness of the inhabitants.

If you feel like an international atmosphere of tourists you have to go to the area of the Thapae gate next to the Nawarat bridge where you will find many bars. The adult atmosphere offers more discretion than in Bangkok and is concentrated on the Loi Kroh road.

The local atmosphere is located in the western part of the center, on Nimminhemin Avenue. This area of university tais enjoys numerous bars and restaurants with terraces that usually offer small concerts.

Tours in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Tour

Chiang Mai Temples Tour with an English Guide

Getting to know the culture and practice of Buddhism in Thailand is priceless. I’m sure you won’t want to miss out on this fascinating experience with the coolest agency: 13 years of operations and 5 stars on Tripadvisor confirm this. Best of all? You will have English-speaking guides.

Why do I recommend it?

The wonderful thing about this tour is that you will not only visit the most significant temples in Chiang Mai, but you will also see the monks meditating, eating and you might even have the chance to communicate with some of them.

Among the temples to visit are:

Wat Phra Singh: It’s one of the most important temples in the country. There you will be able to see the novices on their lunch hour.
Wat Chedi Luang: It stands out for its stone chedi (an architectural structure that contains relics).
Wat Umong: A sacred meditation site with over 700 years of tradition. There you will see what the daily life of the monks is like.
Wat Doi Suthep: It is the favorite of tourists because it has the most incredible views, since it is on the top of Mount Suthep. Here you can learn about the Buddhist rituals.
Besides going to the sacred places, you will also visit Mount Suthep and the Wararot market, located in Chinatown.

There are two options to choose from

Semi-private tour

More people will be included in your group.
Duration: From 10:00 to 17:30 h.
Capacity: minimum 2 people; maximum 9.
Cost: 2290 THB p/p (about 59 Euros)
Book 48 hours in advance.
Private Tour

Cost:

2 persons 2900 THB w/w
3-4 people 2400 THB w/w
5-6 people 2000 THB w/w
Chiang-Mai-Temples
Where are they picking you up?

At your hotel.

What does the tour include?

Van with a/c, english speaking guide, entrance fees to the temples and lunch with typical dishes in a restaurant (without drinks).

Visit with an English speaking guide of the Doi Inthanon National Park

If you love to be in touch with nature, this tour is ideal for you. You will enjoy the mountains, the waterfalls, the Thai culture and the Buddhist religion. To reach the Doi Inthanon National Park, you have at your disposal the best

Why do I recommend it?

Because Doi Inthanon National Park is one of the most important parks in Thailand, at 2,565 m high. Don’t worry about the distance because you’ll get to the top by road.
Because hiking in the forest is always a fascinating adventure.
You will see pagodas and gardens.
You will be able to bargain in the markets of the local tribes.
Who can’t do this tour?

People with difficulty walking more than one hour. Children 6 years old (unless they are used to this kind of activities).

Semi-private tour

There will be more chaperones on your tour. Book 72 hours in advance.

Duration: 8:00 to 18:00 h.
Capacity: Minimum 2; maximum 9 people.
Cost: 3000 THB p/p (about 77 Euros).

Where will you be picked up?

At your hotel.

Private Tour

Cost:
2 persons: 3800 THB w/w
From 3 persons: 3200 THB w/w
It is organized on any date, depending on the availability.

What does the tour include?

Van with a/c, pick up at the hotel, english speaking guide and entrance fees to the park.

Other excursions: Get to know the surroundings of Chiang Mai

Excursions in the city will allow you to enjoy impressive landscapes with exuberant nature. The extensive offer of activities will bring out the explorer in you with unique experiences like riding elephants or trekking in the mountain tribes.

#1. Elephant Park

This Mae Sa mountain camp, 30 minutes away, provides you with the incredible opportunity to bathe with an elephant. We recommend to go only to the Elephant Nature Park where they rescue elephants and take care of them, avoid taking pictures or giving food to the little elephants that you can find tied to the road along the country, they will live exploited thanks to your tips, avoid it. There are other places that will offer you to ride an elephant through the jungle but elephants are not animals that are prepared for it and this practice damages them. In Elephant Nature Park you can see them, feed them, bathe them and take a bath with them, it is much more fun, I loved it and I recommend it very much.

#2. Trekking in the mountains

Organized trekking tours will take you to remote places where the masses of tourists do not arrive. The outings allow for small groups of 5 to tour the genuine hill tribes at an altitude of 2,000 meters. There you will discover an ancestral way of life that is unknown.

#3. Excursions around the Golden Triangle

Thailand’s Gold Triangle is a unique place where it meets its neighbors Laos and Myanmar at the impressive confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers. Once a dangerous area, it was a place of relocation for certain tribes that migrated to Thailand, such as the Kayan, from whom the famous giraffe women (also known as Paduang) originated. The excursions will revive the production of opium, one of the darkest facets of this border area until the 1980s when it was one of the world’s largest producers.

Transport: How to move around the province

The city has the advantage of quiet traffic that allows you to move around safely, nothing to do with the chaos of Banghkok.

Motorcycle – The motorcycle is the first option to move around where you want in a fun way. You won’t have any problem finding them because the accommodations themselves usually rent them at an interesting price, 150 baht per day.

Taxi – Taxis are not the most common way to move around every day because they are booked by phone. In addition, your itinerary is centered on the airport. However, when you arrive by plane or want to take the flight home, this is the recommended means of transport because of its seriousness.

Alternative transport – You can’t leave without trying the tuk tuk, which is something like Thailand’s domestic transport. If you don’t get on this mythical vehicle, a motorbike with a compartment for a couple of travellers, you haven’t been to Thailand. You can find them at every corner and it will cost you between 60 and 100 baths for a 10 minute ride.

=If you want to get around for less money you can also take the independent buses, known as Songteaws. This transport is controlled by private groups, even mafia, but they work well. Just don’t think about a western bus service. Most of them are roofed ranchers where you get on the road and get off when you want for 20 baht. There are also regular bus lines that have been around for 10 years, but their routes are so limited that you will barely be able to use them.

And of course, the bike is a highly recommended means if you are a sportsman and like the mountains. Without a doubt, it is a very good option for choosing a leisure activity.

Read more about Chiang Mai and Thailand

Chiang Mai is a city where you can do a lot of things or activities… from visiting its temples, enjoying its annual festivals, visiting incredible places like the Elephant Nature Park and getting to know not very touristy places in the city.

What To Do And See In Chiang Mai

What To Do In Chiang Mai In 4 Days
Things You Shouldn’t Do In Chiang Mai
Free Things To Do In Chiang Mai
8 Reasons To Travel And Visit Chiang Mai
What To See And Do In The Chiang Mai Old Town
Temples In Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Festivals In Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai’s Loy Krathong Calendar
Visit The Wat Umong
Tiger Kingdom: Tigers In Chiang Mai And Ethical Issues
Elephants In Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park
Massage In Chiang Mai: Women’s Prison
Street Art In Chiang Mai
Cooking Class In Chiang Mai

Planning Your Trip To Chiang Mai

Do you want to know how to get to Chiang Mai by train, bus or plane from anywhere in Thailand? We leave you all this kind of information below.

Chiang Mai Airport: Flying To Chiang Mai
Cheap Flights To Chiang Mai: Flying To Chiang Mai
Cheap Flights Chiang Mai – Surat thani
How To Go From Chiang Mai To Chiang Rai
How To Go From Chiang Mai To Chiang Rai: Alternative Route
How To Go From Chiang Mai To Bangkok, North And South Thailand
How To Get From Bangkok To Chiang Mai By Train
How To Go From Ayutthaya To Chiang Mai
How To Go From Sukhothai To Chiang Mai
How To Go From Chiang Mai To Angkor Wat / Siem Reap
Chiang Mai Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station

Weather In Chiang Mai

If you travel to Chiang Mai, you’ll be interested in the climate of the city. In the following link we leave you all the information about the climate in Chiang Mai that you need.

Weather In Chiang Mai And Northern Thailand

Where To Sleep In Chiang Mai

Looking for cheap accommodation? Want to know which are the most recommended hotels for travelers in Chiang Mai? All this information and much more in our Chian Mai Accommodation Guide

Chiang Mai Accommodation Guide

Most Important Markets In Chiang Mai

One of Chiang Mai’s biggest attractions is its markets, places where you can enjoy the delicious cuisine of northern Thailand and witness many cultural events.

Night Markets
Warorot Market, Chiang Mai’s Chinatown

Tours In Chiang Mai

Would you like to take advantage of your visit to Chiang Mai and make the best day trips? In the following posts we tell you all about it:

Tours In Chiang Mai
Trekking In Chiang Mai
Adventure Sports And Activities In Thailand

Chiang Mai’s Surroundings

To visit Chiang Mai is also to get to know its incredible surroundings, incredible places of great natural beauty and cultural interest. Without a doubt you cannot leave Chiang Mai without meeting them.

Mea Chaem
Fang And Northern Thailand
Doi Inthanon
Chiang Dao
Doi Suthep
Visit The Wat Pha Lat
Chiang Mai’s Winter Palace
Visit The Wat Umong
The Hot Springs Of San Kamphaeng
Ob Luang And The Grand Canyon
Huay Tung Tao Lake
What To See And Do In Lamphun
The Historical Ruins Of Wiang Kum Kam
Chiang Mai Rice Terraces

Plan Your Route

Chiang Mai is perfect and a must on any route in northern Thailand. Plan your trip better with our proposed itineraries:

Northern Thailand Travel Itinerary
Alternative Route North Thailand

We hope that our Chiang Mai Backpacker’s Guide will help you get to know this amazing place in Northern Thailand better and that it will help you plan your trip around Thailand.

 

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