Welcome to Chiang Mai!
A city that evokes a sense of old kingdoms, Eastern palaces, and temples in people’s minds, Chiang Mai, Thailand, is hidden away between its temples, mountains, and bustling streets, it is adored by locals and tourists alike. Chiang Mai appeared on TripAdvisor’s list of best places to visit in the world, and it is one of the busiest tourist destinations in Thailand.
The tourists arriving daily at Chiang Mai Airport know that the temples and markets are great places to visit, but a worldwide local knows which are the best and what spots aren’t overcrowded. Follow this guide to learn some of the best local spots around this beautiful and ancient city of Chiang Mai.
Getting Around in Chiang Mai
Notice upon arrival, almost everyone and everything seem to be moving. The crowds of people and waves of traffic, seem to exist in a cohesive manner that only locals could possibly get the hang of. Luckily for you, there are some efficient ways to get around town. Locals tend to zip around the streets on a motorbike, but a truly local way to get around town is by tuk-tuk, rickshaw, or songthaew. A songthaew is a type of rideshare taxi, made out of a truck. Using this method to get around from your Chiang Mai hotel is a truly Thai experience, where you’re sure to meet a lot of locals.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re getting into a cab, always make sure it’s licensed and take note of information like license plate numbers as non-licensed modes of transport might try and scam an inexperienced tourist. If you’re going by tuk-tuk or songthaew, be sure to pay in cash, as an electronic payment system will probably not be available.
Shopping in Chiang Mai
Thailand has some of the best shopping in Asia, and Chiang Mai is host to some amazing markets. Upon approaching a market in Chiang Mai, you’ll be greeted by an array of sights and smells that you’ve never seen or smelled before. It is a truly all-encompassing sensual experience, and one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. The food here is almost always affordable, running you only a couple of U.S. dollars for a meal you won’t forget.
Chiang Mai’s night bazaar is a place where both locals and tourists go. Located at the intersection of Chang Khlan and Loi Kroh, stretching for two blocks, it runs from about 6 PM to midnight. Everything from clothes to souvenirs can be found here, as well as food to rival the best of Chiang Mai restaurants.
Worldwide Local Tip: Chiang Mai is full of markets and bazaars, but the Wararot market is one of the most seldom visited by tourists. This market caters mostly to locals but you can find almost anything including electronics, food, clothes, and anything in between. This is a less crowded location, however, few vendors speak English.
History and Architecture
The city of Chiang Mai, once the capital of the kingdom of Chiang Mai, is popularly known for its old temples and beautiful monuments. Any tourist can visit a temple from a guidebook but a worldwide local knows learning where the locals go is the proper way to see a city. Next, visit the Wat Prathat Doi Kham temple, located about 10km outside the city. This amazing temple sees fewer tourists than the others, and the 16-meter high golden Buddha statue is breathtaking. A picture perfect opportunity can be captured by the great 360-degree view of the city. You’ll feel you’re standing on the top of the world, soaking up the sunny Chiang Mai weather.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re interested in Buddhism or just want to connect with the culture try out a Monk Chant. These are held at various temples around the city where guests can come and chant with monks and learn about their lives day-to-day. You’ll get a better grasp of how they practice their English speaking.
Enjoy a Relaxing Day in Sri Lanna
Chiang Mai is an active and lively city that is buzzing at all hours of the day. For more laid back and peaceful experience out of the city, explore some of the countryside. Just about an hour outside the city, is the Sri Lanna National Park. Here you’ll enjoy a long boat ride on the lake and enjoy the beautiful lush green scenery that surrounds the area.
Worldwide Local Tip: Mae Ngat Dam in Sri Lanna, offers places to stay for people looking to spend a night by the water. Book a night or two at a floating hotel, or stay on a houseboat. It’s bound to be a night you won’t forget!
Enjoy Your Time in Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is one of the most visited cities in Thailand and for good reason. The amazing temples, delicious food and vibrant life of the markets and streets, is a treat that will entice your senses. Now that you have an inside view of Chiang Mai, you’ll be a worldwide local quicker than you can say “chon gaew!”