Chiang Mai is Thailands 5th biggest city but is much quieter than the capital Bangkok. The square shaped inner city is framed by remaining parts of the ancient city walls and a water ditch and offers a few tempels to visit but moreover plenty of accomodations, restaurants and bars. The influence of the many expats living in Chiang Mai is very obvious, for the good and the bad. In consequence the streets are filled with western people who enjoy the easy life in Thailand while sipping a Latte Macchiato and checking their smartphones.
How to get there:
Chiang Mai International Airport:
The airport is located 3 km southwest of the city, just a 10-15 min ride by taxi which cost you 120 Baht flat for up to 4 passengers to anywhere in the city. Buy the ticket at the taxi service counter.
Alternatively take Bus number #4 for 15 Baht to the city center.
Arcade Bus Station:
Buses from outside the Chiang Mai Region arrive at the Arcade Bus Station, either in Terminal 2 or 3, but they are located directly next to each other and only seperated by a Tuk-Tuk stand. The Arcade Bus terminals are a few kilometer north-east of the city center at the end of Kaeo Narawat Rd just before the superhighway.
Songthaews are the cheapest option to get to the city (30-40 Baht), good drop off point if you don’t have a hostel yet ist the east gate of the ancient city wall. The Tuk-Tuks will of course try to charge you at least 150 Baht for the ride to the city center, but a normal tourist price would be 40-50 Baht per Person – or charter a thongsaew for 100-150 Baht. The location of the Arcade bus station is marked below, a good drop off point is the East Gate (Thaphe Gate) of the ancient city wall.
For a more detailled information check out the Wikitravel Chiang Mai page!
Southeast Corner of Chiang Mai – Moon Muang Road Lane 2
Accomodation for fancy flashpackers in Chiang Mai is plenty, but we found it to be mostly overpriced. For the travellers on a tight budget it is worth walking around and checking out a few hostels before you get a good deal for a simple but clean place to stay – From what we saw, the money value ratio differs strongly.
The best street to look for affordable and nice hostels in our opinion is Moon Muang Road Lane 2, which is shown in the map below. It also is very quietly situated away from the main roads and has a nice flair to it – which is lost already in most streets of Chiang Mai.
Check further recommendations on Tripadvisor, but be aware – the best choices are not for the budget traveller since Chiang Mai mostly draws wealthy tourists on their short vaccacion looking for the spiritual stay of their life: Tripadvisor: Hostels in Chiang Mai
Food and Drinks:
Jimmy and Jeng
You will be thankful that you listened to us. This simple little family restaurant has only 3–4 tables in a very relaxed bamboo setting. Many times you’ll find the family’s little son eating his dinner at the table next to you. Jimmy’s wife is cooking delicious but cheap food, they claim not to use MSG to magically enhance the taste – we really don’t know how she can make it so tasty. Everything is made freshly so you may have to wait a bit, but it’s worth the wait. Portions can be huge. Wifi available.
Must Try dishes:
Pumpkin with Egg
Fresh Fruit with Muesli and homemade yoghurt
Motorbike Tour to the Doi Suthep Pui National Park, even better in the Sakura Blossom season
If your lucky enough to visit Chiang Mai in January, enjoy the Cherry Blossom Trees in full blossom on
To get there drive west on the Huai Kaeo Road in direction to the Zoo and from there follow the newly paved road uphill to the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The visit of this Wat costs 20 Baht, it can be worth a visit, if you not have seen many Wats yet. But be aware that it’s very touristic and new – so don’t expect a spiritual adventure. Continue this road further uphill and you’ll pass the Bhuping palace with a nice park – There is an entrance fee. Further uphill, the road gets very small and steep, but after a possible viewpoint stop (view over the valley) you will arrive at the ranger station of the Doi Suthep Pui National Park, where the untouched nature offers a great place to relax. To our understanding, it is also possible to rent a tent up there and enjoy some peace outside of the city. From there on you will then finally find loads of Cherry Trees on the road at the way to the Doi Pui Mong Hill Tribe Village.
On the first weekend of February all of Chiang Mai are on their foot to celebreate the magnificent Flower Festival with a big parade and several thousands participants. They present artfully flower decorated wagons and many ethnics take part by showing the traditional clothes of their heritage. At the end of the day the Flower Queen is elected.
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