Chiang Mai Attractions – much more than temples and trekking
Chiang Mai is the next bigger city for us from Pai. We spend a lot of time there and look forward to it every time. Chiang Mai was the first city in Thailand that we really liked 11 years ago and we can say with pleasure that it is still just as beautiful – if different. In our article you can find out which Chiang Mai restaurants we like and much more. If you want to experience more cities of Thailand, then we recommend our article about Bangkok, the Floating Markets and of course Pai. Important for the north of Thailand are also our article about the best travel time of Thailand and the smoking time in the north.
General information about Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is also called the Rose of the North because the city is surrounded by beautiful scenery. There are many picturesque rice fields and hilly mountains around the city, which is situated at the foot of the Doi Pui mountain. Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and has approximately 135,700 inhabitants, with the Metropolitan Area home to nearly 1 million residents. For a long time, the city is no longer a sleepy nest and yet it still exudes a certain coziness. Maybe because of the many craft shops you will find here. Because not only tourism offers the city a source of income, but also the production of textiles, jade jewelry and artful processing of wood. That is why Chiang Mai is crying out to be explored comfortably and in detail. Every little alley (Soi) offers the seeker a new surprise. You can read about how Chiang Mai feels on your first visit with 2ontheGo.
Overview map with all recommendations and more
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Practical tips about Chiang Mai
If you would rather go on a guided tour in Chiang Mai, we can recommend Get your guide. Although we have not personally participated in a tour, but have received a lot of positive feedback from friends.
Mode of Transport
Great about Chiang Mai is that everything is not far from each other. If you can safely move on a scooter, you will have a lot of fun. Even driving a car in Chiang Mai itself is really not that bad. The traffic is temperate and not as crazy as in Bangkok. We do it all the time and most of our friends.
In principle, the following transport options are available:
We are Victoria, Chris and Liam and want to tell you about our life in Thailand, Germany and the rest of the world.
Taxi, Tuk Tuk and Songtaew
Theoretically, this is the easiest way to get around, since you do not get all the exhaust fumes in the air-conditioned car, as in the Tuk Tuk. However, the taxi drivers in Chiang Mai do not know a meter. It usually means to negotiate a fixed price, is not always easy if you are not familiar with the prices yet. Nowadays there is the alternative grave. We like the grave very well in Chiang Mai, because you can also order “normal” taxis for a small fee, but it saves you from discussing with the drivers as far as the tariff is concerned, a clear recommendation on our part! In many accommodations there are also discount codes for the first trip.
Tuk Tuks are part of the street scene, but we use them only occasionally for short trips. You sit at the exhaust level and often hang in the same traffic jams as the cars. Due to the lack of a taximeter, you always have to negotiate and many drivers try to transport you to a shop (jewelery, suits, etc.), from which they receive commissions for customers. However, you should definitely go to Tuk Tuk and then just enjoy it more as an experience, children love it very much.
There’s a lot going on in Chiang Mai with the red, yellow and green Songtaews. These types of buses turn on fixed routes through the streets, you just beckon them and press a button when you want to get off. Payment is made directly to the driver per person. For newcomers it is often difficult to communicate and since there is no official plan, it is not easy to find out which Songtaew goes where. Some also sell tours and can be booked privately. With more than 4 people within a family, it is not really cheaper than a taxi, it’s already going on for 20 baht.
Brand new is a public bus system in Chiang Mai. With the RTC Chiang Mai City Bus it is now also possible to drive in public in Chiang Mai. There is an app to show you the timetable. The stations are limited, but the bus is also very cheap.
The journey to Chiang Mai
Bangkok – Chiang Mai
You have all possibilities, Chiang Mai can be reached by bus, train or plane. Even driving a car is possible and a nice route through the country with many potential great stops on the way.
From the south – Chiang Mai
Again, the transport network is already quite well developed. Whoever lingers on an island and then wants to go straight to the north can do so. For example, there are direct flights to Chiang Mai from Hua Hin, Ranong and Phuket.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai – Our Tips
Finding the right accommodation is often not that easy. We think it is very important to have a hotel where you feel good, sleep well and just relax. What we always pay attention, if there is a soft mattress in the hotel, because these are often a problem in Thailand. The breakfast offered is sometimes no more than toast with jam. No problem if you know it, then you just go to the nearest café.
Chiang Mai has a huge selection of hotels, with an option for every taste and budget. We have already tried a lot, have not found a real favorite, but still some tips collected over the years.
In the old town (tourist highlights are around the corner here)
- Sumittaya Chiangmai Hotel *:
This hotel has bright and clear rooms. The simple yet noble design lets you arrive immediately and feel good.
- Green Tiger Vegetarian *:
A hotel with a lot of charm and good food.
- Villa Lantara Chiang Mai *:
Good hotel with normal standard in a very central location.
- Sleep Guesthouse *:
Very cheap and very nice hosts.
- I Lanna House *:
Very nicely decorated, central and just a good standard.
- Once Upon A Time Boutique Home *:
You are looking for something authentic? This wooden hotel offers you a typical Thai experience with a lot of comfort.
- Arte House *:
A small, informal hotel with extremely friendly owners. As the name implies, here there is an artist flair in the air.
In the hip NIMMAN corner (our favorite)
- Yesterday Hotel *:
Great location, and a beautifully decorated hotel.
- Hug Nimman *:
Modern furnished hotel with a very good standard.
- iRoom Chiang Mai *:
Simple but still very charming and especially colorful. Great value for money.
Outside of Chiang Mai (For all those seeking peace)
- Kangsadarn Resort and Waterfall * (Mae Rim): Waterfall restaurant
Upscale, surrounded by nature and tranquility. For all who are looking for exactly this perfect.
Chiang Mai restaurant tips
Chiang Mai offers the visitor, as all over Thailand, a variety of dining options, we even claim it is a true “Foodies Heaven”. The north of Thailand has its own great specialties to offer, besides Chiang Mai, there are also many health-conscious restaurants and alternatives for vegans and vegetarians and many excellent international restaurants.
Which restaurants and food in Chiang Mai we can specifically recommend?
Find dream accommodation now *
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We use the Hanse Merkur for 10 years and have always had good experiences. And the price is also great!
Dishes you must try in Chiang Mai include:
- Khao Soi
- Shan Curry
- Nam Dtok
- Khao kha moo
We have a topic about food in Thailand and you should have a look at it. In the old town around the Tapae Gate and on the southern edge of the “Moats” there are numerous food stalls you should try. Best always to take the one who is the most complete with locals.
Special restaurants and cafes in Chiang Mai
- SS1254372 Cafe, great cafe, great food and interesting with the adjoining art studio
- The Larder, the coffee and the food are just great. Attention limited seats.
- Rustic’n Blue, small garden and great selection of international food
- All about coffee, formerly settled in Pai you will find a quiet cafe with good cakes and other things away from the crowds
- Ristr8to Specialty Coffee (Cafe and snacks only), the hippest café in Chiang Mai badly, but the espressi are among the best, including internationally awarded baristi
- One Nimman, newly built complex with restaurants, cafes and a great food court. If you are not satisfied here is your own fault. We especially recommend the ice cream parlor “Melt me” – to melt away.
- Food courts with plenty of choice can be found in the Central Festival shopping center, in the Maya shopping mall above, local food for little money.
- Moo Kata, even barbecue stations are very popular in Thailand. You can find these “grill stations” on many street corners or in shopping centers under the name “Hot Pot”. Honestly, we do not particularly like Moo Kata, but after many love it, it should not go unmentioned.
For the health-conscious eaters, there is also a huge selection, a small excerpt of which:
- Bubbles live, a great selection of salads and other dishes, centrally located.
- Amrita Garden, very popular with vegans and anyone else who cares about healthy eating.
- Freebird Cafe, Anyone who enjoys one of the delicious vegetarian dishes will also support the organization behind them, which takes care of Burmese refugees.
- Salad Concept, for all who need it again really green.
Chiang Mai attractions not to be missed
There are well-known hot spots and many smaller highlights in Chiang Mai. In 3 days you can already see a lot, but after 3 months you still do not know everything, if you know what we mean.
- Temple: There are countless temples in Chiang Mai. Alone within the city center you will find some beautiful
You can not miss the temples when exploring the city, so we will skip this exact list and refer you to the compilation “The 6 Best Temples in Chiang Mai with 3 Insider Tips” by Flocutus.
- old town
The Tapae Gate offers a great starting point, from there you can explore the old town well. Numerous cafes, restaurants and shopping facilities are located here.
Close to the university district and thus the “in” district in the youth and all young at heart. Many great cafes and small shops are located here and those who want to go out in the evening can mix wonderfully among the locals Thais and expats. By the way, also the center of the digital nomads in Chiang Mai. Also new is the “One Nimman” area, with many great shops, restaurants, food markets and some art. You should definitely stop by here.
- night market: Every night the night market takes place, he pulls over several streets and away from all sorts of stuff there is also a lot of food
- Weekend Market: A special market is being set up in the Old Town at the weekend. Here you will find typical northern Thai handicrafts and also a lot of Hilltribe art. A really nice and worth seeing market.
- Fabric market on the river: If you want something more authentic, visit the Warorot market on the river, every day mainly substances are piled up and sold to companies and producers.
Chiang Mai Excursions – Attractions near Chiang Mai
Also around Chiang Mai, there are many places worth seeing, for a trip worthwhile.
Have fun with children in Chiang Mai
The Art in Paradise Museum offers 3D art that turns into the funniest and most confusing photos. You can have a lot of fun here and take home great photo memories.
Are you afraid your children will be bored in Chiang Mai? You want to offer them even more than temples and other classic sights? We have a separate article about Chiang Mai with children, have a look there.
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