5 reasons to visit Chiang Mai

It is not secret that I am not a fan of cities. A month in Bangkok wore me out and then straight to Koh Phangan for a week of partying. The thought of another week of partying for Songkran was starting to make me want to crawl into a hole! But I was heading to Chiang Mai for Songkran. I love Chiang Mai. A lot of expats choose to live here rather than Bangkok, and every traveller I have met, who has visited, sings its praises. I spent a week here over the Thai new year celebrations and loved it. Here are 5 reasons you should visit Chaing Mai.


1.The history

Throughout my childhood my dad, forced me to watch the history channel and old war movies. This has made me some what a history geek when it comes to monarchies and wars! So it is no surprise that when I travel, I like swat up on geeky facts.

Chiang Mai means “new city” and was named new capital of the Lanna kingdom when it was founded in 1296.

Chiang Mai became part of Siam (which we now know as Thailand) in 1775, after the Thai King Taskin helped drive out the Burmese, who had invaded in 1556.  The city was then abandoned in 1776. In 1791 Chiang Mai was re inhabited and slowly grew in cultural, trading and economic importance to its current status as the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand, second only to Bangkok.

The moat and ruins of the wall built by the Lanna kings still remain as do the many temples. Tradition and culture runs strong in Chiang Mai. Leading it to be one of the best places to celebrate festivals such as Songkran (Thai new year) and Loi Krathong (Lantern festival in November). This city has so much to see and do.

2. It’s cheap

For a city, Chaing  Mai is so cheap. You can get Thai and western cuisines for practically half the price you can in Bangkok. We paid £4 for a pizza and huge local dishes for £1. The street food is also AMAZING. Check out the night Bazzar and the weekend night market for cheap food and great, cheap souvenirs and local goods. Massages are also cheap at £3 an hour. Not that I need any more excuses to indulge. You can also get great priced accommodation. £3 to £4 for a dorm bed and £6 for a double room.

chiang mai markets

3. The weather

January to April is the best time to visit with highs of 36°C and lows of 16°C degrees. The maximum temperature ever recorded was 42.4 °C  in May 2005. Maybe that is a bit TOO hot. Chiang Mai is hot in the day but cools right down in the evening.

4. So much to do

Chiang Mai is packed full of things to do

  • Chiang Mai Zoo is the oldest zoo in Northern Thailand, established  in 1977. 400 animal species are represented at the zoo.
  • Get your shopping fix. As mentioned earlier, Chiang Mai has a large and famous night bazaar for local arts and handicrafts. A handicraft and food market opens every Sunday afternoon until late at night on Rachadamnoen Road. Every Saturday evening a handicraft market is held along Wua Lai Road, Chiang Mai’s silver street, on the south side of the city beyond Chiang Mai Gate.
  • Explore the hills and jungle of Chaing Mai on a guided mountain bike tour.
  • Massages, Chea and everywhere!
  • A number of Thai cooking schools can be found in Chiang Mai. With an added bonus of taking you to the local markets to purchase fresh, amazing, local produce.
  • If like me you have a technical malfunction (AKA Break your phone), Pantip Plaza, just south of the Night Bazaar, is a fabulous electronics mall, housing EVERYTHING to do with IT. You also have Computer Plaza, Computer City, and Icon Square near the northwestern corner moat.
  • Nightlife. With so many cool things to do at night from jazz to reggae bars and of course the famous backpacker area, Zoe’s in Yellow corner, Chiang Mai is always a cheap, fun night out.
  • Of course you cannot forget the famous jungle treks. So many are available from one day treks to three day treks with camping and hill tribe home stays. Remember your comfy shoes and buy spray.


Zoe in yellow chiang mai

5. It’s easy to get around

After coming for Bangkok, where the traffic is so bad you have to get the sky train everywhere or risk sitting in a taxi for hours, I was relieved to have everything within such a close proximity. You can walk from one side of the main city to the other in 30 minutes. The roads and calm and interesting and if you do need to go further, Tuk tuks and taxis are everywhere and so cheap.

Chiang Mai is a beautiful and still relatively untouristy part of Thailand, but it’s developing rapidly. I loved it on both my visits there. I highly recommend you go!


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rashaad April 28, 2015 at 10:37 am

I spent a couple of days in Chiang Mai and I greatly enjoyed my time there. Actually, the most memorable thing I did there happened by chance – I found a match of sepak takraw (kick volleyball), which was quite fun.
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Rachel April 30, 2015 at 5:57 am

I’ve read a lot of posts lately about Chiang Mai, which led me to dismiss it as being overrun with backpackers. This post puts it back on my list as worth visiting (I’m a history geek too!).
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Camille May 8, 2015 at 3:46 am

Nice post! I based myself in Chiang Mai for 2 years last Autumn, and the only thing that made me leave was that life there was almost too easy and perfect – I needed more adventure, haha!
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Carolin May 9, 2015 at 8:11 am

Great post, I totally agree on all of the points! I love love love Chiang Mai, it’s such an amazing town with all the cheap food, breezy mountain weather and places to see and things to do! Can’t wait to go back!
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The Educational Tourist May 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Wow! This looks like such a cool place to visit! I have not ventured beyond Europe but really want to. The kids are older now so I think the incredibly long flights are doable now. (I will be the only one complaining. ;)

Thanks for all the tips. I’ve added this to my list of places I want to see!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist


sallymunt sallymunt May 19, 2015 at 8:18 pm

The flights are long but that just gives you an excuse to stop over somewhere!


Ella May 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm

I’ve not been to Thailand yet but I reckon that I’ll also like Chiang Mai a lot and prefer it over Bangkok. I can’t wait to eventually get myself there :)
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