We spent a week to visit Chiang Mai in the middle of our one month Thailand trip. Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and the capital of the Province of Chiang Mai. We really loved the city and there are many plans to do: meeting people, nightlife, local food, day trips outside the city, visiting temples and exploring the night market. The internet connection worked well in Chiang Mai and we decided to do some work online before we headed off to the Thailand beaches for more island and relax time.
How to get to Chiang Mai?
We got to Chiang Mai from Ayutthaya by train which is the same train line coming from Bangkok. It’s a long way, that’s why we recommend to get a night train. In this way, you will save time and money. You will avoid paying for accommodation and next day, first thing in the morning you will be able to enjoy the city. We chose the cheapest ticket this time to try how is traveling by train, third class in Thailand. And? Great experience! The ticket was very cheap 240 Baths ($8). And we were sleeping very comfortable even stretching our legs. It´s not always possible to travel so comfortable with third class. It depends how full the train is. But in our first time, we had beginnners luck!
There are cheap flights from Bangkok, and other cities in Thailand. As Chiang Mai is a popular destination, you will find international flights going there with affordable prices.
If you want to go by bus to Chiang Mai, there are buses running from Bangkok, at vaarious hours of the day. Like with the train, we recommend a night bus. Bring a blanket with you, the air conditioning is so high and you can get cold while sleeping.
Don´t forget guys, hitchhiking works really well in Thailand. I tried hitchhiking in Thailand alone and with Rachel and the experience were both great! It´s the cheapest way and you will meet many people on the way. For this trip we didn’t hitchhike.
How to move around Chiang Mai?
There are different ways of transportation in Chiang Mai. Since the shared taxi, prices around 40 baths per person to go the city center. Grab and Uber can be cheaper if you travel two people or more and if you want more comfort. The best that we can recommend is walking around the city. When you visit Chiang Mai, you will realize than distances aren´t very big. It will not take more than an hour to go from one point to a different point inside the city. There are always temples and food to eat on the way to amenize the walk.
Things to do when visit Chiang Mai
There are many activities to do around Chiang Mai. For this day tour trip we teamed up with Travel Hub Chiang Mai. We traveled in a group with a guide. The transportation was a minivan and we spent an amazing day doing different activities. We liked our guide and we learnt many new things that we didn´t know before about religion, food and Thailand. We totally recommend this tour. You can check the activities and pictures with more details below:
We visited Wachirathan Waterfall, it’s located one hour driving South of Chiang Mai. We went first thing in the morning and the place was really quiet, which is very useful for taking great pictures. These waterfalls aren´t for swimming.
Local Market in the mountains
We love visiting local markets and we really loved the market in the mountains where sellers buy fruits and dry fruits. All the fruits tasted super yummy and we discover a new one: egg fruit. We tasted almonds, nuts, strawberries. When you travel, it is great to bring dry fruits on your luggage since you can eat at any moment and it takes very little space.
Trekking around the jungle
We spent a couple of hours walking around the jungle. The hike was easy and very fun. We stopped for swimming in the waterfalls. OMG water was really cold! We also crossed bamboo bridges, we could see strawberry plantations in the mountain and we had great views of rice fields.
Having coffe in a village
All of us know that food is delicious in Thailand. But most of the people don’t know how tasty the coffee is in Thailand. We had the opportunity to meet locals and have coffee with them. We saw coffee can be harvested from plants, and how they get prepared from grinding to drinking!
Visit Pagodas Chedi’s of the King & Queen
We visited The Pagodas of The Chedi Kingdom. The location was great on the top of the stairs and surrounded of beautiful gardens to walk around. We love the views from the gardens to the Himalaya Mountains. We could see a lot of Thai people and also foreigners visiting the Pagodas.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Did you know that the highest point in Thailand is located in Chiang Mai? We have to say that we stay hiking around and we could get nice views in the mountains. One more interesting thing it’s cold there. As you can see in the picture below, it wasn’t exactly 6º degrees at that time. But in the morning, it is really cold like in the photo. It was 11º degrees which is very cold for Thai weather.
Visit Temples when visit Chiang Mai
We loved walking around Chiang Mai for two reasons: it was very quiet not like the crazy Bangkok. And we can have temple sightseeing just while going around. In less than 5 minutes walking you will see temples and more temples. Both of us love the Buddhist culture and it’s very interesting for us. We like the structure from outside with the ornamental decorations. And inside you can see the Buddha with the offerings from people and someone praying. Remember when you visit temples, you have to dress properly and respect their rules and culture!
Eating Local Food
One of our reasons why we love Thailand is the variety and quality of food. Here are some of our favorite dishes that we tried in Chiang Mai. We will add the prices in the local currency. At that time, March 2017, $1=35 Baths.
Mango Sticky Rice is our favorite dessert. As you can see in the picture, you have the mangoes with sweet, sticky rice with coconut sauce on the side. Price is around 80-90 Baths.
Noodle soup for dinner is a great option in Thailand. There are many places to try it. Just check the best one and visit everyday! Prices: 40-50 Baths for a noodle soup.
Fried chicken is Rachel´s favorite dish in Thailand. Here you can see different local dishes like papaya salad, chicken with vegetables with local beers.
Pad Thai with shrimps or chicken is always delicious. One of the favorite choices for foreigners. Prices are around 50-60 Baths.
Local people loves Tom Yam! This soup is spicy with seafood and we liked eating with rice so we can handle better the spicy ha! Prices: 60-80 Baths.
Fried rice with vegetables in local places was one of our favorite choices as street food in Thailand. Prices: 40-50 baths.
Coconut soup is really delicious, this time eating with fried chicken. Prices: 40-60 Baths for dish.
And also healthy dishes like vegetables. Chicken with sweet sauce, cashew nuts and vegetables was very delicious! Prices: 60-80 Baths per dish.
We are always chasing sunets, even when visiting Chiang Mai, we managed to find a good spot inside the city. This place was very close from the temples and it was a nice sunset.
Visit the night Market
The perfect place to walk around when the weather isn’t so hot! There are many plans to do in the night market. You can walk around, shop and well, shop more. You can enjoy a massage for your feet with the fishes. For us, the perfect time was always when having dinner, great conversation and going out for a beer. We loved having noodle soup for dinner and adding spices!
Where to Sleep
There are a few places for staying in Chiang Mai, the most popular cheap accommodations are in city center near the night market. For this time, we chose to stay a little bit far from city center around 45 minutes, walking 15-20 minutes by local transportation. For our stay in the city we decided to team up with Akyra Manor. One of the best hotels in Chiang Mai, especially if you’re craving a luxury experience with the authentic Thai city vibes.
We enjoyed all the comfort and luxury of the hotel. Having our own bathtub in the room with a view. Modern style, comfortable bed and our expresso and cocktail machine. The hotel gives you cocktails and snacks in the afternoom. You have instructions and the ingredients to do by yourself a different one everyday.
Our favorite place was the pool in Akyra Manor. We spent hours and hours there swimming and taking nice pictures. It was a very quiet place since the hotel isn´t very big, you can enjoy all the facilities without the crowd. Also we could enjoy sunset time!
We enjoyed breakfast, one of our favorites so far at Italics Restaurant. Mixing Italiand and Thai cuisine. We really loved the set up and the restaurant. Our favorite choices: egg benedict with salmon and crepes with ice cream. We tasted delicious fruits, fajitas, omelettes and dry fruits. Check them below:
The location is great for nightlife with many local restaurants and places to go for a beer, supermarkets, and transportation. In only 5 minutes, you can find everything within walking distance If you want to go walking to the city center, it will be around 45 minutes. And 15 minutes by taxi, grab or Uber!
Akyra Manor is a Boutique Hotel and the service is very luxury. You will find everything very clean. The rooms have luxury and comfort, the food is great and the staff is very friendly – well that’s what you would always expect with Thai people!
Hope you enjoyed our full guide to visit Chiang Mai, let us know if we forgot something in the comments below!