The quaint city of Chiang Mai is the largest in northern Thailand and one of the most important when it comes to cultural heritage. The former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna, that succeeded Chiang Rai in 1296, Chiang Mai city was built within a moat and defensive walls that have been restored and still stand to this day.
Inside the old city walls are many temples, small guesthouses, restaurants, bars, and several market areas. Those who don't mind a walk or bike ride can reach almost anywhere in the greater city area from this central location.
Branching out from the east side of the old city wall, towards the Mae Ping River, are the popular areas of Thapae Gate, Thapae Road, Loi Kroh Road, the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and Mae Ping 'Riverside' area. Many of the city's more upmarket hotels can be found around here, however it's an area that's also popular with backpackers, which means plenty of choice if you're on a budget. This part of the city is also home to many markets, temples, restaurants, bars, and other places of interest, and is another great location from which to base your stay in Chiang Mai.
Running northwest from the old city towards Doi Suthep (Mount Suthep) is Huay Kaew road, where Central Shopping Mall and a number of hotels and serviced apartments can be found. Nightlife in this area is centered around Ninmanhemin Road and typically caters to Thai university students with its chiq cafes, bars, and clubs.
Wherever you choose to stay in Chiang Mai you'll find it easy to access other parts of city on foot, by tuk tuk, or by using the fantastic public baht bus/songteaw service. Red songteaws operate all over the city for an average fair of 10-20 baht per person, per trip. Some run specific routes, however most are flexible since the city isn't too big. Expect the prices to rise if you request to go to location that's far from their normal route. Tuk Tuks are also available from all popular tourist areas - be prepared to bargain before you set off to ensure you get a good price.
Over the years Chiang Mai has grown to be a thriving northern city that attracts all kinds of tourists. In order to accommodate the many visitors, Chiang Mai hotels cater to all needs, at very affordable prices.
From cheap guesthouses and hotels located in the smaller Sois connecting the cities main roads, to high-class establishments that line the Mae Ping River and the streets around the Kampheang Din area of the city, you can find all types of accommodations no matter what your budget.
Because Chiang Mai isn't so large and almost anywhere in the city can be reached by using the 10-20 baht songteaw service, location may not be the most important factor when it comes to deciding where to stay. However if you're not one for walking, cycling or taxiing around all day, hotels within the old city walls and those near Thapae Road and Kampheang Din Road provide a great base from which you can enjoy many other interesting parts of the city on foot.
Those staying for extended periods of time can find great discounts on long-stay bookings at most hotels. There are also numerous serviced apartments and condos available for rent by the week, month, or year.
Chiang Mai is a city offering a wide variety of activities and things to do. Popular cultural heritage attractions include many temples and markets, as well as several art galleries and museums.
The city is literally teeming with temples including Wat Phra Singh, Phra Pong, the Three Kings Memorial, U Mong, Duang Di, Dok Eung, Lam Chang, Chiang Man, all within the old city walls; and Wat Jet Yot, Bupparam, Phanthong, Loi Kroh, Phuak Chang, Muang Man, That Kiam, Si Suphan, Phuak Pia and Nantharam being some of the many located outside the walls.
Tourists seeking the traditional Thai shopping experience can enjoy a trip to one of the many markets such as Worarot Market (the main local market), Muang Mai Market (the city's main wholesale market), or Sompet Market (great for fresh fruit and veg), to name just a few.
Slightly further afield Wat Phrathat temple and viewpoints atop Doi Suthep make for a great trip out. The pleasant Mae Sa waterfall runs down the mountainside and the Seven Fountains Park is also located here within the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. The panoramic views from the top of Doi Suthep are breathtaking, and the Wat Phrathat temple is one of the most popular in the city.
Those looking to soak up a little knowledge during their stay will find Thai language classes; Thai massage courses, yoga and cooking classes, as well as Muay Thai training.
Watching a Muay Thai fight is a must-do when in Thailand. If you're looking to see the excitement first hand fight nights are regularly held at the Thapae Boxing Stadium, Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium and Kawila Boxing Stadium (near Narawat Bridge). Other sports in Chiang Mai include golf, tennis, fishing, football and swimming.
Thai massages and spas can be found all over the city. Establishments range from small street massage palours to high-end spas, so you'll find varying prices depending on the style, décor and packages on offer.
A visit to the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium, Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, Phu Ping Royal Winter Palace, or the Baanchang and Mai Sa Elephant Parks, are just some of the other attractions tourists often choose to visit.
Chiang Mai is also one of the very best places in the Thailand to experience the popular festivals of Songkran (Thai New Year), and Loi Kratong.
Within a few hours of the city there are numerous places of interest and a host more activities to be enjoyed. Adventurous travellers can choose to go white water rafting or bamboo rafting (depending on the season) along the Mae Tang River, zip lining along the forest canopy at the Flight of the Gibbon adventure tour, mountain biking or ATV driving. While others can experience a less energetic yet spectacular day trip to the Chiang Dao caves, Karen long neck hill tribe villages, or Doi Inthanon National Park, home to Thailand's largest mountain.
Boasting activities for everyone from families to backpackers, Chiang Mai is not just a beautiful city it's a place brimming with cultural heritage, and a host of exciting and/or relaxing things to do.
While the Chiang Mai is known to have a relaxed, rather slow paced lifestyle, the nightlife here can be as energetic as you wish.
Thoughtout the city you'll find all kinds of bars and clubs that cater to both Thai's and tourists. From live cover bands to DJs playing reggae, golden oldies, and modern dance music, partygoers can enjoy almost any genre of music, any day of the week.
Popular areas for nightlife include the Night Bazaar, Thapae Road and the area around Thapae Gate, Soi Loi Kroh, Ninmanhemin Road, and the Riverside area of the city. There are also many bars and drinking haunts located within the old city walls.
As the name suggests, the Night Bazaar springs into action as the sun goes down (although many stalls are still open during the day). This area is great for shopping as well as eating and drinking.
Thapae Road and the area around Thapae Gate is home to many travellersï¿½ bars, sports bars, pool bars and hole-in-wall style drinking spots. The top of Soi Loi Kroh is full of bars with girls, which are replaced further along the road by less brow-raising establishments.
East of the Night Bazaar and Thapae Road is the city's ï¿½Riversideï¿½ area. Restaurants here are geared not only towards eating but also towards drinking alcohol. Most places have large open air and air-conditioned seating areas and serve tantalizing Thai cuisine with bands playing live music.
With so many restaurants and food stalls lining the streets, Chiang Mai nightlife doesn't have to involve bars and clubs, many people, including the Thais, sit, eat and drink at restaurants and street stalls for hours on end, and this quite often turns into an entertaining night out.
Chiang Mai is a city full of great food and hundreds of delicious restaurants. With influences from all over the globe visitors can find almost any cuisine. Fantastic themed sports bars, Irish bars, Aussie pubs and pool bars all serve tasty food and drinks. American, Tex Mex, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants are also quite popular and many upmarket hotels are home to first-class restaurants serving high quality international and Thai food.
Caf's, bakeries and sandwich shops can be found all over the city. And a growing trend for Chiang Mai restaurants is ï¿½healthy eating. There are now many establishments that focus on serving healthy dishes made form fresh organic ingredients.
The Riverside bars and restaurants make for a pleasant night out. Most places here offer open-air seating along the river with live music and great food and drinks.
Thai food in Chiang Mai is slightly different from that in Bangkok, and quite different from the staple dishes of Southern Thailand. Street stalls can be found almost everywhere and great Thai restaurants are scattered all throughout the city.
Popular northern Thai dishes include Khao Soy (chicken curry noodles, topped with crispy fried noodles), Khanom Jeen Naam Ngeow (handmade noodles in northern style curry), Sai Ooua (Northern Thai sausages) and Gaeng Orm or Gaeng Khanoon (northern Thai curries).
The food in Chiang Mai is some of the very best in Thailand, not only do most places serve tasty food they typically do so at extremely affordable prices.
Ratchapruek Road, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, 50230
Chiang Mai - Hod (Hang Dong) Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
2nd Floor (Right), Central Kad Suen KaewHuay Kaew Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai Road, San Sai, Chiang Mai, 50210
5/5, Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 5, Suthep, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
1st Floor (Right), Central Kad Suen KaewHuay Kaew Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
Ground Floor, Big C, 94, Chiang Mai - Lampang SuperhighwayWat Ket, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50000
Ground Floor, Tesco Lotus, Super Highway, Chanpuak, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50300
Rajvithi Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
Chonpratan Road (Canal Road), Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, 50230
Rajvithi Road, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
Kamphangdin Road, Changklan, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50100
21/1, Ratchamankla Road, Soi 2, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200
Chiang Mai - Hod (Hang Dong) Road, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, 50230
Kad Farang Shopping Plaza, Chiang Mai - Hod (Hang Dong) Road, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, 50230