Chiang Mai is a sprawling mountain city with the backpacker areas scattered within the Old City where remains of 30 ancient temples were preserved. The city is more laid back and placid compared to Bangkok - but a vibrant city nonetheless! The most animated time to come is in mid-April for the Songkran Festival - and be prepared to get wet for 3 days! The Night Bazaar is an experience...get lost inside equipped with good bargaining skills. Walk into different neighborhoods and discover a great eating place! Chiang Mai is also the gateway to Thailand's north - Chiang Rai, Pai, the Golden Triangle, etc.
CHIANG MAI RECOMMENDATIONS
Nawa Saraan Healing Space
retreats | workshops
meetings | gatherings
Old City, Chiangmai
Chiang Mai Blogs by TheLoneRider
(people you need to push out of your sacred circle)(May 31, 2019) The world is full of magnificent lives that have enriched my life - fascinating people who make up my peoplescape as I cover ground in my travels. As a general rule, everyone is a friend I haven't met yet. But inevitably, I also come across those who need to be pushed out of my sacred space to keep my peace and bliss...more »»
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families
La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup
ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment
Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
- crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
- hot season begins March and lasts until June
- wet season begins July and lasts until September
- best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February - after the monsoon and before the burning
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
- to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
- get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
- shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
- for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
- FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
- North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
- Taphae East - 88 Thapae Rd. (just north of Night Bazaar). Fridays at 9:30pm by Chiang Mai Blues Band
- Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar. Mondays at 9:30pm is open mic
Chiang Mai Cost Index
- B60 Chiang beer
- B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
- B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
- B50 noodle soup with meat
- B50 coffee
- B40 pad thai
- B30/kilo wash-only laundry
- B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
- B100-150 dorm bed/night
- B250 fan room/night
- B30 internet cafe/hour
- B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
- B130-150 Movies weekdays
- B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
- B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
- B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
- B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
- B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)
- B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
- B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
- B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
- B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B50 red taxi fare from point to point
- B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city
- B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
- B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
- B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
Chiang Mai Trains by Train36.com
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by Train from Bang Sue Train Station
For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)
(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)
- take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
- Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
- daily train schedule:
- 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
- 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
- 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
- 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
- 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Loei to Chiang Mai by Bus
- From Loei town center, take a tuk-tuk ride to the bus station, B30. There is only one bus station.
- As of June 28, 2020 (still on Covid schedule), there are only 3 night trips: 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 12 midnight. 9 hours, B470.
- The bus makes the following stops at the following times from a 9pm Loei departure: Phu Ruea (9:50pm), Phitsanulok (12:40am), Uttradit (2:20am), Lampang (4:35am)
- Final bus stop is at the Red Bus Arcade, Chiang Mai, 9 hour-trip, arriving 6am (from 9pm Loei departure).
- Take a red songthaew to Old City, B50. They'll try to charge you B100, but they'll take B50 (just assure the driver you won't tell the other passengers).
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
Book Train Tickets in Thailand Online by Train36.com
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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