Tips and Tricks for making the most of your time at Chiang Mai

Heading up to Chiang Mai after being on the south beaches of Thailand was refreshing. Being from New York, I was used to the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai. Filled with history and temples the city of Chiang Mai is surrounded by four ancient walls.

Need To Know: Getting Around Chiang Mai        

 We flew into the Chiang Mai airport which is fairly close to the city. Outside of the airport, you’re able to get a taxi to get to your destination. While we tried to negotiate on pricing, there was a set price listing to each area within Chiang Mai. Depending on where you are staying you can take either a taxi or tuk-tuk to get around.

Another option of transportation that I only saw in Chiang Mai was a Songthaew. These are shared mini pickup trucks and the pricing is a little cheaper than a tuk-tuk. It is a tight squeeze for Songthaew to get around on the streets within the walled part of the city.

When you are inside of the four walls the easiest way to get around is by walking. From what I gaged to get from one side of the wall to the other (north to south) it takes about a half-hour.

Need To Know: Chiang Mai Hotel

            I had the internal debate when I was booking a hotel if we should be staying in Old City or outside of the city wall. Staying inside the city wall was the best decision. Especially the hotel that we stayed at provided great hospitality. We stayed at the Lee Chiang Hotel, a boutique hotel tucked behind the main road. From the outside, the hotel looks narrow (not knowing how big the rooms will actually be) and mini oasis spa ponds in the front. Krishna, the owner of the hotel, greeted us with a huge smile. Throughout our stay there, he and the staff would help us with suggestions on where to eat, what to check out (that we hadn’t already research), and booking our excursions.

Need To Know: Chiang Mai Excursions

With booking the excursions, wait till you get there. When we were checking into the hotel, Krishna gave us some recommendations for different excursions that we could book through the hotel. Some of the excursions (like the elephant sanctuary) had different companies for the same activities and they were able to help us choose which company we would get the most out of. We wound up booking a cooking class and an elephant sanctuary tour through the hotel and we were able to get a discount by booking through the Lee Chiang Hotel.

Need To Know: What to Eat in Chiang Mai

Similar to most countries you travel to, the north region will always have a different cuisine than the southern region. I found that while the fruit is amazing everywhere you go, the dishes in the north region tend to be a little heartier. One of the most popular dishes in the north Khao Soi, a curry-based soup mixed with egg noodles. The dish is topped off with either beef/chicken/pork and fried egg noodles. 

Need To Know: Markets in Chiang Mai

The city is know for its outdoor markets. The biggest market is the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. The Night Bazaar runs from 6pm to about midnight and is located outside of the city walls. Most of the vendors are selling similar products and this is where you can put your haggling skills to the test. This is a great place to stock up on souvenirs, especially Thailand’s famous elephant pants.

During the weekends there are Saturday and Sunday night markets. These markets take place within the city walls (the Sunday market was closer to our hotel). The Sunday Night Market more enjoyable. It was what I originally had envisioned that the Night Bazaar to be. The difference between the two is the Night Bazaar jumps from building to building, where the Sunday Market is all outside.

Chiang Mai is definitely a don’t miss the city. It’s a melting pot between the old history and the new history that makes it a great place to get some of the city feels there. Unlike New York, it’s a laid back, relaxing city which I enjoyed.

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