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Guide to visiting Chiang Mai 2023

Visiting Chiang Mai, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, stands out for its captivating history and unique cultural offerings. As the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, which thrived from the 13th to the 19th century, the city boasts a rich heritage distinct from the rest of the country. Its landscape is a harmonious blend of natural wonders, cultural treasures, and artistic expressions. From awe-inspiring mountaintop Buddhist temples to lush rainforests and unforgettable encounters with elephants, Chiang Mai offers a diverse range of experiences. Moreover, the region’s exceptional cuisine and thriving local handicrafts contribute to its appeal.

Despite attracting a large number of backpackers throughout the year, Chiang Mai retains its laidback and unspoiled atmosphere. It exudes an authentic charm that captivates visitors, making it a serene and relaxing destination. Furthermore, its strategic location provides convenient access to nearby tourist spots such as Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. This makes Chiang Mai an excellent starting point for exploring the enchanting wonders of northern Thailand. Whether you seek cultural immersion, outdoor adventures, or simply a peaceful retreat, Chiang Mai offers a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure.

If you’re considering a trip to Chiang Mai, the KKday guide on traveling to this cherished Thai destination will prove invaluable. It offers practical tips, recommendations, and insights to ensure a memorable experience. Whether you’re intrigued by the city’s historical sites, eager to savor its delectable cuisine, or interested in immersing yourself in its vibrant arts and crafts scene, this guide will help you make the most of your journey. Prepare to embark on an unforgettable adventure as you explore the wonders of Chiang Mai, a destination that never fails to captivate the hearts of travelers.

Monks praying at a tempple in chiang mai

Quick facts

  • Language: The official language in Thailand is Thai (Siamese), but in Chiang Mai, some people also speak Lanna. English-speaking locals can be found in tourist areas, but they may be less common in rural regions.

  • Currency: The official currency is the Thai Baht (THB/฿).

  • Airport: Chiang Mai International Airport serves as the main airport in the city.

  • Public Transportation: To navigate Chiang Mai, travelers have options such as songthaews (red pickup trucks serving as shared taxis), tuk-tuks (motorized three-wheeled vehicles), or city buses.

  • Extra Tips: When visiting temples, it’s important to dress appropriately. Remember to cover your shoulders and legs as a sign of respect in these sacred spaces. If you plan to wear shorts, it’s advisable to bring a sarong or similar garment to use as a cover-up.

Best time to visit Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, located in the mountainous region of northern Thailand, is a year-round travel destination with a distinct advantage. Its elevated position keeps the weather pleasantly cooler compared to other parts of the country. While many tourist spots in Chiang Mai are accessible throughout the year, it is advisable to avoid the rainiest months from June to October. Instead, the best time to visit this mountain town is between November and February. During these months, Chiang Mai experiences cool and relatively rain-free weather, providing an ideal environment for exploration and outdoor activities.

By planning your trip to Chiang Mai during the cooler months, you can fully enjoy the city’s attractions and natural beauty without being affected by excessive heat or heavy rainfall. Whether you’re exploring the ancient temples, trekking in the surrounding mountains, or indulging in the vibrant local markets, the comfortable climate adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your experiences. Keep in mind that Chiang Mai’s popularity as a tourist destination means it can still be busy during peak season, so it’s advisable to plan and book accommodations and activities in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, a bustling tourist hub, provides a plethora of accommodation options catering to backpackers, whether it’s your first visit or you’re a seasoned traveler. With numerous choices available, finding the perfect place to stay can be overwhelming. To help you navigate through the options, we have curated a list of recommended resorts in Chiang Mai. These handpicked establishments offer a combination of comfort, affordability, and convenient locations, ensuring a pleasant and memorable stay for backpackers exploring the city.

Whether you prefer a cozy guesthouse in the heart of the old town, a tranquil retreat in the outskirts surrounded by nature, or a budget-friendly hostel with a vibrant social atmosphere, our selection covers a variety of preferences and budgets. These resorts provide a great starting point for your accommodation search, making it easier to find the ideal place to stay during your visit to Chiang Mai.

Dang Muay Thai on-site accomodation

Experience the transformative journey of staying at Dang Muay Thai Chiang Mai, a renowned training camp in the vibrant city of Chiang Mai. Train in the ancient art of Muay Thai with expert trainers and state-of-the-art facilities, pushing your limits and uncovering your true potential.

Immerse yourself in Thai culture through cultural excursions and temple visits, while fostering connections with fellow participants from around the world. Enjoy comfortable accommodations and healthy meals to support your training. Beyond physicality, Dang Muay Thai offers a path of personal growth and self-discovery. Unleash your inner warrior and embark on a remarkable adventure at Dang Muay Thai Chiang Mai.

Trainers from Dang Muay Thai outside

Rachamankha Hotel

Nestled in the quiet lanes of Old Town, Rachamankha Hotel is a boutique retreat that combines traditional Lanna architecture with contemporary comfort. The hotel boasts tastefully designed rooms, a serene courtyard, and a stunning swimming pool. It offers a peaceful atmosphere for relaxation while being within walking distance of popular attractions such as Wat Phra Singh and the Saturday Walking Street Market.

entrance at Rachamankha Hotel chiang mai

137 Pillars House

Located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s historic Old Town, 137 Pillars House offers a luxurious and elegant stay. This boutique hotel features beautifully restored colonial-style houses surrounded by lush gardens. Guests can enjoy spacious rooms, a refreshing swimming pool, and top-notch amenities. The hotel’s location provides easy access to nearby temples, markets, and cultural attractions.

entrance at 137 pillar hotel chiang mai

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai

Situated in Nimmanhaemin Road, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai is a stylish and modern hotel known for its sleek design and urban chic ambiance. The spacious suites feature private balconies with outdoor hot tubs, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. The hotel offers a rooftop pool, a fitness center, and a trendy rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city.

Akyra Manor hotel Chiang Mai

Anantara Chiang Mai Resort

Located along the banks of the Ping River, Anantara Chiang Mai Resort offers a luxurious and tranquil escape. The resort showcases traditional Thai architecture and provides spacious rooms, a riverside swimming pool, and a spa offering rejuvenating treatments. Guests can indulge in riverside dining experiences and take part in cultural activities organized by the resort.

swimming pool at Anantara hotel resort chiang mai

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

Set amidst picturesque rice fields and mountains, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai offers a serene and luxurious retreat. The resort features spacious villas with private plunge pools, lush gardens, and breathtaking views. Guests can enjoy a wide range of amenities, including multiple dining options, a spa, tennis courts, and an infinity-edge swimming pool overlooking the beautiful landscape.

Website: https://www.fourseasons.com/chiangmai/

 

four seasons resort chiang mai gardens

Where to eat in Chiang Mai

Khao Soi Khun Yai

Khao Soi Khun Yai, a local favorite, serves authentic and fragrant khao soi, a flavorful curry noodle dish.

It features crispy noodles, tender meat, and a creamy coconut-based broth, representing the essence of Chiang Mai cuisine.

This humble street-side eatery provides a no-frills dining experience, allowing you to savor the iconic dish in all its glory.

Tong Tem Toh

Tong Tem Toh in Chiang Mai is renowned for its authentic Northern Thai cuisine and vibrant atmosphere.

With a focus on traditional flavors and fresh ingredients, Tong Tem Toh delivers a culinary experience that captures the essence of Northern Thai gastronomy.

The restaurant’s rustic ambiance and friendly service create a cozy and inviting atmosphere for diners.

From fragrant curries to stir-fried delicacies, Tong Tem Toh offers a wide variety of dishes showcasing Northern Thai flavors.

Huen Phen

Huen Phen, a beloved restaurant, is in the heart of the old city, serving traditional Northern Thai cuisine.

Authentic dishes like khao soi, sai ua, and gaeng hung lay can be found on the menu.

With its rustic ambiance and flavorful offerings, Huen Phen guarantees a memorable dining experience.

SP CHICKEN

SP Chicken Chiang Mai is renowned for its mouthwatering grilled chicken, tender and perfectly seasoned with Thai herbs.

The casual setting and affordable prices make it a favorite among locals and tourists.

Whether with sticky rice or in a flavorful curry, SP Chicken is a must-visit for an authentic Chiang Mai culinary experience.

What to do in Chiang Mai

Train Muay Thai

Train Muay Thai at Dang Muay Thai in Chiang Mai and unleash your inner warrior.

Experience authentic martial arts in Thailand’s heartland with skilled trainers and personalized coaching. From mastering strikes to perfecting defensive moves, challenge yourself physically and mentally in a rigorous training regimen.

Connect with fellow practitioners and embark on a transformative journey of self-improvement. Beginners and experienced fighters alike will find empowerment and inspiration at Dang Muay Thai.

Get ready to elevate your techniques, endurance, and mental discipline while immersing yourself in the rich traditions of Muay Thai.

Website: https://www.dangmuaythai.com/bookclass/

a group stretch at dang muay thai

Watch a Muay Thai Fight in Chaing Mai

Immerse yourself in the electrifying world of Muay Thai fights in Chiang Mai.

Witness the raw power, agility, and precision of these skilled fighters as they engage in the national sport of Thailand.

Chiang Mai offers several venues where you can experience the adrenaline-pumping action up close. Feel the atmosphere surge with excitement as the crowd cheers and the fighters showcase their mastery of techniques. From the thunderous sounds of strikes to the mesmerizing rituals and traditions, watching Muay Thai fights in Chiang Mai is an unforgettable cultural experience.

Whether you’re a martial arts enthusiast or simply curious about Thai culture, these thrilling bouts will leave you in awe of this captivating sport.

Read our article about the best Muay Thai Venus in Chiang Mai

muay thai fighters get ready to do battle

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

Experience the best of ethical and sustainable elephant conservation at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, one of Chiang Mai’s top sanctuaries. Join our half-day elephant tour for an unforgettable encounter with these magnificent creatures.

Our knowledgeable English-speaking guides provide valuable insights into elephant behavior and personal histories. Get hands-on by feeding the elephants and bathing them under the guidance of skilled mahouts.

With a strong commitment to responsible elephant tourism, our sanctuary offers a range of options to connect visitors with the wonders of Thailand’s elephants. Come and be a part of the incredible life experiences awaiting you at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

Website: https://elephantjunglesanctuary.com/chiang-mai/

a man standing next to an elephant in chiang mai

Hike up Doi Sutheps Monk Trail

Embark on an exciting adventure along this 7.2-km trail in Chiang Mai! It’s perfect for hiking, running, and walking, with stunning views and a moderate challenge.

You will finish at Wat Phra That a famous temple that looks over Chiang Mai!

Website: All Trails

view from the monks trail on doi suthep

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