With a chilled and laid-back environment, Chiang Mai was one of our favourite spots to visit in Thailand. Just a short hour or so flight from Bangkok, Thailand’s third largest city is quickly becoming the place to be for expats and digital nomads who enjoy a relaxed pace and creative atmosphere.
During our Thailand travels, we spent a few glorious days in Chiang Mai just before we headed further north to Pai. Only having limited time to explore, we decided to stay central and close to the Night Bazaar, so we would have everything city-wise on our doorstep.
I think the best way to get to know and understand a city, is to walk, walk, walk. You get to experience the smells, nice or not so nice; work out how to cross the road without getting hit by 500 cars, trucks and motorbikes (you need to be seriously brave when road crossing in Asia); see how the people of the city live and interact with each other; and have some great surprise finds along the way.
While we were walking around Chiang Mai, we came across some really unique boutiques, filled with beautiful handmade products; we visited numerous intricate mosaic-tiled temples, finding some really amazing buildings on the way which we hadn’t originally circled on our map; and came across some very cool coffee shops and eating spots.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to discover Chiang Mai’s lusciously green countryside while we were visiting. I would have loved to have to trekked to the hill tribes and seen their villages, and of course spend some time in the incredible resorts that are out there. I guess there will always be next time!
Here is a little low down on some options of where you can stay in Chiang Mai, as well as where to eat and what to do.
P21 – We stayed at P21, and it was fantastic for a few nights stay. As we were staying in bigger resorts further down the track, we decided to find something boutiquey, well priced and central in Chiang Mai. Although super cheap, P21 ticked all the boxes. The staff were lovely and really helpful, and the rooms were modern and clean. The location was also perfect, just a short walk away from restaurants, markets, shops and tourist sites.
Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel – Located on the banks of Mae Ping River, this gorgeous boutique hotel is prefect if you want to have a relaxing stay in Chiang Mai, but also be close to the city centre.
Veranda High Resort Chiang Mai – MGallery Collection – An oasis of peace and charm, the Veranda High Resort is located in the mountains of Chiang Mai, away from the bustling city. This hotel is the one if you’re craving luxury and tranquility.
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa Chiangmai – If you are wanting a resort-type holiday, but wanting to stay close to the city, this beautiful traditional styled hotel is for you.
Overstand – Owned by an Australian expat and his Thai partner, Overstand is the place you want to go if you’re craving really, really good coffee and a modern western-style breakfast/lunch. Their berry coulis granola was to die for!
Cooking Love – You need to go here! Incredible fresh juices and the best Thai food. You won’t be disappointed.
Chill Out Market Food Barzaar – We came for dinner here nearly every night to relax on the hay bales and enjoying the balmy weather. With such an awesome chilled out vibe, great music, and so many different types of food, you’re in for a good night out. Check this place out!
Woo Cafe & Art Gallery – With a gorgeous decor, this cafe is like a botanical paradise and is the best spot to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. It has ah-mazzzzing food too!
What to do
Night Bazaar – Visiting the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is a must. There’s stalls and stalls of so many different things to buy. To break up all the shopping, you can also stop and get a quick head and shoulder massage, or if you’re brave, a fish foot massage. It really is a fun night out!
Temple visit – There are so many temples in to visit in Chiang Mai, and it really can take up a couple of days visit to them all. Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra That Doi Kham, and Wat Sri Suphan are just a few of the temples you should see.
Treat yourself – Chiang Mai has many beautiful spas where you can get really good massages and beauty treatments for very little. Make sure you read reviews and do some research before you go to get treatments, just in case!
Have you been to Chiang Mai before? Tell us why you loved it in the comments below!
Chiang Mai, Thailand