I started to appreciate Chiang Mai after noting it’s mid-paced ebb while offering all the city benefits. Resembling a city-sized exhibition, the city is filled with treasured ancient temples and monuments. This peaceful city is suitable for deep, cultural immersion, hence creating the perfect home for memorable travel. Here, you’ll come to understand the lovely Thai people and their customs as the city is enriched by their common lifestyles.
Despite having no beaches, there are numerous things to do in Chiang Mai. The city leans more towards a metropolis not short of a vibrant night life. With many online resources giving detailed descriptions in regards to activities to do in Chiang Mai, you won’t have a hard time finding interesting ways to spend time in or outside the city.
So here are the tiny, yet, meaningful tips I came across while traveling in Chiang Mai. These will hopefully help you make a decision to visit Chiang Mai while making your travel a lot easier.
Fast Facts about Chiang Mai
- Largest city in North Thailand.
- Famous for its Old City area.
From buses to bikes, Chiang Mai offers all modes of transport. The Grab app, alone, offers up to 3 different forms of transit including motorbikes, taxis and tuk-tuks. The cheapest mode of transport from the airport to the city is the bus.
Airport to City Bus
- Airport >> Bus R3 (yellow) >> Old city
- Airport >> Bus R3 (red) >> Nimman
Chiang Mai’s airport bus also happens to be a city bus. That is, it takes a route within the (old) city, stopping at different stations until it reaches the airport and back. It only costs 20 Baht, which you pay to the driver upon boarding.
Just outside the arrival halls, you’ll see white bus stop signs. If your hotel is located within the Old City (near Tha Pae Gate), head for bus R3 (Yellow). If your hotel is not within the Old City, analyze the bus routes on the bus posts to see which one passes nearest to your hotel. You can also use the CM Transit app to check for city bus routes.
Note that there are two bus R3s, the other R3 (Red), goes to Nimman first and then to Tha Pae Gate.
If in doubt, ask the driver. I found that they’re usually kind enough to give confirmation.
- The buses are air conditioned and have free Wi-Fi.
The Roddaeng is the most popular form of public transport used in Chiang Mai. These are red truck taxis for the purpose of inner-city travel. There are also yellow, blue, white and green ones for different destinations, but the red ones are the most common. Sometimes the driver is willing to carry you alone to your specific destination, like a taxi. In such cases, prices are higher but negotiable. If there are too few people on the Roddaeng, it may cost a little more.
Food and Living Costs
There’s an amazing variety of foods when it comes to Thailand cuisine, and in Chiang Mai, the eating spots never run out. Whether you’re looking for a tasty dish of fried rice, some local flavored noodles or a regular pizza treat, you won’t fall short of places to try out some delicious food.
The night markets in Chiang Mai make up for the tastiest spots in town. Here you’ll find a variety of dishes including fried rice, noodles in curry soup (Khao Soi) and all flavours of smoothies 😋. There are 3 popular night markets in Chiang Mai, namely:
Saturday Night Market. Open every evening, mainly selling food.
Sunday Market (Tha Pae Gate market). Open Sunday evenings, selling food, clothes and accessories.
Night Bazaar (Mae Ping River market). Open every evening, selling food, clothes, and accessories.
A bowl of Kaoh Soi costs around 40 Baht (6.8 RMB). Most people recommend having a bowl of Khao Soi when visiting Thailand. Go for it! It’s definitely a different flavor on the buds. I found a very good spot just opposite the Three Kings Monument, on Prapokkloa Road.
You can also get some Pad Thai or fried rice at the Saturday Night Market for the same cost, with a smoothie going for 30 Baht (6.7 RMB) or less.
Good places are not always easy to find. Good, cheap ones are even more difficult. But from only 100 – 150 Baht/night (22 – 34 RMB), you can find shared accommodation in a good hostel, or even a single room.
Hostels with a kitchen area are more ‘homely’ since they allow you to have control over your breakfast every morning. Grab some oats, fruits and a cup of coffee for a filling morning meal 😉.
Some recommended hostels while staying in Chiang are Chang Home Guest House, and Mapping River Hostel.
•Buses leaving for other cities such as Phuket, Bangkok or Chiang Rai can be found nearby, at Sunny Hostel. It’s only a 10-minute walk from Tha Pae Gate. (This is much closer than the common bus station found at the Arcade.)
I hope these tips will aid you on your next journey, or at least encourage you to start planning one. And with that said, happy tripping!