Chiang Mai has all the charms of Bangkok, without the traffic jams and frenetic bustles. Known as “Rose of the North” it is a laid-back cultural center offering exquisite looking temples (wats), mouth-watering Thai foods, and a mixed of the old and the new world.
It doesn’t take hours to get to Chiang Mai. In fact, it only takes one hour 13 minutes to fly from Bangkok, two hours 59 minutes from Singapore and two hours 31 minutes from Hong Kong. A quick trip to Chiang Mai from Hong Kong or Singapore is achievable. There are four direct flights from Hong Kong and four from Singapore. There are direct flights from other Asian cities like Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Luang Prabang (Laos).
Traveling anytime soon to Asia? Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Chiang Mai:
1. The weather
Chiang Mai has the mildest temperature compared to cities located in the southern parts of Thailand. With temperatures between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, you won’t have to sweat profusely over a bowl of noodle soup like in Surat Thani or Bangkok (73 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) if you visit from November through February.
You can wear summer clothing all year in Chiang Mai. However, a light jacket is necessary during cooler nights and early mornings.
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is November through February. Raining season is from July through early October, but it doesn’t rain every day. Raining season can be advantageous for those looking for cheaper airfare and hotel rates. It is best to avoid visiting during the smoky season from mid-March to early May when farmers burn their fields. The hottest months are from April to June.
2. The food
All sorts of incredible Thai food are available throughout the city’s streets, markets, malls, and restaurants. From papaya salad to pad thai to mango with sticky rice dessert – there is plenty to eat for every budget. You won’t go hungry in Chiang Mai.
Some of the best places to eat are in local markets near Chiang Mai Gate in the Old City. Upscale dining is available along Nimmanhaemin Road (the modern road in Chiang Mai), in luxury hotels, and at the riverside restaurants along the Ping River. Or eat at one of the many food courts in the neighborhood malls like Central Festival Mall and the Big C.
Khao Soi, a northern Thai specialty food is a must-try when visiting Chiang Mai. Khao Soi is a chicken curry egg noodle soup, and almost all restaurants serve their preferred variations.
3. The local markets
Shopping or eating in Chiang Mai local markets is less stressful for the novice international traveler. The locals are more laid back. These markets are usually open-air with hundreds upon hundreds of fresh produce, prepared foods, snacks, and herbs on display for the morning to the sun go down.
When it is dark, there are night markets like the Wualai Road night market and the night bazaar on Chang Klan Road.
4. The chill-out lifestyle
Chiang Mai has just over a million residents while Bangkok has 12 million. The city beckons one to relax and ponder. It has excellent infrastructure making it easy to get around the city cheaply and safely. It is safe to ride a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled scooter taxi), songtaew (red pick-up truck) and taxi.
Here are a few places to chill-out:
- Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
- Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
- The Nakara Spa at Ping Nakara
- The Yoga Tree
5. Hub to Northern Thai attractions
It is easy to get to the countryside from Chiang Mai, a city surrounded by mountains and many other natural wonders of Thailand. A suggested list of day or overnight trips from Chiang Mai include:
- Trekking to the hill tribe villages
- Flight of the Gibbon in Mae Kampong
- Mae Khlang Luang Village stay
- Chiang Rai
- Mon Cham rice terrace
- Mae Hong Son Loop road trip
Thinking of going to Chiang Mai and have a few unanswered questions? Head over to Trippy and ask the locals and travel experts.