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Chiang Mai City Guide

Last updated Oct 19 2014

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep


Chiang Mai is the capital of Northern Thailand and Thailand's second largest city. It is a destination for adventure seekers and outdoor adventures.

Visas, Language, and Money

Please see the Bangkok guide here for general info on Thailand.

Climate and Weather

Peak season for travel to Thailand is the dry season from November to April. Rainy season may bring heavy but sometimes brief thunderstorms but will be cheaper for accommodations.


Chiang Mai has a small airport service by carriers such as Nokair and AirAsia. Official fixed taxi rate from Chiang Mai airport to the old city is a relatively expensive 160 baht.

Getting Around


Tuk-tuks can be hired for short trips but are relatively expensive.



These pickup trucks act like shared taxi services. Red ones operate within the city center. Flag one down going in your general direction and tell the driver your destination and negotiate your fare. Trips within the city should cost only 20 baht with destinations further out costing more.


A northern thai specialty is Khao Soi, a curry noodle soup served usually with meat and topped with crispy noodles. Recommended restaurants include the basement food court at Airport Plaza and Khao Soi Khun Yai, an outdoor restaurant by Chang Phueak gate only open for lunch.

According to CNN, the best fruit smoothie can be found at Chiang Mai gate. Both Chiang Mai Gate and Tha Phae Gate have lots of street food vendors.


If visiting Chiang Mai for a couple of days, make sure it is on a weekend so you can catch the two weekend only night markets.


There are two major malls in Chiang Mai. Airport Plaza (by the airport) is newer and most popular. Central Kadsuankaew is at the northwest corner of the old city.

Night Markets

Chiang Mai is famous for it's night markets. The main night market runs along Chang Klang Road east of the old city from Loi Kroh Road almost to Tha Phae Rd. Large covered markets off this road including Asunarm (with a small but busy street food section) and Kalare Night Bazaar (with a large food court). On weekends, this area is less busy and stalls may be closed since vendors and foot traffic moves to the weekend night markets.

Saturday Night Market - runs Saturday evenings from Chiang Mai Gate (south) along the entire length of Wua Lai Rd. Songthaews wait at the end of the road if you don't want to backtrack through the market.

Sunday Night Market - An even larger market that runs through the old city from Tha Phae Gate (east gate) along Rachadamnoen Rd all the way to Wat Phra Sing. The market spills out onto neighboring parking lots, wats and intersecting streets. Great bargains and street food but lots of mosquitos and there is a lack of public toilets.


Wat Phra Singh - A large temple complex in the old city

Wat Chedi Luang - Temple with an ancient stupa in the back

Doi Suthep - Chiang Mai's most popular attraction is a temple on a hilltop. Shared songthaews leave from north gate and Chiang Mai zoo when full for 50 baht per person. The drive up is winding and not for the motion sick.

Chiang Mai Zoo - A large, drive through zoo with inexpensive admission fee and local priced food inside. Those without a car will need to walk a lot or buy a pass for the monorail/shuttle bus system inside. A lot of exhibits are extra including the panda and aquarium. You can feed a lot of the animals including the hippos, deer, and elephants.

Elephant Trekking - Over fifty companies operate elephant tours in Chiang Mai. Do your research in advance to make sure the elephants are not mistreated.

Tiger Kingdom - This attraction in Mae Rim allows you to interact with tigers from cubs to young adult tigers inside the cage. You should be able to get a tuktuk for 300 baht return from the old city.


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