Chiang Mai – About Chiang Mai in Thailand

One of Thailand’s largest cities, Chiang Mai has about one million residents. It is located in the north of the country. Tourists from around the world enjoy visiting Northern Thailand, and the reason is obvious. This region has so much to offer in terms of landscape, with its stately mountains and breathtaking views, as well as rich culture and history. You can try all kinds of activities here from mountain hikes to elephant rides. Adventurous folks talk about Chiang Mai as a fascinating city with a lot of appeal. You will especially enjoy experiencing traditional gracious Thai hospitality to nurture your body and your spirit equally.

The literal translation of Chiang Mai is “new city.” While it’s true that Chiang Mai has many modern skyscrapers and other buildings, traces of the past are definitely present in the form of both older buildings and ruins. The city is surrounded by lovely mountainous scenery.

Thailand, Chiang Mai Chiang Mai in Thailand
 

Accommodation and Travel

The easiest and fastest way to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok or other points in Thailand is by plane. This will save travel time, which is especially important if you have only a few days to spend in this lovely mountain paradise. However, you may also opt to take a train or bus. Traveling by train is a trip of 24 hours or more, depending on your departure point. The trip can actually be quite pleasant and comfortable, since the trains are set up with sleeping berths and washrooms, all ready for overnight “guests.” In terms of meals, you can purchase food and drinks either from the train personnel or directly through the window from vendors at the stations where the train stops. When you finally arrive in Chiang Mai, you will have a good selection of many kinds of accommodation. There are a number of luxury hotels, but you may prefer to take the less expensive and more adventurous course of renting an apartment for your stay.

Activities

Chiang Mai offers lots of exciting things to do. Hiking in the mountains is perhaps the most common reason why people come to this area, but there are also plenty of interesting activities in the city itself. Local tourist agencies are the main organizers of mountain hiking tours, and it is essential to choose a reliable one. Compare the prices asked by various agencies and check with your hotel staff to see which are known to provide interesting tours.

If you happen to be in Chiang Mai in the middle of April, you will find yourself in the midst of the city’s annual water festival. The festival began as a religious observance but these days it is more of a unique type of party. Everyone happily douses each other with water. Buckets and spray pistols are the weapons of choice in this massive water fight. Don’t worry if you get hit – with spring temperatures of 30 degrees (86 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, the water will soon evaporate.

The city is divided into a number of neighborhoods. It’s worthwhile to hire a guide to show you the various sectors and point out the best places to shop for local specialties like crafts made of wood, silk or silver, in either regular stores or the famous night market. Two very interesting experiences to try out are a traditional Thai theater performance and a traditional Thai massage. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, make some time to see the ornately designed zoo with its panda show, a museum or two, an elephant camp and some of the stunning waterfalls.

Thailand, Chiang Mai Chiang Mai, Thailand
 

Restaurants and Bars

With a selection of restaurants rivaled only by that of Bangkok, you’ll have your pick of delightful cuisines. The Thai food is recommended; its tangy spiciness is something truly special. Many menu items feature beef or chicken, but you can also find seafood or vegetarian options. Pizza, hamburgers and pasta are available if you really need a break from Thai meals. For an evening to remember, try one of the dinner theaters.

Weather

If you’re planning to hike, visit Chiang Mai in the late fall to early winter. This is when the weather is at its coolest – like a mild summer day to Europeans. March through June is a period of intense heat, followed by the late summer to early autumn rainy season. Before you set off on a hiking expedition, remember that it can get cold in the mountains at night. Be sure to dress in comfortable layers and put a lightweight jacket in your backpack. Learn about Chiang Mai and its conditions to make planning your trip easier.

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