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Spend 6 Months in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Updated on June 20, 2016

Chiang Mai is becoming increasingly popular as a location for first-time travellers, digital nomads and others who want to spend some time cheaply in a warm climate. Located in Northern Thailand, it is the most prominent city in this part of the country.

I just completed 6 months in Chiang Mai and absolutely adored it, as most people do. There are a few reasons why it is worth at least checking out this underestimated destination.

Reasons To Spend 6 Month In Chiang Mai

The historic Wat Chedi Luang - a stunning temple in Chiang Mai
The historic Wat Chedi Luang - a stunning temple in Chiang Mai

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It's Cheap

In the ways that matter. Accommodation ranges from dirt-cheap to luxury - but there's a lot of choice and you can get even cheaper prices if you negotiate longer stays. There are a lot of serviced apartments, as well as aparthotels and even whole houses that you can rent out at prices far cheaper that what you are probably paying if you live in a city somewhere in the West.

Food is so cheap people tend to eat every meal out, it just works out to be reasonable that way and really not worth the effort of cooking at home. Street food is prevalent and super-cheap, but Western-style food is a little more costly - though often still reasonably priced.

The Weather

The weather is hot, humid and sunny much of the year. Despite a rainy season that lasts a few months around August, for the most part, the weather sticks at around late twenties to late thirties (degrees celcius) , creating a great situation for outdoor activities.

The People

The local people are refreshingly polite
The local people are refreshingly polite | Source

Wherever you go there are good people, and bad people, but in general Thai people, especially in Chiang mai are great. They err on the side of politeness, are helpful as much as the language barrier allows and most expats find it really easy to get on with the locals.

There is a large the expat community as in addition to retirees and others who have gotten residence in Thailand, there is a constant stream of travelers and digital nomads. If you are a freelancer or have an online business, this is a great place to network. At any one time hundreds of location independent workers and entrepreneurs are in Chiang Mai as this is a popular hub for people who travel and work on the road - mainly because of its cheap prices.

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The Vibe

Chiang Mai has a great vibe. Because the weather is so good most of the time, being outdoors is the default. This means that it is full of bars and cafes that spill out onto the streets,and there are outdoor flea markets and/or what are known as 'walking streets' every night of the week. This gives Chiang Mai a perpetually festive feel, with a Monday night being as interesting as a Saturday night - if you know where the markets are being held that day.

A Guide To Chiang Mai

There are so many reasons to spend 6 months in Thailand. It is a great place for newbie travellers to cut their teeth as it is cheap, safe and has a lot of the services and facilities that a people from developed countries are used too, but it still allows you to be steeped in a new culture.

There are many tips that will make your time in Chiang Mai an even better expereince - there's lots to see and do here, you just have to know about it:

How To find Accommodation In Chiang Mai

There is a lot of accommodation in Chiang Mai
There is a lot of accommodation in Chiang Mai | Source

It probably goes against your instinct to head over to Chiang Mai without booking your apartment ahead of time, but really, that's the way things work here. Sure you can book a few select apartments online - but these are few and far between. And there really is no need. There are lots of apartments in Chiang Mai and you will get the best prices and the best idea of the area and the facilities if you check the place out before you sign a contract of make a payment.

Get Great Food and Drink

Chiang Mai is known for its large number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants serving both Thai and Western cuisines of a high quality at very good prices. There are also lots of other eateries and you can buy food from many cuisines, including Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Burmese, and Mexican.

Mango with sticky rice
Mango with sticky rice | Source

Find Quality Health Care

There are lots of options for doctors in Chiang Mai - many of which speak good English and have very professional modern facilities. Perhaps the best health care facility in Chiang Mai is the Chiang Mai Ram hospital. The facilities are modern, the staff are professional and the standard of care is pretty impressive. Definitely my first choice in healthcare.

Aside from this there are a number of excellent clinics providing basic GP services, cosmetic procedure and dental services. A lot of people come to Thailand for its remarkably competitive prices of dental care, and Chiang Mai is a great place to do this.

In Chiang Mai, getting massages is practically a pass time. It is so cheap, and massage services are so prevalent, most travellers find themselves getting massages once or twice weekly.

Get conventional full body massages, or just get a quick foot or shoulder massage at pop up stalls beside the road.

Getting Around

A lot of visitors to Chiang Mai opt to rent a motorcycle, as, admittedly, this is the most convenient way to get around and is the preferred mode of transport among locals as well. If you would prefer to rely on public transport, the songtaows or 'red trucks' are the cheapest way to travel, costing a few baht for most journeys, and picking up other passengers too. For a journey on your own, try the more costly tuk tuks. There are a few taxi companies operating as well, but this is less popular.

Tuk tuks are Chiang Mai's version of a taxi
Tuk tuks are Chiang Mai's version of a taxi

Working Out

There are lots of gyms in Chiang Mai - and they vary widely in price, which is great. You can go just for the basics, or get packages with full use of facilities and free classes.

A lot of people come to Chiang Mai to learn and train Muay Thai and other martial arts. There are many gyms in the area and it's easy to dedicate your entire stay to learning this ancient fighting form.

Keeping Yourself Entertained

There are a few cinemas in Chiang mai and the tickets are very cheap. The show Thai as well as English movies.

There are a lot of opportunities to see live music for free in Chiang mai at a number of bars around the old city and in the Nimman area, and there is even a bowling alley conveniently located between both popular areas.

If watching a guys kicking each other is your kind of thing, Chiang Mai is also great for watching Muay Thai fights. There are frequent matches held on Friday and Saturday nights.

Watch Muay Thai
Watch Muay Thai | Source

Natural Attractions Around Chiang Mai

There are a few popular natural attractions in the surrounding areas of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai's strengths are its mountainous areas that are home to temples, waterfalls and walking trails.

Getting Your Shopping Done

There are a number of popular grocery shops here: Rimping Chain of supermarkets are the most common, but there is also Tops Supermarket. Aside from these, the best fruit and vegetable shopping is to be found at a number of open local markets dotted in various locations outside the old city.

Worth A Visit

For every few people waxing lyrical about Chiang Mai there is at least one saying that it is not for them. And that is understandable, but I think most people would benefit from seeing this city at least once. More seasoned travellers do seem to 'graduate' from Chiang mai to locations that offer them more of a challenge, but for newbie travellers, few can deny the value of Chiang Mai. If you are considering a trip to South East Asia, consider including it in your itinerary - you may just become on of the cities many raving fans.

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    • Rota profile image
      Author

      Rota 22 months ago

      Hey thanks Ghakett! I loved it there too...glad I could help u remember why u gotta go back! Thanks for commenting.

    • ghalkett profile image

      Genevieve Halkett 22 months ago from Dayton, Ohio

      I loved Chiang Mai-would love to stay six months or more. Thanks for the reminder of why I want to visit again.

    • Rota profile image
      Author

      Rota 22 months ago

      Thanks for stopping by FlourishAnyway

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Although not for me, I admire your adventurous spirit.