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Travel Tips For Chiang Mai Thailand

Updated on October 6, 2011
Chang = Elephant
Chang = Elephant

Going To Chiang Mai?


My favorite city in Thailand is Chiang Mai, it is cheaper, cleaner and more laid back than any other city in Thailand. There is plenty to see in Chiang Mai, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg to go out and have a good time. Tourists traveling to Chiang Mai will find that they will be hassled a lot less than they would be in Phuket or Bangkok.

Chang = Elephant
Chang = Elephant
Doi Suthep Temple Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep Temple Chiang Mai
Wat = Temple
Wat = Temple

I normally strongly recommend booking your accommodation online in advance, and this is still a good idea if you are visiting Chiang Mai. However you can still get great value and reasonable rates just walking into hotel in Chiang Mai. Accommodations in Chiang Mai are considerably less expensive than other major destinations in Thailand. You can expect to pay anywhere from $20-30USD per night for a modern 2-3 star hotel with a swimming pool and all the bells and whistles! Basic accommodation is available for approximately $10-20USD per night for a clean room with air conditioning and television. I will offer my opinion on a few of the places where I have stayed.

Recommended Hotels

The Loft Residence
- Located a little out of the way, about a 10 minute walk from the downtown area. The Loft Residence is a modern, clean serviced apartment style guesthouse. There is free WiFi in all the rooms, and the rooms are very new and clean. Prices range from $10-20USD per night.

The Prince Hotel - The Prince Hotel was one of the first places I stayed in when I first arrived in Thailand. While other hotels have gone up in price, the Prince remains affordable.However, it is an aging building and not the fanciest place to stay. Prices range from $10-20USD per night for an air conditioned room. One of the best reasons to stay at the Prince is their poolside bar.

The Small Hotel - Don't let the name fool you, It is not that small! The Small Hotel is a beautiful 3 star hotel with free WiFi located near the Thapae gate. Prices range from $20-30USD per night.

Raming Lodge Hotel
- The Raming Lodge is located on Loikroh Road, near the Night Bazaar and close to the bar district. This hotel has all the bells and whistles for a price range of about $30-40USD per night.


I am pleased to let you know that restaurants in Chiang Mai are much more affordable than Bangkok, Phuket and most other destinations in Thailand. There are a wide variety of restaurants that cater to vegetarians. You might notice a difference in the local food, compared to Southern Thai food, the Northern food tends to be a lot less spicy. I will list a few of my favourite spots to eat out in Chiang Mai .

Recommended Restaurants

The Salsa Kitchen - Opposite Central Shopping Center in Kad San Keaw area. The Salsa Kitchen offers authentic mexican cuisine at very reasonable prices.

Miguel's Cafe -
Miguel's has two locations, one on Nimmanhemin Road and the other at Sriphum corner. Miguel's offers American style mexican food, just a little more expensive than the Salsa Kitchen.

M.K. - Well for those of you who have travelled around Thailand, you may have eaten at this chain of restaurants before. If you haven't already tried it, you should give it a whirl. They have legendary roast duck and roast pork loin. Most large shopping centers in Thailand will have an M.K. restaurant.

Mr. Chan & Mrs. Pauline - Located on the canal road about a 10 minute drive from downtown, this restaurant is a popular spot with expats and locals. They have a romantic outdoor candle lit setting. They offer Steaks, Pizza, Swedish meatballs and other western food all reasonably priced.

Mad Dog -
The best breakfast in Chiang Mai! Mad Dog is located at 19/1 Moonmuang Road near Thapae Gate.

Fine Thanks - Located on Nimmanhemin Road, this place is popular with local Thai men who want to go out for a few drinks with their friends. The main attraction is not the food, however they offer decent Thai food at reasonable prices. The main attraction is the beautiful waitresses in the sexy outfits and high boots. This is not a girly bar, and the waitresses will not offer to go home with you (or maybe they will, but they didn't make me that offer). For the most part I believe it is all about having a few drinks and enjoying the scenery!


Doi Suthep Temple
- Now I do not often recommend Temples,because after living in Thailand for 10 years it can get quite boring and you feel as if you have seen one, you have seen them all. This is not the case with Doi Suthep, the temple is located at the top of a mountain, and is overlooking the city. There is a breathtaking view of Chiang Mai from the temple, and plenty of nice photo opportunities. It is definitely worth a look!

Chiang Mai Zoo - This is great for the kids, and the adults. Chiang Mai Zoo is truly world class, the main attraction is the Pandas of course.

Elephant Trekking - My wife insisted that we do this on our first trip to Chiang Mai, and I thought it was going to be a waste of time. I was so wrong, we had a great time! We booked at a travel shop near Thapae Gate, for a day trip including hill tribe villages, elephant trekking, and river rafting. We only paid 30USD per person at the time, but this was a few years ago. I can say that while I was reluctant to try it, it ended up being the most enjoyable day trip I have ever experienced. For people with a little more adventure in mind, there are longer trips involving camping out for a few days (sorry not for me!).

Nightlife - While the nightlife is not as wild and crazy as it is in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, there are still plenty of nightclubs and girly bars in the Loikroh area.

Thai Cooking - For those of you that love Thai food, there are several places to enroll in cooking classes.

Spas/Massage - If you are looking for a proper massage, you should really be careful you are going to a place that actually offers massage. Most of the shops in the Loikroh area advertising as massage shops will be offering more than just massage. If that is what you are looking for then you will not be disappointed. However the girls that offer extra services, or full service, are usually not very interested in giving a good massage, and they will spend the entire time telling you about their "other" services. If you really want a decent massage, I suggest you go to a proper spa, like some of the ones you will see in the bigger hotels.

Pai - If you are staying in Chiang Mai for a few weeks and you have plenty of time, I would recommend a trip to Pai. Pai is about an hour and a half drive north of Chiang Mai. This is one of the most popular tourist location for Thai tourists. Food and accomodation is very reasonable in Pai, and there are plenty of things to do and sights to see. You might want to read one of my articles on tips for travelling to Pai.


In my experience in Thailand, I believe it is far less likely for you to be robbed or have your wallet stolen than it would be in your home country. For the most part, petty theft and robbery is rare. Your biggest concern is that somebody is going to try to con you, and it might happen several times per day. It is not nice to generalize, but I must say that I have found people in Chiang Mai to be a lot more honest and less likely to try to cheat you than locals in Bangkok and the Southern Provinces.

I would say it is a lot less likely to get involved in an argument or dispute with locals in Chiang Mai.That being said, you should still be careful, avoid fights at all costs, and be aware of your surroundings. One common mistake that tourists make is trusting another foreigner who has been living in Thailand for a while. Sometimes the biggest con artists are expats that have been living in Thailand for years and they have no money, and will lie, cheat and steal in order to stay here. So be wary of expats you meet in bars, especially if they try to get you into any business investments or ask to borrow money.

Whatever you do, don't get involved in anything involving drugs in Thailand. This is a serious crime in this country, and even if it is only grass, it could land you in prison. Stay away from any other people that are using drugs. Don't hang around in bars if you notice people are using drugs.

Thai people are usually very well tempered, they do not anger easily. If you manage to get in a situation with a Thai, you should try to resolve it quietly and quickly. You can not just have a punch up, a man to man fight and think it will be left at that. If there is any physical confrontation, it is likely that any nearby witnesses will join in, sometimes with glass bottles, knives or other weapons. If they see a fight with a foreigner and a Thai, they will always assume the foreigner is wrong. You need to avoid any conflicts, even if it means swallowing your pride. Chiang Mai is the safest place in Thailand if you don't go out looking for trouble, but if you go out and get drunk and behave carelessly, you might not live to tell the story!


Hello - sawadee krup ( the "r" is silent )
Thank you - ka poon krup
How Much - tao Rai
Where - tee nai
What - arai
Good - dee
Bad - mai dee
Yes - chai
No - mai chai
Sorry - kra tote
Man - poo chai
Woman - poo ying
1 - nung
2 - song
3 - sam
4 - see
5 - haa
6 - hok
7 - jet
8 - pet
9 - kao
10 - seep


Aerial Footage Of Chiang Mai From An RC Helicopter


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    • profile image

      mico 6 years ago

      Good travel reading! Like the info.

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 7 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      John, thank you!

      I had some excellent ribs lastnight, at a nice little Salsa Kitchen near my house! It was delightful. And the waitress was beautiful! You should try the place some time.

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Thanks very much for the tips! Great advice from someone who actually lives here and knows what they're talking about!

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 7 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      That a boy Peter!

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Always been turned on by boots so I think I will take your recommendation.

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 7 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      Peter, I have read a few of your articles, I think you would like "Fine Thanks".

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

      A great little guide. I have always liked Chiang Mai. Not visited all the eateries you mention. Perhaps I will when I next head on up that way.