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Chiang Mai

Exploring Chiang Mai – A Guide for Travelers

Welcome to Chiang Mai – the name Mathai means “the new city”, Chiang Mai is the capital of the north and the second largest city in Thailand.

It is also known as the temple capital of Thailand, every corner you look in the city you will probably see a temple.
The city of Chiang Mai will take you on a magical journey into the past, many cultures have passed through the city,
The proof of this is the old city walls surrounding the city center which were built about 1,000 years ago.

Chiang Mai is a combination of true Thai culture, merging with endless green nature that surrounds the city.
This is exactly the reason that we usually start our trip in Thailand with it, something calm and staged before the “carnival” in the islands of Thailand.

chiang Mai Temple

In recent years, Chiang Mai has emerged as a must-visit destination for tourists in Thailand. Nature enthusiasts, in particular, find it irresistible with its stunning landscapes. The city also boasts vibrant, authentic markets that add a touch of color and fun to your experience. The warm and welcoming residents, known for their Thai hospitality, will embrace you with kindness and love.

Home to over a million people, maintains a unique charm without towering skyscrapers that might suggest its population density. The locals are dedicated to preserving the city’s authenticity.

Tourists have a variety of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels to charming boutique Thai-style establishments scattered across the city. While the Night Bazaar area was traditionally popular among tourists, recent efforts aim to introduce them to higher-quality areas, bringing about positive changes.

Chiang Mai has long been no longer just another destination for a jeep trip, it is a diverse destination full of fascinating and very special Thai culture, Those who come to Chiang Mai are guaranteed such a strong pleasure that you will simply enjoy your vacation with unusual intensity. 

We strongly suggest strolling among the town’s scattered temples. Some of these temples are situated in picturesque locations, and you’ll be amazed at how they were built at such breathtaking heights.

Flying to Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai is located in northern Thailand. Chiang Mai has an airport (CNX), and it can be reached by direct flight from almost any destination in Thailand: Phuket, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Krabi or Pattaya. The airport is located in the city center, you can take a taxi for a short trip to the hotel of your choice.

The city of Chiang Mai is a kind of starting point for the travelers in Thailand, who is looking for a soft landing in the magical country. Relaxed walks in nature and pastoral temples (such as the White Temple), before descending south towards the islands.

Booking your flight in advance is advisable for two reasons: first, it allows you to benefit from budget-friendly prices, and second, since there’s a somewhat limited number of flights from various locations to Chiang Mai, securing your seat in advance is a wise move.

Chiang Mai | chiang mai airport

The weather in Chiang Mai

It is recommended to avoid a visit in the months of February – April, because of what is known as the “Fire” season when the local farmers burn their crops and there is quite a lot of air pollution around the city that makes it difficult to breathe.

In terms of weather, it is quite stable, in the months of December-January it is quite cool in the evenings and it is recommended to come with a hood or a light coat.

Recommended areas in Chiang Mai

In recent years, at Moon Holidays, we consistently strive to guide customers to excellent city locations. Later in the article, you can find information about the primary accommodations in Chiang Mai.

chiang-mai-night-market

The Night Bazaar area​

 

The Night Bazaar may not suit everyone due to crowds and cleanliness issues. Many tourist are drawn to the area because of internationally-owned restaurants and hotels, giving the impression that Chiang Mai is just a transit station. 

the nimaan road

Nimman Road

In the latter years, we consistently guide our customers to superior city locations. Among the best is “Niman Road,” featuring excellent hotels, shopping malls, markets, and a delightful, high-quality environment. Accommodations in the “Niman” area are ideal for those seeking a high-quality and pleasant stay.

Chiang Mai | the old city

The old city

Another area relatively close to the “Night Bazaar” is called the Old City, although you won’t find many hotels of a really high standard, but you can definitely stay in reasonable 4-star plus hotels that meet basic needs plus, this area is recommended for those who want to be close to the “Night Bazaar” but Do not spend the night there.

Car rentals

In Chiang Mai, numerous car rental agencies offer convenient options for tourists. While motorcycles are popular for city travel, those seeking independent travel beyond the city limits can confidently opt for car rentals. Major international car rental companies operate here, providing a variety of choices. It’s advisable to prearrange your rental before arriving, ensuring the vehicle aligns with your preferences. Local rental companies often offer hotel delivery. Don’t hesitate to rent a car, but be sure to secure comprehensive insurance and drive with a valid international license recognized by Mamsi.

What to do in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai offers a unique escape distinct from the southern islands and the hustle of Bangkok. 

“the non-stop city”. The city of Chiang Mai lies in the shadow of the impressive mountain “Doi Sutap”, visible from every corner, boasts diverse attractions for family trips. From innovative water parks to night safaris and elephant sanctuaries, the city caters to various interests. From innovative water parks to night safaris and elephant sanctuaries, the city caters to various interests. There is a wide variety of hotels in Chiang Mai, for all types of visitors, at all levels, from the large hotel chains to unique boutique hotels.

Once a modest village, Chiang Mai transformed into the primary destination in the northern region, earning the unofficial title of the “capital of the north.” The city’s growth in the last two decades brought about shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels to accommodate the influx of tourists seeking its peaceful charm.

Despite the tourist influx, the city retains its tranquility and allure. It preserves and restores its centuries-old temples, with over 100 scattered throughout. The old city, surrounded by a square wall, serves as a central hub, and its shape aids navigation. The abundance of temples, visible from various vantage points, contributes to the city’s unique character.

Celebrated for its delectable traditional Thai cuisine, the city hosts numerous restaurants and cooking schools, such as the renowned “Mai Caddy,” where visitors can learn the art of authentic Thai cooking. These culinary experiences offer a deeper connection to Thai traditions and the fascinating stories behind the flavors.

Chiang Mai for the traveler

Also serves as a starting point for trips to the great north of Thailand, trips that include areas such as: Pai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sai and Chiang Dao. Visits to the many tribes scattered throughout the north such as: the long-necked tribe, and trips to the many rivers and waterfalls scattered throughout the northern region of Thailand. Private trips to the north or group jeep trips (Red Brick or Tana) depart daily to the rich region of northern Thailand, and are very popular among tourist families.

These trips go through the entire northern region and even reach the northern border with Laos and Myanmar and the famous Mekong River. In the evening in Chiang Mai, you go to visit one of the shopping centers scattered around the city, and in other places such as: the famous night market of Chiang Mai or the modern “Niman” street area, which is loved by the locals, where you will find dozens of interesting restaurants, cafes and bars.

Omegas in Chiang Mai

Certainly the buzz of Chiang Mai, who hasn’t heard of the omegas at “Flight of the Gibbon” or “Flying Squirrels”? These legendary companies offer an adventure that’ll send you into wild euphoria. Soar through the jungle canopy, channeling your inner Tarzan. While it’s a thrill for everyone, there are a few restrictions based on height, weight, and age. Reach out to us to ensure this adventure is tailor-made for you!

Red Brick and Tana

The most famous jeep tours in Chiang Mai, there is almost no one who came to the town and did not try one of the companies, in general these tours are based on the same idea. For more details and a full list of tours please click here.

Elephant care farm

Chiang Mai and its outskirts are renowned for their commitment to elephant welfare. Numerous sanctuaries dot the landscape, providing medical attention and support to mistreated elephants. You can also join in by visiting one of these sanctuaries, where you can express your affection through activities like bathing, tending to, and feeding the elephants. “Bang Chang” is a notable elephant sanctuary in the Chiang Mai area and comes highly recommended for a meaningful visit.

Nightlife in Chiang Mai

Explore the vibrant nightlife in Chiang Mai, where recent years have brought a welcome improvement with the emergence of some fantastic clubs for a lively evening.

Spicy Club: As one of the largest clubs in Chiang Mai, Spicy Club is a hotspot known to both locals and tourists alike. Open until the early hours, it’s perfect for those seeking a night filled with great music and a lively atmosphere.

Roots Rock Reggae: If you’re into rap and reggae, this is the place to be. Considered the best club in town for this genre, it’s a must-visit for music enthusiasts.

Zoe in Yellow: For a laid-back yet energetic vibe, head to Zoe in Yellow. This excellent bar attracts young locals every evening, offering a pleasant experience both indoors and outdoors. Enjoy the lively atmosphere and make the most of your time.

Here is a list of recommended hotels for a family vacation in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Amora Tapai Chiang Mai Hotel boasts rooms with scenic views of the old city or surrounding mountains. The hotel features an outdoor pool, spa, sauna, restaurant, and garden. Rooms are adorned in modern Thai-Lana style, (Northern Thailand) equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, a minibar, and room service. Guests can stay active with access to the on-site gym.

Melia Chiang Mai Hotel

A 5-star hotel from the excellent and well-known chain "Malia" is located in the center but in the more pleasant part of the center, which allows you to enjoy both a quality area and relative proximity to the center, one of the most recommended hotels in the town.

Rimping Village Hotel

Experience perfect family hospitality at Rimping Hotel in Chiang Mai. Enjoy an outdoor pool and balcony in air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, TV, safe, and minibar. Recently upgraded, the hotel reopens since July 2018, offering family rooms for 4 and 5 people. Built in authentic Thai style, it provides a calm landing in Thailand. Recommended for cleanliness, a good atmosphere, helpful staff, and proximity to the river and Chiang Mai center. The hotel's restaurant serves healthy local dishes, and alfresco dining by the pool is available. Rimping Village Hotel stands out in Chiang Mai for its design, service, and location.

Chiang Mai is one of the most popular destinations among families in Thailand. The town is large and diverse and offers a large number of accommodation options and attractions for all ages, temples, Thai culture and tradition, good restaurants and attractions for families.

Enhance your family vacation experience. Consider choosing a hotel strategically located in town, sparking a debate between the “Niman” and “Night Bazaar” areas. These central locations offer a plethora of activities for you and your children to enjoy.

For the most part, the Niman area is considered the top-notch location– a hearty recommendation from us! Don’t worry about transportation; taxis are budget-friendly and comfy. With minimal traffic, getting around is a breeze, and pickups for attractions conveniently reach every hotel in town.

Chiang Mai warmly welcomes you as one of Thailand’s finest destinations, blending rich Thai traditions with breathtaking natural beauty in and around the town. It’s a must-visit for families who adore nature. Explore the wonders with your children, and later, unwind on the serene islands. Your family adventure awaits! 🌿✨

Chiang Mai Market

Sunday Night Market of Chiang Mai (Sunday Night Market and Saturday Night Market)

The most famous market in starts every Sunday at 16:00 until around midnight.

Explore a market stretching over a kilometer with an extensive array of stalls offering everything from unique local crafts and more.

 If you spot something you adore, chances are it’s a one-of-a-kind gem you’ll only find in Chiang Mai. Our tip? Snatch it up during your market stroll; no need to wait for the islands. And don’t miss out on the chance to treat yourself to a relaxing massage at one of the many parlors along the market—just what you need to soothe those tired muscles after your exploration. 

Have a blast finding treasures!

Saturday night market

The Saturday Market, a charming sibling to the Sunday Market, unfolds along the old city walls. As you explore, you will discover locally crafted souvenirs and Thai art spacious and delightful atmosphere. The market’s distinct charm lies in its more serene ambiance compared to the Sunday Market, allowing visitors to leisurely browse and appreciate the offerings.

Make sure to immerse yourself in the local flavors by trying the unique delicacies exclusive to Chiang Mai.

Recommended restaurants

Below is a list of several recommended restaurants around the town of Chiang Mai: Aroy Dee – located right at the edge of the old town, here you can eat cheap Thai dishes starting at 50 baht, an excellent Thai restaurant.Grazie Thai Local Food  

Located in the old city of Chiang Mai, an excellent Thai restaurant.
Baan Landai Fine Dining Cuisine – an excellent restaurant that offers a large variety of vegetarian dishes, this restaurant is an excellent option for vegetarians, a high-quality restaurant with a pleasant and fun modern design.
Khao Soy Maesai – How can you do without Khao Soy, the most famous dish in Chiang Mai and perhaps in the entire kingdom, you must try it, and this restaurant is an excellent address.
Pulcinella da Stefano – an excellent Italian restaurant, for anyone who wants to eat western food at a very high level, at Stefano’s you will find exactly what you are looking for.

Akha Ama – one of the best cafes in town, coffee lovers are advised not to miss it.

Chiang Mai - FAQ

By flight from any destination in Thailand in about two hours.

Yes, the Red Brick jeep tour leaves and returns to Chiang Mai city. For more information visit our Chiang Mai attractions page.

It is recommended to avoid a visit in the months of February – April, because of what is known as the “Fire” season when the local farmers burn their crops and there is quite a lot of air pollution around the city that makes it difficult to breathe. In terms of weather in Chiang Mai it is quite stable throughout the year, in the months of December-January it is quite cool in the evenings and it is recommended to come with a hood or a light coat.

It is recommended to stay at least 3-5 nights in the city in order to really see and enjoy everything the town has to offer.

The city of Chang is not big and has several centers that are recommended to be located in: the night market area, the old city area and the Niman area. All the areas mentioned are located within a short driving distance of each other.

Yes, the city is full of attractions for all ages and amazing nature, these elements make Chiang Mai a highly recommended destination for families.

Chiang Mai map

Chiang Mai in conclusion

Chiang Mai is a must for every traveler! Many say that if you haven’t experienced Chiang Mai, you haven’t truly experienced Thailand. The rich culture, warm people, delicious food, and breathtaking nature make it a highly recommended destination.

Chiang Mai is a very interesting destination, it is not exactly the Thailand we imagine when we think of the land of white beaches and clear waters. It’s a unique, serene, and spiritual city—a perfect place for a gentle introduction before venturing to the southern islands. Whether for family trips or young explorers seeking a distinctive cultural experience, Chiang Mai and its surroundings offer convenience and charm.

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