Chiang Mai: what to see between temples and night markets

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Aina Martin

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Chiang Mai: discovering Thailand's second city

Chiang Mai is considered the second city in all of Thailand, but it is profoundly different from Bangkok. (read also: What to see in Bangkok). There is a much more western air, it is more liveable and even tourism itself is different. Far fewer almond-eyed foreign faces than in Bangkok.

One of the strong points of this city is precisely the fact that it has conformed a little more to the European style and this translates into a more refined city (especially the old city). Many clubs / pubs / bars that allow the use of their own WiFi network. The cost of living the Thai one remains instead.

These are the two key factors which have allowed Chang Mai to become the ideal city for digital nomads, that is, those who can work anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. There are many who take it into consideration for this purpose. With a few baht smoothie they can afford to sit somewhere, using the Wi-Fi network and working for hours.

How is Chiang Mai structured?

Having made this small premise, let's see how the city is arranged.

From the map you can see that there is a square formed by the 4 main streets that enclose what is called the old part of the city where they are present lots of Wat and many important buildings.

Caution: usually the adjective "old" does not bring to mind anything good, it is often associated with something degraded, dilapidated; in the case of Chiang Mai we must reverse this concept. There old city of Chiang Mai it is the most beautiful and well-kept part of the city. Given the narrow streets there is little traffic, there are also many well-kept bars and restaurants and a good quality cuisine at very low prices. The difference with the rest of the city is obvious.

Where to sleep in Chiang Mai?

Looking for news on what to see in Chiang Mai I never found anyone who described this aspect well to me and so I want to give you one of the usual tips.

Council: if you have to choose the hotel look for it absolutely within the old city, you will have a totally different perception of the city. I advise you with your eyes closed Log Home Boutique : very refined and well-kept, a beautiful swimming pool and in addition to being inside the old town. You are about ten minutes walk from the Night bazaar. If you happen to be on the weekend you are just as many minutes away on foot from Saturday Night Market which takes place in a totally different street from the normal Night Bazaar. I specify that the Night Bazaar takes place every night in the same area (east) of Chiang Mai, on Saturday and Sunday in Wualai Road, logically on Saturdays and Sundays.

Please note:: if you want, you can and for hotels in the orange area , or the old town.

From the somewhat artisanal map that I have prepared you can see in:

  • ORANGE - In my opinion best area to stay in Chiang Mai. On foot you can reach everything.
  • BLUE - Night Bazaar.
  • GREEN - Saturday and Sunday Night Market.

Visit Chiang Mai: the climate

In terms of climate, visiting Chiang Mai is less demanding than Bangkok. Certainly when the sun beats down, it beats down, but the humidity doesn't bother you like in the capital. Geographically it is also fortunate, it is in an excellent position: not far from the mountains that allow various trekking or outdoor activities and not far from the border with Laos and Chiang Rai. Chiang Mai is also known for numerous cooking schools, some also quite important.

What to do and see in Chiang Mai?

Every hotel you go to, every tourist agency you meet will have the classic "dispenser" of flyers, each with its own attraction. Here is a list of the things you can do and see in Chiang Mai:

  • Go hiking for one or more days inside the jungle combined with a rafting trip back to the valley. They will pick you up directly at the hotel. Prices vary based on the number of days but usually less than 1000 baht for a day are not spent.
  • Visit Doi Inthanon National Park.
  • Experience the thrill of the Flight of the Gibbon (it's a zipline)
  • Go out on a quad ATV.
  • Visit Doi Suthep
  • Take a cooking class (HERE you can book directly)
  • Make you get a massage
  • Take a hike to the white temple of Chiang Rai (quite distant)
  • …much more…

You have a lot of solutions to spend your time visiting Chiang Mai, I can't tell you which one is right for you or not, everyone has their own interests, for sure you won't be disappointed. More than anything else, pay attention to the weather. Before booking a tour around Chiang Mai, find out about the weather conditions for the following days. At the last moment we decided not to take an excursion, and luckily because it would have cost us a nice storm. Surely if you go during the dry season you will be less likely that the weather will spoil the holidays.

Among the things to see in Chiang Mai there is also Doi Suthep independently, here in this other article I will explain -> how to reach Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai.

Thai cooking classes

I also want to give you a suggestion on the cooking classes you can do in Chiang Mai.

About the prices we are around 1000 baht, we have seen prices ranging from 800 to 1200 baht. The day can be half or full day according to your preference, the price varies according to what you decide. They pick you up at 9.00 in the morning at your hotel and the first step is to take you to a local market where they explain the main ingredients of their culinary culture and where you will shop for your dishes.

Caution: we in the following days that we spent in Chiang Mai we crossed the market in question and I must say that thinking of entering it in the morning, with all those smells, fish and meat in the open air, was quite challenging. Despite this, it does not give me many problems, but if there is someone interested in the cooking class, take this into account.

After the shopping they bring you either to the city office or to the country office (farm), this too you can decide when booking and also in this case there are price changes. From about 9.30 you start cooking the various foods and then smell, taste and finally eat the splendid dishes you create which usually are 6 including dessert.

Upon our arrival at Chiang Mai we had put the cooking class as a fixed point, something to do absolutely. Then it happens that after 5/6 days of Thai Food, although very good, your stomach wants to savor some local foods and we were in that phase in those days. The day before we were quite nauseated and this made us desist from this experience which, however, I was told was very very interesting and fun.

Take a relaxing stop with a massage in Chiang Mai

For Chiang Mai I want to recommend a place that really deserves. Is called Fah Lanna Spa and in Chiang Mai there are two offices, one inside the old city and the other outside.

We went to the one inside the old city. Every detail is taken care of to the maximum, the reception girls are very courteous and the environment gives you an exaggerated sense of tranquility. If you don't book, you often have to wait an hour, but don't worry, it's absolutely worth it. If you want to entertain the time, the Fah Lanna Spa also has a bar where you can sit down, have a drink and play with the wooden trio on each table.

Shortly before the massage, they offer you a tamarind tea and invite you to fill out a sort of questionnaire where you indicate if you have any particular problems from a physical point of view. Furthermore, you are asked to specify theintensity of the massage you have chosen. The masseurs are really good and put you at ease. At the end of the massage they will then accompany you to a room next to the bar where they will have already prepared an herbal tea with sesame biscuits on the table. The price for a massage is higher than the average of other places but you will feel pampered like never before. A half-hour Thai massage costs 250 baht. I really recommend you take a nice ride. Here is the site Fah Lanna Spa

Chiang Mai and the night markets

Finally, let's go back to talking about the various night markets because they are one of the things to see in Chiang Mai, you cannot go home from this beautiful Thai town without having visited both of its markets.

Inside the markets you will find lots of costume jewelery, but not only, also local handicrafts. And in Chiang Mai's craft items you will find a lot of them and I too fall into temptation. Unfortunately, however, most of the time I have to put a hand on my heart, close my eyes and go straight, otherwise I would buy everything.

Here, if you are a lover of these objects, know that al Night bazaar but above all to Saturday Night Market, in addition to the eyes you will have to close your nose several times, you will be enveloped by a myriad of scents that will be your constant temptation. In this regard, we ate at the Saturday Night Market the best Pad Thai of our trip: 30 bath for a large portion that there was to cry from how good it was. In reality, however, I was also crying because of how hot it was!

In short, as I told you at the beginning of this post, a Chiang Mai nothing is missing!

Council: if you want some prints to take home, head to Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar. Halfway up the Night Bazaar on the left of the stairs that go down and you will find some talented artists ready to sell you their beautiful works. For everything else, if you can, save the baht for the Saturday Night Market or even better for Sunday. It's an understatement to talk about markets, anyway… in these Chiang Mai Saturday and Sunday markets you will find a lot of things that are not available at the Night Bazaar and they will also be much much cheaper.

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