The Thai city of Chiang Mai is located in the mountains of nothern Thailand. We chose it as our first stop in Thailand because of its nickname “digital nomad paradise”. This fits perfectly into our itinerary as we plan to work here for two weeks and earn a little bit extra money for our travel:)
What places visit in Chiang Mai and its surrounding
1. Buddhist Temples in Chaing Mai
Buddhist temples are the largest landmark of the city and its surroundings. During our trip we found new and new temples, but we agreed that it is not possible to choose one of the nicest 🙂
The most popular are Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple), Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra That Doi Kham and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The last two temples are located in the mountains, in the middle of Doi Suthep National Park, and have a nice view of the city.
If you are left with time, be sure to check out the city of Chiang Rai where are located famous White Temple, Blue Temple and Black Temple. You can get there either by bus (2 hours journey) or with a tour (more expensive option).
2. Doi Suthep National Park
This national park is the closest park to Chiang Mai and can be reached by motorbike, taxi or by walking. We haven’t walked and sweated properly for a long time, so it was a clear choice :D. For our way up we chose the Monk’s trail (Wat Pha Lat Hike, no entry fee), starting from a short distance to Chiang Mai Zoo. The trail is about 4 km long, but it is a quite ascent. In the middle of the trail is located Wat Pha Lat Temple, which is hidden in the forest and close to it is a river with a small waterfall.
At the end of this route is the already mentioned temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Please note that when entering Buddhist temples it is required to have covered shoulders and knees. We carried clothes for change, because we would be baked without shorts and top. The advantage of this hike is that you do not have to pay admission to the temple, because you come sideways.
There are also several waterfalls in this park, which we did not manage to visit and did not even seem so beautiful and big. But maybe we are wrong … These include Montha Than waterfall, Doipui waterfall or Mae SA waterfall.
3. Night Markets in Chiang Mai
We went around three types of night markets in Chiang Mai. Two of them were served more four tourists and one for local people, rather young people (very cose to university).
Night Market next to the Rajamangala University of technology (Malin Plaza) was our favorite. First, we always found there cheap and tasty dinner, and secondly, Anet was thrilled by the clothing stores. They do not sell classic tourist dresses or t-shirts with elephants, but rather things like ebay or alliexpress types!
Kalare Night Bazar is a classic market where you can (rather must) bargain, buy t-shirts with elephants, souvenirs, food or drink Thai beer here. It is the largest market in Chiang Mai and certainly one of the places that you can not miss :).
Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market is located in the historical center of Chiang Mai. We do not recommend the weaker characters to come here around 8 pm, because you will do like three steps per minute and you will have to walk through the crowd of tourists. But it is ideal for buying clothes, souvenirs or food you just have to be patient.
4. Bua Tong or Sticky Waterfall
This waterfall is called a sticky waterfall, as you can walk on it without worrying about slipping. In steeper parts there is also a rope along which you can climb up to the top. This waterfall is located approximately 60 km from Chiang Mai and there is no admission fee. We rode there on a motorbike and the trip took us about an hour and a half 🙂 For us it was one of the best trips in Chiang Mai and at the same time a unique experience.
5. Elephant experience
The best thing we had in Chiang Mai and its surroundings was the elephant trip. We chose a two-day trip to Chiang Mai Elephant Friends, which included sleeping in a deluxe bungalow. This place is located 45 km from Chiang Mai and we arrived there on a rented motorbike. It wasn’t the cheapest trip, but it was definitely worth it 🙂 You can read more about this trip in the article Guide to Chiang Mai Elephant Friends – unforgettable experience/
Best food in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has many restaurants with food, drinks and nightclubs. We managed to try only a few and we wrote down our favorite ones for you:
1. Pad Thai Mustache style
So far, the best Pad Thai we have tasted in Thailand was from a black mustache van. It may sound a little scary, but you can’t miss this place while visiting Chiang Mai. You can find this tasty miracle every day at 8 pm on Nimmanahaeminda Road, on the left from Tesco store and Bangkok Bank.
2. Night market (next to Rajamangala University of Technology)
You can find plenty of good and diverse restaurants that are worth a try in this market. Moreover, local people (especially university students) come here, which means also low prices 🙂
3. ป้าแดง ขนมเส้นในซอย
A restaurant where mainly local people go for lunch. You will find there very tasty, cheap food and nice service. They serve traditional Thai cuisine and the choice is really varied. But beware! This restaurant is only open for lunch. The address is: Suthep, Mueang Chiang Mai District.
Getting around Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a medium-sized city, so if you live in the center (recommended!), most places will be within walking distance. For longer trips, it is ideal to rent a motorbike/scooter, which costs around 250 THB per day. Just watch out for the police who like to give fines, even if they have no reason to do so (unfortunately, the local police is famous fpr this behavior). We found on the internet a plan of deploying police officers according to which we followed, and fortunately we did not meet any (there was only missing police officers close the Maya shopping center).
Another way is to use Grab, which is something like Thai Uber. Just download the app, add a credit card (the ride is then cheaper) and go. You can order a car or also a driver with a motorcycle (cheaper).
Another type of transport is the Red car called Songthaew, which costs 30 TBH per person (riding around the city center). To stop them, simply wave at them, then tell the destination and go. Their disadvantage is that they carry more people to more places, so you never know how long the ride will take.