Information About Visiting Chiang Mai Thailand.
For a first time visitor to Chiang Mai, Thailand
there are a few things where I can give advice.
Let’s talk about the obvious, what you need to bring, the people, accommodation, food, weather, transport and what to see.
What to bring for a holiday.
It amazes me how much baggage people bring for a holiday.
If you can just have carry on luggage then you are free to roam around without all that baggage.
All you really need is the same as if you are staying overnight at a friends house.
Things are so inexpensive here that you can save on baggage costs and buy when you get here.
My favorite was a string bag which expanded from pocket size the school bag size.
Except for things like one spare set of clothes, your phone, your glasses, your medication and your teeth, most things are not needed.
It is always warm or hot, like summertime here and the rain is warm, raincoats are $1 at 7 11.
The only time you might feel cold is during the flight.
The people in Chiang Mai.
If you look at a Thai person they usually smile immediately.
That’s the way it is, Thailand is often called the land of smiles.
When you arrive you will be sort after by taxi drivers and persons trying to help you to enjoy your stay in Thailand.
This is how some people make their living, they are not loud or aggressive.
The problem here is that they are trying to please you, but more important to them is, they want to make money.
So if you follow their advice you might find yourself staying at their relative’s guesthouse, eating at their relative’s restaurant and shopping at their relative’s shops. Thais are very family orientated. This custom of telling you what you want to hear but might not be the truth is common.
Most of these trip advisors and taxi drivers will get a reward if they deliver you to their friends business house, and it might not be the best place for you.
My advice is – don’t allow a very friendly Thai person guide you to where he wants you to be, insist on doing what you want to do, and that would probably be going to you place of accommodation.
So go to the taxi rank and give the driver the address written on paper.
If you know where you are going there is no reason why you should not walk, if you are so inclined.
Lately an Urber type system has been working in Chiang Mai, it seems to be okay and less expensive than a taxi, I don’t know if it will always be available.
Also see – getting around.
When you enter Thailand the immigration officer will need to know where you intend to sleep.
Have the address and the phone number ready to fill out your arrival card.
This does not seem to be a strict rule that you must give the correct information but things run smoother if you have this information readily available when coming off the plane.
If you have not pre-booked then you might enter a name and number of any hotel.
There are endless rooms, hotels, backpackers accommodation and resorts throughout Thailand.
At most times throughout the year there is a lot of vacancies for accommodation.
The prices can go up and down with the seasons.
Shared rooms might be from 150 baht/night and clean hotel rooms from 500 baht/night, ( $6 to $20 Australian ) and there are the 1000 baht/night rooms and beyond.
It is easy to book online but there is a good chance you will not get the best position if you’re not careful. You might find yourself catching a taxi in the middle of the night to get a snack because you cannot stomach the food where you are, or having to catch a taxi every time you wish to explore Chiang Mai.
My advice is, try for a room near the center of the city where you can walk to the 7 11 store and foods shops that cater for foreigners.
Look on google maps for accommodation and note the addresses in the area that you like, contact them direct. Sim cards are cheap at the airport and handy to contact your hotel – they might pick you up.
In the city of Chiang Mai there is an area about two kilometers square with a water channel (mote) around it. This can be easily found on maps, look for the obvious square.
Inside this square is referred to as the Old City and accommodates a lot of the back packer tourist type rooms.
Around the outside of the square is similar accommodation plus small hotels and some bigger modern developments and multi story hotels.
Maybe best to look for accommodation in the area between the river and the centre of the Old City. This seems to be the most active and possibly the best area to stay if you wish to explore Chiang Mai on foot.
If you intend to book for your full holiday then check out the position on google maps and make sure you are not miles from anywhere. You do need to be within a short walk to European food and other needs.
Often I book rooms for friends at the ‘Night Bazaar Place’ – it doesn’t have a swimming pool or fancy restaurant but is clean, affordable and right in the middle of everything so you can walk to all the in-city attractions. ( about 600 baht/night )
When booking, you might take one or two nights and from there stay longer or move to another hotel.
My main point here is to be careful not to book accommodation that is too far from the very heart of the city or too noisy.
When in Bangkok I stay at ‘White Lodge’ near Central Stadium Station or in that immediate area. Good food and other needs are close in this area.
See also how to get out of Mullumbimby.