We visited Chiang Mai during our two-week Thailand trip. It’s a city I recommend for its food, culture, and laid-back vibes.
WHY VISIT CHIANG MAI?
One of the most popular cities in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is filled with culture, history, and some of the best food in Thailand. Visiting Chiang Mai was a priority for me because I wanted to experience a different flavor of Thailand that wasn’t urban or the beach. This city is laid-back, charming, and easy to get around. Also, Chiang Mai surprised us with an abundant amount of incredible street art!
- Old City was the origins of Chiang Mai, and it was once a square-walled city. You can see remnants of the wall on the perimeter. I would recommend staying in Old City. There is an abundance of restaurants, places to stay, and temples. You can walk from one end to the other in about 30 minutes.
- Use the Maps.Me app to get around the city. It allows you to use maps in real-time without Wi-Fi. It was a lifesaver!
- We stayed about four days in Chiang Mai, though one of those days was a day trip to Chiang Rai.
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is October to April. May to September is the rainy season. December to March is the dry season. March, April, and May are the hottest months.
The main airport is Chiang Mai International (CNX). We flew in from Don Mueang International Airport (DMX) in Bangkok on AirAsia. The airport is 15 minutes to Old City, the most popular area in the city. When flying out of Chiang Mai domestically, travelers should be able to get through to the gate in 30 minutes.
If you’re staying in the Old City, getting around is fairly easy. We walked a lot and getting to one end of the city to the other took about 30 minutes. There are also red taxis and tuk tuks available to hop on. Mopeds are available for rent at shops around the city.
WHERE TO STAY
Staying in Old Town is easiest for restaurants and shops. There is an abundance of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels in Old Town. TripAdvisor is a good place to get an overview. Agoda is a great website also.
B House Chiang Mai
We stayed in this simple bed and breakfast our entire time in Chiang Mai. Our room was very spacious and included a shower/toilet combo. Daily breakfast included eggs, chicken sausages, toast, coffee, tea, and fresh tomatoes and cucumber. The location was on one end of Old City so walking to places took time but no more than 20 minutes.
G2 Boutique Hotel
This was another hotel I looked into because of its nice rooms and free Wi-Fi.
If you want luxury, 137 Pillars has it! Located outside of Old City, you’ll be wowed by the amenities.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK – Best Restaurants in Chiang Mai
- Eat Khao Soi! You must try this traditional noodle curry dish in Chiang Mai! It is a Northern Thailand dish, it’s delicious, and it’s hard to find it anywhere else.
- We did the Kantoke Dinner and Show but I don’t recommend it.
- For more recommendations than the ones below, check out the website Chiang Mai Food Critic for listings and reviews.
An unassuming and small restaurant, this restaurant is known for their roasted chicken but come early before they run out! The chicken is served with dipping sauces.
Address: Samlan Rd Soi 1, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Ginger and Kafe at The House
Possibly one of the most picture-pretty restaurants in Chiang Mai, this restaurant serves Thai and Western dishes.
Address: 199, Moonmuang Road, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200, อำเภอเมืองเชียงใหม่ เชียงใหม่ 50200, Thailand
We stopped here for drinks and dessert. A cute little spot with great banana nutella crepes and fresh watermelon juice.
Address: 27 Moon Mueang Road Soi 5, Chiang Mai, Thailand
The extravagant red décor flowing out of the restaurant will draw you in and the food will make you pleased with your choice. It’s slightly touristy because of its location but we enjoyed spicy fish, vegetables, and prawns here. They also serve Chiang Mai Brewing’s craft beer.
Address: Rachadamnoen Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
I had a really good and strong Thai Iced Green Tea here! We also enjoyed the sticky rice with mango, though they also have a full menu.
Address: Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Graph Café and Graph Table
Minimalist and thoughtful coffee shop and restaurant, respectively.
Graph Café: 25/1 Rajvithi Lane 1, T.Sriphoom, A.Muang Chiangmai 50200 Thailand
Graph Table: 8/3 Moonmuang Lane 6, T.Sriphoom, A.Muang Chiangmai 50200
Small, open-air restaurant with high-quality food.
Address: 7 18 ถนน ราชดำเนิน ซอย 1 Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Khao Soi Khun Yai
The recommended spot for Khao Soi!
Address: Sri Poom 8 Alley, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
The Good View Bar and Restaurant
This restaurant is outside of the Old City and is located off the Ping River.
Address: 13 Charoen Rat Road, Watgate Muang Chiang Mai, Thailand
Want to know more about Thai food? Check out this post!
WHAT TO DO – Best Activities in Chiang Mai
There are temples around every corner in Chiang Mai. You can easily do a temple hop! Here are some recommended temples:
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Located 30 minutes outside of Old City, this temple is one of the most visited.
- Wat Chedi Luang – This temple was started in the 14th century and is the largest structure in Chiang Mai. At this temple, you can also chat with monks.
- Wat Phra Singh – This temple complex features multiple interesting buildings, including tall, gold structures.
Elephant Nature Park
Seeing elephants up close and personal was a highlight of our visit to Chiang Mai. Check out the full recap and a video of our experience in this post.
Chiang Mai is a good place to get a massage in Thailand. Massages are a very affordable luxury and shops are abundant in Chiang Mai. Here are recommended places:
- Fah Lanna Spa: 57/1 Wiang Kaew Road, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
- Sense Massage: 23/1 Arak Road, Sriphum, Amphoe Muang Chiang Mai 50200
Yee Peng Lantern Festival and Loi Krathong
If you visit Chiang Mai in November, the Yee Peng Lantern Festival and Loi Krathong will be going on for about three days. Learn all about these festivities in this post.
Flight of the Gibbon Zipline
Flight of the Gibbon is a well-visited zipline attraction in Chiang Mai. This tour has its thrills and it was fun to be in the rainforest. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the family of three gibbons during your tour. The tours are about five hours. [We have a thing for ziplines.]
A very popular activity in Chiang Mai is a cooking class. You’ve tasted the wonders of Thai cuisine, now learn the depths of creating it! These classes include hands-on activity and a great meal in the end. Here are two recommendations:
This is a cute shop with locally made goods.
Day Trip to Chiang Rai and Wat Rong Khun / White Temple
Since we were in Northern Thailand, we took a day trip through a bus tour to see the White Temple. You can learn more about the White Temple in this post.
The Night Bazaar is a well-known and popular attraction in Chiang Mai. It’s a great place for souvenirs and gifts.
I hope this guide helps! If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below or send me a message. I’d be happy to help you have a fantastic time in Chiang Mai!