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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is classed as Thailand's second capital with about 260,000 people, but comparing it to the hussle and bussle on Bangkok would be a mistake. Life runs at a different pace here. People don't seem to hurry, and people are generally far more laid back. The last few years Chiang Mai has been developing at a fast rate, mostly due to tourism. Like most cities this does bring a few problems, like extra traffic and pollution, however, Chiang Mai has in most cases handled this well.

The oldest part of Chaing Mai is set within a square 1.5km moat, and fortunatly retained many of it's orginal features, including traditional wooden houses, and quiet gardens to name but a few. The main tourist attractions are the wonderful ornate temples, where you can mingle with the monks as they go about their daily business, and the shopping. Due to Chaing Mai's location, there is an abundance of Thai handicrafts produced locally from the villages surrounding Chiang Mai.

Many visitors to Chiang Mai are finding that it is also a good place to go back to school. Yes that's right. Different schools have sprung up offering cookery, massage, weight loss, training and treatment courses.

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If that all seems to relaxing for you, a journey to the mountain of Doi Suthep. There you can find the sacred temple, and enjoy the views stretching over the Ping river into the distance. Treking or mountain bike riding is also very popular.

Day trips can be arranged to visit many of the other attractions that Chiang Mai offers. See our things to do section HERE!

Overall Chiang Mai is far less crowded than many of the other cities in Thailand, a factor contributing to this is that the city is laid out over a vast plain intermingled with waterways or canals. Yes, you have the busy modern shopping areas, but you also have the quieter areas. It is easy to plan to stay for a few days but often people are so engrossed by what Chiang Mai has to offer that they end up staying for a week.

Explore this website, and find out all about Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand. Enjoy Chiang Mai.
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Chiang Mai Visitor Reviews

Nipa and Steve 15/10/2007

NIGHT MARKET: I went to the night markets in Chiang Mai almost every night. They were FANTASTIC! The vendors seemed much more friendly and willing to negotiate than in many of the places in Bangkok. If you can speak Thai, do it, even a little bit. If you smile and play the "game" you are far more likely to have a fun experience. Always remember, their first price is always going to be a bit outrageous, but don't offend them by asking for 20% of the asking price! If you shop around beforehand and get a good idea of what everyone is asking, you will have some leverage. I was looking for some Crocs (sandals) and they were priced anywhere from 150-280 baht. Polo shirts some may start at 400 baht, depending on how dumb you look (not me of course), but you can get them for 150-200 baht. Look around be strong, don't just agree to any price. But, also remember, that this is their living, so don't cheat them. Play fair and you'll all come out ahead!(maybe)


Felix 21/07/2007

Chiang Mai definitely has a different vibe from the rest of Thailand. More relaxed, less tropical. Most people head here for the shopping or the hilltribe treks. I enjoyed a short 2-day trek, however, be sure to prepare well (I took far too much stuff without having any idea). The night market is also fun, and worth visiting--good seafood and you will enjoy bargaining with the locals. Buying trinkets from the tribes in the villages seemed good value while up in the local hills and mountains.



Wendy and Family 10/06/2007

Visitors coming from Bangkok will find Chiang Mai far more relaxed and the weather cooler. But it has its traffic jams at rush hours and pollution can be felt. However the center of the city (inside the moat) is calm with many temples, small houses with garden, shops, cheap restaurants and hotels.

With the introduction of low cost airlines it is really easy and cheap to fly to Chiang Mai taking only one hour and costing arond 1800 baht , but it is also accessible by night train (it has to be tried at least once) and many buses (bus not fun). Like othertowns cities in the kingdom you feel really safe at all hours, the most dangerous place being the road, there are frequent accidents due to reckless driving and drunks (especially at night).

People are smilling and friendly even though in touristy places you feel its no more a natural smile but a commercial one. This is the place to go for your shopping, everything is made locally in the region, so it is a lot cheaper (but if you go straight to the factories you won't get a better price than on the markets). Street food is the best, better than in many restaurants and of course cheaper, my only advice when picking a street vendor, choose the ones where Thai people go, avoid those without customers.

In just a few minutes you can be outside the city and enjoying the beautiful sceneries and fresh air of the nearby mountains, it is a great starting point to explore the rest of the northern regions (Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen). Great deals on dental works and eyewear. Some hospitals (incl. Ram Hospital) have great standards, so don't panic if you need some medical attention. (worry if it's a snake bite)
Nightlife is not as excessesive as you'll find in Bangkok, but there are many good spots located along the river and around the night bazaar.


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