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Chiang Mai

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in chiang mai

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Chiang Mai (?????????) is the gateway to Northern Thailand. With a population of over 200,000 and growing, Chiang Mai is Thailand's largest city after Bangkok. With a cosmopolitan air and a significant expat population, it's much greener and quieter than Bangkok, factors which have led many Thai visitors from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "Rose of the North". Located on a plain surrounded by mountains, the peak of Doi Suthep looms just 13 kilometers away and looks over the city and surrounding lush countryside.

Courtyard of Wat Doi SuthepCourtyard of Wat Doi Suthep
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Courtyard of Wat Doi Suthep

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chiang mai Travel Guide :

Chiang Mai

Understand

Amidst the rolling foot hills of the Himalayan Mountains some 800 kilometers north of Bangkok is the culturally rich city of Chiang Mai, the longest continuously lived in settlement from the ancient days of Siam. Founded in 1296 AD it was isolated from Bangkok and could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant back trip until the 1920's. Such isolation has helped keep Chiang Mai's distinctive charm intact up to the present day.

Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city wall are more then 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality in 1296. Doi Suthep temple which is on the mountaintop at 3500 feet above and overlooking the city is a shrine to both Thai and foreign visitors. These Temples are a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Lanna Thai styles decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree.

Chiang Mai

Orientation

Chiang Mai's historical center is the walled city (chiang in Thai, hence Chiang Mai "New Walled City"). Sections of the wall remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains. Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east towards the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where you'll find Thanon Chang Khlan, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guesthouses. The locals have a saying that you have not experienced Chiang Mai unless you have seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten a bowl of Kao Soi and purchased an umbrella from Bo Song.

Chiang Mai

Get in

Chiang Mai

By plane

Chiang Mai International Airport (http://www.airportthai.co.th/airportnew/chmai/html/) (CNX) connects to most Thai cities of importance and receives some international flights from countries in the region as well. The route from Bangkok is among the most heavily traveled in the country: Thai Airways International flies daily almost every hour with many additional flights in the peak tourist season. Other airlines serving Chiang Mai include;

  • Air Asia (Chiang Mai - Malaysia)
  • China Airlines (Chiang Mai - Taipae)
  • Nok Air
  • Silk Air (Chiang Mai - Singapore)
  • Bangkok Airways (Chiang Mai - Cambodia)
  • Lao Aviation (Chiang mai - Laos)
  • Air Mandalay (Chiang Mai -Myanmar)
  • One Two Go (Orient Thai Airlines)
  • Tiger Airways (Chaing Mai - Singapore)

Prices very greatly between airlines with Air Asia and Tiger Airways being the cheapest. A one-way flight from Bangkok will set you back 500-2000B.

The airport is some 3 km southwest of the city center, only 10-15 minutes away by car. Legal airport taxis charge a flat 140B for up to 5 passengers anywhere in the city; If you take a Metered taxi the price will be under 100 baht. The taxis are located at the exit on the north end of the terminal. After baggage claim and/or customs walk into the reception hall and turn left. Alternatively, charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 B. Most hotels and guesthouses offer cheap or free pick-up/drop-off services.

Chiang Mai

By bus

Buses to Chiang Mai leave from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit). The cheapest, non-air-con, stop-everywhere government buses start at 200B and 12 hours, with rates climbing up to 625B non-stop VIP 24-seaters that manage the trip in 9 on a good day. Chiang Mai also has bus connections practically everywhere in the North. For the VIP bus make sure you are clean and dress nicely when taking the bus. If not they will put you in the back of the bus next to the toilet.

Chiang Mai

By train

Various rapid, express and sleeper services leave from Hualamphong, taking 11+ hours for the trip. The evening trains have air conditioned and non air conditioned berths in the second class cars. Private first class is available with two berths in each cabin on the evening trains. The day trains have only second and third class with no sleeping berths. The Sprinter train is second class only with no sleeping berths. The second class overnight train is very popular as it is safe, comfortable and fun. Those who do not wish to share a crowded bathroom should select first class. In first class the attendent cleans the bathrooms very often. Between the months of November and March you should purchase you tickets early. Tickets can be purchased up to 60 days in advance. Check here for train timetables and prices. (http://www.railway.co.th/timetable/N_N.html)

Chiang Mai

Get around

Chiang Mai's now has a new large air conditioned bus service. You can see these nice air condutioned white buses all over the major city routes. There are also pedicabs called samlor, the 3-wheeled tuktuk and the most popular, the songthaew.

Chiang Mai

By songthaew

The "Songthaew"The "Songthaew"
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The "Songthaew"

The most common way to get around Chiang Mai is by songthaew. These are covered pick-up trucks with two benches in the back, and indeed the name means "two benches" in Thai. You will see them everywhere, and it's easy to get them to pick you up. All you need to do is to put your arm out and look at the driver, and they will stop. Then tell the driver which street you want to go to, and if he is going that way, he will shake his head "yes"; if not, he will say "no" and go on. Don?t worry?there will be another one right behind him. When the driver turns down the street you want, start looking for where you want to get off and press the switch located on the roof of the cab. The driver will pull over, let you out, and then you pay him. The fare should be 20 Thai baht or less (around 50 cents). If you tell the driver a hotel or establishment, he will think you want to hire him for a private trip, and the price will be much more. Negotiate any price beforehand if you want to go to an establishment. The best way to avoid this 'charter' situation is to discuss your destination and not the price; asking for a price is interpreted as asking for a charter. Then, when you dismount and go to pay, hand the driver the correct change. If the driver demands more, then it is up to you to work out a fair payment, but armed with this information, you should have a reasonable idea of the proper fare, and that will aid you in your bargaining.

The color of the paint on a songthaew indicates the general route or usage of a songthaew. Most common by far are red songthaews, which roam around main streets in the city itself. Warorot Market (by the Ping river) is the most common terminus for songthaews that will travel along a fixed route. From Warorot Market white songthaews travel to the eastern suburban city of Sankampaeng, yellow songthaews travel to Mae Rim in the north, blue songthaews travel to Sarapee and Lamphun in the south, and green songthaews travel to Mae Jo in the northeast. The flat rate cost along these fixed routes is 10 to 20 baht.

There is one other departure point, which is the Pratu Chiang Mai market, and songthaews travel from here to Hang Dong and San Patong to the southwest of Chiang Mai. The flat rate cost to Hang Dong is 20 baht, while San Patong costs more.

You may see songthaews out on the highways in the countryside, travelling to and from small towns and villages. It is probably not proper for them to do this (as such travel is supposed to be done by bus companies), but in Thailand people will find a way to make some extra money.

Chiang Mai

By tuk-tuk or samlor

Tuk-tuks serve as Chiang Mai's taxis, going point to point for 30B and up depending on your haggling skills. A few three-wheeled bicycles (samlor) still cruise the streets and will go your way for the same price. This is a great way to see the inner city temples. Try taking a Samlor from Wat Prasing Temple to Wat Chedi Luang Temple in the early evening around sunset. A samlor ride around the inner city at sunrise is also a good time to see the monks walking around with there bowls collecting alms from the citizens.

Chiang Mai

By taxi

Chiang Mai has finally introduced a Bangkok-style metered taxi service, although as of early 2005 there are a grand total of 15 plying the streets (versus 2700 songthaews). By early 2006, there were over 45 of the blue and yellow metered taxis, with the number growing monthly. Rates are very reasonable at 30B for the first 2 kilometers and 4B/km after that. Call 053-279291 for advance bookings, which are particularly useful when going to the airport (100B flat fare).

Chiang Mai

By bus

Chiang Mai's on-again, off-again local bus service began operation again in November, 2005. For routes, inquire locally.

Chiang Mai

By scooter

There is an abundance of scooter rentals in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai

See

Chiang Mai

Museums

  • Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center.
The Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center buildingThe Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center building
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The Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center building

The cultural center is located in the very center of the old city on Prapokklao Road between Rajdumnern Road and Rajwithee Road. If travelling by tuk-tuk or songtheaw, it's easiest to ask for the "Three Kings Monument" (Saam Kasat). The cultural center is in the large, elegant white building just behind the statue.

Walk to the front entrance behind the Three Kings Monument into this fully modernized multi-media history and cultural education center. Guides dressed in elegant traditional Thai clothing will usher you into an air-conditioned room to watch an English-subtitled orientation video about Chiangmai and the north. Next, you will be pointed to a series of rooms documenting the region's history and culture in chronological order from the pre-Muang period (7,000-12,000 years ago) to the early river civilizations, to the early kings through the wars with the Burmese and the last dynasty, to the city today and its plans for the future. Other rooms are devoted to Buddhism and other regional beliefs, agricultural history, hill tribe peoples and other regional cultures, and a run-down of the royal dynasties. The exhibits consist of a smart visual mix of video, scale models, enlarged photos, wall murals and text in Thai and English. The museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Mondays. Admission is 90 baht. Tel: (053) 217-793.

  • Hilltribe Research Institute Museum
The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Museum The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Museum
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The Lisu Hill Tribe display at the Museum

Founded in 1965 as a result of a proposal by the noted anthropologist Prof. W.R. Geddes , who was doing research with the Hilltribe peoples at the time, the Institute Museum offers exhibits concerning the lives and cultures of nine Hilltribe peoples in Thailand; the Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Yao, Hmong, Karen, Lua, Khamu, and H'tin. Also included are a non-hilltribe ethnic minority, the Mlabri, associated by some with the 'spirit of the yellow leaves'. The Mlabri population has dwindled to only approximately 180 individuals at present.

The daily lives of the various Hilltribe peoples are illustrated through exhibits of photographs, agricultural implements, household utensils, artifacts associated with the various traditional religions, musical instruments, and ethnic costumes. Some exhibits include models dressed in complete traditional costumes depicting daily activities, such as a Hmong family having a meal or a Lisu man serenading his sweetheart.

The Institute has established a new museum in a three-story pavilion located on the attractively landscaped grounds of Ratchamangkala Park (Suan Lor Gao) on Chotana Rd., just a fifteen minute drive from the center of the city. At present the museum is open on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm, and a slide and video show is available from 10 am to 2 pm daily. Special group tours on weekends are possible with advance notice. For more information please contact the Hilltribe Institute Museum, Chotana Road, Ampher Muang, Chiangmai, 50000. Tel:(053) 210-872, 211-933.

Chiang Mai

Buddhist Temples

Buddhist temples in Chiangmai show off a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand. Elements from Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon temples have all been used in one from or another. Intricate woodcarvings and protective Naga serpent staircases add a flamboyance that reflects an awesome reverence for the Buddhist religion. Gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and stupas trimmed with god filigree combine to heighten the overall effect.

To date, there have been some 300 temples constructed in Chiangmai an its outskirts. Visitors should take the time to visit the most revered temples in the city, built during the noble Lanna Thai dynasty. The largest ones draw crowds, but it's worth it to wander off the beaten path and find a temple not on the tour bus circuit.

The Thai patrons of Chiang Mai's temples are pleased to see that visitors take an interest in the images and traditions of Lord Buddha's teachings. All that they ask is that temple visitors show respect by wearing appropriate clothes so that monks and worshippers will not be offended within the sacred temple grounds. By "appropriate clothes", we mean to say long pants for men, modest tops and skirts for women, no bare shoulders and women must wear a brassier.

Wat Prathat Doi SuthepWat Prathat Doi Suthep
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Wat Prathat Doi Suthep
  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, 1 (http://www.doisuthep.com/english.html). A very popular half-day excursion from the city. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city, this magnificent temple established in 1383 is famous for its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a good clear day. Although Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiangmai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and kneeled down and thus interpreted as a sign indicating and auspicious site. Entrance to the temple is free for those who wish to climb the more than 300 steps. If you wish to take the cable car the cost is 50B for foreigners. Clearly marked songthaews to Doi Suthep leave from Pratu Chang Phuak, passing Chiang Mai University and the Zoo on the way. Prices are fixed at 40B up and 30B down, although the drivers will wait for more (up to 8) passengers until leaving.
  • Wat Phra Singh is located in the center of the city at the intersection of Singharaj and Rajdamnern Road. (west end). Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image completed between 1385 and 1400. Of particular note historically is Wihaan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mullberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from the rain, floods and pests. The walls of the chapel are coverer with mural illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen.
  • Wat Chiang Mun. The oldest temple in the city, presumed to date from 1296, the year Chiang Mai was founded. Famed for two Buddha images, which according to legend are 1800 and 2500 years old. It is located within the walled city on Rajpakinai Road. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiangmai was constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Mun is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee. It is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
Wat Chedi LuangWat Chedi Luang
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Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Chedi Luang. Wat Chedi Luang is located directly in Chiang Mai center on Prapokklao Road is the side of a formerly massive pagoda that was unfortunately destroyed in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 by the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the jedee to a height of 86 meters. After the earthquake, the jedee lay in ruin until 1991, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million Baht. The reconstructed jedee was finished in 1992, and it is every as impressive as it was when it was first built. The Chedi (pronounced Jedee) that towers into the sky at this Wat is a magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, and as such is one of Chiang Mai's top attractions for tourists. Wat Chedi Luang, however, is also home to another Chiang Mai monument, the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
  • Wat Phra Jao Mengrai. Off Th Ratchamankha (near Heuan Phen). An atmospheric wooden temple off the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling in the absence of tourist hordes.
  • Wat Oo-Mong is an ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiang Mai City off Suthep Raod. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk. The monk liked to wander in the countryside, so the king built a temple in an isolated area for the monk to stay quietly and mate. The temple is unusual in that it has tunnel like chambers in the ground. If you look closely, some of the walls in the cambers have the origional paintings of birds and animals still visable.
Chiang Mai

Do

Chiang Mai is a popular place for arranging hill trekking. As usual in Thai cities massage places abound, both for treatments and learning the art yourself, and cooking schools are also popular.

  • Let's Relax. 2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Th Chang Khlan. Does professional massage in very clean if not downright sterile surroundings complete with air-con, the sound of running water and gentle scents. A 45-minute foot reflexology session costs 350B, nearly twice the price of the competition, but is worth every satang after a long trek.
  • The energetic and adventurous can also learn Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing, the national sport of Thailand at Lanna Muay Thai (http://www.lannamuaythai.com), which is situated along Soi Chiang Khian, off Huay Kaew Road.
Chiang Mai

Festivals

Flower Festival FloatFlower Festival Float
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Flower Festival Float
  • Chiang Mai Flower Festival, every year during the first weekend in February. The city is awash with vibrant colors ranging from the electric orange and lilac colors of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Years, is echoed by beds of scarlet salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colorful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of color that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiang Mai aptly gives the city its name "Rose of the North".

On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Suan Buak Haad near the city center. Every type of flower, miniature tree and orchid is put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers.

The best part of the flower festival is on Saturday. The parade lines up from the train station to Narawatt bridge so the police close most of Jarenmuang Road around 8 AM. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiang Mai Governor's home. The Parade route goes down Thapae Road to the Gate and turns left and follows the moat to Suan Buak Haad City Park.

The parade moves at a slow pace and stops several times so there is plenty of time to take pictures of the colorful floats, pretty girls and hill tribe people in costume. The people in the parade hand out roses to spectators lining the road.

When the parade finishes everyone heads to Suan Buak Haad where all the floats, award winning flower growers and landscapers projects are all on display. There are plenty of food stalls located in the park and in late afternoon the Miss Chiang Mai Flower festival starts. The party goes well into the evening until the new Flower Festival Queen is chosen.

This is a great time to visit Chiang Mai, as the air is cool and the evenings fresh and clear. If you want to see the festival make sure you book your hotels and flights well in advance.

Khom Loy hot air balloons launchKhom Loy hot air balloons launch
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Khom Loy hot air balloons launch
  • Loi Krathong Festival. If you like candles placed in colorful paper lanterns, fireworks, beautiful girls in traditional dress, parade floats, lots of food, and parties, do not miss the Loi Krathong festival. In Chiang Mai this festival last for 3 full days. The last night being the night of the 12th full moon of the year which is usually in November. In the small town of Mae Jo, north of Chiang Mai, they start the festival on Saturday night by launching hot air balloons called "Khom Loy". We are not talking about a few Khom Loy but thousands upon thousands all at the same time.
Chiang Mai

Learn

Chiang Mai

Buddhism

  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (under See) offers short and long courses in Buddhist mation.
  • Wat Umong, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (3 and a half miles out of town), tel. 5327 7248 (8:30AM-4PM), 2 (http://www.dhammathai.org/e/mation/page23.php). Offers mation courses and Dharma instruction in English every Sunday 3PM-6PM.
  • Wat Ram Poeng, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang (4 miles south-west of the city), tel. 053-278620, 3 (http://www.dhammathai.org/e/mation/page24.php). Offers facilities for retreats and mation instruction.
  • Wat Chom Tong, Tambon Ban Luang, Amphoe Chom Tong (about 60 kms South West of the city), tel. 053-826869, 053-826180. The home temple of the mation master Achan Tong, offers residential courses in Vipassana Mation on an on-going basis.
Chiang Mai

Thai Cooking Schools

  • BAAN THAI COOKERY SCHOOL, 11 Ratchadamnoen Rd., Soi 5, near Thapae Gate, Tel. 053-357339, 01-6714120. Market tour, cook book.
  • CHIANG MAI KITCHEN COOKING SCHOOL. Just 20 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai, this school offers a fresh approach to Thai cooking instruction. The organic herb and vegetable garden supplements ingredients purchased at the morning market. Before and/or after your day in the kitchen, stay overnight in their charming, traditional Thai bamboo house. Tel. 09-700 2099.
  • CHIANG MAI THAI COOKERY SCHOOL,1-3 Moon Muang Road, Tel: 053-206388, Fax: 053-206387. 1,2,3 day courses. Recommended by Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide, Frommer's and Stefan Loose guide books.
  • GAP'S SCHOOL OF THAI CULINARY ART, Office at Gap's House, 3 Rajadamnern Soi 4, Tel: 053 270-143. High standards, proper organization, your own stove, 1 teacher per 5 students. Learn from professionals.
  • SOMPET Cookery School, 56 Patan Road Chiangmai Tel. 053-214897 Mobile Tel. 01-6713190. Learn to cook the way Thai people do - at home. Visit their riverside home and learn to cook traditional Thai food. They have courses every day, morning and afternoon. A recipe book with color photographs will be provided of each dish to suggest the many ways to prepare and serve Thai food.
Chiang Mai

Work

Chiang Mai

Buy

Chiang Mai has great shopping and an internationally renowned night bazaar. There are two very large shopping malls at Airpot Plaza and Central Haad Suan Keaw. Both have the shops you would find in any large city in most countries. There are streets with vendor booths that line the streets after dark, selling all types of merchandise at very negotiable prices. You'll find an amazing array of merchandise: antiques, silks, silver, art, electronics, and knock-off and copycat merchandise, such as watches, handbags, and designer label clothing.

  • Night Bazaar. Not just a place to shop, but possibly Chiang Mai's largest tourist attraction. This huge market covers a long outdoor stretch of Th Chang Khlan between Th Tha Phae and Th Si Donchai, but the center of the maelstrom is the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar Building, three stories of shopping under a Thai temple-style roof. Products from northern Thailand and neighboring countries are widely available, especially those associated with Thailand's hill tribes; take all claims with a grain of salt and bargain hard for good prices.
  • Sunday Market. Much less publicised than the Night Bazaar, this takes place every, yes, Sunday. Local craftpersons set up stalls along Rajdumnern Road on the inner-east side of the moat near Tapae Gate. Unlike the sellers on Chang Khlan Road, who peddle many fake designer goods, these are real craftpersons. Excellent hand made items are on display to purchase. At the 5 temples on this road you can enjoy real Northern Thai food and snacks. The Sunday Market start around 2 PM and lasts until 10 PM. The street is blocked off from traffic so there is plenty of room to walk.
  • Warorot Market (??????? Kad Luang). North of Nawarat Bridge and west of the Ping River between Thapae Roads and Chang Moi Road, this sprawling outdoor market is where the locals shop. If you enjoy shopping for Fabrics, Clothes, Herbs and Spices and hard to find items you should take in the area around Warorot Market in Chiang Mai. It also includes a beautiful flower market and fruit and out of this world fireworks stand.
Chiang Mai

Eat

Chiang Mai's restaurants offer a wide range of food, second only to Bangkok. Naturally it's a good place to sample northern Thai food: in particular, hunt down some khao soi, yellow wheat noodles in curry broth with chicken or beef. For those tired of eating rice or noodles there is a wide range of excellent western food restaurant in Chiang Mai, from cheap hamburger stands to elaborate Italian eateries.

Dress Code: You are in a tropical country so daytime wear of shorts, Tshirt, etc. is quite okay. However, it earns you points if you look clean and tidy. Thai people (even the poorest) take pride in personal cleanliness and appearance (look at school kids and college students) so the "unkempt" style of some visitors is not appreciated. In the evenings long trousers (dress or skirt for ladies) with a neat shirt/blouse, shoes with socks for men and nice shoes for women (no flip flops) are a must if you wish to enter a nice restaurant and get a good seat. The nicer you dress the better the table and service. If not you might get a table next to the bathroom, in a corner away from the view or in front of a loud music speaker.

Chanchao's Chiang Mai Food Review (http://chanchao.fotopages.com/) is a good source of information on the fast-changing culinary scene.

Chiang Mai

Budget

Thai Food

  • Galare Food Centre. Th Chang Khlan (opposite the Night Bazaar Building). Has a large open-air food court, featuring free Thai classical dance performances nightly. All food is paid for with coupons; most mains 20-50B.
  • Anusarn Market. Th. Chang Khlan (Same side of road as "Galare Food Centre" but much further up beyond Loi Kroh crossroad towards Sri Dornchai) Busy outdoor night market with lots of little Thai restaurants and food vendors. Great atmosphere and cheap.
  • Kuaytiaw Reua Koliang Th Moon Muang (near Th Ratchamankha). Serves authentic kuaytiow reua (lit. "boat noodles", rice noodles in dark broth with beef). Contrary to Lonely Planet's claims the accompanying veggies are kailan, not ganja, but it's good stuff anyway at 25B a pop. No English sign.

Western Food

  • Mike's Hamburger Stand. Located on the corner of Chaiyapoom Road and Chang Moi Road along the east side of the moat. Nothing fancy just stools and a counter in an open shop. Real good hamburgers for 60 Baht, excellent onion rings. If your tired of rice and noodles this is nice place to stop for lunch while walking around town. Bacon, or ham and egg sandwiches on the breakfast menu. Open 9 AM to 3 AM.
  • FISH'N CHIPS SHOP, Ratchawitee Rd., Tel. 053-418210. Fresh, crispy. The name says it all.
Chiang Mai

Mid-range

On the east bank of the Ping River north of Nawarat Bridge is a cluster of restaurants that double up as nightlife spots, so see the listings under Drink.

Thai food

  • Heuan Phen, 112 Th Ratchamankha. A specialist in Northern Thai food, popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Lunch in the air-conditioned hall is decent enough, but dinner in the profusely decorated old house in the back is little short of magical. Best of all is the price: a bowl of khanom jiin naam ngiaw (Shan-style pork rib noodles), a plate of som tum (green papaya salad) and some sticky rice will still leave you change from 50 baht! Open 8 AM-3 PM, 5 PM-10 PM daily.

Western Food

  • The Dukes. Located 50 meters north of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office at 49/4-5 Chiang Mai - Lumpoon Road south of the Narawat bridge on the east side of the Ping River. Tel. 053-249231. Excellent home cooking style dishes and deserts. Full Bar with local and imported beers and wines. Great family atmosphere, no loud music or entertainmant just good food.
  • EL TORO RESTAURANT & PUB, 5/2 Loi Kroh Road. New Mexico style Mexican food at its finest prepared by experienced cook. FREE food from 5 pm to 7 pm every Friday.
  • CHIANG MAI KEBAB, 69/4 Kotchasarn Rd. Chicken, beef kebab, salad, Pita bread, falafel, samosa, vegetarian. 5 pm to midnight. 07-188 1832
  • O'MALLEY'S Irish Restaurant, Anusarn Market, 149-14/15 Changklan Rd. Truly fine Int'l cuisine. The place for Guinness on tap. Tel. 053-271921.
  • THE MEETING Restaurant & Cafe, 6/1 Soi 1, Kotchasarn Rd. Have a talk with the friendly managers. Closed Sundays.

Vegetarian

  • KHUN CHURN, 120/2 Nimmanhemin Rd., Soi 7, Tel. 053-224124. Thai vegetarian. Open 9.30 am-2.30 pm., 5.30-10.00 pm. Closed the 16th of every month.
Chiang Mai

Splurge

Thai Food

When you come to Chiang Mai you should take in a traditional Khantoke dinner and show. This is not just for tourists as the Northern Thai people have been enjoying the Khantoke dinner for centuries. There are also many garden restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent Thai meal in a beautiful setting.

  • Khum Khantoke, Located in Chiang Mai Business Park, tel. 053-304121. Be entertained while you dine on traditional North Thailand Cuisine. Reservations are a good Idea to get a good seat. Family style all you can eat 350 baht. Nightly 7 to 10 PM.
  • Old Chiang Mai Culture Center 185/3 Wualai Road, tel. 053-275097. This is the first commercial Khantoke Dinner in Chiang Mai more than 30 years ago. They have the best Northern Thai food of any of the Kantoke establishments however the seating, show and music are not as good as at Khum Khantoke. Nightly 7 to 9:30 PM.
  • BAAN ROM MAI Garden Restaurant, Changklan Plaza, 191/12 Changklan Rd., Tel. 053-820031-2. Open daily from 10 am - midnight.
  • GALAE Garden Restaurant, At the end of Suthep Rd., Tel. 053-278655, 053-811041. Doi Suthep foothill location at edge of a sparkling reservoir. Thai & Northern Thai food and grilled specialties in delightful outdoors.
  • LE GRAND LANNA Garden Restaurant, 51/3 Sankampaeng Rd. Definite MUST SEE for its Architectural teak splendor. Tel. 053-262569. Open daily.
  • PALAAD TAWANRON Garden Restaurant, On a resevoir. Thai and English food. Wat Fai Hin behind CHiang Mai University, Suthep Road. Tel. 053-216576, 053-216039.
  • SAENKHAM TERRACE Garden Restaurant, Clubhouse Ban Naifan 2, 199/163 T. Maehea, Tel. 053-838990. Open daily 11 am - 10 pm.

Western Food

  • FILLMORE EAST BAR AND GRILL, Charernrasd Rd., Tel. 053-262416. Seating on two dining terraces facing Mae Ping river. Delicous USDA Beef, lamb, veal, chops, burgers. Excellent homemade deserts such as pecan, pumpkin and apple pie with large choice of toppings. The bar is seperate from the riverside dinning area so you can enjoy a romantic dinner in peace.
  • PICCOLA ROMA PALACE Italian Restaurant, At corner of Charoenprathet & Sri Donchai Roads near Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel, Tel. 053-820297-8, 053-271256. Open lunch & dinner. An unforgettable dining experience amid beautiful surroundings. Serving residents over 15 years.
  • THE MANGO TREE Cafe, 8/2-3 Loi Kroh Rd., Tel. 053-208292. Open 7 am to 10.30 pm. Top quality Thai & Western cuisine. Sunday Roast Lamb.
  • ALOIS Bavarian Restaurant, Soi 8, Phrapoklao Rd. Open Tuesday- Sunday, 11.30 am to 11 pm. Authentic Bavarian specialties. Tel. 053-278515.
  • THE HOUSE, 199 Moonmuang Rd., Tel. 053-419011. Old 1930's colonial style house in town center. Pacific Rim & Fusion food. Open 6 pm.

Vegetarian

  • WHOLE EARTH, 88 Sridonchai Rd., Tel. 282463. Open 11 AM until 9 pm.
Chiang Mai

Drink

Chiang Mai's nightlife scene is the most happening in the North, although still a far cry from Bangkok's. Chiang Mai is still popular for its nightlife, as well as the charming city and beautiful surrounding countryside. There are discos, karaoke bars, and live music everywhere. Thai people are often as interested in meeting you as you might be in meeting them, but one should exercise discretion and sometimes a bit of caution, especially in matters of the heart. In romantic situations, Westerners and Thais both occasionally get hurt. The best advice is to think with your head AND your heart. Enjoy yourself, but be very adult about any given situation. The two busiest nightlife zones are near Tapae Gate, Loi Kroh Road and along Charoenrat Road on the eastern bank of the Ping River.

Chiang Mai

Bars and pubs

Most of Chiang Mai's bars and pubs are located along Loi Kroh Road and Moon Muang Road. Here you can find small expat hangouts, Go Go bars and sports bars. Most have pool tables, hostesees along with music videos or various sports programs shown on television.

Chiang Mai

Live music

The most visited is along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoenrat road. This is the area famous for jazz, rock, pop, Thai and country and western live music, along with restaurants serving Thai, western, and Chinese food. If you are coming from the center of the city, just walk from the night bazaar across the Narawatt Bridge. From the bridge, you can see all the restaurants along the river on your left. Once you cross the bridge, turn left and, on your right, will be Chiang Mai's first church and a riverside park on your left.

Most bands in Chiang Mai play at one venue for about an hour, and then move on to another restaurant or pub. Don?t be surprised if you see a band playing at the Chiang Mai Riverside and, one hour later, at The Good View.

  • The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Road, tel. +66-53-243239, Mai.com/ (http://www.theriversideChiang). Everyone who has been to Chiang Mai eats at least once here. There is a large menu of Thai and western food. If you want a good homemade hamburger, this is a good place to get one. The live music starts around 7pm with dinner music from the Eagles, Beatles, or soft jazz. Starting at 9pm, the music changes to more rock and pop songs. Full bar service serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. The Chiang Mai Riverside restaurant gets very crowded, so get here early to get a table. The Riverside also offers a nightly dinner cruise departing at 8 PM for 70B/person extra.
  • The Good View, 13 Charoenrat Road, tel. +66-53-241886, 4 (http://www.goodview.co.th/). Thai and western varieties of rock, jazz, pop and country music entertain in the evening. Their extensive menu offers more than 150 Thai, Chinese, and western dishes, including curries, noodles, rice, and pizza. Soft drinks and a full bar serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. Again, if you want a good, riverside-view table get there early.
  • La Brasserie, 37 Charoenrat Road, tel. +66-53-241-665. This riverside venue is well known for nightly performances by a talented guitarist named Took and his band, who plays renditions of old Hendrix, Dylan, Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and other favorites. Sit outside in the lush garden setting where acoustic guitar is played (7pm to midnight) or inside at the bar and catch the famous Took and Friends (11pm to 2am). There is also a good selection of cocktails and spirits. Not famous for food but the music is great.
  • Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Th Charoenrat (next to Gallery Restaurant), tel. +66 53248601. Good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.
Chiang Mai

Nightclubs

  • Bubbles. B1, Porn Ping Tower, 46 Th Charoen Prathet. This would be just another cheesy hotel disco if not for some good DJs and enthusiastic crowds; now it's cheesy, packed and fun hotel disco on weekend nights. Cover 100B including one drink, open until 2 AM.

Spicy is a good after hours place with good drinks, dancing and lots of local good looking girls looking to party :)

Chiang Mai

Sleep

Accommodation in Chiang Mai is generally cheap even by Thai standards. All types of lodging are availably from inexpensive guest-houses with little or no service and the typical high rise hotels and elaborate garden resorts. The latest boom is in the Thai style boutique resort located near the old city center. Several have been built since mid 2005 and offer excellent service in a quiet garden setting. Most of these are fairly small with a little as 8 rooms with a pool and decorated with Thai Crafts and Antiques.

Some of the cheaper accommodation will expect you to purchase their trekking package. So if you stay at a budget place, it may be wise to ask about their trekking package before you agree to stay. Some will refuse to have you unless you do a trek with them.

Chiang Mai

Budget

  • Hollanda Montri Guesthouse, 365 Charoenrat Rd. (bit north on same road as The Riverside and Good View), tel. +66-53242450, 5 (http://www.hollandamontri.com). Family style guesthouse with a tropical garden on the banks of the Mae Ping River, 10 minutes from the center of town. Fan/air-con rooms 280/380 baht.
  • Marlboro/Joe Guest House, 138 Sithiwongse Rd., tel. +66-53-2325989. 6 (http://www.mgh.infothai.com) Clean and cheap guest house, more like a small family run hotel that really makes you feel at home.
  • Wanasit Guesthouse, 6 Ratchamankha Rd. Soi 8, 7 (http://welcome.to/wanasit). Modern, clean Guesthouse located in a quiet alley in the historical centre next to the Wat Phra Singh temple.
Chiang Mai

Mid-range

  • Baan Orapin, 150 Th Charoenrat, tel. +66 16164016, 8 (http://www.baanorapin.com/). This "boutique B&B" with just 6 rooms is in beautifully restored old Thai house set in a small garden. Air-con, hot water and far more character than any hotel in this price range. Walking distance to the Night Bazaar and the riverside restaurants. Rates from 1000B for a double.
  • Pornping Tower, 46-48 Th Charoenprathet, tel. 053 270099 (fax: 053 270119), Mai.com/ (http://www.pornpinghotelChiang). The Pornping Tower offers not only an amusing name, but slowly fading grandeur at affordable prices. Located near the Night Bazaar, the hotel has a pool and the Bubbles disco, among the most popular in Chiang Mai -- and a source of some noise pollution if trying to sleep. The newer and quieter Tower Wing is a bit more expensive than the older Front Wing. B1000 and up (with breakfast).
  • Rydges Tapae Gate, 22 Th Chaiyapoom, A. Muang, tel. +66 53251531, fax +66 53251465, Mai.com (http://www.rydges-Chiang). A hotel mainly visited by foreign tourists, in a good location between the old city and the night market (both in walking distance). Some rooms offer wonderful mountain views. It`s a good mid-range option with prices starting at B1700 (internet rates/ travel agents start at B1400).
  • Raming Lodge, 17-19 Loi Kroh Rd, T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, tel. +66 53 271 777, fax +66 53 270 039, 9 (http://www.raminglodge.com/). Great boutique hotel between the night market and the old city. Unique Lanna architecture. No swimming pool. Food at the restaurant is reasonably priced as are the massages (Thai massage B300 per hour). Great place to stay with prices starting at B1800 (internet rates start at B850).
Chiang Mai

Splurge

  • Regent Four Seasons, Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, tel +66 53 298 181, fax +66 53 298 189, Mai/index.html (http://www.fourseasons.com/Chiang). The latest word in luxury, the Regent Chiang Mai is features the service to be expected in a Four Seasons property and set is in the lush and tranquil countryside amid working paddy fields and water buffalo (the downside of this being, obviously, a less than central location). Featuring a spa and Thai cooking classes within its grounds, if it wasn't for all the mystical temples and fabulous bargains to be found within Chiang Mai, you might never want to leave. If you can afford it, look into the residences, otherwise the garden rooms are equally spectacular and well worth the B17,000 they start at — if you can foot the bill.
Chiang Mai

Contact

Chiang Mai

Stay safe

Chiang Mai, like most of Thailand, is quite safe even at night. The dark streets can look forbidding but crime is rare and tourists shouldn't worry unduly. Obviously you should take normal precautions but the city is safe and welcoming for travellers.

Chiang Mai

Cope

Chiang Mai

Get out

  • Chiang Dao, an hour north of the city, is a good starting point for treks into the mountains.



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