Why I fell in love with Chiang Mai !!

Explore the Enchanting Beauty of Chiang Mai

This post is an extension of our family vacation.

We left Hong Kong for Chiang Mai by plane with Air Asia.

 

We arrived in Chiang Mai after a few days in Hong Kong. Chiang Mai is the largest and most popular city in northern Thailand. It is full of culture, incredible food markets, dozens of beautiful temples, night markets, and beautiful landscapes.

The Food

While Western food, cafes, and bars are available in the city, I prefer street food over expensive restaurants. Chiang Mai offers some of the best street food in Thailand.

 

Eat from the street stalls – The city’s bustling streets are lined with street stalls offering some of the best Thai cuisines I’ve ever had. 

From flavorful pad Thai to aromatic green curry, the street vendors skillfully crafted each dish using fresh ingredients, creating layers of mouth-watering flavours. 

The best part was that the prices were incredibly reasonable.

 

** Choose a place where the food is cooked before you, not the food you see in the window.

My advice to anyone indulging in street food is always to remember to ask if the dish is spicy or not. On one occasion, I made the mistake of underestimating the spice level and ended up having my plate finished by my sons, who could handle the heat much better than I could. 

 

I also had the opportunity to savour a memorable dining experience at a Japanese restaurant. Although the meal was more expensive than street food, it was undeniably exceptional and worth the indulgence. 

 

*Most casual sit-down Thai restaurant meals cost 30-125 THB. ($1.15- $4.70)

*For non-alcoholic drinks, a cappuccino or fresh juice is 65 THB ($2.40), soda is 35 THB ($1.40) and water 10 THB ($0.40)

*As for water, it’s essential to avoid drinking from the tap and instead opt for bottled water, which can be purchased at Seven-Eleven stores scattered throughout the city for as little as 10THB (around $0.37).

How to Get Around in Chiang Mai

Take the Songthaew– Songthaews are the most common mode of local transportation in Chiang Mai. These are converted pickup trucks with two rows of seats. Just flag one down and tell the driver where you’re going. You can get anywhere in the central city for 30 THB (1.12 Can.)per person.

They are one of the cheapest ways to get around. They go everywhere and run all night. There’s no reason to take a taxi around the city.

 

Buses—The buses are clean, modern, and have free Wi-Fi. They cost 20 THB per ride (and cheaper with a day pass).

 

Tuk-Tuk – A trip via tuk-tuk is more expensive than a songthaew since it’s a direct service. You can get around town for about 100-150 THB.(3-72-5.58 Can).

Ask for a price before you get in.

 

Car rental –It’s expensive to rent a car. We rented one for going to Bangkok.

Money

Thai Bath (THB)  will go a long way. You can find ATMs everywhere. 

If you get big bills from the ATM, most small shops will not take them. Buy a bottle of water at Seven Eleven, and they will give you a change.

The Weather

Before we left, the temperature was supposed to be around 24-26c. Imagine when the weather hits over 32 most days and at night. It’s good that we pack light clothing, sunglasses, a hat and plenty of sunscreen. If you’re not used to such heat, sightseeing might be uncomfortable. Always carry your bottle of water.

 

Apparently, the best time to visit Chiang Mai is between October and April, when the average daytime temperature is around 25°C (77°F), but it can dip as low as 15°C (59°F) at night.

 

Things start heating up in April and May. Temperatures can soar as high as 40°C (104°F). The rainy season is from June to October when temperatures cool to 24-32°C (75-90°F), but humidity rises.

Things to See and Do in Chiang Mai

Elephant Sanctuary

We went for the day to the Elephant Sanctuary where abused, rescued and injured elephants live. 

You can visit for a day or spend a week volunteering.

On arrival, we change our clothes for our bathing suits and wear a uniform vest. We then learn about the elephants and are introduced to them.

 

After that, we prepare the “vitamin balls” and walk up to the field to feed the elephants with our hands.

After feeding them, we walk up to the waterfall, where they like to bathe. You can play with these big giants and splash in the water. 

 

These big elephants are so gentle.   It was the Experience of a Lifetime.

Tiger Kingdom

We took the Songthaew for 30 THB ( $1.15 Can.) each to visit The Tiger Kingdom.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can get up close to the tigers, but not too close!!

 

They say that the tigers are not drugged or mistreated. They are raised in a loving environment from a young age, allowing them to be comfortable around humans. We approach them with the trained professionals on hand and ensure a safe interaction. So, while the experience is thrilling, it’s also entirely safe.

 

With the big tigers, you stay close but do not hang over them.

However, we can play with the one under nine-month-old baby. I found them more fun to interact with.

 

You can also watch the tigers play in their natural habitat, learn about their behaviour, and even feed the cubs! 

You can choose which big or small cats you want to visit.

 

Each cat visit has a different price. You can choose only one or multiple visits.

Big Tiger 550 thb($20.50can.)

Medium Tiger 450 thb($16.75can.)

Tiny Tiger 450 thb($16.75can.)

Baby Tiger  650 thb($24.20can.)

Cat Brothers Cafe

Cat Brothers

My kids and grandkids love visiting cat cafes. It’s heartwarming to see the rescued cats being well taken care of, and the entrance fee helps these lovely animals.

Things to remember when visiting!

*Shoes should be taken off inside.

*Cat food can be purchased for 20 THB.

*The cats will come to you if they want to play.

*Use hand sanitizer before entering the upstairs area.

*You will receive admission sticks when you buy a drink. Give them to the staff when entering the seating area on the second floor.

*Check the sign above for a complete list of rules!

Khlong Mae Kha Canal Village

Chiang Mai’s newest “tourist attraction,” the Golden Bridge at Khlong Mae Kha, is a charming waterside village that has recently been transformed into a new night market.

It reopened as a new local market and a tourist destination in 2022.

 

During the day, it’s perfect for a stroll by the canal, and at night, it’s all lit up and ready to welcome you.

Many residents have converted the outsides of their dwellings into shops, restaurants, or cafes; the majority of the businesses and shops sell Thai souvenirs or food.

Night Market

The night market is a maze of stalls spread across several streets. To get your bearings, head to the corner of Loi Kroh and Changklan roads. The market is open daily from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Try to arrive around 6 p.m., when things are picking up, and the streets aren’t too crowded yet. 

Look for smaller vendors tucked away in the laneways – you never know what treasures you might find there!

What to Buy

When shopping, prices are not fixed, so bargain for the best deals. It’s expected that you do so. If you can’t agree on a price with one vendor, move on to the next stall you might find a better deal. However, be fair, as this is their livelihood.

 

One popular item is the “elephant pants,” which most places sell for around 100 BTH ($3.75 can.). Some places might try to sell them for double the price, but it’s not worth it as the quality is usually the same.

 

Some of the best things to buy include Thai silks, bamboo rice boxes, hand-carved soaps and candles, traditional Thai spices, thai tea and silver jewelry. 

 

It’s also much easier to have Thai baht on hand if you plan to make any purchases since the majority of vendors likely won’t be able to give you a change in your local currency.

Where to Eat

When visiting the market, you won’t go hungry. Enjoy street food, stop for a drink, or have a meal at a sit-down restaurant. I suggest you keep your stomach empty to try many delicious foods.

Doi Inthanon National Park

Some Of My Favorite Restaurants

Cozy

The prices are very affordable and the plates are large.

Cozy Sign

Thai Food

Best drink on a hot day

Sign
pink drink

Sakutaya Co

Japanese Food

Around Town

Chiang Mai can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. But if you stick to the local markets, avoid the fancy restaurants, and stay in the old city, you can save money easily—and splurge on a big item you have your eyes on!!

 

The Place We Stay

Astra Sky River

The place has kitchens with refrigerators and stovetops, and three rooms comfortably sleep six people. The rooftop swimming pool has a fantastic view. 

Outside, a friendly guard is available to help when crossing the street. If you don’t like cooking, breakfast and coffee are nearby.

I cross the street in the morning to get tea, coffee, and breakfast.

Plan And Book Your Trip

🏨Where to Stay: Booking.comExpedia us/ca – –Tripadvisor

📲 E Sims: Airalo

🎫Activity: Klook

 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase something through the link, at noillustration of a suitcase additional cost to you. Read disclosure here

More of our Family Trip To Asia

Hong Kong

Dois Park

Kamphaeng Phet

Bangkok

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