If you want an authentic Thai experience, it is essential that you make your way up North. Here is our Chiang Mai travel guide. Chiang Mai is a historical, cultural, old city, with a wealth of art and tradition. The city itself is the second largest to Bangkok and attracts tourists from all over. So whether you are a backpacker on a budget, or looking for a luxurious getaway Chiang mai has it all.
You will find that Chiang Mai is filled with delicious food, friendly locals and a handful of gorgeous temples. The main centre of town is surrounded by a walled moat, making the the one way streets easy to navigate. Together with its natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere, Chiang Mai is a must on your Thailand trip.
For us, Chiang Mai is particularly special because it was where the two of us met! Two years ago, we crossed paths at our hostel and were inseparable ever since! We love the art and simplicity of Chiang Mai. Plus it’s where our love story began, so of course we are going to rave about it!
Chiang Mai Travel Guide
Things To Do
If there is one place in Thailand to go and see these gentle giants, it is in Chiang Mai. Be sure to carefully do your research before booking as some companies are not friendly to the elephants. Remember you should NEVER ride the elephants. We recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They actually use elephants that were rescued from other camps that encourage riding. With this sanctuary you get to spend the afternoon feeding and playing with the elephants. You also get to take them to the river for a mud bath which is extremely fun!
Thai food is so yummy and packed with different flavours and spices. We are huge Thai food fans and always wanted to learn some of the recipes to our favourite dishes. We took the most incredible half day cooking class at Grandmas Home Cooking School. Their Farm to Table approach and organic garden was any chefs dream! We cooked up some of our favourites like Thai green curry, Tom Yum soup, and Pad Thai. If these pictures don’t convince you to go, I don’t know what will! So mouth watering… and yes I know what you’re thinking… those photos are taken from somewhere else. NO we cooked those dishes with our own two hands! Read more about our cooking experience here.
Visit the Temples
Within the old city there are dozens of amazing temples to visit. Some of the more popular ones include: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple). We love finding a new one to explore each time we visit. They are all so intricate in detail with fabulous colours. Tip: Always remember to respect the temples rules and dress appropriately. Girls cover your shoulders, mid-drift and knees please! They won’t let you in!
Arguably one of the largest in Thailand, this night market is sure to have anything and everything you can think of. From food, to clothing, to artwork, it has it all! We suggest you walk through the entire thing before choosing something to eat. You never know what will peak your interest until you have considered all the options!
Zoe In Yellow
If you want a night out, be sure to head over to the infamous Zoe in Yellow. This bar is one of many lined in a small back alleyway. This nightclub complex has a variety of bars and clubs pumping your favourite hip hop and electronic music. A guaranteed great night out filled with fellow backpackers.
Chiang Mai Travel Guide
Where To Eat
If you want good BBQ then you must try Fat Elvis. This was where George and I first went to dinner with a group of friends and it is his favourite restaurant in Thailand. Serving up some incredible wings, burgers and ribs. Wing Wednesday is a hit and you can get 10 wings for just 99 baht! They also have a great pool table and it is right next to Zoe in Yellow, so if you want a good fill up before going out, head to Fat Elvis.
This isn’t our favourite because it has the same name as me we swear! This was actually my first time to the cafe, but George had been there many times prior to meeting me..(Fate.. idk you tell me!) But really, they have amazing coffees and panini. I got the vegetable panini for lunch with an iced cappuccino and it truly hit the spot.
Getting around Chiang Mai is relatively easy. If you stay within the main town square you an walk most places. Otherwise take a grab with the app, or flag down one of the big red trucks. They usually are cheaper than taxis. Although you won’t get the local price, it is generally 50 baht per person to get anywhere.
Chiang Mai Travel Guide
Where To Stay
This hostel is where we met! George even has the coordinates of it tattooed on his ribs! This hostel is really laid back and chill. What we love about it is that is has a really nice pool just down the street where you can relax, swim and eat/drink at the bar attached. The hostel is also great about helping to get transportation anywhere, or with booking any tours. This is more of a party hostel though, so if you want more peace and quiet…opt for our second recommendation.
This is probably more your speed if you are a couple traveling together. Although Deejai does offer private rooms, we enjoyed the more quiet atmosphere at Manee House for our last few days of our stay. The rooms are large with aircon and good wifi. They also have a pool so you can chill and relax there in the afternoon if you’re up for it!
Home @ 9 located 30 minutes South from the centre of Chiang Mai old town. Literally found within a rice field, Home @ 9 really does embrace the nature that Chiang Mai is known for. Not considered your traditional accommodation, Home @ 9 enforces the idea of a home away from home. The layout of the building is similar to that of most accommodation, but the experience is so much more. Also read our blog here.
Chaing Mai is where our love story started and it will always have a special place in our hearts. We highly recommend that you stop over for a few nights if you are ever planning a trip to Thailand.