Chiang Mai is a cool part of Thailand. The weather is cooler in the mountainous part of Thailand and the vibe of the place is cool with artists, furniture makers, designers and all kinds of creative people living there. In recent years it’s also become a major hub for a community of digital nomads. The area is surely getting a huge marketing boost from all the bloggers and content creators who have made a home there.

The vibrant city in the north of Thailand (700 km from Bangkok) was founded in 1296 and was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558. Chiang Mai, which translates to new city, sits on the Ping River which flows in to the Chao Phraya River. Back in the day this location was ideal for being near major trading routes. 

Chiang Mai old town is well-preserved so you can see stunning architecture, moats and regal Buddhist temples and it is easy to explore on foot. Staying in the old town area is highly recommended so you can soak in the enchanting atmosphere that reflects the rich history and culture of Chiang Mai. There are many charming boutique hotels that are affordable and decorated beautifully in traditional Thai-style décor inside and out. 

The shopping in Chiang Mai is what draws many visitors with lots of antiques, hand-crafted art and furniture for sale at reasonable prices. The colorful handmade Chiang Mai umbrellas are a must-have souvenir that helps beat the heat and might be useful if you are still around in monsoon season.

The food is also well-known as being fresh, authentic and delicious. Shopping in the evenings when the temperatures are cool is an enjoyable experience and it’s easy to get lost in the maze of street markets and bazaars. If you tire of shopping you can see a cultural show, take a night safari or drink some Chang beer and listen to live music.

The riverside in Chiang Mai is a lively, happening place where you can take a stroll with plenty of stops to shop for bargains, eat tasty street food or people watch as a mix of locals and tourists pass by. 

There’s a lot to see and do in this cool city. Don’t miss a visit to the 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang is also notable or go temple hopping to see lesser known temples. You never have to walk far to find another wat. There are also mosques and churches to see if you love religious sites but have seen enough temples. There are also museums, parks and more historical sites to see. Jump in a tuk tuk and take a little tour putting your trust in the driver to take you to the best places. Surprise tours can sometimes turn out to be full of the best discoveries that you otherwise might never have experienced.

Another day venture into the mountains to see how the colorful hill tribe people live. While you are in the rural areas there are also stunning national parks to visit. 

Sometimes called the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai has something for everyone. It’s an enchanting and exotic place that seems to surprise visitors every time, no matter how often they have been before.

10 Popular Eateries

Chiang Mai Gate (South)

If you’re in Chiang Mai, you might find yourself at the Chiang Mai Gate food stalls situated on the south side of the Old City’s square moat. It’s a pretty popular spot to dine at by both visitors and expats and is often recommended as a thing to do in town. The Chiang Mai Gate food stalls start setting up around 5 pm every day.