We stayed in Chiang Mai for a total of five weeks and loved every second of it. We would live there. Having stayed in three accommodations and doing nearly every activity you can, this is your FOR REAL guide to Chiang Mai.
You can find super duper cheap meals in Chiang Mai. And you can find super expensive meals. But it’s all relatively cheap.
Our favorite spots were Rustic & Blue for all meals, Beast Burger, Cherng Doi Roasted Chicken, Ristr8to for specialty coffee, and Dash for high end thai food. You can of course take a risk and try the street meat as well. We were never that brave.
Get a Massage or two or three or ten.
Massage is THE MOST popular and AFFORDABLE in Chiang Mai. There are so many to choose from and I really don’t think you can go wrong here. But I have given you to recommendations to help narrow your choices.
Our favorite combo is a body scrub + oil massage. You choose a scrub, they exfoliate your whole bod. And I mean your WHOLE bod. Pawn stayed out of my lady region but came VERY close to my butthole. You have to understand how normal this is in their culture and 100% not weird to the masseuse at all. So with my eyes wide open I let pawn do her thing. And my cheeks were the softest they’ve ever been because of it.
After the full body scrub, you take a shower, dry off and they begin the typical full body oil massage. For two hours of exfoliation + massage, $15 USD is not a bad price if you ask me. Depending on how long you’re in Chiang Mai, you need to get a massage. Even if it’s just your feet. My fav places are linked below.
In Nimmana rent scooters from Mango Bikes. We rented three times from them for week long rentals. They are straight up, super nice and had the largest selection for the best prices.
I mention renting scooters because it is a big advantage in getting around if you are on a scooter. And once you get out of the city and into the rice paddy fields or mountains, it’s amazing.
If you have at least five days here and enjoy driving, you need to drive the Samoeng loop. Start at the Mae Rim and then literally just follow the loop leading back to Chiang Mai. It’s just a gorgeous drive and a great way to see more of the mountains and less of the city.
These are awesome. They are called “sticky” but it’s more of a pumice stone material. It’s not that they are sticky, rather they aren’t slippery. You keep expecting to fall and then you don’t. We started at the bottom and then worked our way up. You could stop by for an hour or spend a whole day here. Really up to you.
You’ll need a scooter to drive out here, but the drive is beautiful. Pretty normal thing in Chiang Mai. And the signs are clear as well. It wasn’t hard to find.
Go to the night market! Now! And say hello bargain shopping.
But for real, the night market only happens on Sunday Nights. Well the BIG ONE, the one you want to go to only happens on Sundays. And it happens to be where we found three shirts for Nate, a dress for me, and three pairs of pants. These items are sold often throughout the week at shops, but at 6-7x the price.
You can get a foot massage, get a custom suit made, a tattoo, every trinket you can imagine, leather sandals, bags, traditional Thai food, clothing, jewelry, EVERYTHING. It’s just a neat experience if you can make it happen.
So if you’re in Chiang Mai on a Sunday, hit up the night market FOR SURE. It’s on ______ road. You’ll know once you get close.
Take a day and Choose from the 300+ temples in Chiang Mai. In all honesty, we care much less about the history and practice as we do the architecture. I am enticed by them. I think they are so gorgeous and each one is unique. So while my motivation for choosing temples is esthetics yours may be something else. And that is fine. Either way, go see them! Here were a few of my favorites.
I’ve labeled all the ones I know the names of. Otherwise we’d just stumble across temples and take photos. I encourage you to do the same.
Wat Suan Dok
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Sri Suphan
Most of the temples are literally all inside or right around the boarder of Old Chiang Mai. You can easily see all of these in three hours. And that is generous.
I have a whole separate on this, but it was a highlight for us in our months time in Chiang Mai. When we read that you can no long bathe or interact much with the elephants we were disappointed. And honestly our expectations were lowered for our one night stay at the park. But oh my goodness were we wrong. Pictures don’t even do these majestic creatures justice. They are the definition of gentle giants. But don’t be fooled, they are also powerful and passionate beasts. You’ll know what I mean when you read my full recap of our time at the Elephant Nature Park.
If you have a week in Chiang Mai, you NEED to do this.
We stayed in Nimmana rather than old Chiang Mai. This area is more walkable, more instagramable and less packed than the old city. Plus it’s a seven minute scooter ride from old Chiang Mai.
I would suggest all three of the rentals we stayed in but like most locations, you can find 5-star hotels and $1/night hostels.
Our Condo’s are linked below:
Use hostel world for hostels and booking.com or agoda for rentals and hotel choices. We almost stayed at the Panviman for two nights just to get into the mountains but opted to just hang out in Chiang Mai. I do however want to go there and suggest that you do for at least one night just for the experience.
Chiang Mai will take your heart and make you never want to leave. Or at least it did for us. If you like greenery, nice humans, great food, and cheap prices, Chiang Mai is for you.
Have you been? What is your favorite part? Tell me in the comments or drop any questions you have!
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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