Chiang Mai, Thailand Guide

Old Town Chiang Mai

Accommodation

Sira Boutique Hotel
  • Location: Just within the north area of the old town walls (85/5 Sriphum Road, 50000)
  • Cost: We paid $26/night including breakfast
  • Liked: Central location, SUPER friendly English-speaking staff, budget friendly, fun outdoor seating, Western breakfast
  • Disliked: The stairs to get up to our room were a freakin’ workout, and there’s no elevator.
  • Would Recommend: Yes



Booking.com

Transportation

Mini Van

We ended up taking a mini-van from the airport to our hotel, and also to-and-from our hotel to the river cruise.

  • Pros: You usually get the whole thing to yourself, and there’s a ton of room inside.
  • Cons: These are a bit more expensive, and the vans can be anywhere from brand new to old and janky.

Tuk Tuk

We took tuk tuks for short trips around Old Town and to a temple that was just outside the city wall.

  • Pros: Easiest form of transportation to track down, and if you’re good at bargaining, it can be ridiculously cheap.
  • Cons: Loud, cramped, bumpy, and some drivers will try to rip you off on the price.

Songthaew

These are red pick-up trucks with a tall canopy over the trunk. The back is completely open, and you just grab a seat on one of the 2 benches and hold on tight.

  • Pros: Sometimes cheaper than tuk tuks, or at the very least they’re the same price. A lot more room than a tuk tuk and equally easy to flag down.
  • Cons: It can sometimes feel like you’re about to fall out, hard to get the driver’s attention while you’re riding in the back, some drivers will rip you off on the price.

Private Car

We took a private car to go up to Wat Doi Suthep up on the mountain, and tour Wat Umong.

  • Pros: By far the most comfortable.
  • Cons: By far the most expensive.

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Sunday Night Market

The night market is a must-see!! They hold it rain or shine every single Sunday, year round.

Where is it? The market is literally impossible to miss. Get into the Old Town and follow the loud sounds towards the center (Rachadamnoen). If you legit can’t find it, navigate to Wat Phan On and you’ll run into the night market along the way.

What’s there? Cotton clothes, silver jewelry, silk scarves, patchwork handbags, Instagram-friendly home decor, natural beauty products, amazing food, live music, cheap foot massage, and a LOT more.

Pro Tips:

  • Wear comfy shoes, because the market is HUGE!
  • Bring lots of cash, because it’s shopping heaven if you have a boho soul.
  • No alcohol allowed! If you want to drink, pop into one of the many bars lining Rachadamnoen.

Food

My best tip is to eat anything and everything you see – it’s pretty much all delicious. The most memorable things I ate were the stupidly spicy fresh spring rolls i got just outside Wat Phan On, the papaya salad I got inside the walls of Wat Phan On, the bottled coconut shake I got somewhere in the middle of the market madness, and the tiny little fried (quail?) eggs I got towards the end of Rachadamnoen. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, head to Wat Phan On where there’s a glorious outdoor food court awaiting you. None of the food is that expensive, so no worries on that front.

River Cruise

In my video I called it the Li River Cruise, but it’s actually the Ping River Cruise – my bad! The whole thing took about 2 hours and the organization we used is called Mae Ping River Cruise Company.

  • Location: About 2 km southeast of Tha Phae Gate in Old Town (Chareonprathet Lane 8 Alley, เมือง Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100)
  • Cost: If I remember correctly, it’s about 500 baht per person ($14.50 USD)
  • Liked: Our driver and guide was really fun to be around, the farm area was beautiful, and it gave us a new view of the city.
  • Disliked: The farm experience felt cheesy and contrived.
  • Would Recommend: Probably not. It was a good experience, but I’m just not sure it was the best use of our time in Chiang Mai.

http://www.laviesanspeur.com/?p=507

Massage

We went to Lila Thai Massage, which is a chain in Chiang Mai. I believe there are 3 locations and we went to the one near Three Kings Monument. It wasn’t very expensive, and we made an appointment in advance with no issues, but it wasn’t that relaxing. The women were having full on conversations in Thai while giving us massages and it was hard to ignore that. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Shopping

I did most of my shopping at the Sunday Night Market, but I also did a little damage in the following 3 places:

  1. The mom-and-pop shops along Prapokkloa
  2. The indoor market near Tha Phae Gate
  3. Herb Basics (SUCH a good selection of essential oils!)

Temples In Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has more than 300 temples!! Trying to explore them all is pretty much impossible, so you’ll probably want to prioritize. We knew we wanted to see the 2 most popular temples (Wat Doi Suthep and Wat Chedi Luang), but the temples we saw along the way were completely random!

Temple Basics

What to Wear

The basic rule of thumb is to cover your shoulders, your knees, and take your shoes off before entering the temples. That being said, the expectations for men and women seems to be different. For example, Eric and I walked into a temple with our shoulders covered, but both our knees were exposed. They called me out on it and I had to rent a robe, but Eric was fine to explore the temples in shorts.

How To Act

The general idea is to just be respectful, but there are a few specifics to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t be super loud
  2. Don’t get affectionate with your S.O.
  3. Keep your head lower than Buddha or monk figures
  4. Try to avoid pointing your toes at Buddha or monk figures

Temple Guide

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The chedi at Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man

  • Where is it? Northern Old Town, just within the city walls.
  • Highlights: The gold and old stone elephant chedi for sure!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Must-See or Nah? I really liked it, but it’s got a lot in common with Wat Chedi Luang, so it’s really up to your allotted time for temple exploration.
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Wat Inthakin

Wat Inthakin

  • Where is it? Right next to the Three King’s Monument in Old Town.
  • Highlights: Lots of monks walking around.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Must-See or Nah? Nah.
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Prayer flags at Wat Phan Tao.

Wat Phan Tao

  • Where is it? Near the center of Old Town, just north of Wat Chedi Luang.
  • Highlights: Dark wood and SO many prayer flags! Very relaxing atmosphere, and a cool old stone entryway.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Must-See or Nah? Might as well pop in before you hit up Wat Chedi Luang 🙂
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Inside the main temple at Wat Chedi Luang.

Wat Chedi Luang

  • Where is it? Near the center of Old Town.
  • Highlights: HUGE unique looking stone chedi, massive main temple, lots of smaller temples with big Buddha figures, and an area for Buddhism newbies to sit down and chat with monks.
  • Cost: 30 THB (about 87 cents USD)
  • Must-See or Nah? Absolute must-see.

Wat Phra Singh

  • Where is it? Near the center of Old Town.
  • Highlights: It’s a smaller temple so there’s not too many people, and it combines different temple styles together.
  • Cost: 30 THB
  • Must-See or Nah? Nah.
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Mausoleum complex at Wat Suan Dok.

Wat Suan Dok

  • Where is it? Less than a mile west of Old Town.
  • Highlights: The big stone white mausoleum complex! It apparently houses the remains of the Chiang Mai royal family.
  • Cost: 30 THB
  • Must-See or Nah? Must-see!
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The big chedi/temple/peak area at Wat Doi Suthep.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

  • Where is it? About 8 miles outside Old Town, up a mountain.
  • Highlights: Great views of Chiang Mai, huge area, tons of different stuff to look at.
  • Cost: 30 THB
  • Must-See or Nah? Must-see!
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The 700 year old stone tunnels at Wat Umong.

Wat Umong

  • Where is it? About 2 miles west of Old Town.
  • Highlights: The coolest old stone tunnels, older natural vibe rather than bright shiny gold, very few tourists.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Must-See or Nah? Must-see!

Cooking Class

  • Company Name: Baan Thai Cookery School
  • Location: 9 Prapokklao Rd. Lane 9, Mueng 50200
  • Cost: If I remember correctly, it was somewhere between $25 and $30 USD, which is about 900-1000 THB.
  • Liked: Clean, comfortable environment, delicious food, got to take home an easy-to-use cookbook, the market tour.
  • Disliked: The wait time in between dishes.
  • Would Recommend: Yes! Do it!!

Stay tuned for my upcoming Ko Lanta, Bangkok, Siem Reap and Hong Kong vlogs and blog posts!! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and newsletter with the links below 🙂

Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon,

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