This post is part of the SEE series – where I outline my recommendations on where to Stay, Eat, & Explore in a city
I fell in love with Chiang Mai. The northern capital of Thailand has everything that I love when visiting new cities: fantastic food, a vibrant art scene, and lots of ways to explore nature. Thinking of traveling to Chiang Mai? Here are my suggestions on how to SEE the city.
SEE Chiang Mai: Where to Stay, Eat and Explore in Chiang Mai, Thailand
There are several neighborhoods to stay in while in Chiang Man, but we opted to stay in the Old Town, and I’m very happy that we did. While it is a bit more touristy, the prices are still right so long as you’re willing to look around.
We stayed at Baan Hanibah, which turned out to be one of my favorite places that I’ve ever stayed in abroad. Baan Hanibah is a bed and breakfast tucked away down a quiet, narrow street in the North East section of the Old City, which is the perfect location if you’re keen on walking around that area of the city.
The rooms themselves came with the bare minimum of amenities (twin bed, dresser, shampoo/conditioner/soap, and air conditioning – thank god) but was very comfortable.
The upstairs common room was stocked with coffee, tea, and Milo all day, and opened up to a beautiful balcony overlooking the city. My favorite part, however, was the gorgeous garden where breakfast was served every day. It was impossible to be in a bad mood when you started each day with tasty food and a cup of coffee surrounded by nature.
Tip: Baan Hanibah is great for all kinds of travelers – we saw people traveling solo, as couples, and as families with kids. Cost: We paid $38 per night, which included breakfast.
– My recommendation would be to just walk around and see what jumps out to you. Overall, the food in the Old City was incredibly cheap. I was also surprised to see that many of the restaurants had vegetarian and vegan menus. If you’re looking for places to eat, you can always check Trip Advisor.
Things that I highly recommend: sipping on Thai Iced Tea and snacking on Sticky Rice with Mango.
Wander Around Temples
I never get tired of visiting Buddhist temples. If you love them as much as I do, then you’ll love the Old Town of Chiang Mai. I recommend starting at the Three Kings Monument and then walking around from there. Although I loved many of the temples, I think that Wat Phra Singh was one of my favorites.
Tip: If you make it to Wat Phra Singh, you can participate in the Monk Chat program.
Get a Thai Massage
I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I got a massage every day while we were in Chiang Mai. Every single day. There are a couple of options if you’re looking for a massage: you can spoiler yourself at a fancy spa, or opt for a cheaper massage at a smaller salon (we did the latter).
Tip: Make sure that you wear comfortable clothing. Some places will give you linen pants and shirt to change into, but others will not. Wear something comfortable that you won’t rip while you’re being stretched out.
Take the Plunge with a Fish pedicure
I do not usually like to participate in animal tourism but one thing that I did want to try was a fish pedicure. Verdict? I hated it. I could only leave my feet in for about 5 seconds at a time. Matt, on the other hand, was all about it.
Ride in a Songthaew
We took the songthaew up to temple. While it isn’t the most glamorous ride around, I loved the view from out the back while climbing up the mountain.
Walk around the Night Market
I can’t help but love a good night bazaar. The Chiang Mai night market is located just East of the Old City, making it an easy 20-25 minute walk from Baan Hanibah. The market is a great place to find little gifts for friends and family but also one of my favorite places to eat. Similar to the restaurants around the city, many of the food stalls offered vegetarian options of traditional Thai food.
Tip: Look around before you buy anything. Once you walk by a few stalls you’ll start to see some of the same items repeat every few stalls.
– The taxi situation at the Chiang Mai airport is a bit of a mess. If you plan on taking a taxi to your hotel from the airport, you need to get a ticket at a taxi stand INSIDE the airport. From there, you will take the ticket to a taxi stand, where you receive a number and get in line based on that number.
– Pack accordingly: I wouldn't bother bringing jeans to Chiang Mai. Instead, opt for lightweight clothes that cover both your knees and shoulders (maxi skirts/dresses, scarf to cover shoulders for temples). Wear shoes that are steady for walking but easy to slip on and off when you visit the temples (I wore these Clark’s shoes and was in heaven).
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