City Guide Tips To Chiang Mai, Thailand.
College Tourist Must Have’s for your trip to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the biggest city in the mountainous Northern Thailand. The city takes the shape of a rectangle with a moat surrounding all four sides and gates to get out. Chiang Mai has become an important religious and cultural center for Buddhism. There are hundreds of temples scattered throughout the city, each very unique with it’s own story. Chiang Mai is also an important regional trade center. You will find plenty of handcrafted gifts and art. With its long history and rich culture, Chiang Mai is a must-see for anyone traveling through Thailand!
What to See:
1. Night bazaar – You could spend hours and hours at the local night market. The market occurs every evening and is 10 times bigger on Sundays. The streets are filled with stalls ranging from crafts to clothes to food to knockoff electronics and watches. Your haggling skills will be put to the test. Never buy anything at the first offered price, often times you can get the price down to over half off. Each time you go to the market you will find yourself looking at different things, you never know what great deals you can find. The night bazaar is also home to the Chiang Mai Cabaret. There is a free show every night, which is definitely worth checking out.
2. Huay Tung Tao Lake – The lake is a great place to go and relax on a hot afternoon. The lake is surrounded by huts you can rent and order food and sit in the shade. There is a giant golden Buddha statue at one end of the lake. There are also hikes you can go on up into the mountains with 360 degree views of the scenery if you research where the trails begin.
3. Muay Thai boxing match – The Muay Thai boxing matches are a great way to spend a night. There is a ring surrounded by places to watch and bars on all sides to get drinks. The Thais working there are so friendly and are helpful with explaining the rules. There is a traditional Thai band playing music throughout the match. There is even a half time show! It’s not the same as Katy Perry playing at the Superbowl but instead they put 5 blindfolded men into the ring to box. Needless to say, it’s pretty funny to watch!
4. Tiger Kingdom – Tiger Kingdom was a great place to go for the day. You could go into the pens with tigers of all different sizes from babies all the way to the biggest tigers. The Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai treats their animals well. They were not sedated and were active and playing in the other pens. It was a great experience to be able to pet such beautiful animals.
5. Wats – The city has hundreds of different temples to visit. The most famous is Doi Suthep at the top of the mountain, which is home to a beautiful golden spire and the White Elephant statue. You can learn a lot about the history of the town and even get blessed by a monk. Other wats worth going to are Wat Umong for meditation and Wat Chedi Luang known as the dog temple.
It is definitely worth wandering the different streets of Chiang Mai. There are plenty of different markets to check out. There are markets solely for fruit, flowers, crafts, and silver jewelry. There are always different stalls to explore and just wandering around can lead you to some very interesting places.
What to Eat:
Chiang Mai is filled with amazing food. Everywhere I ate was amazing. Stay away from fancy, western looking restaurants. They are far more expensive, usually take longer, and generally aren’t as good. The best food is local food at hole in the wall type places. Street food is also really good and really cheap. For a great vegetarian food place try Pun Pun, it’s a bit difficult to find but well worth it!
Khao Soi is a dish unique to northern Thailand. It is a coconut curry noodle soup often with chicken and crunchy noodles on top. It was my favorite Thai dish but harder to find at restaurants.
Some other great Thai dishes to try are Pad See Ew, Green Curry, Cashew Chicken, and of course Pad Thai.
For dessert you must find mangoes and sticky rice, which is exactly what it sounds like topped with a creamy coconut sauce. Another dessert option is roti, which is a Thai pancake with different options for the toppings.
If you get the chance to take a Thai cooking class, it’s so worth it!
Kabuki Grill has a beer buffet that’s about $5 for all you can drink beer from 5 to 10pm. All of the tables are outside in a great environment and often times they have live music!
Warm Up – Most bars or clubs have English names and Warm Up is no exception. This is a local bar where you can find many young Thai people. Warm Up itself is very big. There are two room with live band and one area with a DJ. You can also find table to sit at and pool tables to challenge a friend. Warm Up has everything you could think of!
Zoe’s in Yellow – Zoe’s is a great place to go later in the night to dance but often gets crowded. They play great music and have a dance floor. Located around Zoe’s are smaller bars that have different themes, for example, one has a live band playing rock and another plays electronics with lights. You’ll definitely want to check out the area!
Drinks to Try:
Beer – Chang, Leo or Singha
Liquor – SangSom and coke
Many places you can find drinks in buckets with straws to share with friends!
The easiest ways to get throughout Chiang Mai is by tuk tuk or songthaew. Tuk tuks are for groups of 2 of 3 and should cost around 100-150 baht for the group. Songthaews are for larger groups (up to 12) and cost only 20-30 baht. Sometimes these aren’t the prices the drivers will offer at first but try to talk them down. You should expect to pay a little more at busy times, late at night, going longer distances or if you are by yourself. Most drivers don’t speak English that well but know the names of popular places. If you are going somewhere unique bring an address or map. If you are in the city, finding transportation should never be a problem.