Many travellers experience Chiang Mai as a welcome relief after the breathless whirlwind of Bangkok. Surrounded by northern Thailand’s densely forested hills, this little city offers excels at chilled-out spirituality.
Some of Chiang Mai's most stunning temples
An initial wander round the Old Town immerses you in Chiang Mai’s charms. The scent of incense announces nearby monasteries well before you spy stupas peeping through rooftops, and unhurried locals are welcoming without being pushy.
Aside from its temples, Chiang Mai’s intrigue is best embodied by the tucked-away spots that you can only happen upon when wandering. Duck into dilapidated doorway here, a curious cranny there, and you’ll find tiny cafés in moss-coated gardens and authentic eateries cooking up recipes perfected for generations.
The night markets are the best places for dinner
While we’re on the subject, Chiang Mai is a real foodie playground. You’ll find street stalls almost everywhere you look, and the smells of grilled prawns and Isaan barbecued chicken are hard to resist even with a full belly.
When to go?
The beautiful rice fields are wonderful photo-taking territory.
Chiang Mai’s hot season lasts from April to June, when the downpours arrive, lasting till November. The sweet spot is between November and February, when the temperatures are milder and the air is fresher.
Where to stay?
Pak Ping The Cozy Living in Chiangmai – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Pak Ping The Cozy Living in Chiangmai
Pak Ping the Cozy Living lives up to its name. There’s a real homely feel to it, from the smiley, personal service to the home-baked brownies and banana cake for breakfast. It also gets top billing from Booking.com guests for its location, right next to the Sunday Night Market.
Baanvartika – Chiang Mai, Thailand
If it’s true tranquillity you’re after, Baanvartika delivers. Set just outside town, it’s a riverside property where peace and quiet abound. Booking.com guests love starting their Chiang Mai days with breakfast on the terrace, just next to the water.
Wualai Sabaidee – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Wualai Sabaidee gets top marks from Booking.com guests for its staff. Famously friendly and helpful, they never miss an opportunity to offer recommendations, book tours, or get discounted cab rates for their visitors. The property also has free bike rental, so you can explore the surrounding area with ease.
Sleep Guesthouse – Chiang Mai, Thailand
This funky, modern guesthouse scores high across the board for Booking.com guests. They particularly love the fast WiFi, helpful owners and the legendary banana pancake breakfast. As an added bonus, it’s right next to a handful of top coffee joints.
Green Sleep Hostel – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Green Sleep Hostel
Green Sleep Hostel gives off a friendly, eco-friendly vibe, with plenty of repurposed wood used in the décor. Its cool lounge makes it the top choice for discerning solo travellers, who can swap stories on the sofas, or round the ping pong table.