Top 7 Reasons You Should Visit Chiang Mai (2019 Guide) (2023)


  • It's a Beautiful City with a Preserved Cultural Heritage
  • Spend Some Quality Time with Elephants in Natural Surroundings
  • Beautiful Ancient Temples in Chiang Mai
  • Visit Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai
  • Awesome Chiang Mai Coffee Culture
  • Terrific Chiang Mai Food
  • Celebrate Songkran and the Yee Peng Lantern Festival
  • Why You Should Visit Chiang Mai Over Bangkok
  • Useful Tips When Visiting Chiang Mai

Are you thinking of chilling out in Chiang Mai? Perhaps you're considering a visit to Chiang Rai or Bangkok instead. From afar, the similarities between these three cities can leave you feeling confused. But not to worry, we've got it all figured out for you.

Do you wonder why Chiang Mai is appealing to so many tourists? Yes, it's the biggest city in Northern Thailand and home to wonderful architecture. But, apart from these facts, there are numerous events and fun activities that can only be enjoyed in Chiang Mai.

Below are the top seven reasons you should visit Chiang Mai in 2019.

1. It's a Beautiful City with a Preserved Cultural Heritage

Chiang Mai is naturally blessed with a favorable landscape and beautiful vegetation. If you love being close to nature, then Chiang Mai is the place to be. Nicknamed the "Rose of the North", Chiang Mai features immense greenery and breathtaking architectural structures with designs that are pleasing to the eye.

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Although the city is a lot more developed than it once was, it still preserves the ancient structures that once made it the capital of Lanna Kingdom, which ruled Northern Thailand.

The construction of condos and shopping malls have made life more comfortable for tourists. However, ancient carved houses and structures with beautiful ancient architectural designs still remain, preserving its cultural heritage. They are surely a sight to behold!

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2. Spend Some Quality Time with Elephants in Natural Surroundings

If the only place you have seen elephants is in movies, then you need to pay Chiang Mai a visit. Chiang Mai has the best elephant sanctuary in the whole of Thailand.

The elephants are very big and friendly but please don't ride on one as you can hurt it by doing so and it may become unfriendly at that point. In fact, ethical elephant sanctuaries wouldn't allow this activity. Feeding, bathing, and hanging around these giant beasts is more fun for both you and the animals.

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Apart from elephants, Chiang Mai is home to many other species of animals. Tours, such as Chiang Mai Night Safari and Flight of the Gibbon, open you up to sightings of diverse forest-dwelling creatures.

What Our Customers Said

Family Trip to Thailand

Our trip to Thailand comprised three generations of the family , ten people and an age range of 4 to 70 so a potentially difficult brief.Our itinerary over two weeks involved four locations, and a number of different trips and tours.From out arrival at an extremely busy Bangkok airport Asia Highlights were terrific.In each location we were met by a smiling , knowledgeable and professional guide who simply made everything easy and stress free for everyone.Our transportation was clean and comfortable . Transport was always ready for us at the agreed time and the drivers were excellent.There were so many highlights enjoyed by all the age groups. The floating houses , railway market and elephant sanctuary were particular favourites.We had one minor glitch with the accommodation in Phuket which was immediately dealt with by Tip. I think we would have struggled to resolve the problem by ourselves.So, thank you Asia Highlights , Cathy, Tip and tour guides Tanny, Sam and Lisa. It was a memorable holiday and we will be back.


Roger Pyle, Feb 2023

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Family Trip to Thailand

So, thank you Asia Highlights , Cathy, Tip and tour guides Tanny, Sam and Lisa. It was a memorable holiday and we will be back.


Roger Pyle, Feb 2023

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Trip of a lifetime from Asia Highlights!

I recommend highly Asia Highlights as a travel company. Our travel consultant Albee took the time to connect with us during the planning process to make sure we were comfortable with our itinerary. When we arrived, we were met by our guide and all the details were attended to. They picked great hotels and tours. I often describe our trip as the trip of a lifetime! Would definitely use them again when we come back to Asia


Nancy Parker, Feb 2023

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Asia Highlights and Albee - highly recommended

Asia Highlights is very reliable agency and Albee is an amazing representative of the company. From the moment when we contacted her until our departure, the whole support we received was 6* level. She prepared our trip offer within few hours and afterwards she was extremely flexible to adjust as per our needs. In the period between the offer and the trip, Albee was always available for all our questions and supported us on the best possible way. During the trip she was again flexible to add new activities/transfers and this went on the smoothest possible way. Thank you, Albee and Asia Highlights. Definitely we will approach you again for our next Asian trip


AZ, Feb 2023

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Monica is a very sweet young lady who speaks excellent English via email/WhatsApp, and knows the importance of excellent customer service.


Trent, Jan 2023

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We had an awesome experience with Asia Highlights

We started our trip in Bangkok, where Mr. Prassert our tour guide, met us. He was on time and the van was clean and well-maintained. Mr. Prassert was our guide for the 4 days we spent in Bangkok. He was helpful, kind, and willing to accommodate our pee and coffee breaks. The driver was safe and punctual.Next, we went to Chiang Mai.Gemma exceeded every expectation we had for our tour of Chiang Mai! She had a great attitude that made exploring the city fun and exciting, as well as an abundance of knowledge and experience. She was always spot on with figuring out logistics and coming up with unique ideas that suited our interests and schedules. Gemma was incredibly generous with her time and even walked us to security at the airport to make sure we could carry all of our luggage. That’s just one example of how far out of her way she went to make our trip easier and more enjoyable. Gemma was sincerely interested in making every minute of our trip count. We’re very grateful to have met her and feel like we have found a friend in Gemma! Our driver in Chiang Mai was also great and very accommodating to our changes in schedules.


Lois Paskow, Dec 2022

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Thailand & Cambodia 2022

Albee went above and beyond to make our trip perfect. She rearranged flights due to a mistake of mine. She made sure we were still picked up and escorted to the airport. I felt comfortable and safe with all our reps. She did an excellent job and I highly recommend her booking your next trip. Thank you, Albee.


Karen Brooks, Dec 2022

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Perfect vacation thanks to Albee we…

I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate all the efforts, attention to details and immediate responses to all questions that Albee and her team provided. The Asia Highlights team deserves more stars than the maximum allowed because of continually going above and beyond all expectations. Thanks Albee for making our vacation through south east Asia absolutely perfect!!!


Michael Sharp, Dec 2022

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3. Beautiful Ancient Temples in Chiang Mai

The architectural designs of the over 300 temples in Chiang Mai are incredible to behold. Being places of spiritual worship as well as cultural and community study centers, temples are adorned impressively in Chiang Mai. They are often styled with golden stupas and have serpent-lined staircases. The temples were designed to represent the dominating kingdoms throughout the centuries.

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Another thrill of visiting the religious complexes is the opportunity to converse with monks. In fact, the monks are always pleased to converse with visitors. Being an informal setting, you can talk about various topics including stories about yourself, your country, or even your favorite color.

You will learn a few things too. The monks teach about the principles of Buddhism, give insights into their monastic life, and tell other monastery tales. It's an opportunity for the monks to brush up on their English speaking skills.

If you're confused about which temple to visit, or you're not a fan of temples, don't miss the visit to Doi Suthep.

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4. Visit Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

A Thai saying goes: "If you haven't tasted khao soi or seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven't been to Chiang Mai". You'll be amazed when you reach the top of the mountain. Standing at a height of about 5,400 meters, the mountain affords you a rare view over the city. What makes this trip more fun is that you will pass through a beautiful route featuring the historic places in Chiang Mai.

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The mountain houses one of the most ancient temples in Chiang Mai — Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. In the temple, you will see a replica of the Emerald Buddha and also a white elephant shrine. Note that cable cars are available to transport you if you cannot bear the hike.

5. Awesome Chiang Mai Coffee Culture

Chiang Mai serves the best coffee in the whole of Thailand. Whether you are a coffee lover or not, you will surely fall in love with the coffee culture there. The coffee beans are sourced directly from coffee farmers residing on the mountains so you can enjoy freshly made coffee from freshly harvested coffee beans. How magnificent! You'll find coffee shops on virtually every corner within the city so pop into one to enjoy a drink!

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6. Terrific Chiang Mai Food

You cannot go wrong with the variety of dining options available in Chiang Mai. Due to the increasing number of tourists visiting each year, the locals have perfected the preparation of delicious Asian, Western, and Mediterranean dishes.

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Foreign cuisine, such as pizza, zucchini fries, chocolate mousse, and other Asian dishes, is not hard to find. You should try out the local dishes too — they will leave you asking for more. Khao soi is a classic northern Thai dish that you can get anywhere in the city. The sumptuous meal features a mix of chicken, curry broth, soft egg noodles, and spicy coconut milk.

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If you want to mix with the locals, you can dine out in the open on plastic stools, and you can also enjoy your meal in the air-conditioned Kao Soy Nimman. There are cooking classes if you would like to re-create your favorite meals. With a few hours per day and some trips to the market, you should be able to prepare your favorite Thai dishes in no time.

7. Celebrate Songkran and the Yee Peng Lantern Festival

Although Songkran and the Yee Peng Lantern Festival are celebrated all over Thailand, the city to get the best thrill is Chiang Mai. These festivals, celebrated to mark the new Thai year, are always memorable ones for locals and visitors alike.

The Yee Peng Lantern Festival is a good one to experience. Thousands of lit lanterns are released into the sky, which symbolizes letting go of misfortune. The Yee Peng Lantern Festival occurs every mid-November in Chiang Mai.

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During the festival for Songkran, water is splashed onto friends and family, which often symbolizes a wish for blessings for the new year. It is celebrated on April 13th every year.

Another festival worth mentioning is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. It is a 3-day celebration filled with beauty pageants, ceremonies, and gardens filled with locally bred flowers. It takes place on the first weekend in February.

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Why You Should Visit Chiang Mai Over Bangkok

Bangkok is equally a great city with a lot of fun activities to do. So, how do you decide which is the best city to relax and recharge your batteries in? Here are three reasons why Chiang Mai is the better choice.

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1. Chiang Mai Has Better Weather Than Bangkok

Chiang Mai is located near the subtropical forest biome, making the city cooler than Bangkok. The average temperature in Bangkok rises to 32 degrees in some months. But Chiang Mai, due to its northern latitude and higher altitude, is a cooler place for tourists to relax. The cool season in Chiang Mai lasts from late November to February (favorable for vacations). However, you should consider taking a jacket or sweatshirt because the temperature drops to about 10 degrees after sunset.

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2. Chiang Mai Has Fewer Traffic Issues Than Bangkok

Bangkok is a much bigger city than Chiang Mai. That means more cars, motorbikes, taxi, buses, and songthaews. This, in turn, means busier roads and hectic traffic. Traffic is often at a standstill so many people opt for the Skytrain as a means of transport. You don't want to sit in a taxi during a traffic standstill in Bangkok. It once lasted for over 60 hours in 2016. In comparison, Chiang Mai is a relatively small city. It's very much easier to get around and there are a lot of interesting places you can go to on foot.

3. Chiang Mai Has More Side Trip Options Than You Might Think

No other city in Thailand offers as many fun activities as Chiang Mai. From jungle trekking to bathing elephants, and from hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, and zip-lining to visiting Doi Inthanon National Park, you have a wider range of activities to choose from than in Bangkok. You may even take a trip to other towns in the Chiang Mai province, such as Chiang Dao, which is also known as the "city of stars". You cannot get tired of the scenery of mountains and bodies of water surrounding Chiang Mai.

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Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai? Definitely Chiang Mai!

This isn't even up for debate. There's not much to see in Chiang Rai aside from the Golden Triangle and the White Temple.

Useful Tips When Visiting Chiang Mai

1. Book your trip with us for a memorable and hassle-free experience.

2. Pack swimsuits, sneakers, and outdoor clothing.

3. Temple clothing: Wear clothing that covers your knees, shoulders, midriff, and cleavage. A long skirt, scarf, and a T-shirt should suffice for ladies.

4. Take a charging station, bug spray, and sunscreen with you.

Visit Chiang Mai with Us

At Asia Highlights, we are dedicated to making your trip a memorable one. We take care of all the paperwork while you focus on enjoying the variety of fun activities Chiang Mai has to offer. For the most thrilling experience, take advantage of our perfectly-planned customizable tours — our tours are tailored to suit your needs and preferences. Contact us now!

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Another advantage that Chiang Mai has over Bangkok is its temperature. The body-friendly cool temperature means you can enjoy more hours of fun without getting tired.

Check out our tours below, for inspiration:

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Why should you visit Chiang Mai? ›

It's a cool mountain town known for its hill tribes, lush rainforests, elephant sanctuaries, and interesting cuisine. If you enjoy going to Buddhist temples, then there are over 300 for you to visit in Chiang Mai. Night markets are aplenty as are digital nomads who've chosen to make this northern Thai city their home.

What do I need to know before going to Chiang Mai? ›

22 Things you need to know before you visit Chiang Mai
  • It gets really hot. ...
  • You'll need to carry tissues. ...
  • Pack light. ...
  • The local currency is Thai Baht. ...
  • Uber is cheapest. ...
  • You need to haggle for things. ...
  • A little Thai goes a long way… ...
  • You can't drink the tap water.

What is the brief history of Chiang Mai? ›

Chiang Mai (meaning "New City" in Thai) was founded in 1296 as the new capital of Lan Na, succeeding the former capital, Chiang Rai. The city's location on the Ping River (a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River) and its proximity to major trading routes contributed to its historic importance.

What is Chiang Mai nickname? ›

There are also numerous other local festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm in Chiang Mai which has gained the nickname, 'Rose of the North'.

When should I go to Chiang Mai? ›

November to February: This is the ideal time to visit Chiang Mai because the weather is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities. While it does not get too cold, you should carry a jacket and some light woolens. January is usually considered the best month and sees a high influx of tourists.

How would you describe Chiang Mai? ›

The blissfully calm and laid-back capital of the North, Chiang Mai never fails to charm visitors with its mountainous landscape and lush farmlands. Formerly the capital of the glorious northern kingdom Lanna, the city still carries with it today a great number of cultural heritages.

What does Chiang mean in Thai? ›

Chiang (Thai: เชียง) is a Sino-Tai loanword, from Middle Chinese 城 d͡ʑiᴇŋ, meaning "fort, castle", by extension, “city”. Chiang is part of the names of certain ancient cities and other places located in an area stretching across Northern Thailand, Northern Laos, NE Burma and Southern China.

Is Chiang Mai beautiful? ›

With beautiful nature blended with Lanna Culture and colours of contemporary perfectly Chiang Mai is, therefore, a province that has many tourists, both Thai and foreigners, come in many millions each year.

Why do Thai people have 2 names? ›

The vast majority of Thai people have two names: their full, official name, and a nickname. Unlike in many countries, however, the nickname is chosen by the parents and given at birth, often before the official name has been chosen and registered!

What is the longest Thai name? ›

What's the full name? Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

Does Chiang Mai speak English? ›

Consequently, population centers that host many foreigners, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the islands have many people who can speak both Thai and English quite well. That said, visitors may experience difficulty picking up the Thai language as it is considerably different from many foreign languages.

What should I wear to Chiang Mai? ›

What to pack
  • Tops. It's most likely going to be hot in Chiang Mai so make sure you pack tops that are made from lightweight or breathable fabric. ...
  • Bottoms. Again, you want to opt for a material that is either quick dry or extremely lightweight and breathable. ...
  • Outdoor gear. ...
  • Dresses. ...
  • Scarf. ...
  • Nice clothes. ...
  • Swimwear. ...
  • Pyjamas.

How long do you need in Chiang Mai? ›

Ideally four nights and five days will give you enough time to explore and get a true sense of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 and is located in an area of majestic mountains. This city was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and remains a religious and cultural centre.

How do you say thank you in Chiang Mai? ›

Khob Khun (Thank You)

What is the most interesting thing about Thailand? ›

1. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that was never colonized by an European country. In fact, in the Thai language, the name of the country is Prathet Thai which means “land of the free.” Very fitting!

Why do Westerners go to Thailand? ›

Howard (2009) , in his study on factors affecting Westerners to Thailand, found that most of these Westeners moved to other countries such as Thailand due to the country's lifestyle, low living cost, local culture, and job opportunities. ...

What is the hottest month in Chiang Mai? ›

The hot season which runs from March to May is Chiang Mai's hottest time of the year with midday temperatures often climbing beyond 32°C. On average April is the hottest month with daytime temperatures can rise up to 40°C.

Should I go to Chiang Mai or Phuket? ›

If you're looking to do nothing all day, read a book, sip a wine or cocktail and hang out on the beach then Phuket is your choice. However, if you're looking for more physical activity like hiking, Elephant Trekking and more cultural activities Chiangmai is the choice for you.

Is Chiang Mai cheap? ›

Chiang Mai can be as cheap or expensive as you want (like most of Thailand). But if you stick to the local markets, avoid the fancy organic restaurants that have popped up, and stay in the old city, you can save money easily!

How do people dress in Chiang Mai? ›

In general, locals in Thailand dress very conservatively with knees and shoulders covered at all times. My husband's cousins in Thailand almost never wear shorts that I've seen, even when it's 90 degrees out. Though most locals turn a blind eye to what tourists wear except at temples.

Is Chiang Mai child friendly? ›

Chiang Mai is a fun-filled destination with something for the whole family, including impressive natural features, theme parks and zoos, among other options. This Thailand destination is particularly unique with virtually every notable spot having something special you won't want to miss out on.

What do you call a girl in Thailand? ›

นารี {noun} girl. เด็กผู้หญิง {noun}

How do you address a Thai girl? ›

In both a formal and informal situation, Thai people greet each other with the word 'sawadee' followed by 'kah' for females and 'kraap' (soft r) for males. It is normal to refer to someone of a perceived higher status by the title 'Khun' (Mr/Ms) followed by their first name.

What does red mean in Thai? ›

Red represents the blood of life for the land and it's people, white represents purity and is the colour for Theravada Buddhism, the main religion in Thailand, and blue is the national colour of Thailand.

Can you drink the water in Chiang Mai? ›

Unless treated by means of an in-home water purification system, the municipal water that supplies Chiang Mai is best considered not safe to consume direct from the tap (faucet) and should therefore be sourced from elsewhere.

Does Chiang Mai have a beach? ›

Chiang Mai is far from beaches.

If you want to get from Chiang Mai to a beach, you'll have to fly to Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui. If you're going by bus or train, though, it will take you one 12-hour bus or train to Bangkok, followed by another 12-hour bus or train to the Andaman Coast or the Southern Gulf Coast.

Does Chiang Mai get cold at night? ›

You can expect a max temperature of around 28°C (82°F) during the days with little or no rain and the nights starting to get chilly with around 15°C (59°F) but from December on (and lasting until February) is the most popular time to visit Chiang Mai, weather-wise.

Why do they say P before a name in Thai? ›

The respect for elders within Thai culture is something that is lacking within Western culture. The proper term of address for anyone who is older is Pee (placed before their name), which literally translates as older brother or sister, and anyone younger is Nong, which translates as younger brother or sister.

What is Thai first name? ›

first name {noun} TH. ชื่อ ชื่อตัว

Why do Thai people have funny English names? ›

Many Thai nicknames are derived from English words. They may be English sounding names (such as 'Anna') or more obscure words that are chosen for their meaning, e.g. Book (symbolising intelligence), Bank (symbolising wealth). There is a traditional belief that nicknames protect children against jealous spirits.

Why do Thai people have 3 names? ›

The evolution of Thai nicknames dates back to the Sukhothai era, when names were used to mark the order of children. Nicknames such as Ai, Yee, and Sam designated children as 'one', 'two', and 'three'.

What is world's longest name? ›

How Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams Got Her Name. Basically, her mother had two main reasons for naming her the longest name in the world: She wanted to set a Guinness record.

What is the 2 longest name in the world? ›

LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH, WALES. This village on the Ynys Môn island off the north-west coast of Wales has 58 letters. It is the place with the second-longest name in the world.

Is it safe to go to Chiang Mai? ›

Chiang Mai is a safe place to visit—as long as travelers are aware of a few safety considerations. Locals helped us put together this guide to safety in Chiang Mai. It covers everything from COVID to tips for solo travelers. Work with a local to build your trip to Chiang Mai.

Is Chiang Mai walkable? ›

Although Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand, it's very walkable—especially the Old City, surrounded by the moat and remains of the defensive wall. Take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures to wander around the small streets and visit ancient Buddhist temples and small markets.

Do Thai people use chopsticks? ›

One fact that comes as a surprise to those that are not familiar with Thai culture is that Thai people generally use forks and spoons instead of chopsticks. This is contrary to what you would expect considering the ubiquity of chopsticks among East Asian countries.

Should I visit Bangkok or Chiang Mai? ›

If you're looking for a peaceful, quaint town where you can relax and always be close to the mountains, jungles, and greenery, you'll always choose Chiang Mai. On the other hand, if you want to explore a vibrant city where you'll never run out of things to do, you'll definitely choose Bangkok.

Is Chiang Rai worth visiting? ›

Chiang Rai has three biggest highlights that you cannot experience in other cities in Thailand: The Golden Triangle: You will see the border of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, which used to be the chaotic opium trade area, but now is a peaceful place with green mountains and rivers.

Is Chiang Mai cooler than Bangkok? ›

While Chiang Mai is still on the warm side, it's considerably cooler than Bangkok. It's situated in the mountains at a high altitude, so temperatures are much more bearable than other Thai cities on the southern end of the country.

How long should I spend in Chiang Mai? ›

Ideally four nights and five days will give you enough time to explore and get a true sense of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 and is located in an area of majestic mountains. This city was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and remains a religious and cultural centre.

Which part of Thailand is most beautiful? ›

The 15 most amazing places to visit in Thailand: from glittering temples to golden beaches
  1. Bangkok. Best city for backpackers. ...
  2. Khao Yai National Park. Best place to see wildlife. ...
  3. Phuket. Best for family travelers. ...
  4. Ko Tarutao. Best island escape. ...
  5. Kanchanaburi. Best region for local history. ...
  6. Chiang Mai. ...
  7. Railay. ...
  8. Isan Region.

Which is cheaper Bangkok or Chiang Mai? ›

Cost of living in Chiang Mai (Thailand) is 27% cheaper than in Bangkok (Thailand)

Does Chiang Mai have beaches? ›

Chiang Mai is far from beaches.

If you want to get from Chiang Mai to a beach, you'll have to fly to Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui. If you're going by bus or train, though, it will take you one 12-hour bus or train to Bangkok, followed by another 12-hour bus or train to the Andaman Coast or the Southern Gulf Coast.

Does Chiang Mai get cold? ›

Set in the mountainous area of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai's climate is very seasonal, with temperatures reaching up to 40°C in summer, and down below 10°C in winter. Compared to Bangkok and the other southern cities of Thailand, Chiang Mai is slightly cooler and enjoys a relatively lower humidity.

Is it better to go to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai? ›

Both cities are worth visiting, but it depends on what you're looking for in your trip. If you're interested in culture, history, temples, and street food, Chiang Mai is the best choice, while if you're looking for natural beauty and a more relaxed atmosphere, Chiang Rai is the better option.


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