Your guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Lonely Planet have said of Chiang Mai: "If Chiang Mai were a person, it would be Bob Dylan. With a history dating back further than anyone can remember, its influence remains enormous. And despite its great age, there’s still a bohemian chic that makes it as relevant and hip as ever."

That sums up Chiang Mai perfectly. This northern city is the undisputed cultural capital of Thailand, and once the heart of the Lanna kingdom. There is plenty to do and see in Chiang Mai, but its main attraction is its cosmopolitan, bohemian vibe. It's the sort of place where you want to lounge around in a coffee shop all day and read poetry.

How to get to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's airport serves both domestic and international flights. Airlines that fly the route are Thai Airways, Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, One-Two-Go, SGA, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Korean Airlines, Silk Air and Lao Airlines.

Dozens of buses depart from Bangkok every day. Luxury coaches cost around 500 baht and make the journey in about 9 hours.

Overnight trains are the most popular choice for budget travellers. The journey from Bangkok takes around 12 hours and the sleepers are good value - especially given that you don't need to pay for an extra night's accommodation!

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

Budget: The Green Tulip is hard to beat. It's got a great location inside the city walls, a pleasant rooftop garden and excellent rooms for the money.

Luxury: Baan Orapin is an old restored Thai house set in a beautiful garden. There are just six rooms, creating an intimate vibe.

What to do in Chiang Mai

As well as lazing in the coffee shops, some of the most popular activities in Chiang Mai include:

  • Thai cooking lessons
  • Well preserved temples
  • River rafting
  • Elephant rides
  • Off road cycling
  • Treks to hill tribes
  • Markets and Night Bazaar
  • Thai boxing matches
  • Various festivals throughout the year

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