If you are always hunting for an experience which is more local and less touristy, then this time ditch Bangkok and go Chiang Mai. As much as I love Bangkok, I still find the city of Chiang Mai a much better alternative to it.
Chiang Mai, also fondly called ‘CheingMai’ is a city set in the foothills of Himalayas. It’s known for its history, beliefs, culture, super internet connectivity, low cost living and adventure sports. Though the competition between Chiang Mai and Bangkok is fierce, latter is more popular among tourists for its shopping scene and infectious energy.
In this post, I shall give you 6 good reasons to book that next flight going to Chiang Mai from your city –
IF YOU ARE MORE LOCAL THAN GLOBAL
Chiang Mai is the home to the ancient Lanna kingdom dating between 13th to 19th century. It’s more historical and rooted to Thai culture than Bangkok. The city houses three hundred temples with unique craftmanship, very similar to the Burmese temples. Among them all, the most revered is Doi Suthep. If temple hunting is your thing then you must check this link out to know the top picks by travellers http://thailandtravelbag.com/chiang-mai-essentials-top-13-chiang-mai-temples-to-visit-and-love/
Since tourist scene is still catching up in Chiang Mai, you will be mostly surrounded by local people and nomads no matter where you go.
Chiang Mai is a paradise for food lovers especially the ones who want to enjoy the local cuisine. It is also the best place to learn making authentic Thai cuisine. Infact, cooking classes is one of the top things travellers indulge in when they visit here.
IF YOU ARE ON A SHOE-STRING BUDGET
If Thailand is cheap, northern Thailand is the cheapest ! Most travellers prefer Chiang Mai over Bangkok because it’s more affordable. Food, living and transportation are all easy on the pocket. One can book marvellous looking budget friendly hotels and get around almost anywhere in Chiang Mai using the tuktuks and Songthaews (or red trucks). Its universally famous for its low cost of living. The street food scene is fantastic too and requires only a handful of bahts. To know the popular things to do for free in Chiang Mai check this out https://www.travellingking.com/budget-guide-chiang-mai-thailand-see/
IF NO FIXED PLAN IS A PART OF YOUR PLAN
Chiang Mai is a city to blindly go with a one-way ticket, leaving all options open for onward travel. On our time there we met a dozen of travellers who had extended their stay far beyond than they had originally planned to. It’s also possible to apply for a tourist visa extension until the visa expires, making it all the way easier for backpackers and nomads who never have certain plans. To know about the cities and towns you can visit when in Chiang Mai check out this post http://thailandtravelbag.com/cities-and-towns-near-chiang-mai-that-are-wonderful-to-visit/
Apart from the easy living and love for the place, the possibility to travel by road to China, Myanmar and Laos is also one of the main reasons. Chiang Mai is more strategically placed than Bangkok if you are on a tour of South East Asia. Who wouldn’t want four different experiences on price of one (damn those flight tickets !).
IF YOU ARE THE “FIRST I DRINK THE COFFEE AND THEN I DO THE STUFF” KIND OF A PERSON
This holiday is for you ! Chiang Mai never fails a coffee lover with its myriads of cafeterias. Though I was stuck with coffee free coffee shakes my parents remained caffeinated all throughout the day there because darn raising me is hard ! This city might just give you the worlds best coffee experience of your life. Either set in the most sophisticated and creative decors or in the most rustic and natural setting with mountain views, it will fill your soul in any case. To know where to grab that perfect cup of coffee in Chiang Mai, hop on to this website https://www.homegrounds.co/coffee-tour-of-chiang-mai-thailand/
IF ONE SHOPPING CART IS NEVER ENOUGH FOR YOU
Although the shopping scene is more exciting in Bangkok, I loved the fact that Chiang Mai had all its night markets under one roof. The popular night markets like Anusarn, Kalare, Malin Plaza and Saturday night market are all set on the same street. So its basically, you walk in and out of them all through the night without any hassles. When your foot hurts, just sit down for a relaxing massage right inside the market so you can shop more. For modern and luxury shopping experience head to Nimman road, I bet you wont miss Bangkok ! I found the shopping environment more relaxed in Chiang Mai than Bangkok. Check out these markets if shopping keeps you alive while travelling https://www.theblondtravels.com/shopping-chiang-mai/
IF YOU ARE CLAUSTROPHOBIC
If you go great lengths to avoid getting stuck in small spaces with large crowd than choose Chiang Mai over Bangkok. Since Chiang Mai welcomes less tourists than Bangkok, expect the public areas and tourist attractions to be much less crowded here. Don’t get me wrong, you will still find Chiang Mai to be a busy city but it’s certainly less tourist laden and you will always find a seat in Starbucks !
Even though I found Chiang Mai more appealing than Bangkok and wouldn’t mind going there again someday, I still think there is more to Thailand than the internet overload has made visible.
To know the true essence of a country you need to go beyond bricks and mortar. What kind of a traveller are you? Which other places in Thailand would you recommend to travel?