Thailand's North


Global Mark : 13.21 (up)

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


3 1 2 5 5 5 2 5 2 13.33

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
23 96% (22) 57% (13) 96% (22) 10 to 17 13.09

Description : 
A city full of temples, souvenirs to bring home and... tourists !

Comments : For a big city, it is surprising how relaxing it is as soon as you get off the main streets. 

What to do ?  Get a free copy of monthly "What is on Chiangmai" for city map, articles, bus schedules and lots of ads. / Walk or cycle around (30 per day), checking some of the 300 temples along the way / Climb Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for a great view by clear day / Make a tour (B200, 5 hours) to the handicraft center and make your visit selection among 25 specialties (silver, silk, laqueware, umbrella, woodcarving, etc.) / visit museums / Spend the day watching elephants at a nearby nature park / Watch your purse decreasing and your bag increasing volume at the bazaar night market / Negotiate with Akha women over the price of jewelries (actually, not only with Tribes people) / Oh, almost forget : you can also get massage (100 or 200 per hour), cooking lessons (around 700 per day) or treks at every corner !

What you may not like ? The traffic and pollution on the main streets / Finding most of the guesthouses full if you arrive late in the afternoon / The number of active mosquitoes, thanks to the moat / Spending too much on souvenirs, then having too much to carry / Not negotiating hard enough and discovering it later / Extending your trip too much with a full board stay at Chiang Mai Prison because you used drug (because the tribes are allowed to use it does not mean you are) / Doing a trek on an over touristy road

How long ? One big full day would be a minimum but two days would not be a waste of time.

Backpacker's Tips : Mart Bradley, UK (Oct 01)
« Disagree with your assessment of using "What's On Chiangmai" as a source of info for travelers. Yes, it's OK but I found that "Good Morning Chiangmai" was much better, - it carries more articles with some depth and is not directed purely at tourists, which the others are. Pull-out map on centre pages VG. Also I can't help feeling if you only spent 2 days in CM you'd miss an awful lot! »

Where to stay ?  

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money ! >> Hostels

Over one hundred guesthouses to choose from. During HS, your choice will however be reduced to the "room vacant" ones. Our non-exhaustive selection around the North part of the east moat, all having at least one shower with HW :

- On the east side of the moat (new city), from North to South :

bulletOrchid House (874127, ) 11 Chaiyapoom Rd, Soi 2 / Room w. shower 120(1), 150(2), 180(3), some with HW/ Internet (1B/mn) / Treks / Concrete house on several floors / The rooms are clean & relatively big but not that charming, except of course for the terrace 
bulletEagle House 1 (874126), 16 Changmoi Gao Rd, Soi 3 / Room w. shower 100(1), 120(2) / Treks / Nice small garden but basic rooms
bullet® Lek House (252686), 22 Chaiyapoom / Room w. shower 80(1) or 100(2) downstairs, 100(1) or 120(2) upstairs / French owner / Massage / Go there for the best bargain in town, thanks to the nice relaxing garden, the good rooms and cheap prices
bullet® Living House (275 370), 4 Thapae Rd, Soi 5 / Dbl w. shower 150, w AC 250 / Pick up from train station / Go there for the clean & friendly atmosphere plus the Playstation !

- Inside the moat, where you will see a lot of backpackers, massage parlors and restaurants, from North to South :

bulletLibra Guesthouse (210687, ), 28 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 9 / Room w. cold shower 80(1) or 100(2), 150 w. HW / No HW outside / Treks
bulletLamchang House (210586), 24 Moonmuang Rd, Soi 7 / Room w. shower 80(1), 150(2) / A big charming teak house with a small garden
bulletYour House Guesthouse (217492, ), 2 Rajwithi Rd, Soi 8 / In the nice teak house : Room 140(1), 160(2) / In the concrete house : Room w. shower 150(1), 190(2) / English & French / Trek / Go there for the cozy atmosphere & the pool table of the teak house but avoid the concrete house.
bulletGap's House (278140), 3 Rajadamnern Soi 4 / Room w. HW shower & AC 300(1) or 370(2) / Bigger rooms 450 / OK, this is expensive but wait until you see the settings and the garden !
bulletEagle House 2 (210620), 26 Ratwiti Rd, Soi 2 / Dorm (3 or 5) 70 / Sgl or Dbl w. shower 170 or 200 / Trek / Teak house and small garden


Backpacker's Tips : Kelley Turner, USA (April 06)
« Overall, much larger and more urban and touristy than I had anticipated. Julies G.H. ( is centrally located and has cute rooms, friendly staff and great prices; we got a double with a hot shower for 160THB. However, I have heard they fill up fast.
I recommend the Sunday Walking Market located within the walls of the city over the more famous Night Bazaar. It has a more local, relaxed feeling and there were great performers out and cheap street food.
When heading to Doi Suthep, first go to the Buhbing Palace another 4km or so up the road to see some amazing gardens around the Royal Family's seasonal residence. We also saw in captivity the only species of salamander in Thailand, the Crocodile Salamander (Tylototriton verrucosus). The gardens are open 830-1630 (ticket office is only open until 1530)(200THB per person). »

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
Ignore bus times given by the TAT in Chiang Mai - there is an. air-con bus to Sukhothai taking 6 hours and costs 171THB which leaves from Arcade Bus Stn at 8.45 a.m. Songthaews all seem to charge 20THB rather than 10THB for trips in Chiang Mai. Can recommend Chiang Mail Kristi to the west of Moonmuang street. Clean, quiet, safe and clean for 240THB for fan and en-suite a night. »

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 00)
« I'm staying at the Wanasit Guesthouse. It's outside the main tourist/pseudo-tourist area and inside the old city [on the west side, near Wat Phra Singh]. Perfect location. No mosquitoes here and quietly away from the main roads. The athmosphere is cool. It's like a big family. You can get everything by yourself if you like (drinks/food) and you can roll out a floormath and sleep in front of the tv with some other guests. Just very nice.»

Where to eat ? Plenty of restaurants to choose from but no real night market. Just North of Lek House, a place with some basic restaurants at cheap prices.

Backpacker's Tips : Mike Hurl, UK (May 06)
« The comment about their being no 'real night market' is wrong in my opinion. My girlfriend and I spent a few nights in Chiang Mai, and visited three seperate night markets. Admittedly, the first two, the Sunday market on Th. Ratchadamnoen, and the (touristy) Night Bazaar on Th. Kamphaengdin aren't great for food. However, there is a market called Warorot market, which is what the local people use all the time. If you walk from Pratu Tha Phae (the eastern gate) towards the Night Bazaar, but turn left instead of right onto the Night Bazaar, and follow the road, you will come to a not overly large market, but one that is full of delicious, and cheap food, especially fruit. »

Internet ? Places at every corner of the touristy area for B1 per mn. Outside town (for example north of Chang Pheuak Bus Station on Chotana Rd) cost as low as B15 ! One such place was also spotted near Wat Phra Singh and a school. It was also reported to be free at the university.

Trekking ? Some readers might disagree (let me know) but I would not recommend trekking around over-touristy Chiang Mai. For better experience, go to Pai or, even better, to Mae Sot (Um Phang)

Visa ? You can now get a 30 days visa for Laos here but it will take a minimum of 2 working days (one in Bangkok) and be slightly more expensive (around 1300 for 30 days visa obtained via an agency in 4 working days for most western nationalities, less for 15 days visa). Visa for India, Vietnam (B2600), Cambodia (B1400) or Burma (B1400) are also available in some agencies.

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
« Definitely full of people, and with little of its original charm left. The night markets are cheap and nasty affairs, but on Sunday there is a great walking street market near Tha Phae gate, which is full of locals with amazing arts and crafts to buy! Yoga Sala is a good yoga place if you like being pushed hard during either Hatha or Ashtanga yoga…there are flyers up around the place to help you find it….buts its by the main touristy area inside the city walls near Ratchmanka rd. The guy there Will is a great source of info for whats on there too. I agree with everyone else don’t go trekking from here, its very rarely eco friendly and money does not go back into the villages. Cooking courses are all pretty much same same… we did ours through Asia Scenic School/GH (31 Rachadumnern Soi 5 ) and was all good. If you are thinking of going to Pai… GO THERE… hire a moped from near the bus station with aYa Service…. and you can drop it at their office in Pai and they take your luggage for you at no extra cost. The road out of Chiang Mai can be a little interesting but once out of town its amazing..and so worth it… takes 3-4 hours with a few stops and only one tank of gas!!!!
Best tip if you are keen…would be to get a little day pack, hire a bike for 1-2 weeks and see it all yourself…go to Pai, Soppong, Tha Ton, Mae Salong, Mae Sai…take all the back roads and just enjoy the ability to get away from it all… the roads are fine, traffic rare (off the main ones) go for it!!!!

Backpacker's Tips : Peter Juergen Vanspall (April 02)
« Pollution is horrible, treks are not recommend : overpriced and no communications with the tribes, tourist can do they own trips along the doi saket -and mae rim-resp.mea tang doi malai road (?) Good accommodation at Golden Court, Moon Muang Rd : very comfortable, cheap, long term guests preferred. Also Duang Dee GH, Soi Insoun, Manee Noprat Rd (?) : nice and relatively cheap rooms around B250-300, information on treks and good priced cuisine. The owner Uwe is an unusual left-liberal German guy with roots in the sixties.» 

Bus Schedules :

From Arcade Station (242664) except (1) from Chang Phuak Station (211586) and (2) from east of the bridge

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Fang (1) 48 fan 3.5 5:30 to 17:30 a lot 30mn
Tha Thon (1) 55 fan 4 6,7:20,9,11:30,13:30,15:30 6 na
Lamphun (1) 10 fan 1 5 to 21 a lot 10-30mn
Pai 51 fan 4 7,8:20,10:30,12:30,14,16 6 na
Mae Hong Son 115 fan 8 6:30,8,11,13:30,15,20 6 na
Mae Sariang 70/124 fan/ac 4 8,20/9,21 4 na
Lampang (2) 34 fan 2 5:40 to 17:30 a lot 30mn
Chiang Rai 66/92 fan/ac 4 6 to 17:30 / 13:30 17/1 hour
Mae Sai 83/149 fan/ac 5 6,10:30,11,12:30,15/7,8,13,... 11 na
Phrae 55/76 fan/ac 4 6,7,8:30,11,12,17/10,13,14,16,22 12 na
Nan 83/115 fan/ac 6 7,8:30,11,17/10,14,22 7 na
Sukhothai 91/? fan/ac 6 5,6,14:15,15/8,8:45,10,12,... 12 na
Bangkok 190/237 fan/ac 11 (6),12:30/7,10:30,16,18:30,(20:30) 2/5 na

Notes : To Lampang also from arcade Station from 6 to 16, ever. 30mn / To Bangkok also 1st class (B304) & VIP (B470) plus plenty of private Co

The trip to Lampang : S / L&R / B34 / 2 hrs / 3rd class
No need to go to the Arcade Bus Station : buses to Lampang conveniently depart every 30mn from Highway 106, just on the right after the east Nawarat Bridge (north of TAT Office), about 20mn walk away. A smooth ride with little scenery along the way. Perfect to sleep a bit longer...

See also trip from Pai 

See also Chiang Dao


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