Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is an ancient Thai city in the mountains of northern Thailand. Founded in 1206, it was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom from 1206 to 1558. The city has much to offer from ancient temples, lush rainforests, and picturesque waterfallstraditional villages, and a bustling market scene.

Chiangmai has more than a dozen national parks to explore, so it really is an ideal place for anyone who loves nature. The most popular is Doi Suthep National Park, 95km from Chiang Mai, is one of the most popular day trips from the city.

Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak reaching 2,585 meters (8,440 feet) is actually part of the greater Himalayan range.

Chiangmai royal pavilion with lotus flower.
Chiang Mai temple with lotus flower lake in the foreground

about Chiang Mai

Founded in the 1300s, its old city area still has traces of the walled fortifications that once surrounded it when it was an important cultural and religious center. The old town walls are surrounded by a moat with a gate at the centre of each wall, making it very easy to navigate the city.

Chiang Mai is home to 125,000 residents, including a large expat community of digital nomads.

Chiang Mai is an excellent base from which to explore the rest of northern Thailand. Take a day tour to Chiang Ria and Lampung, or perhaps a longer journey to visit Pai or the Golden Triangle.

Getting around the center of Chiang Mai city is easily done on foot, for longer journeys songthaews, converted pickup trucks, are a cheap way to get from A to B. Tuk-tuks are also common and most journeys cost 100 baht with the old town and 200 baht further afield. We recommend you download the ride-sharing app Grab if you prefer to travel in air-conditioned comfort.

Saturday night walking street market, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is only 5 km from the city center and a taxi will cost you approx 160 baht. There are direct flights from major cities in Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong. The airport also services 13 cities within Thailand, with Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi being popular routes.

There are many rental car desks at the airport and the roads in Northern Thailand are in good condition, making this area perfect for road tripping provided you are a confident driver and carry an international driver’s license. Alternatively, airport transfers are very affordable. There is a public bus that connects to the city center for approx 40 baht.

You can also take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The overnight trip is most popular, with the journey taking between 11 and 14 hours. With a flying time of just over an hour and several budget carriers offering flights from Bangkok for similar prices to a compartment on the overnight train, this trip is really one for train lovers rather than budget travelers.

The average time travelers spend in Chiang Mai is between three and five days, and you will find the best things to do in Chiang Mai here.

Where to go next

Continue your holiday travels in Thailand. After Chiang Mai, the most popular destinations are Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui.