Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand. With a population of over 170,000 in the city proper (but more than one million in the metropolitan area), it is Thailand's sixth-largest city. On a plain at an elevation of 316 m, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital and has a cosmopolitan air and a significant expatriate population, all factors which have led many from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "rose of the north".

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Points of Interest in Chiang Mai

Elephants

  • Baanchang Elephant Park, 147/1 Rachadamnoen Rd,  +66 53 814174 or +66 89 6355206. Aside from being one of the cheapest places to appreciate these wonderful animals in Chiang Mai, Baanchang treats the animals extremely well, and the love and care displayed by mahouts (elephant caretakers) contrasts markedly with that displayed at many other local elephant camps. For those who stay overnight, the hosts stage a "night by the campfire" with rural entertainment such as making sticky rice in bamboo and releasing fire lanterns into the night sky. A true gem of Chiang Mai which can be arranged at most local hotels and hostels.
  • Eddy Elephant Care Chiang Mai, 87 Sripoom Rd,  +66 53 222525, e-mail: info@eddyelephantchiangmai.com. One of the interesting activities in Chiang Mai is getting close up to a real elephant. Eddy is the owner who has been taking care of his 7 orphaned elephants for years. You will learn about elephant behaviour and how to control and bathe them as you are a mahout (elephant caretaker). You are permitted to ride them through the jungle. The elephants are not inside a park, not inside a camp, nor on a farm. This is a group of elephant owners who care for them as if they were part of the family. 2,300 baht a day including lunch and transportation.
  • Elephant Nature Park, 1 Ratmakka Rd (Approximately 60 km north of Chiang Mai),  +66 53 272855, e-mail: info@saveelephant.org. 07:30-21:30. A sanctuary for rescued and distressed elephants. They are not kept here to perform or do tricks and people visiting here will leave with a whole new understanding of these magnificent creatures. Day and overnight visits as well as one week volunteering opportunities can be booked via the website. During a day visit you will feed and bathe the elephants, watch them wander around the 50 acre park, and will be treated to a buffet lunch. Pick up and drop off at your hotel in Chiang Mai. Day, 2,500 baht; Week, 12,000 baht.
  • Friends for Asia Elephant Camp Volunteer Project, 63/3 Old Chang Moi Rd, Chang Moi,  +66 53 232053, e-mail: info@volunteerthailand.org. After a two day orientation in Chiang Mai, coordinating staff sends volunteers to the elephant camp, roughly a one hour drive from the city. Volunteers stay from Monday to Friday bathing, feeding, caring for and learning about elephants. Lodging is in a tree house on the premises. Two week minimum. 36,671 baht for 2 weeks; 7,466 baht for each additional week.
  • Mae Sa Elephant Camp, 119/9 Tapae Rd,  +66 53 206247 or +66 53 206248. An elephant camp in the hills about an hour's drive north of the city centre. It has an elephant show, which includes elephants playing football and painting. You can also take half-hour or one hour elephant rides. Not exactly a place to bring a PETA activist, but many (people) do enjoy the performances.
  • Patara Elephant Farm, 299/22 Siwalee Rachapreuk MaeHea (29 km SW of downtown),  +66 81 6710958 (English), +66 85 0768461 (Deutsch), fax: +66 53 286321, e-mail: pataraelephantfarm@hotmail.com. You "adopt" an elephant for the day. You feed it, take it in the river to clean it, learn how to mount the elephant, talk to it, and take a short ride (bareback and barefoot), no bamboo seat. Then you get to go swimming with them by a waterfall. The owner is passionate about saving the elephants, about humane treatment, and about anything to do with elephants. It's not the cheapest day out, but is highly recommended. 5,800 baht including transport and lunch.

Gardens and nature

  • Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (About 800 m north of the Holiday Inn, east side of the Ping River). A place of history and remembrance.
  • Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium, 100 Huay Kaew Rd (At the foot of Doi Suthep),  +66 53 893111. Daily, 09:00-17:30. Extremely popular with Thai tourists, and so expect long queues. While better than some zoos, the animals are nevertheless kept in small enclosures. Operates a dual pricing system wherein non-Thais are charged approximately double the price of Thai nationals. Additional charges also apply for both the panda exhibition and the aquarium. There are more stalls selling trinkets than animal enclosures, and more human visitors than animals. Not much to recommend, including that the journey from the city centre can be lengthy because of long queues of cars, the dual pricing system, and the less-than-ideal conditions for the animals. The car park facilities are best described as chaotic. 100 baht.
  • Dokmai Garden. This garden displays 120 different edible fruit plants, 140 different vegetables, 200 native orchid species, in total over 1000 vascular plants. Of these, 500 have been selected for presentations on aluminium signs with informative information (English, Japanese, and Thai). The plants have scientific names. The area is compact (4 ha or 10 acres) and surrounded by plantations of teak, bananas, longan, and dry dipterocarp savannah. It is near Opkhan National Park, and between the famous Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep National Parks. The garden also hosts natural populations of the atlas moth and the golden birdwing butterfly, and is visited by over 80 wild and free bird species. The garden is a member of the SEABG (Southeast Asian Botanical Gardens network) and collaborates with Chiang Mai University (mushrooms), Mae Jo University (fish), Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (plants), the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Opkhan National Park.
  • Mae Sa Waterfall (go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096 to Samoeng. Travel ~7 km to waterfall on left.),  +66 53 210244. 08:30-16:30. Set in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park on the Samoeng Loop. The path winds up for almost 2 km to the 8 tiers of cascades. There are many secluded areas off the trail for picnics. Crowded on weekends and holidays. Foreigners, 100 baht; Thais, 20 baht.
  • Phu Ping Palace (Royal Winter Palace), Suthep (On Rte 1004, beyond Doi Suthep). Daily, 08:30-11:30 & 13:00-15:00 when the Thai royal family is not in residence. This royal winter palace has lavishly landscaped gardens and is open to the public. Dress code strictly applied: dress modestly or pay 15 baht for fisherman's pants to cover your lack of it. This includes ANY leg above the ankle for either gender). The palace itself (built in 1961) is not particularly exciting, but the extensive gardens are picturesque with some amazing plant life, including carefully tended tropical flowers, as well as centuries-old trees and giant bamboo. A sign at the bottom of the hill near the zoo indicates when it's closed. It is close to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, so travel directions are similar. 50 baht, children 10 baht.
  • Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, 100 Moo 9, Mae Ram (Go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096 to Samoeng. Travel 12 km to garden on left.),  +66 53 841234. Daily, 08:30-16:30. Thailand's oldest and foremost botanical garden. Dedicated to the conservation of Thai flora, it holds collections of, and carries out research on rare and endangered species. Lovely gardens in a mountain foothills setting. Run by the Botanical Garden Association of Thailand. Adult, 40 baht; child, 20 baht; car, 100 baht.

Muay Thai

After football, Thai boxing is the national sport of Thailand. It can be seen in three different "stadiums" (these places do not resemble real stadiums, but are more like a boxing ring in a warehouse.)

  • Kawila Boxing Stadium (Not far from Nawarat Bridge, a short block south of Tha Phae Rd in the Night Bazaar). Real muay Thai fights (almost) every Friday at 20:00 with 10 bouts ranging from young novices to local champions to locals v. foreigners. The smallest of the three stadia it is nearly open-air, but with a new tent covering and good lighting. This is much more authentic than the frenzied beer bar atmosphere of the other two locations. 400-600 baht.
  • Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium (Loi Kroh Rd in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex.). Fights are usually held 3-4 nights per week. Look for flyers posted up all over the old city. They usually have about 8 fights and feature Thai fighters as well as a few matches with foreign fighters. This is not the best location to see muay Thai with a family, as it is surrounded by girlie bars and during a break between the fights a group of ladyboys sometimes will dance and occasionally strip. After about 23:00 the complex is opened up for free, letting all the vendors (flower sellers, et al.) in. If you are on a tight budget you may be able to see a few of the remaining fights for free this way. 400 baht for normal seating or 600 baht for VIP.
  • Tha Phae Boxing Stadium (Moon Muang Rd near Tha Phae Gate.). It hosts around 8 fights per show, including a few matches with foreign fighters. This is the largest of the three stadiums and has food as well as beverages served. Gambling is prominently featured.

Museums

  • Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre (In the centre of the old city on Prapokklao Rd, between Ratchadamnoen Rd and Ratchawithi Rd),  +66 53 217793. Tu-Su 08:30–17:00. This modern multimedia history and cultural education centre has guides dressed in elegant traditional Thai clothing who will usher you into an air-conditioned room to watch an English-subtitled orientation video about Chiang Mai and the north. Next, you will be pointed to a series of rooms documenting the region's history and culture in chronological order from the pre-Muang period (7,000-12,000 years ago) to the early river civilizations, to the early kings through the wars with the Burmese and the last dynasty, to the city today and its plans for the future. Other rooms are devoted to Buddhism and other regional beliefs, agricultural history, hill tribe peoples and other regional cultures, and a run-down of the royal dynasties. The exhibits consist of a smart visual mix of video, scale models, enlarged photos, wall murals and text in Thai and English. 90 baht.
  • Chiang Mai National Museum, on the superhighway (Within walking distance of Wat Chet Yot),  +66 53 221308. W-Su 09:00–16:00. The history of Chiang Mai. 100 baht.
  • Chiang Mai Numismatic Museum (Treasury Hall), 52 Ratchadamnoen Rd,  +66 53 224237/8. M-Sa 09:00–15:30.
  • Chiang Mai University Art Museum, corner Suthep and Nimmanhaemin Rd,  +66 53 944833. Tu-Su 09:00–17:00. There are exhibitions by undergraduates from the Fine Arts Department at Chiang Mai University. These change often and the work on display is of high quality. Each month there is usually at least one art exhibition featuring the works of artists from Southeast Asia. The museum also hosts musical concerts, often free, in the adjoining theatre. Free.
  • Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Soi 13, Nimmanhaemin Rd,  +66 53 211891. Daily, 09:00–17:00. One of Asia's most unusual museums housing butterflies, beetles, and beyond. Also has a large selection of minerals. Some explanations in English, some in Thai. 200 baht.
  • Postal Museum, Mae Ping Post Office. Tu-Sa, 08:30–16:30. Free.

Temples

Inside the old city walls

  •    Wat Chedi Luang (วัดเจดีย์หลวงวรวิหาร), Prapokklao Rd. Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai are the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, reigning King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the chedi (pronounced jedee) to a height of 86 m. After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991-92, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million baht. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the "Pillar of the City", a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
  •    Wat Chiang Man (วัดเชียงมัน), Ratchaphakhinai Rd. The oldest royal temple in the city. Presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded (1296), it is famed for two Buddha images, which according to legend are 1,800 and 2,500 years old. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the city of Chiang Mai was being constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
  •    Wat Phra Chao Mengrai (วัดพระเจ้าเม็งราย. Sometimes called Wat Phra Jao Mengrai), Ratchamanka Soi 6, Phra Sing (Near Huen Phen Restaurant),  +66 53 278788. An atmospheric temple with two wihan buildings, off the beaten track, quiet and gently crumbling. One of the wihan buildings houses an important Buddha image: Phra Buddha Rupa Phra Chao Mengrai.
  •    Wat Phra Singh (วัดพระสิงห์วรมาวิหาร), Corner of Singharaj Rd and Ratchadamnoen Rd. Probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the repository protected the delicate scriptures from rain, floods, and pests. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1922, and a reproduction is now seen. Your admission ticket is in a leaflet form containing useful information and map of Wat Phra Singh complex. free for Thais, and 20 baht for foreigners.

Outside the old city walls

  •    Wat Jet Yod (วัดเจ็ดยอด. Sometimes called Wat Chet Yot) (About 1 km north of the Huay Kaew Rd/superhighway intersection). The history and unusual architecture scattered under the yawning canopy of ancient trees is an pleasant antidote to the flash and bustle encountered at popular temples. Established in 1455 to host the eighth World Buddhist Council, many features of the grounds imitate significant places of the Buddha's enlightenment. Originally called Botharam Maha Vihata in honour of the venerated Bodhi tree, it came to be known as Wat Jet Yod by locals, after the seven spires (Jet Yod) protruding from the roof of the Vihara. The square-sided design of the Virhra is a replica of Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, India, though the translation has distorted proportions somewhat. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals that adorned the walls depict angels with a distinctly Indian flavour. The grounds also hold some more recently built, but abandoned looking, eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls, overshadowed by a fully intact, though more diminutive, replica of Chedi Luang that was built around 1487 to house the ashes of King Tilokarat.
  •    Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ) (18 km from town, sitting at a 1,073 m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep). The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gilded chedi, visible from the city on a clear day. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died, which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site. The temple offers grand views over the city, but no reward is without effort as you must accent the 200-plus steep steps of the Naga-lined stairs. The climb may be a strain in the high altitude's thin air for the less fit, so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht. For the Visaka Bucha holiday in Jun or Jul each year, it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4–5 hours.
  •    Wat Suan Dok (Suthep Rd). A large open-sided hall with a jumble of roughly hewn Buddhas with a huge dazzlingly whitewashed chedi behind.
  •    Wat Umong (วัดอุโมงค์), Off Suthep Rd (At the end of a long narrow road, off Suthep Rd. Turn at the Italian restaurant.),  +66 53 277248 (call only 08:30-16:00, e-mail: umongmedcenter@yahoo.com. The names means "tunnel temple". An ancient temple in the forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly respected forest monk who liked to wander in the countryside, hence the isolated location where the monk could stay quietly and meditate. It is unusual in that it has tunnel-like chambers in the ground, some of the walls of which still have the original paintings of birds and animals visible. The large stupa is magnificent, and there is an eerie statue of a fasting, emaciated Buddha next to it. You can also take a break by the ponds, where you can feed the fish and turtles. Has a meditation centre open to foreigners. Some monks and the abbot speak a little English.

Wat Chedi Luang

Sunday Walking Street Market

Wat Chiang Man

Tha Phae Gate

Warorot Market

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

Wat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai Gate

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Suan Dok Gate

Three Kings Monument

Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center

Buak Haad Park

Wat Gatekaram

Naowarat Bridge

Chang Puak Gate

Iron Bridge

Wat Lok Moli

Bhuping Palace

Chang Puak Market

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Popular events in Chiang Mai in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Chiang Mai

Climate

Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of the south.

As in the rest of Thailand there are three distinct seasons:

  • A cool season from Nov-Feb.
  • A hot season from Mar-Jun.
  • A wet season from Jul-Oct.

Activities

Cinema

  •    Alliance Francaise, 138 Charoen Prathet Rd,  +66 53 275277. W nights, 19:30. Screens French films, but frequently sub-titled in English. See the website for calendar of showings. The Alliance also has an extensive library as well as exhibitions.
  •    Chiang Mai Vista Cinema (Kad Suan Kaew)) (on Huay Kaew Rd). Ticket prices vary depending on the duration of the film. The place is not very popular among the locals since it is a bit old and worn. No 3D films are shown at Vista. 80-120 baht.
  •    Major Cineplex, Airport Plaza. Ticket prices around 120-260 baht depending on the duration of the film and seat type. Honeymoon seats generally cost 40 baht more than standard seats. If you would like to avoid the crowd, avoid going on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights. Make sure to check the language of the film prior to booking. Some children's movies are dubbed into Thai.
  •    SF Cinema (In the Promenada shopping mall outside Chiang Mai (about 6.5 km from Tha Phae Gate) at the corner of Rte 1141/1317 and Rte 3029).
  •    SFX Cinema (Corner Huay Kaew Rd and Superhighway).

Festivals & exhibitions

  •    Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival (8 km southeast of Chiang Mai). Takes place around the third weekend of Jan at Ban Bo Sang, Sankampang. The festival is in the form of a "street fair" in which the central road of the village is used, with shops on both sides. Shops are decorated in Lanna-style, most with the well-known umbrellas, as well as with traditional lanterns. In addition there are contests, exhibitions, cultural performances, local entertainment, and assorted shows day and night. There is a grand procession decorated with umbrellas and local products, a variety of handicrafts for sale, northern-style khantoke meals, and the Miss Bo Sang pageant.
  • Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Staged every year during the first weekend in February (in 2014 it will be held Friday-Sunday, 7-9 February). The city is awash with vibrant colours ranging from the electric orange and lilac colours of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white, and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Year, is echoed by beds of scarlet salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colourful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of colour that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiang Mai aptly gives the city its name "Rose of the North". On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Nong Buak Had Park near the city centre. Many types of flower, miniature trees, and orchida are put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers. The best part of the flower festival is on Saturday. The parade lines up from the train station to Nawarat Bridge so the police close most of Charoen Muang Rd around 08:00. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiang Mai Governor's home. The parade route goes up Tha Phae Rd to the gate and turns left and follows the moat to Nong Buak Had Park. The parade moves at a slow pace and stops several times so there is plenty of time to take pictures of the colourful floats, pretty girls and hill tribe people in native costume. The paraders hand out roses to spectators lining the road. When the parade finishes everyone heads to Nong Buak Had where all the floats, award-winning flower growers and landscape projects are all on display. There are plenty of food stalls in the park, and in the late afternoon the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival starts. The party goes well into the evening until the new Flower Festival Queen has been chosen. This is a great time to visit Chiang Mai, as the air is cool and the evenings fresh and clear. If you want to see the festival make sure you book your hotels and flights well in advance.
  • Inthakin or Tham Boon Khan Dok. City Pillar Festival in Chiang Mai. This is a six-day festival where the city pillar spirits are propitiated to ensure the continuity of the city. Occurs in May or Jun as part of the Northern Thailand lunar calendar. Very large event focused around Wat Chedi Luang.
  • Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals (ลอยกระทง). If you like candles placed in colourful paper lanterns, fireworks, beautiful girls in traditional dress, parade floats, lots of food, and parties, don't miss the Loi Krathong festival, which in Chiang Mai lasts for 3 full days, the last night being that of the 12th full moon of the year (which is usually in Nov). In the small town of Mae Jo, north of Chiang Mai, they start the festival on Saturday night by simultaneously launching thousands upon thousands of hot air balloons called khom loi. Loi Krathong coincides with the northern Thai (Lanna) festival known as "Yi Peng" (ยี่เป็ง). Due to a difference between the old Lanna calendar and the Thai calendar, Yi Peng is held on a full moon of the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar ("Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month" in the Lanna language). A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (โคมลอย), literally: "floating lanterns") are launched into the air where they drift with the winds. The festival is meant as a time for "tam-bun" (ทำบุญ), to make merit. People decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with khom fai (โคมไฟ): intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms. Khom thue (โคมถือ) are lanterns which are carried around hanging from a stick, khom khwaen (โคมแขวน) are the hanging lanterns, and khom pariwat (โคมปริวรรต) which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside. Chiang Mai has the most elaborate Yi Peng celebrations, where both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are celebrated at the same time resulting in lights floating on the waters, lights hanging from trees/buildings or standing on walls, and lights floating by in the sky.
  •    Mae Jo Lantern Release. A huge lantern release (It is often referred to as the 10,000 lantern release, but there are not as many as that) happens near Mae Jo University on the Saturday before Loi Krathong, in 2013: 16 Nov. The DMC Buddhist Sect puts this on and though it is billed as "for local people" this event has no connection with Chiang Mai or Lanna events, and is not promoted by local government officials nor included in their program. The lantern release takes place at the end of a ceremony that will begin at 18:30, with the release at 20:00. The event is free of charge, but polite attire is required and alcohol is forbidden. A tourist-targeted event (which costs USD100) will occur in the same location on the following weekend.
  • Songkran Festival (สงกรานต์). The Thai Water Festival is celebrated as the Thai new year from 13-15 Apr (though it may begin a day or two early). The most obvious sign that you're in the middle of the festival is when you get soaked by someone pouring a bucket of water over you, or squirting you with a water gun! This tradition evolved from people tossing water that had been poured over holy statues, since this water was expected to be good luck. Now, it takes the form of a free-for-all water fight, and you will undoubtedly be drenched. It's also a way of staying cool during the very hot and humid month of April. Just be sure to put your cell phone in a plastic bag!

Massage

  • Fah Lanna Massage, 186/3 Loi Kroh Rd (Near the Night Bazaar, down the street from McDonald's, past Royal Lanna Hotel.),  +66 89 6950802 or +66 82 0303029, e-mail: email@fahlanna.com. A small and very cosy massage shop close to the Iron Bridge. Clean, friendly, and professional, Fah Lanna gets consistently high ratings in customer reviews. First, customers get a gentle foot-bath with scrub and comfortable clothes to change into and after the massage they are offered ginger tea and a cold towel. The decor and the background music are beautiful and add to the experience. After collecting 10 stamps (1 stamp per 1 hour treatment) they give a free massage. Massages here are excellent and prices are very reasonable. 200+ baht.
  • Green Bamboo Massage, 1 Moon Muang Rd, Soi 1,  +66 89 8275563. A small, charming studio inside the moat with a fair and sustainable approach, in a typical wooden Thai house. The certified staff is highly trained in the arts of ancient Thai massage therapy. The owner uses real homemade cosmetics and even created her own aloe Vera oil. Also offers individual daily or weekly courses in traditional Thai massage, Thai yoga massage, Tok Sen massage, and Thai oil massage. Seminars are run by Ms Mesa, a certified and experienced expert in these arts. 200+ baht/hour.
  • Le'Lux Massage (near Sompet Market on Soi 6, Moon Muang Rd). Excellent staff and ambiance. Services include Thai massage (150 baht/hr), oil massage (200 baht/hr), scrubs, manicure (150 baht), pedicure (150 baht), and more. Tea and water are included.
  • Let's Relax (2F Chiang Mai Pavilion and B1F Chiang Inn Plaza, Changkhlan Rd). Does professional massage in a very clean, if not downright sterile, surroundings complete with air-con, the sound of running water and gentle scents. A 45-minute foot reflexology session costs 350 baht, nearly twice the price of the competition, but is worth every satang after a long trek.
  • Nantana Massage (near Sompet Market on Soi 6). Very knowledgeable and friendly staff. Air-con. Oil, foot, and neck/shoulder massage available. Thai massage, 150 baht/hour.
  • Sun Massage, Loi Kroh Rd, opposite 7-11. Very clean and pleasant modern decor. The masseuses are very friendly, and provide decent, skilled massages. There is a table in front of the shop where the masseuses often hang out when idle. Traditional Thai massage, 199 baht/hour..
  • Viang Ping Massage & Spa, 2/4 Tha Phae Rd, Soi 2 (Opposite Wat Bupparam),  +66 53 874071. Very clean and well-run business, professionally run by Fern, manager-proprietor. All massages based on the Lanna, northern Thai-style, using pressure points and energy lines. Homemade coconut oil and natural facial, body scrub, and wrap products. Fern also teaches massage and spa services to individuals or occasionally to small groups. Loyalty cards for regular customers, free massage after 10 visits. Thai and oil massage courses, also spa courses. Prices average 200 baht for Thai, foot, or head and shoulder massages. 250 baht for oil massages..

Motorcycling

  • Motorcycle touring is a great way to explore Northern Thailand. One good day trip out of Chiang Mai is up and over Doi Suthep, which will take you up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and beyond the mountain to the reservoir. A perennial favourite among bicyclists and motorcyclists alike is the Samoeng Loop, a 100 km circuit into the mountains and back to Chiang Mai.
  • Motor-scooter touring as far as Mae Hong Son and suitable for the less experienced motorcyclist.

Rafting

Raft trips down the Mae Tang River are offered by organised by several companies and can often be combined with elephant riding or mountain biking. During the dry season (Jan-Feb) water levels are relatively low with only grade 2-3 rapids, but during the rainy season (Jun-Oct) higher water levels make for a more exciting grade 4-5 trip.

  • Peak Adventure Tour, 302/4 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd,  +66 53 800567. Offers 10 km rafting trips that can be combined with elephant riding or ATV driving.

River cruise

  • Mae Ping River Cruise, 133 Charoen Pratet Rd (Wat Chaimongkol boat landing, between Hotel Chedi and Ping Nakara),  +66 53 274822, fax: +66 53 818627, e-mail: maepingrivercruise@hotmail.com. 08:30-17:00. Two hour cruise with a refreshment stop at a Thai farmer's house. Hotel pick-up. Be aware that the Mae Ping is a grotty, slow-flowing stream the colour of greenish khaki with nondescript banks. 450 baht.

Sports

  • Aerobics. Aerobics sessions are held in the car park of Tesco Lotus on the superhighway every weekday from 17:30. The sessions are very popular and tourists or visitors to Chiang Mai are welcomed. Regular water aerobics classes, incorporating Tai Chi and yoga exercises, are held at the Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool.
  • Cricket. The north of Thailand may seem an odd place to find an international cricket tournament. Every year since 1988 more than 200 cricketers from around the world gather at Chiang Mai for the tournament. The week-long tournament for amateur players, with a sprinkling of test stars, it is held at the historic Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club, generally at the start of April.
  • Extreme Sports Centre (X Centre), 816 Moo 1, Rim Thai, Mae Rim (Go 17 km north to Mae Rim on Rte 107. Turn onto Rte 1096, direction Samoeng. Travel 3 km. X Centre on the left),  +66 53 297700. Daily, 09:00-18:00. Kiwi-run business, totally buttoned-down and professional. Bungy jumping; off-road buggies; dirt bikes; paintball; indoor drift carts; Xorb ball; sports bar and restaurant. Transport available from Chiang Mai at 09:30, 13:00, 15:00.
  • Football (soccer). Go watch the local football team, Chiang Mai FC, play at 700 Year Stadium. Fixtures and info in English or visit the Red Lion English Pub near the Night Bazaar two hours before the game to get a free ride (nearly always available).
  • Mountain Biking. Just west of Chiang Mai lies the beautiful Doi Suthep National Park, its summit at 1,650 m, 1,300 m above the valley floor. Chiang Mai Mountain Biking runs daily downhill trips and nature cross country rides.
  • Rock Climbing. Approximately 55 km east of Chiang Mai is Crazy Horse Buttress, a 60 m, orange- and black-streaked monolith jutting out of the green Mae On Valley. Crazy Horse boasts more than 130 bolted routes between (French system) grades 5 and 8a, which makes it an ideal destination for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Spend several days exploring every part of the crag, or just spend a day or an afternoon above ground as a break from exploring the magnificent caves of the region. Climbing guides and information are available from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures.
  • Tennis. There are many places to play tennis in Chiang Mai: Gymkhana Club (Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd); Chiang Mai Land Village (Chiang Mai Land Rd); Imperial Chiang Mai Resort & Sports Club (284 Moo 3, Don Kaew, Mae Rim); Lanna Sports Club (Chotana Rd); Palm Springs (120 Moo 5, Mahidol Rd); and Chiang Mai Sports Complex (700 Year Stadium, Irrigation Canal Rd, Rte 121 to Mae Rim), which has 12 courts. All courts are bookable in advance and at most flood lighting makes it possible to play in the evening when it is cooler. There is an additional charge to cover the cost of electricity.
  • Yoga. The diversity of yoga studios in Chiang Mai rounds out the image of Chiang Mai as a centre for massage training, healing, and spas. Yoga studios such as Wild Rose Yoga in the old city, north of the city Sattva Yoga, Kaomai Lanna, and the Spa Resort for residential yoga retreats all are worthy of your patronage.

Swim

Chiang Mai swimming pools open to the public vary in quality, cleanliness, and accessibility. On balance, those pools which are operated to internationally recognised standards of water quality are those which are privately owned by foreign investors.

  • Centre of the Universe Swimming Pool and Resort (take Huay Kaew Rd (Rte 1004) from the city towards Doi Suthep. At the intersection of Rte 1004 and Rte 121, follow the signs to Mae Rim. From the intersection, travel 1.2 km towards Mae Rim and turn left at the 5th bridge over the canal. Go straight for 600 m to the end of the road following signs for). Open to tourists and other visitors. There are 3 swimming pools and decks. A detailed map and directions in Thai and English can be printed from their website. The pool is sanitised using salt water.
  • Hotel Pools. Some up-market hotels such as The Orchid on Huay Kaew Rd allow non-guests to use their pools for a fee. Travelling time from the city centre is around 10 min. These are sanitised using chlorine.
  • Chiang Mai Land Swimming Pool (in). Open to the public. It has a pool deck and also has a restaurant and pool-side service. The pool is sanitised using chlorine. Adults, 50 baht; children, 30 baht.
  • The Lake at Huay Tung Tao (further along the Irrigation Canal Rd than the Centre of the Universe and after the 700-Year Sports Stadium, as you head towards Mae Rim (Rte 121), about 12 km from the city centre. Takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi.). A reservoir in surrounding woodlands. Admission, 20 baht..
  • Seven Hundred Year Stadium (on the outer ring road, Irrigation Canal Rd—Route 121, towards Mae Rim. It is about 8 km from city centre; about fifteen min by tuk-tuk/taxi.). A huge sports complex built for the SE Asia Games, held in Chiang Mai in the early 1990s, and now a public sports and recreation centre. The pool is sanitised using chlorine.
  • Waterfalls and Natural Pools (at the foot of Doi Suthep on Huay Kaew Rd. Look for a large Buddhist shrine on your left after travelling past the the entrance to Chiang Mai Zoo. Turn left into the market at the back of the shrine, and keep walking up the hill. You will come to the waterfalls after about 5 minutes. About 7 km from the city centre; takes 10-15 min by tuk-tuk/taxi.). The pools at the bottom of the waterfalls are not really big enough for swimming, but are a great place to cool off at the height of summer. During the dry season some of the waterfalls dry up. Head for the high ground and you will still find pools full of fresh water! There are usually quite a few students hanging out there from the nearby university, who will happily practice their English conversational skills with you. Free.

Theatre

  • The Playhouse Complex (on Changpueak Rd). The Playhouse Theatre is Chiang Mai’s newest & trendiest attraction. Start your evening with a unique dining experience in Kinnaree Park. Set in an eco-friendly environment, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls offering a real Lanna experience with traditional dance and a delicious northern Thai buffet before entering the theatre adjacent to the restaurant. The 350-seat capacity theatre hosts two shows per day at 20:00 and 22:00. Presenting Sequins & Dance, a fun and happy performance of wholesome entertainment that's full of sparkle, movement, and emotion. Performed by 30 Thai performers, it is exciting. Family, individual, or group bookings welcome. Adult, 1,000 baht; child, 500 baht. Including Thai buffet (Saturdays): adult, 1,300 baht; child, 650 baht..

Food

Chiang Mai's restaurants offer a wide range of food, second only to Bangkok. Naturally it's a good place to sample northern Thai food: in particular, hunt down some khao soi, yellow wheat noodles in curry broth, traditionally served with chicken (gai) or beef (neua), but available some places as vegetarian or with seafood. Another local specialty is hang ley, Lanna-style pork curry. For those tired of eating rice or noodles there's also a wide range of excellent international food restaurants, from cheap hamburger stands to elaborate Italian eateries.

When you come to Chiang Mai you should try a khantoke dinner and show. Although these are just for tourists it is still a nice way to spend an evening. The first khantoke dinner was held in 1953 by Professor Kraisi Nimanhemin who wanted to host a special event for 2 friends leaving Chiang Mai. Two more such dinners were held, both in 1953, thus "khantoke" dinners are not "historic", but rather a relatively recent invention. Khantoke literally means small bowl, low table (khan = small bowl. tok = low table) There are also many garden restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent Thai meal in a beautiful setting.

The range and value of Western food in Chiang Mai is unsurpassed in Northern Thailand and there is a full range of restaurants from Australian/British/Irish, through French and German to Italian, Spanish, American, and Mexican. In fact considering how remote Chiang Mai is from the major centres of population in Asia, it is remarkable how many Western restaurants there are. This is one city where eating Thai is not the only option.


Thai

Markets & roadside stalls

  •    Anusarn Market (ตลาดอนุสาร), Changklan Rd (Side of road opposite Night Bazaar Building, further down the street). A busy outdoor night market with lots of little Thai, Indian, and Western restaurants and food vendors. Great atmosphere.
  •    Kalare Food Centre, Changklan Rd (Opposite the Night Bazaar Building). 17:00-22:00. Has a large open-air food court, featuring free Thai classical dance performances nightly. All food is paid for with pre-purchased coupons. mains 20-50 baht.
  •    Suthep Road Moveable Feast (Past Canal Rd, by the university). Daily, 17:00-22:00. Dozens of food carts set up every evening around from around 17:00 until about 22:00, with a huge variety of very inexpensive food, and tables set up along the sidewalk.

Budget

  •    Funkydog Cafe, Moon Muang Rd, Soi 6 (Inside moat). Local handmade coffee from a local hill tribe. Fantastic Thai family cooking. All fresh and made by hand, great atmosphere and music, low-cost food. Genuine owner who will keep you informed of all the natural products you should eat. The yellow curry is recommended.
  •    Guaytiaw Reua Koliang, Moon Muang Rd (Near Ratchamanka Rd (inside moat); English sign on sidewalk). Serves authentic kuaytiow reua (literally "boat noodles", rice noodles in dark broth with beef). It's good stuff. 25 baht.
  •    Kanjana Restaurant, Ratchadamnoen Rd Soi 5. Delicious food at really low prices. Friendly staff.
  • Lucky Pub and Restaurant (Steps from Kotchasarn Soi 3, just north of the turn onto Loi Kroh from the moat),  +66 86 99227115. Daily, 18:00-08:00. Lucky Pub is on the ground floor. The restaurant is above and to the rear. The bar opens and 16:00 and closes at 02:00. The restaurant opens at 18:00 and closes at 08:00 the next morning. This is its appeal. When everything else is closed at 03:00 and you're dying of hunger, this is one of the only places to go. Thai food only. Free Wi-Fi in the bar. Small Chang beer, 80 baht; fried rice, 60 baht.
  •    Muan Baan, Moon Muang, Soi 7. A variety of Thai meals, for breakfast and lunch. The food is excellent and the owners and staff are very pleasant and helpful.
  •    Ratana’s Kitchen, Tha Phae Rd. Popular for its wide range of Thai dishes and a huge vegetarian selection. Both smoking (inside, air-conditioned) and non-smoking areas. Visa/MasterCard accepted. 30-60 baht.
  •    Re-Feel Café, 48/4-5 Rachawithi Rd (Inside moat). Great Thai food, good atmosphere, friendly staff and free billiards.
  •    Sailomjoy Restaurant, 7 Rachadamnoen Rd (Near Tha Phae Gate (inside moat)). Daily, 07:30-16:00. Delicious food (Thai, Western, and vegetarian), friendly service, and simple and relaxed atmosphere.

Mid-range

  •    Ghekko Garden Bar and Restaurant, Sridonchai Rd (Opposite the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel (outside moat)). Highlights are lemon grass beef and sun-dried beef. Their chili crab is also worth a try. See the bar blackboard for daily specials.
  •    Huen Muan Jai, Ratchaphruek Rd,  +66 53 404998. 10:00-22:00. Wooden Lanna style buildings in a very nice garden. They have Northern Thai-style food only.
  •    Huen Phen (เฮือนเพ็ญ), 112 Ratchamanka Rd (Inside moat). Daily, 08:00-15:00 & 17:00-22:00. Specialises in Northern Thai food, and is popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Lunch in the air-conditioned hall is decent enough, but dinner in the profusely decorated old house in the back is little short of magical. Best of all is the price: a bowl of khanom jiin naam ngiaw (Shan-style pork rib noodles), a plate of som tum (green papaya salad) and some sticky rice will cost less than 100 baht. Portions are small however. This place is featured in Chinese guidebooks, thus in high-season it will be thronged with Chinese making it difficult to get seated without a lengthy wait.
  • Mho-O-Cha Seafood Restaurant (Anusarn Market at Night Bazaar),  +66 53 273008. Daily, 11:00-24:00. Terrific restaurant on a prominent corner of the Anusarn Market. It is very popular with Chinese visitors who are quick to spot a good deal. For those who do not eat animals there are some excellent vegetarian choices. Great staff, huge menu.
  •    Sila Aat (On the south edge of the Kalare Market (outside moat)). Daily, 15:00-24:00. Fresh seafood and a wide selection of Thai and northern/Lanna specialties. Operated by two sisters.

Splurge

  •    Galae Garden Restaurant (at the end of Suthep Rd),  +66 53 278655. Thai & northern Thai food and grilled specialties in a delightful outdoor setting.
  •    Khum Khantoke, 139 Moo 4, Nong Pakrung (In Chiang Mai Business Park behind Big C Extra Hypermarket, Chiang Mai-Lampang super highway),  +66 53 304121. Daily, 19:00-21:00. Traditional northern Thai cuisine. Reservations are a good idea to get a good seat. All you can eat, 590 baht.
  •    Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre, 185/3 Wualai Rd,  +66 53 275097. Daily, 19:00-21:30. The first commercial khantoke dinner in Chiang Mai more than 30 years ago. They have the best northern Thai food of any of the khantoke establishments. However the seating, show, and music are not as good as others.

Western

Budget

  •    Mike's Hamburger Stand (Corner Chaiyapoom Rd and Changmoi Rd.). Till 03:00. Brightly-lit with just stools and a counter in an open shop. Second shop in the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex, Loi Kroh Rd.

Mid-range

  •    Amazing Sandwich, 20/2 Huay Kaew Rd. M-Sa, 08:00-22:00; Su, 08:00-16:00. Choose any of the ingredients on their list and they'll build a sandwich for you exactly how you like it. They also serve breakfasts and have bagels.
  •    Archers Bar and Restaurant, 133/134 Ratchapakanai Rd (Inside moat, opposite Wat Pan Ping),  +66 83 6377621. Closed M. Tu-Su, 10:00-late; kitchen closes at 22:00. Some say the baguettes are better than in France, which is nonsense, but they may well be the best in Thailand. Very well-run establishment, with outstanding food, great staff and ambience. Owners, Mark and Sa. Large Leo, 85 baht; fried rice, 60 baht; Massaman curry, 75 baht; pad Thai, 60 baht; cappuccino, 45 baht; brie/bacon baguette, 100 baht.
  •    Cafe de Siam (Outside moat, corner of Loi Kroh and Kamphaeng Rd),  +66 53 207258. 06:30-22:00. It's hard to find an early-morning breakfast in Chiang Mai due to the number of tourists on hotel package deals. This place serves one up. Free Wi-Fi. Three coin-operated Internet computers, 10 baht for 15 minutes. Continental breakfast, 100 baht; American breakfast, 160 baht.
  •    Chiangmai Saloon, 30 Ratchawithi Rd (2 locations, one inside & one outside the moat),  +66 81 9302212. American-style burger and southwestern steakhouse. Friendly staff, nice atmosphere, music videos, and sports on three 10 foot screens, pool tables and free Internet, free popcorn and peanuts, over 50 kinds of margaritas, Chang beer on tap. Kitchen open from breakfast until late, everyday. Another outlet at 80/1 Loi Kroh Rd. Leo beer, 55 baht.
  •    Dash! Restaurant & Bar, 38 Moon Muang Soi 2 (Moon Muang is the inside road on the west side of the old city. Take Soi 1 or 2 off Moon Muang and follow it around. You won't miss the place.),  +66 85 3477554 or +66 53 279230, e-mail: noitevis@comcast.net. 10:00-24:00. Possibly the best value for money in Chiang Mai. Wonderful ambiance, with indoor or outdoor seating. Great food, cocktails, and desserts at prices more than reasonable. Cooking classes offered on-site. Also has a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house for rent at 3,000 baht per day. Chicken fried rice, 85 baht; Chicken pat Thai, 85 baht; hamburger, 155 baht, American breakfast, 165 baht.
  •    Duke's Steak House & Pizzeria (Duke's Night Bazaar), Chiang Mai Pavilion, 1st and 2nd Floor, Changklan Rd (Outside moat, opposite Royal Princess Hotel),  +66 53 818603. 10:30-24:00. Excellent American-style dishes and desserts: ribs, burgers, pizza, cheesecake, etc. Full bar with local and imported beers and wines. Great family atmosphere, children's menu, no loud music or entertainment, just good food. Eat in, take out, call for delivery. The flagship restaurant is at 49/4-5 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd, south of the Nawarat Bridge; 50 m north of TAT. A third is in the Promenada Shopping Centre.
  •    La Fourchette, 162/2 Phrapoklao Rd (Inside moat, across from Wat Chedi Luang),  +66 89 7585604. M-Sa, 17:00-23:00. Authentic French restaurant in the centre of the old city. Large selection of imported meats and wines at affordable prices. Romantic open-air seating area with upstairs art gallery.
  •    Mong Pearl Cafe, Huay Kaew Rd (From the old city: 100 m after Canal Rd (Hwy 121), on your right), e-mail: mongpearlcoffee@yahoo.com. 08:00-20:00. A favourite with Westerners because of the great service, good English, nice aesthetics and delicious food and drinks.
  •    O'Malley's Irish Pub, 149-14/15 Changklan Rd (SW corner of Anusarn Market),  +66 53 271921. 09:00-02:00. Delicious cocktails and shockingly good Western and Thai food. Has inside (air conditioned) and outside (smoking) seating. The interior closely resembles an authentic pub. This place does all the small things well: Tabasco, Lea & Perrins on the tables, soap and towels in the loo, spotlessly clean. Not cheap, but the food is superb and the portions generous. Free Wi-Fi.
  •    Peppermint Cafe, Rachadamnoen Rd, Soi 5 (Inside moat, very near AUA and Wat Pan On),  +66 53 279735. 07:00-late. Spotlessly clean and excellent Western/Thai food at great prices. Terrific pizza at 69 baht a huge slice. Friendly, accommodating staff. Free Wi-Fi. English breakfast, 145 baht; burger, 99 baht.
  •    Pern's Restaurant (Formerly SoupaSteak), 26/5-6 Huay Keaw Rd (Opposite Shell gas station on the way to Doi Suthep),  +66 86 1117766. 17:00-23:00. closed M. Serves great Mediterranean-style food. Greece, Turkey, Italy are all represented. Tapas, budget pork and chicken steaks. Bacon cheese steak burger, 229 baht.
  •    Salad Concept, Nimmanhaemin Rd Soi 13 (At the corner of Nimmanhaemin Rd),  +66 53 894455. 11:00-22:00. Here's how this place works: you take a seat. At your table you will find a menu, pencils, and three short pre-printed forms. One for beverages, one for regular salads, one for special salads. You consult the menu, make your choices on the forms, and hand them to the server. Fast, efficient, and the food is very good. ~150 baht per person.

Splurge

  • Alois Bavarian Restaurant, Phrapoklao Rd, Soi 8 (Opposite Golden Fern Guest House),  +66 53 278515. Tu-Su, 11:30-23:00, closed M. Authentic Bavarian specialities.
  •    Arcobaleno Italian Restaurant, 60 Keaw Nawarat Rd, Soi 1 (Across from Wat Ket Karam; first soi off of Keaw Nawarat Rd),  +66 53 306254. Daily, 11:00-14:00, 17:30-22:00. Open for lunch and dinner with a range of traditional Italian soup, pasta, antipasti, meat and vegetarian dishes. Homemade ice cream, 35 baht per serving. Vegetarian pastas, 130-160 baht.
  •    The House (GINGER & Kafe), 199 Moon Muang Rd,  +66 53 419011. 10:00-23:00. Old 1930s colonial style house in town centre. Western and Thai food, Pacific Rim and fusion. Free Wi-Fi. Grilled fillet steak, 495 baht; hamburger, 250 baht.
  •    Piccola Roma Palace Italian Restaurant, 144 Charoen Prathet Rd (Opposite Chedi Hotel, corner of Charoen Prathet Rd & Sri Donchai Rd),  +66 53 820297-8. Open lunch & dinner amid beautiful surroundings. Serving residents for over 15 years. Menu and recipes on website. Reservations recommended. Call for free transportation.

Burmese

  •    The Swan, 48 Chaiyapoom Rd (Just outside the moat on the east side, two doors down from Mike's Hamburgers),  +66 81 0992777, e-mail: ndavey01@aol.com. 12:00-23:00. Free Wi-Fi. Smoking and non-smoking areas. Charming restaurant with a tiny storefront but a cavernous interior. Great food at good prices. Those unfamiliar with Burmese food are in for a treat! Tea leaf salad, 69 baht; beef curry with garlic, onion, tomato, ginger, cumin, 120 baht.

Chinese

  •    Rote-Lert (รสเลิศ), 25/3 Sripoom Rd (From the NE corner of the moat, go west about 250 m),  +66 53 212106, e-mail: rote-lert@hotmail.com. M-F, 15:30-22:00. The name means "awesome taste" and it's true of this place. Spotless, delicious, and inexpensive, the only downside to this place is that it has strange hours and is not open on weekends. Informative website with complete menu in Thai and English. Egg noodles with won ton and red pork plus a bottle of water, 50 baht.

Japanese

  •    Fuji, Central Airport Plaza. While perhaps not a special restaurant in that it is not unique to Chiang Mai (it's actually a large chain), for those seeking reasonably-priced Japanese food, Fuji is a must. Expect to pay 120 baht and up for each dish (for instance, a single sushi roll), however there are several spectacular set meals that offer great "bang for your buck", e.g., the Fuji Sashimi Set which can easily fill up a sushi lover for 190 baht. 120+ baht.
  •    Gigantea, 300 Chang Moi Rd,  +66 53 233464. Daily, 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00. Owned and managed by a cute Japanese-Thai husband and wife team, this restaurant is known as the best Japanese restaurant among Japanese residents in Chiang Mai. Although the menu is limited, ingredients are always fresh, cooking and presentation are excellent. Lunch is best value for money, with set meals costing around 140-200 baht.
  •    Kanson Sushi Bar, Kotchasan Rd, Soi 1. A little hidden in a side street, but visible from the main road near Tha Phae Gate. Delicious and very good value for money (250 baht will fill you).
  •    Sushi Box Chiang Mai, 16/1 Moo 2, Huay Kaew Rd (Between the first ring road/Nimman and the Canal Road, at The Harbour, an open air mall),  +66 81 5552103, e-mail: sushibox@chiangmaibest.com. Reasonably priced sushi, sashimi, and standard sushi bar Japanese meals. This is the first Sushi Box in Chiang Mai, there are five in Phuket. Mainly Thai crowd, moderately priced, lounge upstairs, great for people watching. Open 11:00-23:00. Can get busy at night.

Korean

  •    Gogi Jib Stone Grill Barbecue (Korean BBQ), 29/3 Kotchasarn Rd (Just outside Tha Phae Gate),  +66 84 4541943. 12:00-23:00. Modern and friendly Korean barbecue spot offering high quality beef and pork as well as other Korean traditional dishes. Great artwork on the colourful walls and groovy tunes floating over conversation. The staff are very attentive and the owners are right there to give a quick Korean lesson. 295 baht and up includes unlimited side dishes.

Vegetarian

It can be hard to find strictly vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, as fish and oyster sauce are used frequently, and the local Buddhist monks themselves often eat fish. Thus, asking for your dish to be prepared "like the monks", which works in other places, does not get the same results in Chiang Mai. There are a few completely vegetarian options.

  •    Anchan, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi Hillside 3 (Opposite Soi 13, about 50 m off of Nimmanhaemin),  +66 83 5811689. Excellent vegetarian food, perhaps the best in Chiang Mai.
  •    Blue Diamond, Moon Muang Rd, Soi 9. M-Sa 08:00-21:00. Thai and Western, huge selection of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great salads, fruits, juices, noodle dishes, bakery, good breads.
  • Gulf Restaurant, Anusarn Market (In a corner inside Anusarn Mkt, next to the pharmacy). open late. Lebanese owner/chef caters to middle eastern food lovers. Large portions of delicious tabbouleh, tahini salads, and humus alongside fresh falafel and simply brilliant flat bread. Shisha/nargila/water pipes are available as well as mint tea.
  •    ImmAim/Pun Pun (the other Pun Pun), Santhitam Rd (Near the YMCA, at the south end of Santhitam Rd, follow signs to). Not quite sure why there are two Pun Puns, but this one is definitely good. A mix of Thai and other styles, run by laconic locals linked to a local farm. The falafel is lovely, but different, and the salsa it comes with is delicious. Pasta can be quite sweet, and the cookies are great.
  •    Khun Churn, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 15,  +66 53 224124. Daily, 09:30-22:00. Thai vegetarian. A lunch buffet is available every day from 11:00-14:30 for 129 baht. Closes at 14:30 on the 16th of every month.
  •    Ming Kwan Vegetarian Buffet, Ratchadamnoen Rd (Opposite the police station). days only. A different range of Thai vegan dishes from the norm. A focus on faux-meats, the veggie sausage is great, and the faux-fish in curry sauce is good. Of course, bamboo shoot stir fry, noodle soups, etc., means there's lots to try. They cook during the day, so other dishes appear from the kitchen often.
  •    No Name Buddhist Buffet, Phrapokkloa Rd (Yellow fronted shop, 80 m N of Chiang Mai Gate (south side) on the right next to the Kodak shop). Daily, 06:00-16:00. Delicious vegan buffet is available at super cheap prices. There are a few great dishes: the tofu, mushroom, and lemon grass wrapped in banana leaves is addictive; the het-hom (shitake) and other protein/gluten goodies are lovely; the steaming noodle soup is a great addition to a meal if you've rocked up late and want to warm up the buffet dishes. The earlier the better as when dishes run out, they aren't remade. Also, you can buy some vegan supplies.
  •    Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant, Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Rd (Inside the temple compound behind the monk chat building in an outdoor courtyard with a large bodhi tree and tables with umbrellas.),  +66 86 101850. 09:00-15:00, closed W. Thai vegetarian with organic ingredients from local farmers and many vegan-friendly options. Run by a local self-reliance and seed-saving centre outside the city.
  • Taste from Heaven +66 53 208803. Daily, 08:30-22:00. Thai vegetarian with vegan options. Owned by a friendly English expat, this restaurant offers curries and noodle dishes in a comfortable and clean setting, with both indoor and garden seating.

Vietnamese

  • V T Namneung (วีที แหนมเนือง), 49/9 Lamphun Rd (On the east bank of the Ping River, just north of the Iron Bridge, just south of the Nawarat Bridge),  +66 53 266111, e-mail: vtnamnueng@hotmail.com. Handsome 2 storey restaurant with air-con upstairs. Serves what amounts to Vietnamese tapas: spring rolls, salted pork ribs, nem; all with lots of leafy greens. Serve beer, but the fresh fruit juices are better. Do very little to cater to visitors as most everything is in Thai including signs and menus. At the entry have a shop that offers many of their products packaged for take-away. The website lists their catering offerings.

Drinks

Chiang Mai's nightlife is the most happening in the north, although still a far cry from Bangkok's hot spots. The busiest night life zones are near Tha Phae Gate, Loi Kroh Rd and along Charoen Rat Rd on the east bank of the Ping River.

Bars and pubs

Many, but by no means all, of Chiang Mai's tourist-oriented bars and pubs are located along Loi Kroh Rd (ถนนลอยเคระห์), outside the southeast quadrant of the old city. In addition to the street bars, the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex (CMEC) (the CMEC sign is not prominent. Much more so is a lighted sign in front, Loikroh Boxing Stadium) can be found at the Night Bazaar-end of Loi Kroh. Here you will find around 30 bars ranging from sports bars that feature big screens to watch sports and play pool, to Pattaya-style girlie "beer bars", to even bars staffed exclusively by kathoeys (ladyboys). The complex also features a muay Thai boxing ring that has exhibition bouts for free or a voluntary donation, and on some nights (varys) real competitive boxing that requires an entrance fee unless your bar has provided you with complimentary viewing. And for extra fun, the occasional Westerner climbs into the ring, usually with hilarious results.

Also take a stroll along Moon Muang Road and its side Sois 1 and 2. Here you can find small expat hangouts and sports bars. Most have pool tables and hostesses, along with music videos or various TV sport programmes. Be aware that despite their charm and friendliness, the pressure to purchase lady drinks can result in a very surprising tab at the end of the night.

Loi Kroh Rd (Night Bazaar area)

  • Ben Cocktail Bar, 71/1-2 Loi Kroh Rd (Across from Chiang Mai Saloon; cater-corner across the street northwest from the Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex. Small sign. Look for it and you will be rewarded),  +66 89 9502762. 17:00-last man standing. A tiny, hole-in-the-wall (~15 seat) cocktail bar that just may serve the best cocktails in Chiang Mai. Certainly the best price/performance. Run by Ben, an irrepressible, animal-loving, lovely female and her partner, Keng. She is especially proud of her mojitos, but all the 270 cocktails on offer are delicious. The conversation is good too as she speaks excellent English. Free Wi-Fi. Chang beer, 60 baht; cocktails, 120 baht.
  • Chiang Mai Cabaret Show (SE corner of Anusarn Market). Daily show, 21ː30-22ː30. A nightly revue, dancing to Western tunes by ladyboys in lavish costumes. The one hour show is tame and family-friendly, with children frequently in the audience. Lots of dancing to ABBA tunes and extravagant costumes, with no nudity. The show's length is perfect and the price is surprising affordable, with no cover and reasonably priced drinks. All in all, good fun. Happy Hour precedes the show, 19:30-20:30, and follows the show. No cover, Chang beer 100 baht, cocktails 150 baht.
  •    Dragonfly Bar, 8/1 Loi Kroh Rd. One of the smaller bars at the top of Loi Kroh but also one of the most cosy. What really make this place stand out is the friendly staff and the fact that this bar has two floors so you can get away from the bustle of street level and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere from the balcony.
  •    Kat Bar (Loi Kroh in the CMEC). Hosted by the feisty and effervescent Jane who always has a great selection of music of your choice played as loud as you like, together with free pool and a wonderful group of really friendly girls to ease your shyness. Always a great favourite as it does not have girls of the pushy, "buy me a drink" type, but the quality service always ensures their welcome visitors want to come back.
  •    Sweetheart Bar, Loi Kroh Soi 2 (Just a few metres off Loi Kroh). 12:00-last man standing. Small, clean bar run by an expat Brit. (NB: this is a Liverpool FC house!) Convivial atmosphere of mostly expats. A terrific Sunday Roast is served from 12:00-17:00, 195 baht for your choice of chicken, pork, or both. Just slightly more expensive than breakfast. Free, strong Wi-Fi and all the Premier League matches on cable TV. Large Leo beer, 100 baht.
  •    2Gether Bar & Restaurant (Loi Kroh Soi 1, just past Number 1 Bar, on the left). M-F, 10:30-01:00; Sa 13:00-01:00; Su, 17:00-01:00. Very reasonable prices, 10-30% less than others in the Loi Kroh neighbourhood. This bar/restaurant has a very good atmosphere. The host is the charming Mai. There is a free pool table, but don't expect an easy game if she is playing. A little-known fact about this place: it serves terrific food. A true undiscovered gem. E.g., large baguette sandwiches for less than 100 baht. Leo beer, 65 baht.

Nimmanhaemin Rd

Northwest of the city centre, the area around Nimmanhaemin Rd is a popular hangout for younger Thais, perhaps due to its proximity to Chiang Mai University ("maw chaw"). The pubs tend to straddle a fine line between bar, restaurant, and nightclub, and feature loud music interspersed with live bands fronted by musicians who are most likely hitting the books in the daytime. Tourists looking for something racier are better off staying in the east side of town. Little English is spoken in this part of town. Little doesn't mean none, however, and the staff of many bars, being students, still can understand what do you want, or even sometimes can speak English reasonably well.

  •    Mo'C Mo'L, Huay Kaew Rd. Pub and restaurant near Chiang Mai University, there are many zones in the restaurant: coffee shop, dining outdoors near the small pond, dining indoors with live music.
  •    Monkey Club, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 9.,  +66 53 226997-8.. 17:00-01:00.. Hot spot for students and 20-somethings, with a variety of live music.
  •    The Pub, 189 Huay Kaew Rd (Near Amari Rincome Hotel),  +66 53 211550. 07:00-23:00. Long-established English-style pub, has had a makeover and extended the bar and the restaurant, but kept its charm. Great selection of food and drinks, including roast dinners on Sundays. Has an outside area where you can sit and enjoy the tranquillity of a tropical garden, and has recently added bungalows for those wishing to linger longer. Bungalows, 800+ baht.
  •    Warm Up Bar. This chain bar/restaurant/club has several venues in Thailand. The venue in Chiang Mai is a lot less touristy and the dance hall packed to the brim with Thai students.

Inside the moat

  •    Café Souvannaphoum, 20/1 Ratchamanka Rd (Near Moon Muang, next to Dada Kafe),  +66 53 903781. M-Sa 17:00-01:00. A decent wine bar with comfortable seating and relaxing music, a great escape from the busy street scene.
  •    Half Moon Pub, Soi 2 Moon Muang (50 m into Soi 2 from the moat),  +66 85 3205023. 10:00-late. Sports bar with many regulars and tourists. Darts and pool area, big TV, really nice international cuisine, especially the burgers, but also good Thai and Indian dishes. Excellent (can be loud) music, friendly atmosphere, and beautiful women.
  •    The Writers Club, 141/3 Ratchadamnoen Rd (about 600 m into the old city from Tha Phae Gate.),  +66 53 814187, +66 53 814187. An old fashioned bar and restaurant purportedly for SE Asia's community of authors, journalists, and screenwriters, though everyone's welcome. A good, informal source of information about SE Asia. This is where the some of those writing guidebooks gather.
  •    Yokka Dok, 11 Ratchamanka Rd (Near Cafe Dada),  +66 53 449529, e-mail: yokkadok@gmail.com. Gay bar with restaurant and guesthouse.
  •    Zoe in Yellow, 40/12 Ratvithi Rd (Inside the moat). Very large indoor/outdoor bar and club with a dance floor, live music or DJ, including lots of outdoor seating and multiple bars. If you're looking to party with foreigners in Chiang Mai, this is the place to be. Does not open until about midnight, but goes until early morning, unless raided by police.

Coffee

Between 2009 and 2011 the coffee scene changed in Chiang Mai. The coffee chains were saving money by using inferior coffee and untrained staff. A new coffee place called Akha Ama started with high precision coffee brewing. This example was soon followed by others.

  •    Akha Ama, 9/1 Mata Apartment, Hussadhisewee Rd, Soi 3 (Santitham area). 08:00-20:00, closed W.
  •    Bitter Sweet, Huay Kaew Rd (At the Shell Service Station). The noisy location is made up for by the excellent espresso. Internet is free, and the "fishbowl" inside is both air conditioned and soundproofed against the rush of traffic.
  •    La Fattoria (Akha Ama 2), 175/1 Ratchadamnoen Rd (Inside moat, near Wat Phra Sing). 08:00-20:00. At this location they roast the coffee for their outlets.
  •    Happy Espresso, 15 Bumrung Buri Rd (At the south moat, Chinese Consulate is across the water). They roast their own beans.
  •    J. Ju Coffee, 52 Ratchamanka Rd. Run by "Oil", this little place has excellent espresso-based drinks, free Wi-Fi, or ten minutes on the computer with your coffee. Very modern design; seating in the front is open-air while the back is air conditioned. Oil herself speaks excellent English and is happy to give you the low-down.
  •    Ka-fae Nang-muan, Ratchaphakhinai Rd (Inside moat, not far from the south moat). 10:00-18:00.
  •    9th Street Cafe, 12/4 Nimmanhaemin Rd Soi 9 (Nimmanhaemin area),  +66 86 188 7779. 08:30-23:00.
  •    Pacamara, Ratchadamnoen Rd (Inside moat, near Wat Chedi Luang). 07:00-19:00.
  •    Ristr8to, 15/3 Nimmanhaemin Rd (Between Soi 3 and Soi 5). 08:00-23:00. A trendy art cafe featuring an award-winning barista, choices of single-origin beans and a varied drink menu. Very friendly atmosphere at much higher standard than is normally seen in Thailand.
  •    Starbucks (The well-known chain with 6 more branches in Chiang Mai) (East of Tha Phae Gate, outside moat). Wi-Fi, 150 baht per hour. Drink prices much higher than the other coffee places.
  •    Wawee Coffee (Local chain with 5 outlets in Chiang Mai), Ratchadamnoen Rd (At Kad Klang Wiang). Looks much like a Starbucks. Nice mugs if you drink it there. Several other locations in and around Chiang Mai. Inside is well air-conditioned, outside is under a canopy (they mist water in the heat of the afternoon). The staff pride themselves on their decorative drinks (look for the panda-topped latte). Internet available for small fee.

Gay bars

  •    Garden Bar & Restaurant (Lotus Hotel), 2/25 Soi Viangbua, Chotana Rd (Across the street from Adams Apple),  +66 53 215376. Outdoor garden bar and restaurant serving Lebanese, Western and Thai food. Popular meeting place for gay expats and tourists.
  •    Sabaidee Santitham, 65 Santitham Rd, Chang Phuak (Corner of Tewan Rd and Santitham Rd),  +66 81 8851329 (Mr. Don) +66 89 9514554 (Mr. Louis), e-mail: info@Sabaidee-Santitham.com. Northern Thai-style outdoor gay bar and restaurant. Packed with very friendly staff and fun atmosphere. 45 baht for a large Chang beer.
  •    Soho Bar & Guesthouse, 20/3 Huay Kaew Rd (About 100 m from the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall, opposite the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel),  +66 53 404175, +66 85 0298485, +66 82 6959930, e-mail: sohocm@hotmail.com. Gay expats, tourists, and Thai men.

Live music

The area along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoen Rat Rd is famous for jazz, rock, pop, Thai, and country and Western live music, along with restaurants serving Thai, Western, and Chinese food. Coming from the centre of the city, just walk from the Night Bazaar across the Nawarat Bridge, from where all the restaurants can be seen along the river on the left.

Most bands in Chiang Mai play for about an hour, and then move on to do the same at another restaurant or pub, so don't be surprised to see the same band if you switch venues.

  •    Boy Blues Bar (In the Kalare Centre (near the food hall) in the Night Bazaar on the mezzanine floor opposite the dancing stage). 19:00-01:00. The owner, "Boy", plays great blues guitar and is a nephew of Chiang Mai legend "Took", of the now defunct Brasserie. Monday night is jamming night and some great visiting musicians have made this often memorable. Bangkok blues legend, Chai (of Chai's Blues Bar fame), often joins in, as do Chiang Mai's local brass section greats Roddy and Craig. Well worth a visit.
  •    The Bridge Bar, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 11,  +66 81 5950678. Till 01:00. Live music every night, except Monday: Brit pop, rock, Thai. Mostly Thais go to this bar but you will as well see some expats, ages: 22-32. Service is excellent and if you happen to go there by yourself, for sure someone will come up to talk to you. The menu includes delicious cocktails: "Mango Kiss", "Velvet"! Cheap beer & Sangsom (Thai rum) as well as snacks. The outside sitting area is perfect if you want to talk.
  •    The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoen Rat Rd,  +66 53 243239. The live music starts around 19:00 with dinner music from the Eagles, Beatles, or soft jazz. Starting at 21:00, the music changes to more rock and pop songs. Full bar service serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. The restaurant gets very crowded, so get here early to get a table. The Riverside also offers a nightly dinner cruise departing at 20:00 for 110 baht/person extra.
  •    The Good View, 13 Charoen Rat Rd (Next to The Riverside Restaurant),  +66 53 241886. Thai and Western varieties of rock, jazz, pop and country music entertain in the evening. Their extensive menu offers more than 150 Thai, Chinese, and Western dishes, including curries, noodles, rice, and pizza. Full-service bar serving wine, beer and spirits. If you want a good river view table, get there early.
  •    The North Gate Jazz Collective (Inside the moat, east of Chang Phuak Gate). The North Gate has easily become one of the most popular, regular destinations for Chiang Mai's young expat community. With nightly jazz performances starting around 21:30 with different performers and occasional guests from the audience, the North Gate adds something unique to the often repetitious Chiang Mai live music scene. Mixed bag in terms of quality. Sometimes great, sometimes mediocre. In addition to nightly music performed by true lovers and technicians of jazz, the North Gate offers a variety of drinks not normally found in Chiang Mai, notably red and white wine, mojitos, and other mixed drinks. The staff is quick and efficient and prices are reasonable.
  •    Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Charoen Rat Rd (Next to Gallery Restaurant),  +66 53 248601. Good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.

Nightclubs

  •    Discovery (Opposite Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre and Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel). A small club with live band, DJ, and huge screens showing music videos. Good for drinking nights and letting loose. Bring ID/passport as they can be strict with entry, especially on weekends.
  •    Hot Shots (At Pornping Tower Hotel). A Thai place with live music most nights, reasonable drink prices and no cover charge for foreigners or locals.
  •    Spicy (Spice Club), 82 Chaiyaphum Rd (Outside moat, across the moat from the Sompet Market),  +66 53 234869. 02:00-. A hectic after-hours place with good drinks, dancing, and lots of girls looking to party. Be forewarned, many are bar girls (the place doesn't get rocking until they get off at 02:00) so do not be surprised if they ask for money to go home with you.

Shopping

Chiang Mai is a great place to shop. Sprawling markets during the day and night carry items from cheap trinkets to skilfully made local crafts. ATMs can be found easily, but all charge 150 baht to foreigners, except for Aeon. Their most convenient ATMs can be found at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport on the 3rd floor, at Tesco Lotus north of old town at the superhighway, ground floor, and on the 2nd floor of Siam TV (south side of moat).

Books

  •    D.K. Book Centre (Duangkamol), 79/1 Kotchasarn Rd (Just past the turn to Loi Kroh Rd in a shopping centre on the left),  +66 53 208995. M-F, 10:30-20:00; Sa-Su, 09:00-20:00. Not a great place to buy Western language titles, but particularly strong in educational books and learning resources of every description. Most of the office supplies such as pens are crappy and restocking leaves much to be desired.
  • Gecko Books, 2/6 Chang Moi Kao Rd (Main branch outside the moat in the vicinity of the Tha Phae Gate),  +66 53 874066. 3 locations. Large collection of used books. On-line ordering.
  •    Suriwong Book Centre (สุริวงค์บุคเชนเตอว์), Sridonchai Rd (Opposite the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, one street south of Loi Kroh), e-mail: cust@suriwongbook.com. Essentially 2 shops: a magazine shop open from 08:00-20:00 and the main book/stationery shop open from 10:00-19:00. Good selection of Western language titles. Pleasant ambiance, and is one of the few buildings in Thailand with wheelchair access by design. Great selection of office supplies including high-quality pens and mechanical pencils (Cross, Parker, Rotring, Staedtler, Pentel, et al.) along with high-end LED torches.

Clothing

  • Nok 'Em Ded Designs, 162/5 Prapokklao Rd, Prasingh (From Tha Phae Gate, go straight on Rachadamnoen Rd, turn left at 2nd intersection. Shop is on left, opposite Wat Puntao & Wat Chedi Luang.),  +66 53 280960, +66 87 0344067, e-mail: info@nokemded.com. M 12:00-20:00, Tu-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-23:00. Unique styles from simple to extravagant. English-speaking owners & staff. Jewellery is handmade by the artist owners. Great quality T-shirt collection. from 50 baht.
  • Palmy Shoes, Nimmanhaemin Rd, Soi 5,  +66 81 4720607, e-mail: palmyshoe@gmail.com. Handmade leather shoes and accessories. The owners speak English and all shoes are made locally. 1,000-2,500 baht.

Groceries

  • Rimping Supermarket, 129 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Rd (Follow Loi Kroh Rd east towards the Ping River even as it devolves into little more than an alley. You will come to the Iron Bridge. From the east end of the bridge, the Rimping is across the street in the direction of 1-2 o'clock.),  +66 53 246333-4. Daily, 08:00-21:00. If you want Western foodstuffs like good bread, pickles, charcuterie, etc., pickings are slim in the vicinity of the Old City. Rimping has it all. 5 locations in the Chiang Mai area. Expensive, but when you want olives there are few other choices.
  • Tops Supermarket (Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Centre), 21 Huay Kaew Rd (From the NW corner of the moat, go about 500 m west towards the mountains. Shopping centre on your left.),  +66 53 224953. Daily, 09:00-21:00. At the lowest level of the Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Centre. Good selection of Western foodstuffs, including good bread, cheese, wine and beer.

Housewares and workshops

Along Rte 1006 (Charoen Muang Rd) just past the superhighway (Rte 11) are various factories offering factory tours. Silverware, silk, furniture and brass items generally priced with the cashed-up tourist in mind, but the tours might be worth a look to see how things are made. They are generally open during typical daytime hours.

  • Mengrai Kilns, 79/2 Arak Rd, Samlan 6,  +66 53 272063, e-mail: info@mengraikilns.com. Celadon green-glazed ceramics. Sift through their pile of rejects in the covered area to the right of store and find something interesting for 20 baht. 20-500 baht.

Malls

  •    CentralFestival (NE of town centre, Juvenile Court intersection, Super Hwy 11 and Chiang Mai-Doi Saket Rd (Rte 118). Take Kaewnawarat east, past the bus station, cross the ring road and turn into the entrance on the left. Coming from the north, take the first ring road and turn into the entrace before crossing Rte 118 (Doi Saket Rd/Kaewnawarat).). 11:00-. Measuring 250,000m², with 250 shops, it rivals the Central Plaza Chiang Mai in size. Central Festival opened in late 2013 and includes an ice rink, IMAX and 4DX movie theatres, dozens of restaurants and shops on five floors. A food court on the fifth floor as well as at the ground floor level (with better prices). All banks and cell phone companies are represented.
  •    Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport (เซ็นทรัล แอร์พอร์ต พลาซ่า), 2 Mahidol Rd, Haiya, (Corner Thipanet Rd and Mahidon Rd, bbout a kilometre from the airport),  +66 53 999199. On five floors, with a food court, banks/ATMs, and multi-screen cinema. It also has a Cultural Centre attached selling many crafts, a large food market, and an extensive selection of Thai ready-to-eat stalls in the basement.
  •    Kad Suan Keaw (กาดสวนแก้ว), 21 Huay Kaew Rd (Near corner Huay Kaew Rd and Bunreuangrit Rd),  +66 53 224444. Daily, 10:00-21:00. Great location, just off the moat's NW corner. Decent shops, very good Tops Supermarket, restaurants, and banks/ATMs.
  •    MAYA Lifestyle Shoping Center (Corner Huay Kaew Rd and Superhighway).
  •    Promenada Resort Mall (พรอมเมนาดา), 192-193 Tasala (Corner Rte 1141 and Rte 3029 (1st ringroad)),  +66 53 142761. M-F, 11:00-21:00; Sa-Su-holidays 10:00-21:00. Spacious, two floor, sprawling mall opened in 2013. This mall is significant distance from the city centre, though there are free shuttles; otherwise a phone call is required to get a taxi back to the city since there is no taxi stand.

Markets

  • Anusarn Market (Near the bottom end of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar on Changklan Rd). 18:00-24:00. During the day time the Anusarn Market area is devoid of any vendor stalls. All the permanent shops, bars, and eateries around the inside walls of the market area are open for business. Every afternoon the Anusarn Market vendors move in, erect their large tent type stalls and open. Good shopping, good restaurants, and in a back corner there is a ladyboy cabaret that puts on a one-hour show at 21:30, no cover charge and reasonable drink prices.
  • Chiang Mai Gate Market (South side of the moat inside, roughly at the mid-point). A major shopping venue for fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish for locals. Between the ring roads and in the vicinity are numerous food stalls.
  • Kalare Market (Down from the top end of the Night Bazaar on Changklan Rd's east side). 18:00-24:00. A large covered arcade full of shops with an open food court and entertainment area. The food court operates on a "coupon" system. You buy coupons from the cashiers, then redeem them at the many small adjacent food stalls. Cheap dining! The market has bars, many shops, massage shops.
  • Malin Plaza Night Market (Across from the main entrance to Chiang Mai University),  +66 53 892111, e-mail: shop@www.malinplaza.com. About 18ː00-. If the Night Bazaar is the place tourists go at night, Malin Plaza is where young Thais go. It's proximity to มช ("maw chaw", the local nickname for CMU) means that in the evening this place is crawling with teens and twenty-somethings. Clothing is young, trendy, and cheap. Cheap restaurants abound too, including a number of all-you-can-eat table-top barbecues, usually priced about 175 baht per person.
  • Night Bazaar (ไนท์บาร์ซ่า) (Changklan Rd, between Tha Phae Rd and Sri Donchai Rd. To get there, walk from Tha Phae Gate down Tha Phae Rd for 3/4 km to Changklan Rd, then turn right). 18:00-24:00. A huge indoor/outdoor commercial maelstrom centred on the Night Bazaar Building on the west side of Changklan Rd. The Night Bazaar can be considered an entire region of the city as it incorporates the Anusarn and Kalare Markets as well, with the borders being ambiguous (and unimportant). It can take a concerted effort to find something interesting among the near identical stalls selling tourist-oriented sunglasses, T-shirts, textiles, watches, luggage, caps, and anything else small enough to sell out of a market stall. You rarely will see Thai people shopping here. On the east side of the street you will find the Anusarn and Kalare Markets with wider offerings.
  • Saturday Walking Street Market, Wua Lai Rd (Outside the moat on the city's south side, starting roughly across from Chiang Mai Gate). Sa 17:00-23:00. In the old silver-working district, it's a smaller version of the Sunday market with many of the same vendors.
  • Sompet Market (Moon Muang Rd, Soi 6, just inside the moat). Just south of the moat's northeast corner. Mostly a fruit and veg market for locals, but close at hand to the many guesthouses in the area so a good place for visitors to stock up on grub. Lots of prepared meat and meals as well.
  • Sunday Walking Street Market, Ratchadamnoen Rd (From the Tha Phae Gate west along Ratchadamnoen to Singharat Rd at Wat Prah Sing.). Su 16:00-23:00. This market is enormous and takes up several blocks on either side of Ratchadamnoen including from Ratchawithi to Ratchamanka on Prapoklao (from the 3 Kings Monument to past Wat Chedi Luang). The street is blocked off to traffic for local craft vendors to layout their handmade wares. There are food vendors strewn throughout. It starts at 16:00, but not everyone is set up until around 18:00. Runs late, but most vendors start to pack up around 22:00 or so.
  • Warorot Market (กาดหลวง / Kad Luang), Tha Phae Rd and Chang Moi Rd. 07:00-17:00. This sprawling indoor/outdoor market is where the locals shop and is worth a visit to look over the plethora of fabrics, spices, tea, and dried fruit piled up along the aisles. Across the road is a flower and fruit market and an out-of-this-world fireworks stand. At night the street is packed with snack stalls.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Chiang Mai on Wikivoyage.

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