About Chiang Mai in Thailand - how to get there and where to stay.
The City is considered as being located in Northern Thailand and was founded as the Lanna Capital in 1296.
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city after Bangkok with a population living within the immediate city of around 160,000 people.
Chiang Mai attracts around 5 million visitors a year half of whom are foreigners and therefore it's one of Thailand's busiest tourist locations. Most of the main sites of interest in Chiang Mai are located within the Old Quarter which is surrounded by a city wall (some parts of which are still quite evident - for instance at Tha Phae Gate) by the moat. Simple to walk around, the 1km square Old Quarter contains
numerous temples and Wats all of which are free to enter although donations are always welcome. For visiting these Chiang Mai Temples correct dress is required in the Main Wat and shoes have to be removed as is normal in any of Thailand's Temples.
Ways of Travelling to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Flights.
Chiang Mai airport operates from 0600 to 2330 each day - it's
located just 3kms from the centre of Chiang Mai. There are frequent International flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Luang Prabang in Laos,
Kunming (China) - also flights twice a week to Yangon (Myanmar) and 4 flights a week direct to Taiwan. Domestic flights are available to and from Nan, Chiang Rai,
Mae Hong Son, Udon Thani, Hat Yai, Phuket and Bangkok. As you get into the Arrivals you are likely to be approached by taxi-touts however there is an
official airport taxi booking service desk inside the arrivals hall which seems a much safer bet - they will give you the number of your taxi - then you simply wait outside for it to turn up.
Chiang Mai Long Distance Buses.
Thailand has an excellent bus service and there are frequent buses connecting all major towns within the country. The
main long distance bus station is Arcade Bus Station which is on Thanon Kaeo Nawarat - around 3kms northeast from the centre of town. You can only buy
tickets from the bus station - travel agencies do not sell them. Chiang Mai has VIP and First Class buses offering cheap services north to Chiang Rai and
connections up to the Lao border at Chiang Khong and south for Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and of course Bangkok. The more expensive VIP buses are good for overnight travelling however the somewhat cheaper First Class are perfect for
day time as they are clean and comfortable.
Chiang Mai - railways.
Chiang Mai railway station is located 2kms east of the city centre at the junction Charoen Muang Road and Rat
Uthit Road. The stations has left-luggage facilities and there is also an ATM available. Train services are only available for heading south of Chiang Mai and
there are usually 14 services a day to and from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station, a journey which takes between 12 and 14 hours.
Chiang Mai Hotels and Restaurants.
There are so many hotels and guest houses around that you are really spoiled for choice and they all advertise on the web - and also this means that room prices are pretty reasonable. We stayed at a small hotel with nice views of the Ping River and
this cost UKstg40 per night with cooked breakfast. There are also quite a few restaurants and cafes especially down at the Old City Wall by the moat and also along the Ping River (these are somewhat more expensive but you often get live music).
About Getting around whilst in Chiang Mai - songthaews, taxis and tuk-tuks.
One way (apart from walking) to get around is by using the City's local buses called songthaews - these are used as shared taxis and are in effect fairly large vans with rudimentary seats. The songthaews are differently coloured depending on which route they take - the red songthaews operate around the main part of the City
whilst the other coloured-types go a little further afield. If you use one you may have to wait a while before it departs as they will not leave until they
have filled up with enough passengers. There are of course also plenty of tuk-tuks around but ensure you agree a price before using one.
The best chance of negotiating a reasonable fare is by stopping one along the road. If possible try not to use any tuk-tuks which are parked together perhaps by
restaurants or hotels etc as the drivers often pre-agree prices between themselves and will rarely negotiate prices - usually asking for far too much money.
Our other Topics related to visiting and looking around in Chiang Mai.