Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand
Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai was capital of the Lanna Kingdom until 1558 and protective walls and moats are still a significant feature, separating Old Town from newer areas. Chiang Mai really has something for everyone, with lively nightlife, stunning temples, traditional handicrafts, excellent food and friendly atmosphere.
Explore further than Chiang Mai and discover indigenous tribes, mountains, jungles, outdoor adventures and so much more. One of my favourite areas of Thailand and well worth a visit.
Chiang Mai was 18th in the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards Trending Destinations.
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The most popular time to visit Chiang Mai is the cool season which runs from November to February with daily highs of around 30°C/86°F. Temperatures in the mountains will be significant cooler so dress appropriately. Even at lower levels night-time temperatures can dip so you may need an added layer on your night out. Rainfall is uncommon.
The hot season is between March and May and it is hot with temperatures often hitting 40°C/104°F with very high levels of humidity. A much more pleasant time to visit the mountain areas as they are a much more comfortable temperature. Rainfall tends to increase in mid to late May as we head towards the rainy season.
The rainy season runs until around late October and for much of the time there will be rain every day usually with mid to late afternoon downpours than often last only an hour or so before it starts to dry out again. Night-time storms also happen and can provide incredible light shows. Temperatures are in the low 30’s/86-91°F and pleasant at night.
Chiang Mai airport is well served by regional airlines as well as some larger airlines, however there are no direct flights from the UK, Thai, Singapore and Qatar all offer good connecting options. There are fewer options when flying to Chiang Rai from the UK meaning a Bangkok visit is more beneficial. Many people will combine a visit to the north of Thailand with a couple of nights in Bangkok where connections are excellent.
If you have time take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which gives you the chance to enjoy the changing scenery as you travel north through Thailand. Even better you could stop at Ayutthaya, enjoy the ancient capital and continue your journey the next day. Ticket prices are excellent even in a first class bunk although personally I would suggest travelling even cheaper as you will get the chance to spend more time mixing with the locals. The train has food and drink on sale. The journey is around 12 hours long although this depend on which train you get. Some people choose an overnight train to arrive early next morning.
Bus services run often between between Bangkok, and other major towns, and Chiang Mai. There are less services to Chiang Rai usually connecting via Chiang Mai and taking around 4 hours.
Songthaews and Tuk-Tuks are seen all over Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and are often the best way of getting around town if you don’t want to walk. The great thing about both towns is that they are small and safe enough to walk around and explore. Some hotels will have bicycles available that make exploring even easier.
Find out about the different areas in Chiang Mai that are best suited to your budget and what you are looking for in your visit.
Northern Thailand is much more than just Chiang Mai. Explore Chiang Rai and the rest of the North.
We have picked our favourite 16 things to see and do in Chiang Mai and the rest of Northern Thailand
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