Information & Facts
Chiang Mai has a tropical climate, but is cooler and less humid
than elsewhere in Thailand. Chaing Mai experiences monsoons. The
south-west monsoon arrives from India at the end of May and lasts
until November, with the heaviest downpours in August/September.
Rain usually occurs in the late afternoon. Between November and May
cool air blows in from China and northern Vietnam, bringing a dry
season with mild days and balmy nights. Temperatures are at their
lowest in December/January, and it is chilly enough to require a
warm jacket at night.
Chiang Mai is tourist-oriented, and it is therefore relatively
easy to get around, with several transport options. Three-wheeled
tuk tuks, also known as
samlors, are usually the quickest means of transport, and
fares should be negotiated before travelling.
Songthaewsare another novel (if slightly hair-raising) way
Songthaewsare small, usually red, pickup trucks with benches
fitted along the side; they have no fixed route but pick up and
drop off passengers like buses and need to be flagged down. Be sure
to check the destination with the driver. The Chiang Mai bus
service is very limited; catching a metered taxi can be difficult
at times as well. Renting a motorbike is a popular option, and car
rental agencies are also available, though traffic can be heavy,
and it is advised to rather hire a car with a driver. Bicycles are
another good way to explore Chiang Mai and can be hired in the old
city, though one does have to watch out for drivers.
Far more family friendly than Bangkok, Chiang Mai is a great
place to take the kids while on holiday in Thailand. The national
way of life of
sanuk(fun) is enough to keep the kids on their
toes. Couple that with the friendly, child-loving and sometimes
even child-like quality of the Thais, and you've got a recipe for a
fun-filled holiday with the family in Chiang Mai.
Take the kids to watch the animal shows in the Mae Sa Valley
where monkeys ride tricycles and play basketball, hold a cobra at
the Mae Se Snake Farm, enjoy the views from an elephant's back at
the Elephant Conservation Centre on the Chiang Mai-Lampang road,
swim and play under a waterfalls in the Soi Suithep-Pui National
Park, go fishing in a local pond, or visit Chiang Mai Zoo's two
giant pandas from China,
Be sure to make sure the kids have plenty of sunscreen on and
kit them out with a sunhat as the temperatures can be searing. With
all these attractions and more, children on holiday in Chiang Mai
will be entertained from dawn to dusk.
Thai is the official language, although English is widely
spoken in tourist areas.
The unit of currency is the Baht (THB), which is divided
into 100 satang. Currency can be exchanged at the airport, banks,
hotels and bureaux de change. Banks are open Monday to Friday. ATMs
are available in most cities and tourist resorts. Most large hotels
and shops accept travellers cheques, but a better rate will be
given at banks. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels and
Shopping in Chiang Mai is an extremely rewarding experience!
There is a vast array of goods available, most often at very good
(if not dirt-cheap) prices. As one of the handicraft centres of
Asia, Chiang Mai is the place to buy anything from silk, silver and
ceramics to antiques and Buddhist art. DVDs, CDs and electronic
equipment are also readily available, although sometimes of dubious
The first stop has to be the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan road,
with stalls and arcades offering all kinds of Northern Thai
handicrafts including silk, cotton, wooden carvings, silver and saa
(mulberry) paper. During the day, there are also some vendors
around selling crafts and food. Another good market is held on
Ratchadamnoen Road, in the old city. Near Chiang Mai, Bor Sang
village also sells its famous colourful umbrellas.
In the centre of Chiang Mai there are numerous shops trading in
fabric, shoes, antiques, jewellery and hill-tribe products.
Gadgets, western-style clothes and multimedia goods are best
stocked at the Kad Suan Kaew mall and Airport Plaza, while computer
equipment can be found at the Panthip Plaza.
Chiang Mai is a magical wonderland for visitors to explore and
with so many breathtaking natural and cultural attractions
travellers will be hard-pressed to know where to begin. The best
time of year for sightseeing in Chiang Mai is between November and
May when the cooler weather makes for perfect days spent
A must while on holiday in Chiang Mai is the Maesa Elephant Camp
where visitors can enjoy an elephant ride and even watch them play
football or paint a picture, and check out the Mae Sa Waterfall in
the Soi Suithep-Pui National Park, while the Chiang Mai City Arts
and Cultural Center will teach visitors about the region, its
culture, religion and its history. And if you're into cultural
activities, check out the Lisu Hill-Tribe display at the Hill-Tribe
Research Institute Museum to learn about the lives of the
There are plenty of temples to visit too, such as Wat Phrathat
Doi Suthep, which overlooks Chiang Mai from the slopes of Mount
Suthep and Wat Phra Singh, the city's best-known temple which
houses the Phra Singh statue, which dates back to between 1385 and