The ‘Rose of the North’ has several sharp thorns, but whatta shopper! With cooler weather than the South, lush landscapes and peaceful countryside aplenty, plus antiques and retail by the ton, she’s well worth the hour’s flight from Bangkok. Put your shopping foot forward and do teak town in style.
Taking the compact walled city complete with moat and crumbling gates as centre, hip Nimmanhaemin is west, antique-laden Hang Dong south, night market and Ping River east, Sankampaeng further east, and hilly Mae Rim and Mae Sa north. The fabled Golden Triangle and Chiang Rai are but a day trip away.
Need to Know
Weather: Nov-Feb is the best time to visit (pack a shawl), Mar can be smoky and polluted due to field burning, rash inducing heat Mar-May, wet monsoon Jul-Oct
Transport: Rip-off tuk-tuks and red buses – call a taxi meter instead. Note it’s not illegal (or unusual) for taxis to turn off the meter and quote a fixed fare
Alcohol: Almost all bars and clubs close by 1am – pooh!
Ship Costs: Shipping companies are everywhere, although most shops can arrange this for you. Beware of extra taxes and charges at the country of destination
Etiquette: This is temple town, so keep your bits in when out
Talking Points, 2016 Edition
Events: TEDxChiangMai (Jan 30) – Thailand’s biggest creativity and idea forum; Chiang Mai flower festa (Feb 5-7) – Lana in full bloom as her natural treasures are paraded on floats, followed by strawberries galore (Feb 11-14)
Songkran Festival: ring in Buddhist new year by drowning yourself in flour and water, of course. Tha Phae Gate is the party’s epicentre – not for the faint of heart. Or better yet, completely avoid (mid Apr)
Hotel News: Chiang Mai Riverside Hotel – beaut recluse sporting 14 plush new pads overlooking Ping’s glittery stream; Akyra Manor dazzles downtown with suave, city-slicker sanctuaries on buzzy Nimmanhaemin Soi 9