6 Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Chiang Mai Thailand

  March 27, 2019 travel posts 🕑 3 minutes read

Pong Noi, Thailand.


I am chilling in Pong Noi now on a 2 month house sit.


Pong Noi is a 10 minute motorbike ride from the Old City and Chiang Mai center; as the crow flies.


I love Chiang Mai. My favorite place on earth has it all save beaches. Culture. Convenience. World class food. Friendly locals. Natural beauty. Chiang Mai is the total package, making the city and surrounding countryside the most popular digital nomad and expert hub on earth.


Before packing your bags for this lovely spot do keep 6 things in mind.


1: Burning Season


Burning season runs from February to April. A few weeks in March may be grim. Worst burning season I have seen over the past few weeks; I have visited Chiang Mai on and off since 2011.


Farmers in Northern Thailand and Myanmar slash and burn crops to clear ’em for growing season. Combine farmer smoke with forest burning and you have some rough smog. I never had a problem breathing but you can kiss gorgeous mountain views goodbye. Either skip the city during burning season or be at peace with smoggy conditions.


2: Chiang Mai Center Is Kinda Touristy


I do love the Old City and Nimmanhaemin Road for what they are; tourist spots. Tuk tuk drivers may hound ya. Prices jump. Tourists flood the streets. Hey; it is popular. No big deal. But beware; the Old City and Nimman are tourist spots. Fun in its own way but overrun too.


3: Leave Town for Peace and Quiet


I feel the best spots in the region are like this sleepy little village of Pong Noi, off Canal Road. We did 2 house sits during prior years for Yoda and are watching Chewbacca and Leia this year. Curiously enough, same village, but a different area.


Small, quiet villages offer you a peak at Thai living. Songkran is a much different, chill, laid back experience in Pong Noi, versus loud, boisterous, drunk folks in the center of Chiang Mai, super soaking you.


If you want R and R head to villages outside of town or travel a bit further and hit the forests in the hills.


4: Digital Nomads and Expats? Ya Got ‘Em!


For good reason, Chiang Mai is the digital nomad hub of planet earth. I cannot vouch for other planets.


I first arrived in 2011. Digital nomad-ism was not a thing back then. But during my travels it became a thing and this spot became popular among the sect. Outside of chilling with Barb at Hole in the Donut and Rob Cubbon I largely go solo in Chiang Mai because I am too busy with business, blogging and house sitting to do much socializing or remote working. Not my style.


Expats abound here. Folks estimate some 60,000 or more expats live in Chiang Mai or in surrounding areas. I met folks from my mom’s home county in New Jersey not 2 hours into my first trip here.


5: December Weather Becomes Cool and March Is Crazy Hot


I was stunned; here I was in Thailand wearing sweats and a ski cap at 11 PM. Temperature; 51 degrees F. Wow. I loved it. Chiang Mai feels like New Jersey Autumn during December. 71 and sunny during the day. Not a cloud in the sky. Low 50’s at night. Brilliant.


If you arrive for a December trip you better pack cooler weather clothes.


But March is all about 100 degree days for weeks on end. Dry, as a bone, but scorching hot. Plus burning season. Double Whammy.


6: Low Cost of Living with Convenience and Culture


I have not seen a place offer the mix of culture, convenience and low cost of living quite like Chiang Mai. I saw a Buddhist monk on alms down the street from us this morning. The temple sits about 1 minute from the house. Culture.


I can ride the motorbike 10 minutes to enjoy a world class mall at Maya. Western food, Thai food, whatever. Convenience.


I pay 180 Baht – $6 USD – for a movie ticket in a first class, state of the art theater at Maya. Low cost of living. I know of folks who spend $400 monthly to rent large, relatively modern homes in quiet villages here. Unreal. Best mix of culture, convenience and low cost of living on earth.


I’ll see ya in Chiang Mai, guys.

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