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Useful things to know about Chiang Mai

  • The name Chiang Mai means ‘New City’.
  • Founded in 1296 it was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lanna.
  • The city nestles amongst the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • It’s the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand.
  • Over five million tourists, including two million from abroad, visit each year.
  • Bangkok is approximately 700km south east of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Mini Guide

The “New City”
Chiang Mai literally means “the new city”, despite the fact that it celebrated it's 700th anniversary in 1996.  For many years tourist have visited Chiang Mai solely with the intention of visiting hill tribes and going trekking, however they have been pleasantly surprised on their arrival when they have discovered just how interesting and exciting a visit to Chiang Mai city itself can be.

A Massage or a Cookery Course?
There is so much to see and do in Chiang Mai, a lot of it “something different” rather than just the usual historic places of interest on the tourist trail.  The old city of Chiang Mai does have several historical temples well worth a visit, but it also has numerous workshops teaching Thai massage, dance and cookery. So why not learn a new skill whilst on holiday?

Chiang Mai Wat Phra Singh Temple

Always Wanted to Ride on an Elephant?
Although elephant riding is available all over Thailand, Chiang Mai is known as the centre for elephant trekking.  An unforgettable way to spend a day (or longer if you're really brave!!), elephant trekking is a must on a visit to Chiang Mai for all ages.  These beautiful , generally placid creatures are so cute when tiny and so majestic when fully grown, they never seem to object to having people riding on them as they trundle their way around.  Please make sure though, that you visit a reputable elephant camp as some are not “elephant friendly” and these practices need to be discouraged.

Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park

Getting Out Into the Countryside
Why not hire a car in Chiang Mai and explore for yourself?  There are hill tribes in the surrounding countryside who welcome visits from travellers.  Maybe you'd like to try some bird watching or visiting some of the local farms and wineries, even hot air ballooning for a tranquil overhead view of the beautiful north Thailand landscape.

Feeling Energetic?
Then there is always white water rafting or hill trekking for 2 or 3 days.  These are the sort of activities in Chiang Mai which draw the large number of backpackers and young people to the area. There is a wide range of sporting activities available at many of the local tourist and travel agents which can be booked when you arrive in the city, depending on your mood.

Chiang Mai Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai Cuisine
The Thai cuisine is one of the finest in the world and Chiang Mai is a centre for it. So there is no reason at all why anyone should go hungry!  Most menus in Thai restaurants read almost like a phone book there is so much to choose from. Don't worry too much about any language barrier as even in the most local of places, there are either pictures of the dishes on the menu or you can see what is being cooked (as with the street stalls), so you have at least a vague idea of what will be put in front of you. 

Like everywhere else in the world it's a case of “when in Rome” and you really should try to at least attempt to eat the local food, plus the fact that it's normally so much cheaper than eating in westernised restaurants, but should you prefer something with chips there are plenty of western restaurants and fast food outlets in the city.

Driving in Chiang Mai - Need to know



    Road Driving Side



    Urban speed Limit



    Rural Speed Limit



    Motorway Speed Limit


    THB  39.78/Ltr

    Current Petrol Price



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    Min Rental Age


    Min Driving Age




Next Upcoming Holiday


    Monday 6 Apr 2020

    Chakri Day - National holiday

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Chiang Mai is a lively and thriving city in the north of the country. It’s visited for its temples, various outdoor activities and also for its festivals. The Loi Kraton festival celebrates the goddess of water and involves thousands of banana leaf boats being released on the river. Many lanterns are released into the sky too making it a magical occasion.

Songkran, the Thai New Year is also very big there with the customary paint and water fights. It’s a great place for white water rafting which attracts thousands of adventurers each year.

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