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Chiang Mai (is it really that special/different from rest of Thailand?)

Chiang Mai (is it really that special/different from rest of Thailand?)

Old Dec 9, 19, 5:06 pm
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Chiang Mai (is it really that special/different from rest of Thailand?)

Is Chiang Mai really that special? Is it really that different from the rest of Thailand that it is better to go there, different to experience than some of the other places around the country? Other than it being in the mountains, anything about it to recommend? Thanks for insight
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Old Dec 9, 19, 6:01 pm
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Originally Posted by fay637 View Post
Is Chiang Mai really that special? Is it really that different from the rest of Thailand that it is better to go there, different to experience than some of the other places around the country? Other than it being in the mountains, anything about it to recommend? Thanks for insight
Chiang Mai is definitely different to the other tourist areas such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui.
The temperature is significantly lower and the pace is much slower.
People are generally less aggressive when it comes to pushing touristy type things
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Old Dec 9, 19, 9:09 pm
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how does the food compare? is it that different or about the same?
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Old Dec 10, 19, 12:29 am
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If you decide to visit Chiang Mai, do not go during the burning season (mid-Feb to end of April.) This point cannot be overemphasized.

https://iglu.net/survivor-guide-chia...-smoky-season/
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Old Dec 10, 19, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by fay637 View Post
how does the food compare? is it that different or about the same?
The food is different. Ask for Lanna food. That's the speciality of CM. It's a nice laid back place compared to BKK, Puhket, Pattaya etc.
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Old Dec 10, 19, 5:55 am
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Originally Posted by dav662 View Post
The food is different. Ask for Lanna food. That's the speciality of CM. It's a nice laid back place compared to BKK, Puhket, Pattaya etc.
Mostly agree.

Lanna food is predominantly pork based. So if OP doesn't like pork, meh. The Northern Thai pork sausages are worth a try and khao soi is very good (chicken based dish). Other than that, I wouldn't say there's much differentiation in the food from the rest of Thailand. Excellent coffee options, for sure.

Definitely laid back, perhaps the best feature if one has been submersed in the mega-tourist areas. Easy to walk around the Old City and, if you've never been, the moat and Old City walls have some first time charm. Night Bazaar and Sunday Walking Street too, if one is a first time visitor. It's a large metro area with a small town atmosphere.

I've lived in CM on and off for the last five years so perhaps I'm a bit jaded....but I frequently leave for other places to get out of here. If I were to compare it to the US, it would be the small town you comfortably live in but wouldn't recommend to friends as a vacation destination unless they were visiting you (but with more - a LOT more - Buddhist temples.)

Edit to add: Chiang Mai is also quite a bit less expensive than the mega-tourist areas when it comes to lodging, food, and drink. Additionally, the sex trade is much less "in your face" than in, say, Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya.

Last edited by Diplomatico; Dec 10, 19 at 6:16 am Reason: Addtional information/opinion
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Old Dec 13, 19, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by fay637 View Post
Is it really that different
I would say no.

Bangkok is the odd one out.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 3:09 am
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Originally Posted by Diplomatico View Post
Mostly agree.

Lanna food is predominantly pork based. So if OP doesn't like pork, meh. The Northern Thai pork sausages are worth a try and khao soi is very good (chicken based dish). Other than that, I wouldn't say there's much differentiation in the food from the rest of Thailand. Excellent coffee options, for sure.

Definitely laid back, perhaps the best feature if one has been submersed in the mega-tourist areas. Easy to walk around the Old City and, if you've never been, the moat and Old City walls have some first time charm. Night Bazaar and Sunday Walking Street too, if one is a first time visitor. It's a large metro area with a small town atmosphere.

I've lived in CM on and off for the last five years so perhaps I'm a bit jaded....but I frequently leave for other places to get out of here. If I were to compare it to the US, it would be the small town you comfortably live in but wouldn't recommend to friends as a vacation destination unless they were visiting you (but with more - a LOT more - Buddhist temples.)

Edit to add: Chiang Mai is also quite a bit less expensive than the mega-tourist areas when it comes to lodging, food, and drink. Additionally, the sex trade is much less "in your face" than in, say, Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya.
Living and vacation are totally different. If a tourist likes beaches and has limited time then maybe stick to the well known locations, where there are beaches. Culturally, scenically, etc Chiang Mai, nearby surroundings and further afield to Chiang Mai, Golden Triangle is much more interesting to me, but it depends what a person wants.
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Old Dec 16, 19, 6:49 pm
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Thais are easy going and nice but I run into a greater concentration of entitled and rude hipster backpackers there than other places in Thailand. To be honest I wasn't sold on Chiang Mai on my first trip but just went there again and really enjoyed my time and made some friends.

Otherwise I recommend it and have some khao soi. Khao Soi Khun Yai is pretty good.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 11:42 am
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I visited CM last Christmas and had a great time. Temperature and humidity is much more manageable, the City is very walkable and the sights are excellent.

Street food is varied, inexpensive and delicious.

If you are into natural pursuits (hiking, paddling, animals) then there is a lot to do. No beaches.

I also visited the Tiger reserve, which was quite an experience You get to pet and hang out with GIANT TIGERS (people still think the pictures are fake!). Also visited a no-ride elephant camp (do some research on ethical elephant attractions).

Having been to BKK several times, and having previously visited Phuket and Koh Samui I still had a wonderful short stay in CM.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 11:03 pm
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Ethical elephant camps and petting drugged up tigers don't really go together when you think about it, but for the OP it all depends on what you're looking for. It's cooler, but you might like the heat, it's inland but you might like beaches, it's at 1,000 feet altitude but you might like being at sea level etc etc. There's plenty of restaurants and bars to chose from, nice temples and places to walk but without knowing anything about you it's hard to recommend it or not.
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Old Dec 21, 19, 5:10 pm
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I'm actually more a fan of Udon Thani for being laid back and inexpensive and with even fewer tourists but just enough of interest to farangs to not be horribly boring (and the lotus lake has been an up-and-coming attraction), but CM does have Wat Doi Suthep as a must-visit, and people like to do things like cooking or language classes intown. The pedestrian situation isn't great in places and the Night Bazaar is oversold, but OTOH it's a much more pleasant stroll than Chatuchak in Bangkok.

CM gives great bang for the lodging buck, especially if you don't insist on staying at the best place in town on hotel points. Some of the expat-chef restaurants are good, in addition to Thai places.

CM USED to be more of a jumping off point for treks and other trips, but the greater surrounding areas are tamer than they used to be. I found Luang Prabang a better base for trying to get the hilltribe-expedition experience some years ago, but LP today also is much more visited than it was.
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Old Dec 27, 19, 12:34 pm
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Chiang Mai is nice, but as one of the previous posters said, it is chock full of rude, entitled wannabe hippies (you know, the rich kids trying to be cool, scruffy backpackers). Having said that, it’s a nice place, and light years better than BKK.

I know your trip is already planned, but if you come back, or want to make a diversion for a few days, I highly recommend Chiang Rai. Not so touristy, real Thailand. Take a day trip up to Mae Sai which is right on the Myanmar (Burma) border. You can also see the “real” Golden Triangle, Wat Rong Kuhn (the White Temple) - just an all around amazing place.
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Old Dec 31, 19, 11:21 am
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Old Jan 7, 20, 8:20 pm
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Originally Posted by maerim View Post
Living and vacation are totally different. If a tourist likes beaches and has limited time then maybe stick to the well known locations, where there are beaches. Culturally, scenically, etc Chiang Mai, nearby surroundings and further afield to Chiang Mai, Golden Triangle is much more interesting to me, but it depends what a person wants.
I agree that Chiang Rai is much more interesting than Chiang Mai, and the Lanna foods are authentic. The mountains with the coffee plantations and the Singha tea plantation are breathtaking, well at least the first time.I do like Chinag Mai for the temples and elephant parks in the mountains. Chiang Rai is an easier place to ride a scooter and really see things.
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