3Cs of Chiang Mai: Scenes From The City


Thailand is a beautiful country. It’s a great country for food, shopping, islands and beaches, jungles, mountains and wildlife, and not to mention, magnificent Buddhist temples. I was in Chiang Mai for a couple of days at the end of January, and some of the activities I did were temple visits, night markets and a day tour to the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai province.

Chiang Mai is situated in northern Thailand and also known as the “Rose of the North”. It’s a smaller city than Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, and is surrounded by the countryside and mountains, thus the city is greener, cleaner and quieter. During my stay in Chiang Mai, the weather was cool in the mornings and evenings with temperatures of 18 to 23 degrees Celsius but soared up to 30 degrees in the afternoon. Sunny but not humid, unlike Bangkok or Malaysia. In fact, Chiang Mai experienced a cold snap a week before I arrived – temperatures dipped just below 10 degrees – people were wrapped in sweaters and jackets.

3cs of chiang mai old city

What I like about Chiang Mai is the Old City, a walled square built over 700 years ago, surrounded by a moat. Today, obviously the Old City area is developed but some of the walls remain intact. There are many attractions in the Old City and majority of the attractions are easily accessible by tuk tuk, red bus (songthaew) or on foot. I chose to walk (exercise is always good!) as my hotel was located not too far from these attractions – only 10-15 minutes’ walk. It was during my walks, I had observed that Chiang Mai has a fondness for things that are cute and quirky which reflect their creativity and ability to keep up with trends, and yet remain true to their traditional Thai values and beliefs.

  1. Cute and Colourful

When you travel in South East Asia in particular, do expect to find lots of mopeds in the streets. I came across parked mopeds and noticed cute, bright colours on them.

3cs chiang mai colourful mopeds

Many cafes and shops install something cute at the entrance of their establishments to attract customers.

3cs chiang mai postbox

3cs chiang mai cute entrance

Colourful wall art

3cs chiang mai colourful hostel

2. Convenience

A mobile Western Union

3cs chiang mai mobile western union

3. Coffee Culture

Coffee is cultivated in Thailand and is consumed in large quantities in Chiang Mai. I was struck by the number of cafes and coffee shops in the city – they are everywhere! And with free Wifi 🙂 This probably explains why Chiang Mai is a popular destination among nomad/digital bloggers.

3cs chiang mai coffee culture

If you want coffee to-go, there’s a “Nomad Coffee” for you!

3cs chiang mai nomad coffee

Apart from the Old City, I also spent time walking along Nimmanhaemin Road. Nimmanhaemin, or in short, Nimman was formerly a neighbourhood consisting of noodle shops and homes. But now the area is a trendy neighbourhood of cafes, galleries and shops. The neighbourhood is not busy or noisy, as such I had a pleasant experience walking along the various Soi or lanes, checking out vintage shops and boutiques.

3cs chiang mai nimman sit a while cafe bicycle

3cs chiang mai vintage bikes nimman

3cs chiang mai nimman trendy boutique

Nimman is not too far from the Old City, just catch a ride on the red bus for 10 minutes and pay a fare of approximately THB40.

I enjoy using my own two feet to explore a city – walking is my favourite activity despite high humidity, heat or cold – and it’s through walking that I got to observe so many things and activities which might be ordinary to the locals but unusual and interesting for me. I would not have noticed the cute and quirky part of Chiang Mai if I chose to move around by tuk tuk or taxi.

I guess that’s what you call serendipity of travelling, eh?

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Are you planning a trip to Chiang Mai soon? How about booking your accommodation here?

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3cs of chiang mai scenes from the city katpegimana

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42 comments

  1. The weather there sounds much more to my liking than Bangkok. I realise that shouldn’t be a main factor in travel decisions, but it’s always put me off Thailand. Chiang Mai sounds much more like it!

  2. There are many reasons people love Chiang Mai. I think it showcases a lot of the good things about Thailand but in a more intimate way. I love Bangkok but it feels so crazy sometimes. Chiand Mai is like the chill and relaxed sister.

    1. I agree, Bangkok is such a fast-moving city. After all that noise and air pollution, I would go to Chiang Mai anytime for fresher air and more laidback environment.

  3. Chiang Mai was one of the places on my Thailand wishlist which I couldn’t fit in when I visited (years ago) – I keep reading about it as a haven for digital nomads too, and it sounds like a really laid-back liveable place to visit. It’s such a long time since I was in the country, perhaps a visit to the north should be on my list for next time. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    1. Chiang Mai is very different from Bangkok, worthwhile to add this city to your itinerary should you come back to Thailand again 🙂

  4. 3Cs is interesting concept Kat, and I do agree with you. It’s suitable for Chiang Mai.

    One thing I like from Chiang Mai is the songthaew (the local transportation), since it can take us anywhere we would like to go. Just mention the destination, and then ride it. You know, sometimes in Indonesia the public transportations are so confusing. Since they apply many colors or numbers for every route, and it’s not easy for the newbie visitor, and sometimes for the local as well 🙂

    1. The 3Cs was something that I came up with quite spontaneously 🙂 Oh speaking of songthaew, look out for the Quick Guide to CM Part 2 this week…

    1. Thanks Ann Christine…there are more posts and pictures of Chiang Mai to be published (or rather, one already published), so look out for them 🙂

  5. I heard two things about Chiang Mai. 1. Coffee Culture is awesome 2. A bunch of nomad travel bloggers living there. The pics are amazing, Kat, as always! 🙂

  6. I need to give Chang Mai another chance someday. I went there after going to Luang Prabang first and it was too busy for me. Everyone I know who has been loves it though. I like the little portable coffee shop. It is funny how they sell every type of food on the street in Thailand.

    1. Yeah I can understand how you must have felt especially after quiet Luang Prabang. There were times in Chiang Mai (and Chiang Rai) I felt overwhelmed by the crowd but tried not to let it get to me. It’s inevitable for some cities, I guess.

  7. ‘…Serendipity of travelling…’ oh yes, absolutely!!

    How long did you stay there? I hear that Chan Mai is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. Not that other parts of Thailand is any less though!

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

    1. I was there for 5D/4N. Yep, CM is a really lovely place especially if you visit after Bangkok, it’s a refreshing change. Malaysians visit Bangkok ever so often because it’s so close to us (only 1.5hours flight), and my last visit to Bangkok for 2014. So, CM was a welcomed change 🙂

  8. I want to write a post about the streets that nobody talks about it Bangkok, similar to this just to show the city besides the temples and the party, there is so much more right? Good inspiration! Thanks!

    1. Hey Rebeca, no worries, glad my Chiang Mai post is an inspiration to you to write similar posts about other cities that you found enjoyable 🙂

  9. I would love to get to know Chiang Mai better. I was there for work once but didn’t have much time for more than some quick pasar malam type shopping and then foot massage (never to be missed when in Thailand!).

    1. Hope you include Chiang Mai and other places in Thailand when you return to this part of the world 😉 Oh yes, foot massage is always a must in Thailand!

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