A Quick Guide To Chiang Mai: Part 2

Here’s a quick guide to Chiang Mai Part 2 – activities that you can do in Chiang Mai especially if you have limited number of days to explore in this beautiful, laidback city. As mentioned in the Part 1 post, Chiang Mai is the fifth largest city in Thailand. I was surprised by the never-ending list of activities that one can do in this city of a million people. But then again, it’s Thailand, and the country certainly knows how to organise and showcase their tourism professionally so much so that there are activities for visitors with wide range of interests.

Eat Your Heart Out, And Shop At Markets
I found the best food in Thailand is street food, and Chiang Mai is no exception. A variety of street food is available from noodles to rice; seafood to desserts. When I was in Chiang Mai, I tried street food in a temple courtyard and at the night market.

chiang mai temple courtyard market

chiang mai temple courtyard foodcourt

chiang mai saturday night market street food

One of their northern specialties is khao soi which is a Burmese-influenced noodle dish made with deep-fried crispy egg noodles, boiled egg noodles, shallots, lime and meat in curry containing coconut milk. Apparently it’s a popular street dish eaten in northern Thailand.

Read: Street Food Tour Backstreet Academy Luang Prabang

Another street dish commonly found throughout Thailand is khao kha moo. It’s pork leg braised in light and dark soya sauce, served with rice, some vegetables, boiled eggs and coriander.

chiang mai khao kha moo food

The only problem I have with food in Thailand is the small portions (I found the same in Cambodia and Vietnam). After three or four bites, I’m finished with the food but still longing for more. I always end up ordering another dish to satiate my hunger which is not exactly good for the waistline! Or perhaps Malaysia eateries need to reduce their portions of food served…

Shopping at night markets is also a fun activity in Chiang Mai and the biggest night market is the Sunday Night Market which is located right in the centre of the Old City, starting from Tha Pae Gate at one end and down the length of Ratchadamnoen Road, approximately 1km. Ratchadamnoen Road is closed to traffic for the Sunday Night Market, so shoppers are able to browse and bargain with vendors without worrying about vehicles.

I was not able to experience the Sunday Night Market because I fell ill that evening ๐Ÿ™ I was sick with food poisoning – no, it wasn’t the street food – but it might have been from a savoury pie bought at a hot springs stopover en route to Chiang Rai or the Myanmar curry chicken at a restaurant near the Mekong River port.

I typically don’t fall sick with food poisoning when I travel but something had happened during this trip – oh well, these things do happen, so the best is to take it in stride, rest and relax and drink more fluids.

Read: 4 -5 Days Itinerary in Luang Prabang

Be Seen at Trendy Nimman
After some time, it’s always good to get out of the usual tourist circuit. Not too far from the Old City is Nimmanhaemain Road or in short, Nimman. Nimman was formerly a neighbourhood consisting of noodle shops and homes but now the area is a trendy neighbourhood of cafes, galleries and shops. Nimman 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. One thing for sure, there are no tour buses here ๐Ÿ™‚

3cs chiang mai nimman sit a while cafe bicycle

3cs chiang mai nimman trendy boutique

Ride On the Red Bus
Although tuk-tuk is synonymous with Thailand, its rates are second most expensive transport in Chiang Mai, after taxis. If you know how to ride a motorcycle or moped, then it’s relatively cheaper to rent one and ride your way around Chiang Mai. Unfortunately, I do not know how to ride a moped, as such, I commuted on the red bus (songthaew) in and out of the Old City.

chiang mai songthaew red bus

Fares are not fixed for rides on the red bus but an approximate amount, depending on your destination and how many passengers in the vehicle. The more passengers in the vehicle going on the same route or heading to the same destination means cheaper fares.

Here are the fares paid for my trips in and out of the Old City. This is just a guide – should the drivers quote a fare higher than 10%-15%, do not accept and flag down the next red bus.

Ratchadamnoen Road to Wat Umong: THB150
Wat Umong to Chiang Mai Zoo: THB40
Chiang Mai Zoo to Doi Suthep: THB40 (the zoo is the central stop for passengers commuting up/down Doi Suthep Mountains)
Doi Suthep to Nimman: THB20
Nimman to Ratchadamnoen Road: THB30

FYI, the front desk staff at my hotelย advised that the fare from the hotel to Wat Umong is between THB100-150. I settled for THB150 after flagging down four different drivers who either quoted a much higher fare or refused to take me to Wat Umong due to the distance.

And here’s a short video of how it’s like in the red bus en route to Wat Umong. It was 10am on a Saturday morning, not many people commuting in the city, so I had the vehicle to myself.

And, lots of other activities…
If you have the opportunity to stay longer in Chiang Mai, you can have your pick from the list of activities and spread them over the duration of your stay. There are Thai cooking classes, elephant nature camps, boat cruise on the Ping River, jungle hiking, abseiling, a day trip to Chiang Rai and many more.

Regarding elephant nature camp, please support companies that protect, rehabilitate and nurture the elephants properly, rather than the ones provide elephant rides and shows for tourists. There have been many reports of elephant camps in Thailand – and in other countries – that chain and torture elephants for tourists’ entertainment.

And oh yes, no matter how long or short your stay in Chiang Mai – please remember to go for a foot massage. It is so heavenly to be pampered in a lovely spa after a long day of walking and exploring the city ๐Ÿ™‚

Read: 3Cs of Chiang Mai – Scenes From the City


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a quick guide to chiang mai part 2 katpegimana

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  1. The night market by the temple looks so fun and delicious! I think I’d order another dish as well because I’d want to try too many things! Thank you for encouraging sustainable tourism with regards to elephants outings as as always, thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  2. That night market looks huge Kat. I really enjoy eating at the markets in Asia. Luckily I have been blessed with iron guts and rarely get sick. Sorry you did. It’s not pleasant is it. Itching to go to Chiang Mai after reading your posts #FarawayFiles

  3. Oh wow! The streetfood scene looks amazing! I actually like the small portions of the food served because you get to try a lot but yes, not good for the waistline. :p I love night markets specially the pedestrianized ones. Would you say Chiang Mai is cheaper than Bangkok when it comes to shopping?

    Getting sick while traveling is hard specially if it’s food poisoning. Sorry to hear that you had one while in Chiang Mai. :/

    1. Yes, shopping in Chiang Mai is definitely cheaper than Bangkok. I’m not really a shopping person but just walking around in the markets is amazing – very festive ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Two things I hate when traveling: 1. Having small food portions that leave me hungry and unsatisfied and 2. Getting food poisoning! Such a bummer you had to deal with that! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  5. The more you write about Chiang Mai the more I feel I need to go visit it. I’d love to try a tuk tuk. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  6. Great guide, Chiang Mai is high on my Thailand wish list, I’m hoping to go soon. I’m sorry to hear about the food poisoning, this is one of my biggest fears when I travel, it’s one of the few things that wouldn’t let me properly enjoy the places I’m visiting. #citytripping

    1. Thanks Vlad, glad that you enjoyed the post. Hope you get the opportunity to travel to Chiang Mai soon. Yeah, I was unfortunate to experience food poisoning in Chiang Mai, as a result, I did not get the chance to enjoy more Thai food on my last day. In fact, it took me another week back home to recover ๐Ÿ™

  7. We are considering visiting Chiang Mai in a few months so this is such a useful post! Will pin too! #citytripping

  8. I can spend all my time in Chiang Mai eating. Everything is so good there! The markets are the bomb. If there is something I like about Thailand, is the markets. Every day or night you are up for something new. #citytripping

    1. I agree, there’s something special about Thailand and their markets. I have visited markets in other countries in South East Asia but none can compare to the ones in Thailand – it’s so vibrant and colourful!

  9. What a shame about the food poisoning – have had that a few times on my travels and It’s often when I don’t have something local. The street food at the night market sounds delicious and great tips about the transport, I am sure I get ripped off more than a few times. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    1. Haha, I could have been ripped off too at some point during the trip! But overall with some tips from the hotel, the transport fares had been reasonable.

  10. We plan to visit Thailand next year and I was wondering about the food. Obviously Thai food is *amazing* but will I be able to find chicken or vegetarian food? Our family doesn’t eat pork and I don’t eat beef either. #citytripping

    1. Oh yes, chicken is aplenty, not to worry. But I’m not sure about vegetarian food because they add fish sauce or tiny shrimps in their ingredients, unless you are ok with that?

  11. Sorry to read about the food poisoning, I got it too only in Bangkok and that was after eating in one of the cities best hotels (which I thought would have been safer). I noticed in Thailand people eat insects as snacks … would you ever try and eat one? Even the thought of it makes me shiver! Gx

    1. Nah, I wouldn’t dare to try the insects! It’s strange about my food poisoning incident – family members laughed when they heard about it because I didn’t fall sick with food poisoning in India but in Thailand! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Nice post Kat, as usual. And you know what, I’ve never experienced to try a tuk tuk. Since the fare is not fix and the drivers usually take any advantage from tourists. I prefer metered-taxis than tuk tuk. But, yes Songthaew is the best choice, affordable and good for value.

    Ah unfortunately you missed the Sunday Night Market. Maybe you have to visit CM again someday, to experience it. I did enjoy it more than Chatuchak ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I tried tuk tuk before in Bangkok many years ago during a business trip with my first company but a colleague from Singapore helped to pay the fare – I was very green then! I actually walked through the Sunday Night Market to return to the hotel but because I was so sick then I was intent to get away from the crowd. I guess, yeah, if I visit CM again, I would definitely coincide my visit with the Sunday Night Market ๐Ÿ™‚

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