Here are our top ten travel tips to help take the stress out of your trip to Chiang Mai. Some of these things we had to learn the hard way during our first visit, but overall Chiang Mai is an easy city as a tourist.
1. Planning & Dividing Your Time In Chiang Mai: There is surprisingly a ton of amazing things to experience both in and around Chiang Mai that could easily keep you busy for weeks. This diverse set of experiences helps to make Chiang Mai our favorite city in Thailand. It can be hard to prioritize what are the most important things to see and how to maximize your time, so we decided to do he work for you. Whether you are only in town for 1-4 days over more than a week we’ve come up with the best plan of action to get your started.
Read More: Suggested Itineraries for Chiang Mai
2. Getting Around Chiang Mai: Getting around Chiang Mai is actually very easy and quick as the city is surprisingly compact. The Airport is only 1 mile Southwest of Old Town, the Train Station is only 1 mile to the East, and the area that Old Town covers is only 1 square mile. Event though the city is compact there are still a few really helpful tips that we feel you need to know from getting to/from the Airport or Train Station, getting around town once you are there, and the best way to get to Chiang Mai in the first place.
Read More: Getting Around Chiang Mai
3. How To Join A Monk Chat: A Monk Chat is a unique experience where you get to interact with young Buddhist Monks not only to have an exchange of culture but also to help them better learn the English Language. Monks Chats are a fun and fulfilling experience that needs to be on your must do list while in Chiang Mai. Chats are free and available pretty much every day of the week. To learn when the Monks take places and where you can go to join one check our page on
Read More: Monk Chats Chiang Mai
Hello is Sawatdee (pronounced Sa-What-Dee)
If you are Male you say Sawatdee Khrap (pronounced Sa-What-Dee Krap)
If you are Female you say Sawatdee Khun Kha (pronounced Sa-What-Dee Ka)
It is also polite to use the WAI guesture when greeting
WAI Greeting (pronounced Way) is the polite gesture used in greeting and is explained below in the next section
Goodbye is Lar Korn (pronounced La-Gone)
Thank You is Khawb Khun (pronounced Cop Coon)
Do you speak English is Phuut Phaa-saa Ang-Grit Daai Mai (pronounced Poot Pa-sa On-Grit Die Mi) and you add the same gender ending to it like above Krap/Ka
Cheers for drinking is Chok Dee
My Name Is varies greatly based on if you are a Man or Woman
If you are Male you say Phom Chue “your name” Khrap (pronounced Pom Shew …. Krap)
If you are Female you say Di-Chan Chue “your name” Kha (pronounced De-Shawn Shew …. Kha)
Chiang with an ‘”i” means City
Chang without an ‘”i” means Elephant
Farang (pronounced Fa-Wrong) generally means foreigner and is mainly used to describe White European tourists. A Black tourist is considered a Black Farang.
5. How To Use the WAI Bow Greeting: The WAI (pronounced Way) is the polite gesture used in greeting to show respect. It involves placing your palms together in front of your chest and bow/nod your head at the person your are greeting and there are 3 different ways to do it depending on how much respect you want to show.
Level 2: The next level of WAI is meant for respected people such as teachers or parents and you will bow your head until your index finger touches your forehead and your thumbs touch your nose.
Responding To A WAI: If someone gives you a WAI it is polite to return the respect but you only have to put your palms together in front of your chest and do not need to bow in return.
6. Where To Give Morning Alms: The giving of Alms to Monks in Thailand has grown from a local religious tradition to an experience that should had by all visitors. The young monks, mainly 8-20 years old, walk through with brass bowls collecting Alms as Merits that range from money, to fruits, and many other goods. Collecting the Alms as Merits is believed to lead to a better next life or to lessen the number of times the Monks must be reincarnated before reaching lightened nirvana.
Giving of Alms happens anywhere between Dawn and 8am when the Monks go back to either school or mediation. We suggest giving fruit or prepackaged snacks and recommend asking your hotel for tips in preparing the night before. Your hotel can also give you guidance on what time to head over for Alms. Keep in mind that this chore of gaining Merits is part of the Monks spiritual journey and you really should be respectful. Many tourists are too focused on getting the right photo and pushing in front of blasting their camera flash in the Monks faces; don’t be that guy. Take your photos and videos for sure, but you’ll enjoy the experience much more and take it in better if you act like a local.
The courtyard around the 3 Kings Monument is the best place to give early morning Alms to the Monks in Central Chiang Mai. This location serves as Stop 1B on our Chiang Mai Free Walking Tour. If you miss the morning public Alms giving, the monks at many Temples also take Noon Alms but you must go to the temple to give. Don’t use Noon Alms as an excuse to miss the morning ones though. If you have gone through all the trouble of traveling to Chiang Mai, surly you get out of bed early one day to witness this magical event.
7. Where To Stay In Chiang Mai: Location-wise long as you are staying anywhere in or right around Chiang Mai’s old town you are good to go as the 1 square mile Old Town is where most of the sights are. If you have to stay just outside of Old we suggest going toward the river to the East. We really like the Parasol Inn in the center of Old Town and Baan Orpin just North of Old Town, but you can find hoards of good hotels on either Agoda.com or Booking.com. For $40 a night you can get a pretty nice room and starting around $80 a night you will find some places where you feel like a king.
If you are back packing it is common to just show up in Chiang Mai without booking ahead and figuring it out when you get there since there are so many hostels and rooms for rent. If you don’t want to chance it we suggest Hostel World.com. Shared rooms are cheap between $4-10 a night and private rooms can be as cheap as $8-20 a night.
8. Top Festivals In Chiang Mai: Coming Soon
loi krathong is the Festival of Lights in November, is repeated on New Years Eve on Thapae Road with food stalls, musicians, dancers and of course paper lanterns being released into the sky
Top 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai:
Read More: Top 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai