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Chiang Mai | The Ultimate Travel Guide

When to go, where to stay and what to do in Thailand's Rose of the North.

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Elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Bangkok might be the bustling Thai capital rife with shopping pursuits and Phuket might be the nation's beach and party mecca but for something truly exceptional, the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai takes the cake.

It's a place where gilded temples rise majestically above the cityscape, delicate lanterns dress the skies and the nation's native animals roam within thick wild jungle.If you've never been off the beaten track before, there's no better place to start than the rose of Thailand's north.

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Getting around in Chiang Mai

Once you're in the Old City, Chiang Mai is very walkable. There's footpaths on most street to easily get you to all of the sites and local restaurants. Transportation is also cheap in Chiang Mai, and can help you travel quickly in the heat.

Songthaews (red pick-up trucks with a cover on the back) work like a shared taxi, to bring visitors to attractions both inside and outside of the Old City. Tuk tuks, colourful open air taxis, are also popular.

Popular attractions in and around Chiang Mai including elephant parks and jungle ziplines are outside of the city and aren't accessible on foot. The city's temples are also scattered around and may be better to visit via songthaew or tuk tuk depending on which temples you intend to visit.

Chiang Mai public transport

  • Types of transport: Songthaews are the most common way to get around Chiang Mai. A short trip costs BHT20 and longer trips cost BHT40. Drivers sit and wait until the truck is full before it leaves tourist spots. It's best to ask the driver if they're going in the direction you need. Songthaews can also be hired for day trips or long distances. Tuk tuks shouldn't cost more than BHT80in the Old City. Taxis and motorbike taxis are also available throughout the city. The Chiang Mai city bus is a small, white public bus that costs BHT15. It is air-conditioned but not very reliable.
  • Paying for transport: All forms of transport in Chiang Mai are paid for in cash. Exact fare is appreciated but change is available from the driver.
  • Getting to and from the airport: There are metered and set fare taxis available at taxi booths in the arrivals hall that will both cost around BHT150. On the main road just outside the terminal there are tuk tuks and songthaews that you can bargain to an agreed price. Tuk tuks should cost BHT140 and songthaews BHT40. Many hotels also provide transfers, and private transfers can also be arranged.
  • Best apps for getting around: There are currently no apps for getting around Chiang Mai.

Car hire in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is quite compact and walkable, but if you're planning on exploring the countryside and nearby towns and would rather not hire a driver or use a rideshare service, you can hire a car.

Avis, Hertz and Thai Rent-a-Car all service Chiang Mai International Airport.

Taxis and Rideshare

  • Taxi: Taxis can be hailed from the side of the road or shared taxis can be found at tourist points. Taxis cannot be booked in advance.
  • Rideshare: Grab and Uber are both available in the city. For an ideal of price, an Uber costs BHT200-223 from Chiang Mai International Airport to the Old City centre.

Airport transfers in Chiang Mai

For those travelling in a group it's best to book an airport transfer prior to arrival to ensure a smooth transition from air to ground transportation.

Chiang Mai International Airport departure shared transfer
Chiang Mai International Airport departure shared transfer

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