Are you looking for insider tips to Chiang Mai? The Go Beyond Asia headquarter may be in busy cosmopolitan Bangkok, but we have a Travel Center in cool and creative Chiang Mai, too. The Northern capital is one of our all-time favourite getaways, and when the urban Bangkok jungle becomes too much, we flee to the North. Together, we’ve spent more than 3 years in Chiang Mai – exploring the outskirts, and hunting down hangouts in the city.
Here are our insider tips to Chiang Mai, so you can steer directly towards the best coffee, the best experiences, and the coolest hangouts the city and surroundings have to offer.
Travel Expert in Chiang Mai: Alistair’s Insider Tips to his City
I like Chiang Mai because it has a great mix of having a city vibe, with lots of activity – but you don’t have to go far to feel like you are in the middle of nature.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is visiting the elephants at Happy Elephant Home. It is such an amazing experience to spend all day with these fantastic beasts.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is Ploen Ruedee – a street food-style hangout place in the centre of the Night Bazaar area, with international street food, drinks and live music. The atmosphere is lovely!
Never leave Chiang Mai before you have visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It is such a beautiful place, and the views, whether in the day or at night, is stunning.
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is the Nimman area – it’s the hipster area of Chiang Mai that isn’t too well known by tourists yet.
Travel Center Supervisor: Martin’s Insider Tips to Chiang Mai
I like Chiang Mai because everything here is on a smaller scale without missing out on anything. The city is quiet but full of creativity.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is renting a bicycle to explore the city. Follow the main routes first and after a while discovers more and more the smaller sois (side streets). Have a cup of coffee at Nimman Road (click here for places to go in Nimman area) and get in touch with people in one of the bars and restaurants in the city.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is Blue Diamond Bakery with its chillax atmosphere, great staff, delicious cakes, muffins, croissants and more…
I never leave Chiang Mai before I have visited the big Ploen Ruedee Night Market in the city centre, just strolling around and enjoy the typical Asian market with its food stalls, flower market, and cheap clothes.
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is to explore the surrounding area extensively, now where you have the opportunity to travel much for small money. Visit an elephant home, go ziplining, ATV or Mountainbiking, Bungyjump, visit Mae Hong Son or Pai, enjoy a cooking class, visit the Doi Inthanon (highest peak in Thailand)… the possibilities are endless!
Britta recommends you to go find the best cup of coffee in Thailand – in and around Chiang Mai.
Travel Expert in Thailand: Britta’s Insider Tips to Chiang Mai
I like Chiang Mai because the vibe in this beautiful city is amazing. It’s young, hip, upcoming and still has its charm in the older part of the city.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is renting a bike and cycle around the city while trying all the different local dishes.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is the University area. It’s the perfect place to meet young, international people.
I never leave Chiang Mai before I have visited the Sunday Night Bazar.
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is to go find some of the best coffee in Thailand! In Chiang Mai you’ll find all the local coffee plantations, where you can even rent a few nights at a lodge or Airbnb.
Travel Expert in Thailand: Nicola’s insider tips to Chiang Mai
I like Chiang Mai because it is not like any other place in Thailand. Everything moves in a slower and more relaxed pace up there.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is going around on a bicycle – you will not have to go far before you hit the countryside. Last time, coming from ECO Resort I took a right just before Central Festival shopping mall and after about 5 km I ended up buying way too many things at a huge local market – it had that amazing “from field to table” kind of feeling – which in our supermarket world is rare.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is Street Pizza & the Wine House. Lovely atmosphere – especially if you get a seat on their balcony that gives you a view of the world passing by on the road. Thin crust, perfect sauce, buffalo mozzarella & whatever topping you choose – and accompanied with a good glass of Italian red.
I never leave Chiang Mai before I have eaten, bought and then bought some more of crispy pork skin. Love it on food and as a snack – between all meals of the day. Perfectly salted – fluffy & crispy at the same time. Need I say more?
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is green tea iced latte. You will find a charming coffee shop on every corner in Chiang Mai – I love coffee, but I always end up choosing a green tea iced latte. They really nail it up there!
Mozz’s insider tip to Chiang Mai is to have Khao Soi before you leave – it’s soooo good!
Travel Expert & Local in Thailand: Mozz’s Insider Tips to Chiang Mai
I like Chiang Mai because it is a getaway from busy Bangkok to green calm Northern Thailand. It has its own history, a tip of a modern facility and combined with the great mountain range near Chiang Mai you will get a mysterious and charming city.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is definitely Doi Inthanon. Not only it is the highest point in Thailand, it is also high enough to touch the fresh air flowing over the mountain as well as the beautiful stunning everlasting clouds covering the ranges of the green forest beneath.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium because there are a lot of exotic animals and fishes.
I never leave Chiang Mai before I have eaten Khao Soi. It is a tradition Thai noodle coconut soup served with crispy fried noodle on top, alongside with boiled chicken, chilli paste and red onions.
The best place to find Khao Soi would be at Nimman Market.
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is to rent a bicycle – it’s a great way to explore many hidden parts of the city and it gives you mobility to visit some places that are not too far in Chiang Mai town. There are many local communities and temples never mentioned on the map so the only way to find them to actually go out there and explore!
Berit recommends you to explore Nimmanhaemin’s hidden gems. Here’s the artsy garden of iBerry Ice Creams
Travel Expert & Writer: Berit’s Insider Tips in Chiang Mai
I love Chiang Mai because of its laidback’ness, creative vibe and, of course, the fresh mountain air and the adventures that wait just beyond the city doorstep.
The best thing to do in Chiang Mai is to go by bicycle to Nimmanhaemin in search for new cool coffee parlours, local underground bars or a hole-in-the-wall art space.
My favourite Chiang Mai hangout is very hard to limit to just 1… So I’ll mention 4:
- Larder Café for the hearty and extremely tasty brunch offerings
- Ristr8to Coffee Bar for the freshly roasted and superbly tasty coffee
- Bird’s Nest for their hippie hangout house and think creamy coconut smoothie
- Natwat café for the yummy morning muesli, ambience and work-space-suitability
I never leave Chiang Mai before I have passed Blue Diamond Breakfast Club, to purchase one (ok many!) of their Cinnamon buns. I’d give anything for one right now…
My secret #GoLocal insider tip to Chiang Mai is to pass the local market down the road from ECO Resort and get a Khao Soi. It’s cheap, its filling and it’s about the best one I’ve ever had! Just ask the Go Beyond Travel Advisor for directions!
Read more about and contact the Travel Advisors in Bangkok and Chiang Mai: Thailand Travel Centre
And with that, we want to hear from you – what have we forgotten? What’s your insider tips to Chiang Mai, you favourite place to go, activity to do or place to hang out? Tell us in the comments below!