Chiang Mai, Thailand tourism

Chiang Mai Thailand

The Vibe & Background 

Geography enchants in the Thai highlands where the digital nomad takes refuge. In the heart of northern Thailand, where Chiang Mai stands as a beacon, one could lose themselves in the labyrinth of experiences. A secluded alley, a bustling market, motorcycles and scooters, all invite the 9-5ers to leave their stuffy offices.  

Chiang Mai, the largest and significantly popular city in northern Thailand, carries an alluring charm that captivates all types of travelers. Serving as the main base for those exploring the north, it has become a must-visit spot on the Thailand tourism trail.

At the heart of the city is a vibrant cultural scene, framed by dozens of majestic temples and enriched by the local customs and traditions. The relaxed vibe is pervasive, creating a harmonious blend of the city’s dynamic energy with its tranquil spaces. This balance is further accented by the stunning landscapes that encase the city, painting a picture of natural beauty that’s tough to resist.

In the culinary arena, Chiang Mai excels. Food markets abound, each offering a plethora of delectable local cuisine that promises an adventure for the taste buds. The city also caters admirably to international palates with an array of Western food options, cafes, and bars strewn across its expanse.

Over the years, Chiang Mai has firmly established itself as a leading digital nomad hub in Southeast Asia. The presence of co-working spaces, coupled with excellent internet connectivity, provides a conducive environment for remote work. The city’s digital nomad community is thriving, making it easy for newcomers to connect and network with fellow travelers.

Despite its modernity and increasing popularity with Western tourists, Chiang Mai has managed to retain its historic Thai essence. The city’s past echoes in its stunning temples and lively markets, both of which offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Chiang Mai’s allure has a fascinating way of extending visitors’ stays. What is initially planned as a brief stop often transforms into an extended stay, sometimes lasting weeks or even months. There’s a certain magic to this city that’s hard to articulate but is almost universally felt by those who visit.

The Rating:  

Here is our WanderLawyer rating for Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Accessibility 3/5 stars. 

Delicious food 5/5 stars. 

Affordability 5/5 stars. 

Work remote locations & internet access 2.5/5 stars. 

Weather 4/5 stars 

Friendliness 5/5 stars

Nightlife 5/5 stars

Vibe: 5/5 stars

Overall Score – 4/5 Stars

The Details: 

Coworking Options 

 The descent coworking options cement Chaing Mai as an true Southeast Asian hub for digital nomads. Here are our top 3 recommendations: 

  1. Punspace: As one of the first coworking spaces in Chiang Mai, Punspace offers a strong community vibe and high-speed internet. It has two locations: Nimman and Tha Phae Gate, both of which are open 24/7.
  2. Hub53 Coworking & Coliving Space: Ideal for those who prefer a living and working combo, Hub53 offers a conducive work environment and convenient coliving options. It’s located in the Nimman area, close to cafes and restaurants.
  3. Yellow Coworking: set amidst lush greenery, spans 16,000 square feet, offering ample and diverse seating options for a relaxed work experience. This coworking haven stands out with its dedicated, fully-equipped YouTube room, catering specifically to digital content creators. The serene yet inspiring environment coupled with privacy options makes it a go-to workspace for many.

Transportation Options

Navigating Chiang Mai is refreshingly simple, with a plethora of transportation options at your disposal. Traditional songthaews, red trucks functioning as shared taxis, are a cost-effective and popular choice for short-distance travel. For a more independent experience, renting a scooter offers the freedom to roam at will. And for a familiar touch, the Grab app (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber) provides reliable taxi services throughout the city.

Lodging

Chiang Mai caters to all accommodation preferences and budgets. From economical hostels for budget travelers to luxury condos for those seeking high-end comfort, the city has it all. One popular area to consider is the trendy Nimmanhaemin, or Nimman area. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and home to numerous cafes, restaurants, and coworking spaces, it offers a variety of boutique apartments for a comfortable stay.

We found these lodging options suitable for Wander Lawyers: 

  1. Akyra Manor Chiang Mai: Located in Nimman, this luxury hotel offers comfortable suites with private pools. It’s close to many cafes and restaurants.
  2. BED Phrasingh: Situated in the old town, this boutique hotel offers a cozy, modern stay. It’s within walking distance from Sunday Walking Street and many temples.
  3. Green Tiger Vegetarian House: A perfect choice for vegetarians and vegans, this guesthouse is centrally located and has an excellent vegetarian restaurant on the ground floor.

Cuisine, Cafes, Bars, and Nightlife

Chiang Mai’s food scene is nothing short of a gastronomic adventure. The city’s food markets are renowned for their array of Thai dishes, with the city’s signature dish, Khao Soi, being a must-try. Additionally, numerous Western food options and cafes are scattered throughout the city, offering a taste of home for foreign visitors.

Chiang Mai’s nightlife is as enticing as its daytime allure. With a diverse range of bars and clubs, the city provides ample avenues for entertainment once the sun goes down. From low-key, relaxed bars to vibrant clubs playing the latest hits, there’s a spot for everyone.

Here are a few restaurant, cafe and bar recommendations: 

Restaurants  

  1. Khao Soi Khun Yai: For an authentic taste of Chiang Mai’s signature dish, Khao Soi, head over to this local favorite. It’s a small, roadside restaurant with limited seating but worth the visit.
  2. David’s Kitchen: If you’re looking for fine dining, David’s Kitchen offers an exquisite blend of Thai and French cuisine. It’s consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in the city.
  3. Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant: For vegetarian and vegan options, Anchan is a standout. It offers a delicious range of Thai vegetarian dishes that even non-vegetarians will love.

Cafes

  1. Ristr8to Coffee: Renowned for its exceptional coffee, Ristr8to is a must-visit for coffee lovers. Its trendy atmosphere is perfect for both socializing and working.
  2. The Baristro at Ping River: This cafe offers not only great coffee but also a beautiful riverside setting. Their dessert menu is also worth exploring.
  3. Graph Café: A small, hipster cafe located in the old town, Graph Café serves hand-drip coffee and offers a cozy environment.

Bars

  1. Zoe in Yellow: As one of the most popular bars in Chiang Mai, Zoe in Yellow offers a lively atmosphere with music ranging from reggae to techno.
  2. The Riverside Bar & Restaurant: For a more laid-back evening, head to The Riverside. Enjoy live music while savoring your drink by the Ping River.
  3. The North Gate Jazz Co-op: If you’re a jazz lover, this is your place. It’s always buzzing with energy and often has live performances.

Attractions

Chiang Mai’s cultural heritage is beautifully encapsulated in its temples. With over 300 temples dotting the city, each offers a unique insight into the city’s past. Don’t miss the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a temple situated atop a mountain, offering spectacular views of the city.

For nature enthusiasts, the lush mountains surrounding Chiang Mai are perfect for trekking and exploration, with the Doi Inthanon National Park standing out as a favorite.

Here are a few recs for fun and easy attractions: 

  1. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: This temple offers stunning views of Chiang Mai and is one of the city’s most important religious sites.
  2. Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: For shopping and local food, the Night Bazaar is a must-visit. It’s open every day from dusk until midnight.
  3. Elephant Nature Park: Spend a day at this rescue and rehabilitation center for elephants. It’s an ethical way to interact with these incredible creatures, contributing to their well-being.

Internet Connectivity

For digital nomads, internet connectivity is paramount, and Chiang Mai does not disappoint. High-speed internet is widely available, with most coworking spaces, cafes, and accommodations offering reliable connectivity. For continuous coverage, consider a local SIM card from providers like AIS or TrueMove for excellent 4G service.

Cost of Living/Traveling

One of Chiang Mai’s significant advantages is its affordability. The cost of living and traveling in Chiang Mai is remarkably low compared to Western standards. Accommodation prices range significantly based on your preferences, but even a high-end condo can be rented for around 15,000 THB (approx. $450) per month. Dining out is also inexpensive, with a typical meal costing between 50-100 THB ($1.50-$3.00).

VERDICT

Chiang Mai is a delightful blend of traditions, flavors, atmospheres, and adventures. While its tranquility may contrast with the bustle of larger cities, it compensates with its vibrant culture and welcoming aura. For these reasons, Chiang Mai receives our heartfelt endorsement.

-WL 

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.