Backpackers' Introduction to
Chang Mai Thailand

View of Northern Thailand, © Kamp

Chang Mai is Thailand's second largest city and is very popular with tourists and backpackers!

Let me tell you why:

Whether you're here to trek, party, shop, eat great food or get a tattoo, you'll get it here. The choices of activities are endless! It's just packed with culture and adventures!

And despite its tourist-flow, you can still feel the laid-back atmosphere in this town, especially in the the traditional old quarter, set within a 2 km square moat.

I personally loved Chang Mai because of its unique and lively personality! I loved the variety of food, the people, the shopping, the atmosphere - almost everything!

How to get to
Chang Mai Thailand

By air:

Chiang Mai has an airport, located 10 minutes by taxi from city center. The taxi counter is in the international and domestic arrival lounge. Expect to pay around 120 B to downtown Chiang Mai. It's pretty affordable!

Cheap flights to Chiang Mai:

By bus:

The long-distance bus terminal in Chiang Mai is called Arcade Bus Terminal, located 3 km from the old city. For buses to destinations in Chiang Mai province, go to Chang Pheuak Bus Terminal, located north of the old city. The terminal serves destinations like Chiang Dao (1,5 hour).

From Bangkok: Click here and you'll be redirected to Bangkok: "From Bangkok to Other Cities."

You will then arrive at the Arcade Bus Terminal in Chang Mai.

From Pai: Ordinary buses from Pai to Chiang Mai leave at 7.00, 8.30, 11.00, 12.30, 16.30. Otherwise, you take a minibus from Pai. Go to the local travel agencies (Aya Company) to get a ticket.

From Chiang Rai: The Khon Song bus station is near the Night Market, and the bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai takes 3-4 hours.

From Chiang Khong: You can take a direct minibus from Chiang Khong. You can get help at the guesthouse you're staying at in Chiang Khong. The most helpful one is apparently Ban Tam Ni La guesthouse on 113 Thanon Sai Klang Road.

By train:

The train station in Chiang Mai is located almost 3 km east of the old city.

A lot of backpackers take the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai - the train station in Bangkok is called Hualamphong. The trip takes between 12-15 hours. It's fairly easy to travel by train from Bangkok and a ticket for overnight sleeper cost about 900 B.

Train tickets can be bought at the train station. For tickets in advance, you might try the booking agency Thailand Train Ticket. The State Railway of Thailand discontinued internet booking from January 2013, so it's not possible to book tickets on their site.

Chiang Mai Map:

See the yellow 'cubicle' in the map? That's the area inside the moat in Chiang Mai.

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From Chang Mai Thailand
to other towns/cities

To Pai: You can usually arrange minibus-rides to Pai at the guesthouse you're staying at in Chang Mai, or through travel agencies.

You can also take the local bus to Pai from the Arcade Bus Terminal in Chiang Mai. As far as I know the buses leave at 07.00, 08.30, 10.30, 12.30, and 16.00 pm. The trip itself takes about 4 hours. If you're prone to motion-sickness, I suggest you bring motion-sickness tablets. The road to Pai can be very dizzy and curvy.

To Chiang Rai: Buses for Chiang Rai leave the Arcade Bus Terminal (4 hours) and costs around 60-70 B. They leave between 6 am and 5.30 pm.

To Chiang Khong (over to Laos): Minibuses leave for Chiang Khong - book at your guesthouse, at the bus station or at a travel agency.

To Mae Hong Son: Buses and minibuses to Mae Hong Son leave the Arcade Bus Terminal.

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Important places to know about in Chang Mai Thailand:

  • Tourist Police Phone nr: 1155. 24-hour emergency.
  • Emergency Police Phone nr: 191
  • Accidents Phone nr: 1193
  • Chiang Mai Ram Hospital is the largest private hospital in the city. Located on Ramkhamhaeng Road
  • Pharmacies are scattered around in Chiang Mai
  • Immigration office: 71 Moo 3, Airport Road
  • ATMs around town and many banks on Th Tha Phae
  • Main post office on Th Charoen Muang
  • If you can't get internet access at your guesthouse (most guesthouses provide free wi-fi), uou can get internet access everywhere in Chiang Mai (internet cafes). A lot of internet cafes have headsets for Skyping.
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Nov 20, 2011:

Anonymous from Australia:
"I was thinking of a trip to Thailand and read your site. I am a 50 year old male and now in Chiang Mai.

This is a perfect part of the world and I have done so much in one week and have three more to go.

I'll need a holiday after this as it is just that good. More to do than you can and choice is hard but no mistakes ever as it is all just perfect. Thank you for your tips they helped make my trip heaven, I will be back again in the new year."

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