HomeAbout UsEventsResourcesContact Us

Chiang Mai City Precautions Getting Around Foreign Consulates
Weather Electricity Flight Schedule Useful Links
City Map Money Currency Departure Tax  
Visa Requirements What's to Eat Tourist Offices  

Chiangmai is Thailand's principal northern city, and provincial capital of a largely mountainous province, also called Chiangmai, some 20,000 square kilometers in area. Chiangmai city is some 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, was founded in 1296, and is located in a fertile valley some 300 meters above sea level. Chiangmai was the capital of LANNA Thai (Kingdom of One Million Rice Fields), the first independent Thai Kingdom in the fabled Golden Triangle. Chiangmai flourished as a major religious, cultural and trading center until 1556 when a Burmese invasion reduced it to a vassal state. The Burmese were expelled in 1755, and LANNA Thai once more became part of northern Thailand. Many lowland Thais regard Chiangmai city and province as being a national Shangri-la thanks to beautiful women, distinctive festivals, historic temples dating from the 1300's, arresting scenic beauty, temperate fruits such as apples, peaches and strawberries, and a crisp, invigorating cool season climate. Mountains surrounding Chiangmai city form lower extremities of Himalayan foothills and host several hill tribes of Tibeto-Burman origin. Forests still worked by elephants, waterfalls, caves, gorges, cultivated orchards and plantations adorn mountains that invite detailed exploration. Until the late 1920's, Chiangmai was isolated from Bangkok, and could be reached only by an arduous river trip or an elephant back journey through jungle mountains that took several weeks. Such isolation accounts for much of Chiangmai's present charm. The people of Chiangmai have their own lilting dialect, their own customs, their own architectural traditions, a wide range of indigenous handicrafts, their own dances and their own cuisine. As countless travelers have discovered, Chiangmai's manifold attractions enthrall, delight, and to visit this northern Shangri-la merely once is to remain forever enchanted.

There are three well-defined seasons--the Hot Season (March through May), the Rainy Season (June through October), and the Cool Season (November through February). Average temperatures are 25.5 C., ranging from 29.9 C in April to 21 C in December. September is the wettest month. December and January are the coolest months.

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Average 21 °C Average 28 °C Average 25 °C

Please click here to see the map.

Please check www.thaivisa.com for updates on visa requirements to Thailand.

  • Water
    Never drink water out of the tap! Chiang Mai City water is chlorinated and fluoridated, but bringing it to a rolling boil for one full minute is necessary before drinking. Bottled water is considered safe. Most people have no problem brushing their teeth with tap water.

  • Food
    Food and water are safe at most restaurants in Chiang Mai. But especially while you’re new here and your stomach is not accustomed to Chiang Mai bacteria, you may want to be a little more cautious what you eat and where you buy it. The food you are served will probably be fresher where more customers buy because there will be a faster turnover in selling it. Be especially careful during the hot season about eating prepared foods bought after the heat of the day. Watch out for dishes with seafood and coconut cream in them because these begin to spoil most quickly. You might also notice whether foods are prepared and/or sold beside roadways where, if they are kept uncovered, more pollutants will end up on them.

    You may want to be a little careful about raw, unpeeled vegetables at first while your stomach is adjusting. It’s wise to rinse vegetables and unpeeled fruits as a permanent habit because of pesticide use. Many people simply rinse their vegetables in ordinary tap water and have no difficulties. If you want to be more cautions, you can soak leafy vegetables, etc. About chili peppers, be forewarned that the littlest ones are the hottest! Watch out for the little green ones; they’re the most concentrated and can look suspiciously like green beans. If you end up with a burning mouth, eating more rice or drinking milk will help the most. Drinking other liquids simply spreads the chili oil around. Thai food has a great reputation as an international cuisine. Having given these cautions, we hope you enjoy it!!

  • Crossing the street
    Be very alert and very careful when walking near traffic because THERE IS NO PEDESTRIAN RIGHT OF WAY IN THAILAND!

    Know that when you are a pedestrian it’s not wise to take changes. It’s better to wait than be sorry! Watch how Thai people cross the street, notification that they hardly ever make a run for the other side. Instead, they walk out slowly, sometimes waiting in the middle of the road for the next lane of traffic to clear. When several pedestrians are waiting to cross, they cross in-groups walking closely together so as not to confuse the oncoming drivers. Your best safeguard is to catch the oncoming driver’s eyes; that way you’ll know they’ve seen you. If you run or dart out quickly you’ll take drivers by surprise. Remember to LOOK BOTH WAYS, even on one-way streets.

Voltage: 220V
Pin type: 2-pin either round or straight

The basic unit of Thai currency is the baht (baat). There are 100 sataang in one baht; coins including 25 sataang and 50 sataang pieces and baht in 1B, 5B and 10B coins. Twenty-five sataang equals one saleung in colloquial Thai, and people still refer to 25 sataang coins as saleung on occasion.

Paper currency comes in denominations of 10B (brown color), 20B (green), 50B (blue) 100B (red) 500B (purple) and 1,000B (beige).

Exchange rates are printed in the Bangkok Post and Nation newspapers everyday. You can also walk into any Thai bank and ask to see a daily rate sheet.

There is no black market money exchange for baht, so there's no reason to bring in any Thai currency. The banks and legal money-changers offer the best exchange rates within the country. Banks charge commission and duty for each travelers cheque cashed. You will save on commissions if you use larger cheque denominations.

Note: You cannot exchange Malaysian ringgit, Indonesian rupiah, Nepali rupees, Cambodian riel, Lao kip, Vietnamese dong or Myanmar kyat for Thai currency at banks, although some money-changers may.

Source: Exerpts from Lonely Planet, Northern Thailand and Chiang Mai City

Tired of the few Thai dishes you’re acquainted with but still can’t read the menu? Listed below are a few common Thai dishes and their Thai names.

None of these dishes are spicy; you can buy them lots of places around town:

  • khao phat - fried rice (with chicken: khao phat gai, with pork: khao phat muu)
  • phat Thai - rice noodles fried with bean sprouts, egg, peanuts, dried shrimp
  • phat phak - stir-fried vegetables
  • phat sii iiw - stir-fried rice noodles with some meat, egg and green vegetable
  • lahd naa - meat broth with meat and green vegetable served over rice noodles
  • kway tiaw - rice noodle soup with meat broth
  • khao man gai - white chicken on rice with broth on the side
  • muu dang - sliced red pork on rice
  • muu satay - barbecued pork on a stick, sometimes sold with peanut sauce
  • gai thawt - fried chicken
  • khao niaw - steamed sticky rice, eaten often in the North
  • poh piak - spring rolls
  • toam kha gai - a soup with chicken, coconut milk, fresh ginger and lemon grass

These are somewhat spicy:

  • khao soy – a popular Northern Thai curry noodle soup
  • soam tam – a very tasty salad made with shredded green papaya (if you want it not spicy, when you order your serving, ask for no chilis (mai sai prick)
  • toam yum gung – a sour soup with shrimp, mushrooms, ginger and lemon grass
  • gang kurry gai – an lndian curry with chicken and potatoes
  • penang – a spicier curry with meat
  • "gap khao" - literally, this means "with rice;" it's a category of anything that is served over rice; you'll see lots of kinds served up from stainless steel trays behind glass cases in markets or along the streets-watch for chilis!

After awhile, you can learn to recognize the visual cues for who is serving what, (for example, white chicken on rice is sold where you see the cooked chickens hanging in a glass case). But in the meantime, if you ask for a particular dish by name, the vendors you ask will either get it for you or point you in a direction where you can find it or tell you no, go somewhere else.

You can get all these foods “to go.” Just say “klap baan,” and the vendor will know you want to take it out and will wrap it or put it in bags for you.

Next »