It is a quick flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, about 1 hour 20 minutes non-stop. Chiang Mai is located in the North of Thailand, a large city surrounded by mountains. Although it is Thailand’s 4th largest city, it seems like a small town compared to Bangkok. With only 175,000 people compared to Bangkok’s 6 million plus, it is a lot smaller.
I really liked the vibe of the city. It was more laid back and the people a lot friendlier than Bangkok. Combine that with great weather and the beautiful landscape, it is no wonder it is one of the most popular spots in the world for digital nomads to live.
The heart of the town is the Old City, which is still surrounded by the remains of the ancient city walls, a moat, and four well restored gates. There are many historic temples and a few museums to visit inside the area. I stayed outside the walls near the night market, but Chiang Mai is small and everything was within walking distance.
While I was visiting, a tourist from the UK and his Canadian girlfriend decided they wanted to spray paint their names on one of the historic gates. As you might imagine it caused outrage among the locals and the CCTV footage catching them in the act was all over the news. They were apprehended a couple of days later.
I’m not sure what gets into peoples minds to make them do this kind of thing, especially in a foreign country. They faced up to 10 years in jail and a $40,000 fine. Lucky for them they got off with $4,000 in fines each and were kicked out of the country.
Temples In Chiang Mai
I spent a few days walking around the city and visiting several of the temples. It seemed like I couldn’t walk more than a few blocks without finding a new one.
A few temples require an entrance fee at the gate while others let you walk around the grounds and require a donation to go inside the buildings.
This is the first of many temples I’d visit over the coming week. One thing that struck me right away was the lack of crowds. While it was busy, there were none of the mobs that suffocated the sights in Bangkok.
After a good day’s sightseeing I enjoy one of the many local brews and a good meal. The beer in this case is Chang – which means elephant in Thai. It’s like the Budweiser of Thailand – Singha is their Coors. Most beers here pack a punch at around 5% ABV. Chang used to be over 6.4% but they reduced it recently.