Known as the “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai and the surrounding area (“Chiang Mai” is the name of both the city and province) may just possibly be the best region in Thailand – it’s certainly our favorite!
The second largest city in the country, Chiang Mai is really more like a town than a major city and still maintains a close community feel while offering everything you may need, from delicious cheap local food to some of the most incredible luxury hotels in the world. Then, if you want to get out into nature, drive just 20 minutes out of the city and you’ll start to be surrounded by bright green rice fields and dense jungles.
We believe Chiang Mai, along with the rest of the north, is one of the best places to do yoga in Thailand, but that’s not the only thing we love about it. In fact the reasons why we call this area home are never ending, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to 10 big ones.
1. The surroundings
Northern Thailand is simply beautiful. With lush jungles, incredible mountains, stunning views and plenty of greenery all year round, the nature in the north will take your breath away. Yoga on the beach may be nice, but it doesn’t compare to the magic of practicing your asanas on a misty mountain morning.
2. The people
Overall, the people of Chiang Mai seem to be more laidback, friendly and welcoming than those in Bangkok or on the islands. With a relatively small community, you can also really get to know both locals and expats and instantly feel included.
3. The food
We couldn’t write enough about Chiang Mai’s excellent food scene. From sweet barbecued pork skewers sold on the street with sticky rice to inventive, vegan dishes made with all local and organic ingredients in some unique outdoor restaurants, the city seems to have it all – and at a good price too! Here people snack throughout the day and nearby farms mean an abundance of fresh produce is available year round.
4. The weather
Thailand is a hot and humid country, but temperatures in the north tend to run slightly cooler than other places. Especially in the “cold” season from November through January you can’t find more perfect weather. It’s warm and sunny during the day, cool at night and not a drop of rain for months!
5. The culture
Though part of Siam, and now Thailand, for more than a century, Chiang Mai still retains many of its traditional customs as the former northern Lanna Kingdom. You’ll catch glimpses of the region’s history and customs in the uniforms students wear on Fridays, special temple decorations, and traditional music played at the night markets.
6. The quality of life
Living here is good – good food, affordable accommodation, friendly people, lovely weather…we couldn’t ask for more!
7. The temples
There are of course Thai Buddhist temples throughout the country, but Chiang Mai seems to boast some of the most significant, and beautiful, temple complexes in all of Thailand. There are hundreds in the province and nearly one on every corner in the Old City filling Chiang Mai with a sense of peace and tradition. There’s also always something to celebrate and the temples house festivals seemingly every week!
8. The wellness factor
Together with the fantastic food and weather, there’s something about Chiang Mai that draws a range of wellness seekers and practitioners. Along with a thriving yoga scene, you’ll also find plenty of experienced masseuses, massage schools, body workers, vegetarian restaurants, meditation centers, reiki masters, astrologists, life coaches and all other kinds of therapists and healers.
9. The openness
Chiang Mai can offer you wide open spaces both literally and figuratively. Traipse through the mountains reconnecting with nature or appreciate the open mindedness of the locals, expats and travelers passing through. Everyone seems to be on some sort of journey and supportive of others. The possibilities here are endless.
10. Did we mention the food?
Seriously – the food! Fresh young coconuts, rich khao soi (a northern specialty), spicy papaya salads and creamy cappuccinos…you’ll never go hungry or get tired of trying Chiang Mai’s tasty delights!
To see more of what makes Chiang Mai so special watch our video below…you can also come visit us this November during our 10-Nights in Northern Thailand Retreat. Book now and receive 10,000 baht off!
Have you spent time in Chiang Mai or Northern Thailand before? What did you appreciate about this special place?