We wish there were more travel tips (Chiang Mai, Tokyo, etc.) available for all the countries/cities we’re slow traveling to. So, we’re hoping that these will help you with your travels to some of the countries/cities we’ve been to.
Chiang Mai took some time for us to get acquainted with. We went through some struggles, but here are some tips that should help make things a little easier if you’re new to the city.
Travel Tips Chiang Mai
If you’re using Grab, the maps and navigation is ALWAYS off. Even if we entered the exact address of our location for pickup, the driver never arrives at that location. Instead, select a store front on the map that’s near you or that you’re familiar with and head there for the pickup.
Also, check online or Facebook groups for available Grab discount codes. We always used a code when in CM.
The songthaews (trucks) are the local ride sharing. There are different colored songthaews according to the different areas they work in. For example, the red songthaews are seen in the Nimman area and Old City. They are 30 baht (as at December 2018) per ride anywhere within these areas. If you want to go outside this area, be sure to negotiate a price prior to hopping on.
From our experience, it’s actually better that you call a Grab if you’re looking to go outside the Nimman or Old City area. It’s cheaper and no negotiating required.
Most of the businesses in Chiang Mai do not accept credit cards. However, all grocery stores do. Therefore, take advantage of using your credit card here instead of having to go to the ATMs or currency exchanges to get Thai Baht.
Also, 7-Eleven will accept credit cards if your total purchase is 300+ baht. Purchase two 3-packs of Chang (local beer) and you’re good!
Remember to use a credit card with no foreign exchange fees. Read more about this here.
We can eat spicy foods, but we don’t necessarily like it too spicy. However, we had no issues with spice here in Chiang Mai. We feel that in Bangkok, the food was 10 times spicier; maybe Northern Thailand doesn’t eat much spice?
Our point is that we didn’t need to request for our meals to be less spicy.
All prices from Tuk Tuk drivers and purchases at the night markets should be negotiated. Do not pay the price they give you.
Order a Grab or for 150 Thai Baht (fixed price) you can get a car service from the airport to your hotel/apartment. You go to the booth which once you’ve collected your luggage and exit, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the building. You will see a lineup at a booth for taxi service. We used the service inside the airport building with no hassles and the price was always consistent.
Most apartment buildings will have water delivery. Ask your building’s “Juristic Office” for water delivery. They will take a deposit (300 baht) and you let them know if you want plastic bottles or glass bottles. The cost for 24 – 500 ml glass bottles was $70 (as at December 2018). Normally, we ordered and received the next day.
Alternatively, there are water stations throughout the Nimman area and Old City. They are water dispensing vending machines that costs around $1-2 baht for 1 liter of water. You’ll have to bring your own water bottle.
Chiang Mai’s telecom services is widespread, convenient and fast. Most anywhere you go will have free wifi. We actually found it cheaper to purchase a sim and data plan outside of the airport. 7-Eleven also carries prepaid plans and 7-Elevens are every where.
We went with AIS and had no issues whatsoever with them. Even when we had to ‘top up’ and/or change packages.
Another tip, if there are 2 of you, just get one plan and setup a hotspot for the second phone (that’s if you’ll pretty much be together most of the time), if you want to save a few dollars. However, plans are very inexpensive compared to North American (especially Canada) prices.
Central Festival Mall
There’s a free shuttle that takes you to Central Festival Mall if you’re in the Nimman area or in the Old City. It starts from 11am and runs until 7:30pm and will pick up at several hotels. At the mall, check the information desk for an updated schedule (they will have it on a board and also have a printed flyer).
Long Term Accommodation
Finding an apartment for a month or longer is relatively easy. You can visit each building and ask whether they have any units (1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms, etc.) available for rent. They will show you a list of what they have and the associated costs.
Alternatively, you can contact Perfect Homes and they will show you what’s available and also take you to see these units. They act as a “realtor” on your behalf at no cost to you.
Once an apartment is chosen, you could potentially move in the same day or the next. It’s that flexible!
However, please note that you will need everything in cash (in most cases). For example, if you’re renting for two months, you will need 2 months deposit plus your first month’s rent prior to moving in.
BONUS TIP: Google Translate
If you have a dietary restriction or need to ask any questions to a local, your best bet is to use Google translate. We’ve experienced asking a question and receiving a nod “yes” and, in the end, realizing that they had no idea what we were saying. So to be on the safe side, use google translate.
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