Chiang Mai, Thailand

chiang mai thailand moat sunset 2400

Founded in the year 1296, Chiang Mai is located in the mountainous regions of northern Thailand. Due to its culture, many Buddhist temples, and great food, Chiang Mai has become a popular destination for digital nomads and tourists. Despite Chiang Mai’s growing popularity as a travel destination, it has managed to retain much of its cultural appeal, most of which can be felt and seen in the Old Town section of this mid-sized city.

My preference is to travel slowly. For me, this means staying in most destinations for at least one month and sometimes even two months. This slow style of travel enables me to really get a feel for a place. It also reduces the risk of travel burnout from constantly moving. In addition, traveling slowly provides me with time to just “be” in a place, to live in the moment, and to take it all in.

It’s easy to lose that sense of living in the moment with the constant planning and looking ahead that is necessary with my perpetual travel lifestyle. 

However, some places are better than others at encouraging a slow pace mindset. Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of those places.

Surrounded by a moat and remnants of an ancient wall, Old Town Chiang Mai tends to move at a slower pace while the rest of the city hustles.

I found myself walking the sois (side streets) of Old Town Chiang Mai often during my time there. It has a way of coaxing you into moving slowly as you wander aimlessly and explore its small streets, food options, and many Buddhist temples. It’s a wonderful place to just slow down and observe life.

There are hundreds of Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai. I came across many of them by simply strolling around town. Some temples can be busy, however, most of them offer a very serene and peaceful environment. They are all unique and beautiful.

The temples of Chiang Mai are great places to have a quiet moment and contemplate life.

The food scene in Chiang Mai is one of the best I have experienced in southeast Asia so far. There is quite a variety ranging from authentic local dishes to western style food. With that said, Chiang Mai is a great place to satisfy your noodle cravings. The quality of the noodle dishes rivals the many bowls of noodles I’ve enjoyed in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

One of the more famous foods of Northern Thailand is a noodle dish called Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a coconut curry-based soup with both soft and crispy noodles. It is usually made with either chicken or beef, although vegetarian versions exist as well. It is often served with a side of pickled veggies, red onion, and lime. I’m sure I didn’t get to them all, however, I did my best to sample all of the Khoa Soi recipes around town.

Some of my other favorite dishes included earthen jar crispy roast pork, as well as in-house-made Yunnan-style noodles.

Venturing a bit outside of the city and up into the mountains of Chiang Mai. Beautiful scenery abounds.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s a bustling city with lively markets, great food, and an active nightlife. There are also many opportunities both in town and on the outskirts to find a quiet place to get away. All this combined with beautiful temples and scenery… I’ll be back for sure.

Besides, I’ve got more Khoa Soi recipes to try.

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  1. I recently visited Chiang Mai and was blown away by its rich culture, stunning temples, and vibrant street markets – an unforgettable experience!

    1. Agreed. Chiang Mai has proven to be one of my favorite places in Southeast Asia. Despite it’s popularity as a travel, expat, and digital nomad destination it has managed to maintain much of it’s charm and cultural uniqueness for the most part. It is changing, but what place doesn’t? Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    1. You make a good point about Chiang Mai being touristy. However, I can say the same thing about many of the places I visit. I think it depends on the time of year you visit as well. In September, it felt like much less tourists. In January… Way more tourists. It’s kind of hard to get away from it in Southeast Asia these days unless you ok with less infrastructure. The places I typically find to be “less touristy” are the larger cities. They are such melting pots that everyone just fits in.

    1. Thanks Becky. I wish I had a bit more time to fully capture it. Despite it being a small town, there was a lot to squeeze in with such a short amount of time.

  2. Such gorgeous photographs Skip. This and your words make me long to go back and chill there for a while. We only had 3 days there (would have had more but we got seduced by the beauty and wonder of Luang Prabang so stayed there longer than planned) but one of the best days there was wandering into one of the smaller temple/monastery complexes, chatting with couple of monks, asking if we could join their evening meditation, then being invited to live there. We declined of course, we were on a different path, but the time there in such serenity was so beautiful.

    1. Hi Allison. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience despite your short visit. I’m sure you will get back there. We have already planned or return trip.

    1. Hi Miki. Thank you for the kind words. Hope you are doing well. We are looking forward to getting back there and exploring some more.

  3. We recently travelled to Chiang Mai and enjoyed the Old Town as much as you did. We went on an 8 day tuk tuk tour up into the mountains and had a fantastic time there. Can recommend The Tuk Tuk Club for a great adventure.

    1. Hi June. Thanks for stopping by a leaving a comment. That 8 day tuk tuk tour sounds amazing. We will be visiting Chiang Mai again. So, please do leave your recommendation for the tour. Safe travels!

    1. Hi Becky. We really enjoyed the food there. There are many other things to try other than noodles of course. But hey hey, there are so many good noodle dishes to try. I’d be happy to make recommendations if you need them. Safe travels to you.

    1. Hi Trudy! So great to see you stop by and leave a comment. We miss you all too. Happy to hear you are enjoying the site. This is the reason I created it. Thank you for your comment, especially about the narration. Sometimes I wonder if the narration adds any value since the photos are the star of the site. Hope to see you stop by the site more often 🙂

  4. Your photography is amazing. Love the tuk-tuk and rickshaw photos. The sunrise/sunset photos are brilliant. And the food pictures are making me hungry!

    1. Hi Ryan. Always good to see you here. I’m always glad to know you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for the encouragement and safe travels.

  5. You have carried the essence of this serene town, taking me right back there.

    I love your eye for a photo, colour, timing and subject is always just perfect.

    Looking forward to the TravelRefocused coffee table book to thumb through once our travels are over ?

    1. Hi Neil! Happy to hear you continue to enjoy my work here. You are the second person who has compared my site to a coffee table book. It makes a lot of sense I suppose. The main purpose of the site is to offer those interested an opportunity to kick back and experience the places I visit. Hopefully, it inspires them to visit one day as well.

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