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Chiang Mai weather is not unusual for tropical regions of the world. There's the rainy season, which covers the months of June through October. There's the cool season that falls between November through February. Then there's the hot season during of March through May.

Due to the lowered humidity in Chiang Mai, this city, as opposed to many other parts of Thailand, is considerably more moderate in climate, usually falling a few degrees cooler than the rest of the country. The best times to visit Chiang Mai is during the months of November through February, when the climate is cooler and dry. During this time the land is still moist from the monsoon season, so everything is still green, but by the time March rolls around everything is drying up from lack of rain, and the farmers begin burning their rice fields.

You probably want to avoid Chiang Mai during March, due to rice farmers burning their fields to prepare for the upcoming rice crop that they will put in when the rains start again. Clouds of smoke are everywhere, which, added to the dusty and dry environment, makes the region rather polluted for weeks. The yearly Songkran Festival, which represents the Thai new year, comes about during the month of April, which though still dry and polluted, makes this a good reason to visit the region at that time.

I think that December and January are the best months for visiting Chiang Mai. This is during the cool season. Warm days and cool nights prevail, allowing people to wear shorts during the day though they may need to wear sweaters or light jackets at night. This is the time of the year referred to as the Chiang Mai winter, but since Thailand is tropical, snowboarding and downhill skiing is not an option. I try to dress as lightly as possible while I'm visiting tropical places so I often get away with just putting on jeans with my tee shirt during the cooler hours.

August and September are the worst times to visit as it is during the peak of the monsoon and the wet season is in full sway. Wet and soggy weather is not for everyone but some people who have never observed a monsoon type rain might enjoy hanging around for the start of the monsoon season. It's different from the rainy seasons in more temperate climates, and quite a memorable experience. 

I have found that Chiang Mai has a unique and beautiful culture and it's a good place to visit. If you're a photographer you will especially enjoy the area, with its colorful landscapes, beautiful mountains and sunsets, all becoming enhanced by the clouds of the rainy season. In my opinion, it's a great Thailand getaway.

While visiting Chiang Mai, it is possible to forget to keep fit. With the wide variety of parks, luxury restaurants and sites to see, many tourists forget to exercise thus gaining weight while visiting. Inasmuch as going on vacation is important, it is imperative that we keep fit. Many people tend to think that hikes and sport activities are the only way to exercise while on vacation, however, most sites that we like visiting during our vacations are luxury spurs. They don't tend to have sporting activities. The other alternative of working out during vacations and visits to Chiang Mai, is going to the gym.

I know that to most people this does not sound attractive at all. Gym has always been associated with non-fun activities, weight loss programmes or work-, which you are escaping from. Just like the vast variety of restaurants and food, Chiang Mai has a wide variety of gyms. Since there are so many to choose from, the services provided at these gyms are of high quality since every gym wants to keep its customers coming back. The infrastructures in most of the gyms are world class and are built and arranged with the customer in mind. These gyms have experienced staff who will take you through the entire exercising process. This is to ensure that you treat your body right and achieve your aim; to boost strength, stay fit or increase flexibility.

These gyms do not just seek to give you solid work out. They all strive to help you enjoy the process. As a result, most gyms have incorporated fun activities such as swimming pools, few games like table tennis and even racket balls. This started off as a technique to beat competitors but it has become a popular aspect among the customers.

A few gyms in Chiang Mai are:

Powerhouse gym fitness center is a fully equipped gym with an on sight sauna and free Wi-Fi for whoever sets foot in its vicinity.

The Chiang Mai Rock Climbing gym is one classic type of gym with inbuilt gym design for rock climbing. this is not only and perfectly energetic gyming set but a fun and exciting experience too.

There are a number of  hotels around town I know about, that allow only non-patron memberships. The gyms are elegant and fully equipped with experiences instructors. and they offers gyming practices like dancing exercises such as pole dancing and wow yoga, with steam rooms. There are numerous specialty gyms like Lanna Muay Thai, which is less than 2km from Sang Serene House, and CrossFit.

These are just a few examples of the gyms found in Chiang Mai. There are so many more which have great offers.

There are a handful of travel destinations around the world to choose from when planning a vacation. Some prefer to play it safe and travel to a place that is often talked about in the media, while other people prefer to be more exciting and opt to travel to a discrete place that doesn't have a lot of hype attached to it but that it’s certainly a one-of-kind destination that is culturally significant, such as Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Founded in 1296 by King Mengrai, this city is well-known for having a dry and tropical climate with warm to hot weather the entire year. With a population of over 160,000, Chiang Mai is considered to be the most modern, creative, culturally significant and largest city in northern Thailand. It attracts over 5 million visitors each year (2 million of them being foreign tourists).

This city's most commonly spoken languages are Northern and Central Thai. English is mostly spoken in travel-related businesses, such as hotels.

There are over 300 Buddhist temples that you can visit in Chiang Mai, which include Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which is the city's most famous temple (built in 1383) and Wat Chiang Man which is the oldest temple in the city that dates back to the 13th century.

There is a handful of meaningful festivals in this joyous city that celebrate different aspects of life, which tourists can enjoy seeing, such as the Loi Krathong, Songkran and the Chiang Mai Flower Festival.

Museums are another attraction that keeps tourists coming back to this fabulous city in Thailand. There is the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center museum, Chiang Mai National Museum, Tribial Museum and Sala Thanarak museum.

For those who prefer the nightlife, Chiang Mai offers numerous of bars to go to, a handful of discotheques, many live music venues to enjoy and a large night bazaar where you can purchase a variety of handicrafts and local arts.

Whenever you get here, don’t forget to stop by one of the many restaurants in the city that serve authentic Thai dishes—such as the Tom Yam Goong, Pad Thai, Kuay Tiew, Som Tam and Massaman Curry.

To get yourself around the city, you can opt to use public transportation such as the many red trucks or opt to rent a motorbike or private car.

As you can tell, Chiang Mai is a city that is filled with fascinating scenery that can be enjoyed by anyone. Unlike other cities, Chiang Mai is not often talked about in the media, which is what makes it an interesting destination to visit.      

Chiang Mai is a land-locked city in the northern tip of Thailand. Obviously, swimming in the area requires the use of pools. While it's true that the swimming pools in the region usually require some travel time out of the city, it's worth it to get a little splashy fun in the sun.

1. Centre of the Universe, a private swimming pool located only 500 meters or so from our apartment. Only lap swimmers can use this salt water pool between the hours of 6:30 to 9:00 am and 5:00 to 7:30 pm, and lap swimmers can book a lane in advance for their exclusive use. The rest of the day is open swim for everyone. Besides the large pool, there are also two smaller children's pools. There are adequate beach chairs, along with a bar and restaurant for eating and drinking pleasure.

2. The Seven Hundred Year Stadium features an Olympic sized pool located within this gigantic public sports and recreation center. From the center of Chiang Mai city it took me about 15 minutes to get to the sports complex by car as the complex is located on Irrigation Canal Road, Route 121. There are no beach chairs at this pool so I don't go there for sunbathing. Also, children frequent the pool area in large numbers on the weekends and after school, so those hours are not for those who prefer peace and quiet.

3. The Top North Guesthouse is a hotel that offers the use of its pool to those who aren't registered at the hotel. While this pool is easy to find, it has a tendency toward overcrowding in the afternoons and the beach chairs are limited so tanning is a touch and go prospect. I've noticed it's normal for entire families to share one beach chair, just to have a place to rest their things while swimming.

4. Chiang Mai Hills Hotel and the Orchid Hotel, both located on Huay Kaew Road, allow non-registered visitors to use their pools for a fee, but we visitors need to watch out, because if the hotels are fully booked, and there are a lot of guests using the pools, visitors might not be allowed in to swim or sunbathe on that particular day.

5. The Chiang Mai Land swimming pool is open to the public. It's located on Chiang Mai Land Road off Super Highway Route 1141. This resort charges 50 baht per day for non-residents to use the pool. This includes foreigners and Thais who aren't staying at the resort. This basically amounts to around 500 baht for one year's membership. Residents of the resort, on the other hand, use this pool for free.

6. Kuay Chup Tung Hotel located on Tung Hotel Road, near the Railway Station, has a very old public access swimming pool. This pool has a very small sunbathing area and the hotel prefers to advertise its fine dining restaurant rather than its somewhat dilapidated pool but the facility is available to visitors as well as residents of the hotel.

I am an American who has been visiting Thailand for three months and I NEVER want to leave. Chiang Mai is the most beautiful, exciting place I have ever been. The lifestyle I have settled into is wonderful. The food, the natural beauty, the people all make me want to become a permanent expatriate.

I'm about to make my first VISA run from Chiang Mai to extend my stay for a little while longer. When I return home I plan to figure out a way to make my next visit a one-way trip. I feel particularly lucky because of the apartment I found. It is fully serviced and bigger and cleaner than the places other people I have met are staying. One of my new friends, visiting from Great Britain, lives in a tiny little place with electricity that doesn't work half of the time and no WiFi! How can you live like that?! But I guess a lot of people like me do live in situations like that, so I'm all the more thankful I found Sang Serene House. It's one less thing to worry about.

With housing worked out so nicely, I'm able to spend my time exploring the city. I love to hike, and it is so easy to organize trips with other expats to some of the most beautiful locations these eyes have ever seen. I don't think I have ever seen mountains so green with plant life. When I'm not in the outdoorsy mood, I love seeing new sides of the city. Sometimes it's easy to do on your own and sometimes it's better to have a guide. I found Zine at Thailand ETCetera to be a wonderful host. She took me to try new street food and temples and markets I wouldn't have found on my own. If you're interested you can find her website here, or find her on Facebook here.

I was nervous when I first got to Chiang Mai, but I should have dived right in. For the equivalent of one American dollar I can eat some of the best food I've ever had in my life till I'm stuffed. I still can't handle the handful of chile flakes the Thai people add to their own plate, but I'm getting used to spicier food. It's all delicious.

Basically, I feel really good about life here. I'm able to support myself and then some with freelance writing work I carried over from the States. I have more time to live my life and explore. Every day is an adventure. If you're reading this, find a way to make it to Chiang Mai. It's like nothing you've ever experienced.

Thailand is a splendid place to go on vacation, since the setting is idyllic and welcomes you to relish every single moment of your stay. Chiang Mai is perhaps the most picturesque location in the whole country of Thailand and I can vouch for that! During my stay, I have been fascinated by the remarkable landscapes and the superb monuments that can be found in the region. So, if you are having second thoughts as to whether you should choose Chiang Mai for your vacation, please take my word on it and do not miss out on such a superb, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

As far as your accommodation is concerned, furnished apartments in Chiang Mai are the top alternative. They offer you all the quality services that you have been searching for and they will serve all your needs. Whether you are a bachelor, on your honeymoon or a family with children, these apartments will be the ideal accommodation that provides you with exceptional options. Instead of being confined and not having the flexibility to feel comfortable inside your hotel room, you can enjoy the amenities that are offered to you through the use of furnished apartments.

According to what you need, you can choose an apartment that includes modern furniture of exceptional elegance and style. Many serviced apartments will provide electrical appliances so you don't have to worry about the voltage differences with your appliances from home. There are numerous devices and gadgets that will make your stay in Chiang Mai even more comfortable, such as a home cinema and DVD player, a freezer and toasters, boilers and blenders. Sang Serene House has a modern kitchen that has got everything you need, you can cook and enjoy your meals without any discomfort. You can also ask for BBQ facilities and other things that can come in handy to you throughout your holidays.

Feel free to search for the optimal furnished apartment in Chiang Mai, we feel confident you'll come back to us.

Travelers are generally surprised at the many amazing things to see, do, taste, and experience in the province of Chiang Mai. People expect just historic temples, ethnic villages, elephant nature parks, scenery and various cultural events. But today, Chiang Mai is a WiFi mecca and attracts many long term visitors.

Having come from its glorious beginnings in 1296 as a moat surrounded, walled city, Chiang Mai is now the second largest city in Thailand. It combines the modern and traditional, where more than 300 temples give the city an elegance that surpasses time. This great "Rose of the North" is now the 9th most livable city in Asia, but when you visit, it surely feels like it should be ranked #1.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has started free WiFi hotspots around Chiang Mai. If you're looking for an environment where people are friendly, where exotic local and international foods are delicious, as well as affordable, and where you can connect to the Internet with just your passport number as your password, then Chiang Mai is your destination.

Quality WiFi, is just one of the many standard amenities that are available and modestly priced in Chiang Mai. Downtown is the center of everything and as such, can be a bit noisy. Choosing which serviced apartment to live in can be a a bit complicated as many don't have much information on their websites ...or don't have websites at all. There are many serviced apartments throughout Chiang Mai available for short or long term stays, but only one Sang Serene House. Close enough to town to be convenient but far enough to be serene, and with two internet connections from two companies, it's a great place to get work done.

Chiang Mai is the ultimate destination for holidays and this is by far the most wonderful place you could travel! Emblematic temples and rich culture complete the scenery of this tropic heaven.

Thailand offers far more than all the other tourist destinations worldwide. This is the main reason why so many people enjoy spending time here, and especially during November, December and January, there is such great demand for serviced apartments.

When it comes to accommodation though, there really is no question as to what you ought to choose. Chiang Mai has many serviced apartments and they can be a much better value than non-serviced apartments. Not only will they offer the chance to spend your time in a spacious place, but they will also help you organize your day. You can spend a whole season in Chiang Mai and the cost will be far from what you'd spend in North America or Europe. Even with the selection of a serviced apartment, everything is affordable and you will be able to enjoy nice dining experiences, cooking lessons and of course delicious and refreshing cocktails!

The great thing about Sang Serene House is that it offers a comfy kitchen that is fully equipped. You can cook your meals and not spend too much money on a daily basis. Sang Serene House also has cleaning services and modern facilities. When you plan ahead for long term holidays, such services can truly make a difference and make your stay there even more pleasant. There is nothing like coming to a serene apartment after an exhausting day full of adventurous explorations, sightseeing and hiking excursions.

If you are planning the vacation of your lifetime, Chiang Mai is the perfect locale for you. If what you are searching for is an apartment close enough to the city to be active but far enough to be quite, you should look no further than the monthly rental, serviced apartments at Sang Serene House.

One of the many factors that makes Chiang Mai a desirable place to live is the weather. During the winter months the air is clear and the nights are cool. However, for approximately two months of the year (march and april) the air gets very bad. This is due to “slash and burn farming”. This is where farmers in Northern parts of Thailand burn their fields so that the ashes can fertilise the ground before the next crop rotation. Although the air is bad during slash and burn season, it is still bearable. That said, you may want to buy a face-mask from HomePro or somewhere similar.  

On the 12th of December 2012, the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, held a meeting at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre about the problem. She declared that there must be enforced restrictions on slash and burn farming in addition to elevated surveillance in the effected areas. However, this is not the first time that Yingluck has held such a meeting and although there have been anti-burning posters erected throughout Northern Thailand, the smog doesn’t seem to be getting better.  

Chiang Mai has become a hotspot for individuals and companies who are look to offer outsourced services at reduced costs. Here you will find a plethora of web designers, graphic designers, writers and various other creatives surviving and thriving thanks to the significantly reduce living expenses. 

Chiang Mai is becoming known as a creative city and there are now initiatives in place to further establish the creative image of the city. One such organisation, known as “Chiang Mai Creative City”, is an organisation that focuses on developing the creative sector of the city, placing specific emphasis on graphic design, software, mobile and web development. The organisation was introduced due to a new government policy which aims to promote Thai products and services alongside it’s history, culture and traditions. The organisation is a collaboration of representatives from universities, private companies and various government agencies. 

There are of course, numerous problems associated with moving to Thailand with the intention of setting up an outsourcing operation. To start with, it is technically impossible to work here on freelance basis. That said, there are many who live and work here illegally (without a work permit). Setting up an official registered company comes with many technical difficulties, not to mention huge costs. Apparently there are some who teach English for while, obtain a non-B-immigrant visa and then apply for a work permit with success. Alternatively, I have heard rumours than you can attain a work permit if you are married to a Thai national. Perhaps the best thing to do is scope it out first and see what you think.

Below are some tips which may help you : 

1. Teaching Requirements

  • You are generally required to be a native English speaker although it is not always necessary. 
  • Having a university degree will help a lot but again, not entirely necessary unless you are looking to teach at the university level.  
  • A TEFL or TESOL certificate will be very useful. Ensure that the training provider is CELTA (Cambridge certified).
  • Schools prefer previous experience, but it's not essential.

 

2. Speaking Thai

You don’t need to be able to speak Thai. Actually they often prefer it if you don’t. The teaching method is usually referred to as “total immersion”, whereby the teacher is only allowed to speak English during the lessons. 

3. Finding Jobs

It has become increasingly harder to find teaching working in Thailand. Especially since certain regulations have been put into place by the Thai Ministry of Education. Teaching Licenses are becoming more frequently enforced by schools and institutions, which require Thai culture courses to be attended. However, this is generally not mandatory. I have met many people who teach English in Thailand who do not have any related qualifications apart from being able to speak English. When seeking employment you can apply for short-term positions if you want. Some will allow you to apply for six-month positions or less. The school year begins in May and ends in March and there are school breaks in October and April (including various public holidays/festivals). You can apply for work all year round although you may find it more productive to apply for jobs approximately one month before the beginning of term. 

There are various websites and organisations that may help you find work as a teacher in Thailand :

Websites…

  • Ajarn.com
  • gooverseas.com
  • thailandjobs77.com
  • bangkok.craigslist.co.th › jobs
  • esljobfeed.com

 

Organisations…

  • Teach English ESL
  • Greenheart Travel
  • International TEFL Academy
  • LanguageCorps
  • CIEE
  • GeoVisions
  • Teach Away
  • Global Nomadic
  • Cultural Embrace

 

4. Government or Private Schools

If you work for a government or private school you will be asked to for Monday-Friday and you will rarely

be asked to work evening, weekends and public holidays. The pay is usually less than what you would get at private institutes. If you work for government schools you may be the only native english speak which may make communication difficult. 

5. Salary 

Most teachers start at around 30,000 Thai Baht per month (660 eur approx). This is more than enough to live a comfortable lifestyle including most western amenities. It is approximately twice what the local teachers get paid so be humble or you may find yourself irritating the other teachers.  

6. Work permits

Although it may cost more, it may be better to find a job through an organisation as acquiring visas and work permits can be a little tricky. You will first need a Non—B-Immigrant visa which then allows you to apply for a work permit. Good luck with that. 

7. Understanding the culture

Of course, it is important to familiarise yourself with the culture. With certain aspect of the Thai culture being so different than western cultures, you may find yourself unknowingly or unintentionally offending people. You will probably be asked to join in on certain festivities. The Thai’s are generally characterised as care-free and fun-loving. The pace of life is slower and more relaxed. As such you will need to learn to go-with-the-flow and don’t expect everything to be on time. 

1. Although the word “Thai” has been said to mean “independence”, research has suggested that this is incorrect. After further investigation it would appear that word “Thai” means “people”, and it still used in that context in various rural areas. 

2. Thailand is home to the worlds smallest mammal called Kitti's hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai). Thailand is also home to the worlds largest fish known as the whale shark. The Rhincodon typus is approximately 12 metres long. Additionally, you can find the King Kobra (the world’s longest venomous snake) in most parts of Thailand. 

3. Approximately 75% of the people in Thailand are Thai, 14% are Thai Chinese and the remaining 11% are of various other nationalities. 

4. The full name of Bangkok holds the world record for the longest place name : Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. 

It means “City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest.

5. Siamese cats also called “Wichianmat” (meaning "moon diamond") originated in Thailand. They were considered sacred and guardians of the temple. Siamese cats are said to bring good luck to their owner. 

6. The north of Thailand is home to the “Golden triangle” - a region famous for the production of opium/heroin. The area covers approximately 367,000 square miles and is a convergence of three countries : Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. 

7. There have been many movies that have been filmed in Thailand. Some of these include Rambo, American Gangster, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, The Beach, Good Morning Vietnam etc. 

8. “Farang” is a word used to describe foreigners in Thailand. The word is said to come from the word “Frank”, which was a west Germanic tribe who became a major political power in Western Europe during the middle ages. The word “Frank” is also where the word “France” comes from, and, interestingly, the word “France” in Thai is prounounced “Farang”. 

The Sonkran festival is basically a nationwide water fight that lasts for several days. Chiang Mai is renowned as one of the wildest locations for Sonkran. Tourists, both foreign and Thai, come to Chiang Mai to celebrate this event.  

Sonkran is the traditional news years celebration (typically between the 13th and 15th of april). The Sonkran festival takes place during the hottest time of the year and is said to mark the end of the dry season. During which time, the streets fill up with people armed with water guns and buckets (often full of ice water). The festival serves as an appropriate representation of the Thai culture as it characterises the fun-loving attitude that you often associate with the Thai people. Of course, it's not always fun and games. There are many alcohol-related road accidents during this time of year. It doesn’t help that Thailand already has the second highest rate of road accident fatalities in the word. Additionally, what Sonkran has become has been known to prompt complaints from traditionalists, as the throwing of “blessed” water was originally intended as a way of paying respect to people. Now it’s just all-out fun-fuelled carnage. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing, you’re going to get drenched if you hit the streets. 

Apparently the origins of the festival are rooted in ancient india. The Brahmins (Hindu societies) believed that around april the 13th, the sun finishes it’s orbit around the earth. The festival actually bears similarity to the famous Indian festival known as Holy, where people throw different coloured powder at each other. Although powder is rarely thrown during Sonkran, it is not uncommon for a Thai to approach you and smear powder on your face.  

Anyway, if you haven’t yet experienced the aquatic onslaught of Sonkran, make sure it goes on your bucket list. 

 

 

Wat Suan Dok

Built in 1370, Wat Suan Dok is situated approximately 1km from the walls of the old city. Wat Suan Dok, translated into English means, “temple garden flower” as it was initially a royal flower garden and was given to a revered monk by King Kue Na. The temple features a large number of Chedis (a mound-like structure also referred to as a stupa). The tallest Chedis is 48 metres high. 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Build in 1383, Wat Doi Suthep is one of the most famous and important temples in the Chiang Mai province. The temple sits on top of Mount Suthep on the west of the city and serves as a landmark. To get to Doi Suthep you can either walk up the mountain, through the jungle or take a taxi/red truck. On a clear day the views from the top of the mountain are stunning. 

Wat U-Mong

Wat U-Mong is situated at the foothills of Mount Suthep approximately 2km west of the old city. Most of the temple is underground and there are many brick tunnels which are walled with various statues and shrines. The temple was built in 1297 by King Manglai for a revered monk but was later abandoned for six centuries. Surrounding the temple are trees which are decorated with many short Buddhist proverbs in both English and Thai.

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang was built around 1400 although later additions were made. The temple was originally 82 meters tall but was reduced to around 54 meters after the upper section of the temple collapse due to an earthquake in 1545. As a result the “Emerald Buddha” statue that was installed there was removed in order to ensure the preservation of it’s condition. It was replaced with a replica made from back jade. 

Wat Jet Yot

Wat Jet Yot was built in 1455 and is situated on the Chiang Mai super highway on the north west of the city. The temple was host for Eighth World Buddhist Council in 1977

Wat Bupparam 

Built around the 15th century, Wat Bupparam is situated approximately 500 meters east of the Tha Phae Gate. The temple features an array of beautiful statues, ornaments and flower gardens. There are a wide variety of different statues ranging from mythical creatures to disney characters. 

Wat Chiang Man

Situated in the north-east corner of the old city, Wat Chiang Man was the first temple to be built in Chiang Mai. The temple was built in 1296 by King Mengrai and was included in original construction of the city. The temple features two rare statues - The Crystal Buddha and the Marble Buddha.  

Wat Phra Singh

Built in 1345, Wat Phra Singh is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. The temple is located to the west of the old city and conforms to the classic Northern Thai architecture. It also includes a learning centre for those wishing to become a monk. The temple contains the Phra Singh Buddha, which is an important Buddha statue. 

Advantages

 

Cool

Of course, Chiang Mai still get’s very hot during certain parts of the year, however, it is cooler and less humid than the south of Thailand. Additionally, the rainy season is less invasive. During the rainy season, it usually rains for about an hour or two each day. 

Cheap

Yes, I would say that Chiang Mai is one of the cheapest cities on Earth. You can pay as little as €33 a month for a basic room and as little as €0.6 for a reasonably sized bowl of noodle soup. 

Safe

The crime rate in Chiang Mai is relatively low. For example, you could leave your bicycle unattended in the city and it will probably still be there if you were to return a day or two later. Additionally, violent crime is very rare. 

Friendly

Of course, not everyone is welcoming to foreigners in Chiang Mai. However, in general, the people are relaxed, friendly and hospitable. 

Amenities

You can get pretty much anything you want. There are a plethora of coffee shops, shopping malls, fitness centres etc. Additionally, you can find most kinds of foreign food restaurants including Indian, Mexican, Japanese and Italian. 

Thai Food

Although there are plenty of western food restaurants available, the Northern Thai food in Chiang Mai is particularly good. 

Sonkran

The Sonkran festival is basically a three day water fight, which takes place across Thailand. Chiang Mai has a reputation for hosting an epic Sonkran festival, where some even come from Bangkok to join in with the festivities. 

Pace of life

Since Chiang Mai is a small city surrounded by mountains and forests, the pace of life is somewhat slow compared to Bangkok. 

 


 

Disadvantages

 

Language

There are not many Thai’s who speak English in Chiang Mai. In addition to this, many of the Thai’s in Chiang Mai speak Thai with a dialect known as “Lanna”, which can be hard to understand if you have been learning text-book Thai (central).

Expats

There are a lot of western expats living in Chiang Mai. I guess this can also be seen as an advantage. However, if you are moving to Chiang Mai and you looking to integrate into Thai society, this can make things a lot harder. Where there are too many westerners, it becomes too easy to orientate your social life around the English speaking segment of society.

Work

It is not easy to find work in Chiang Mai and there are many legal issues which are difficult to overcome before doing so. The most common type of work that is available in Thailand is teaching English, but even finding a teaching job in Chiang Mai can be a challenge. Additionally, the average salary for an English teacher in Chiang Mai is considered low compared with other parts of the world, or even Bangkok. There are some who work in Chiang Mai on a freelance (off-the-grid) basis. These people typically work as web designers, programmers, internet marketeers and writers. However, it is technically illegal for foreigners to work freelance in Thailand.  

Visa

Living in Chiang Mai, or anywhere in Thailand for that matter, means you will have to pay regular visits to the Thai border (perhaps once every 3 months) in order to renew your visa. This can be tedious for those planning to stay a long time.  

Beaches

Chiang Mai is an isolated, land-locked city in the mountains. As such there are no beaches. That said, there are plenty of nice lakes which include beach-like areas where you can bathe should you so wish. 

Driving

Anyone who has been to Thailand will warn you about the driving here as there does’t appear to be much in the way of rules. As such there are lots of accidents. 

Cold

Although the weather is generally preferred to that of the South, during the winter it can get disproportionately cold in the mornings and nights. This is mainly due to the altitude of the city. 

Smog

Every year, typically around March time, the air in Chiang Mai becomes very polluted. This is because the farmers in Northern Thailand burn their fields, allowing the ashes to fertilise the ground during the hot summer months. This process is known as “slash-and-burn”, and although it is against the law in Thailand, there has been little effort to prevent the farmers form burning their fields. 

Noise

Yes, there are temples, mountains and waterfalls, but make no mistake, Chiang Mai is not always a quiet and peaceful place to live. You may have to deal with cockerels, building works, traffic noise, community PA announcements, outdoor karaoke parties, barking dogs and aeroplanes. Sang Serene House however, is located in peaceful and natural setting. 

 

Compared to Bangkok, the city of Chiang Mai is a small and relatively peaceful city. The city is surrounded by mountains and forests, which make up approximately 70% of the land in the Chiang Mai province. The city sits approximately 300 kilometres above sea level and is located approximately 700 kilometres from Bangkok. The population of the Chiang Mai province stands at around 1,600,000 although the city itself has an estimated 170,000 people. 

Chiang Mai is home to many historically and culturally interesting sites and temples. The city, also referred to as the “Rose of the North”, has a reputation for it’s cool weather, pretty girls, historic temples and mountainous jungle surroundings. 

Founded in 1296, and capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, the city of Chiang Mai is surrounded by a square walled moat. The area inside this moat is now referred to as the “old city”. The old city is one of Chiang Mai’s main tourist attractions and features many bars, cafe’s and restaurants. Additionally, there are more than 30 temples in the old city, some of which were built in a style influenced by the Burmese and Sri-lankan’s.  

One of the most iconic scenes associated with the city of Chiang Mai is the Doi Suthep temple located on the top of the Doi Suthep mountain. Doi Suthep is a tourist hotspot. You can either walk up the mountain, through the jungle and past the waterfalls, or take a red truck or taxi. You will of course get a great view of the city from the top of the mountain. Alternatively, there is Doi Kam which is several kilometres away. Roughly two hours from the city of Chiang Mai is Doi Inthanon. Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s highest mountain, at approximately 8,448 feet above sea level. 

Krab and Ka - Yes, please, thank you, hello…

The most important words that you can learn in Thai are the words Krab (for men) and Ka (for women). These words don’t have a direct English translation. They are generally used at the end of a sentence as a mark of respect and can be used in a variety of situations. For example, you may pass a man in the street and he might say to you “krab!”. In this situation he is saying “hello!”. To which you can reply “krab”. Alternatively, you might be in a restaurant and the waiter says, “Do you want ice krab?”, to which you can simply reply “krab”, meaning “yes please”. Of course, if you are a woman you would reply “Ka”. As you can see, these words are very versatile and there is rarely a situation where it is inappropriate to use them. I think the only time when it might seem strange is if you are talking to a close friend, who is Thai. 

Mai Ben Rai - No problem/Don’t worry 

You will hear this phrase used a lot. It is another phrase that be used in many different circumstances. A waiter may inform you that they don’t have any sprite, to which you can reply “mai ben rai krab”. As you may have already guessed, this means “no problem sir”. It is also useful as a “get-out” when there is a communication problem. You can use this phrase to excuse yourself from a situation, without causing any further confusion. The direct translation of the phrase is “no is what”. 

Me - have

This word is simple, but also very useful. You may go to a coffee shop and ask “me WIFI mai krab?”. To which they might reply “me!”, which simply means “have!”. You will notice the omittance of the subject, i.e. "I" and “you”. The omittance of the subject is common in Thai. 

Ow - take

In English we will often say things like “I would like”, or “can I have” etc. In Thai it is common to use the word “Ow”, which basically translates as “take”. If you are ordering food in a restaurant but you don’t know what the name of the dish is, you can point to the picture and say “Ow nee krab”, which basically means “take this please”. 

Mai - No

Again, this is very useful to know, especially when people are trying to sell you stuff. For example, you can say “mai ow krab”, which means, “not take thanks”. NOTE: “Mai” is also used to turn a statement into a question. For example, “Me WIFI mai krab?”, translates as “do you have WIFI sir/madam?”. 

It is common in Thailand for people to swap and drop parts of a word. For example, they often switch the r’s with the l’s. This can be confusing. They often say “kap” instead of “krab”, which is the correct pronunciation. They often say “mai ben lai” as opposed to “mai ben rai”. They also do this for English words. I have heard people say “lestaulant” instead of “restaurant” and “loom” instead of “room”. Additionally, they often chop the end off certain words. For example, they often pronounce the word “house“ as “hou” and the “motorcycle” as “motorcy”. 

To Speak or Not to Speak

Some people think it's a good idea to try and speak the local language when traveling. I bet you've never heard anyone tell you differently, but there are some people who think it's best to not speak. Thai language is one of those languages that can be very difficult for Europeans or Americans to wrap their tongue around. Click here to read the story of one guy who tried learning that but decided that it was best to stop speaking in order to learn.

What every method you choose, I wish you good luck, or as the Thai's would say: choc dee!

There are still thousands of protesters blocking the roads and intersections of Bangkok in an attempt to over-throw the Pheu Thai Party, lead by Yinluck Shinawatra.

Although most areas of the city are still safe, if you are a tourist visiting Bangkok at this time it is recommended that you stay away from all rallies and demonstrations. 

Why are there protests in Bangkok? 

As mentioned, the protestors want the current prime minister, Yinluck Shinawatra, to step-down. Yinluck Shinawatra is the brother of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand. Thaksin, a wealthy business tycoon turned politician, was accused of corruption, including buying votes, and fled from the country after a coup in 2006. He now lives in self-imposed exile, in Dubai. Early this year, Yinluck introduced a bill that may allow Thaksin to return to Thailand and resume power. Many believe that Thaksin is still secretly dictating through Yinluck. The protests began in November as the Thai people are “fed up with the corruption”. The protests are lead by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who resigned from the opposition democrat party to lead the rallies. Suthep claims there will be no negotiations. 

Does everyone in Thailand oppose the Pheu Thai Party? 

Actually No. You may have heard about the Red Shirts, a campaigning group formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. The Red Shirts are mostly rural workers from outside of Bangkok, although include some students, business people etc. Former prime minister, Thaksin, was popular among rural working class as he implemented policies which included funding for education and health-care. Despite living in exile, Thaksin is still supported by the Red Shirts, although this support has transferred to Pheu Thai Party, led by Yinluck. 

Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is steeped in history and age-old religious traditions which continue to profoundly influence the way of life of Thai people and differ from the culture and customs of the West.


‘Sawadee’ - Respect
Respect is a fundamental aspect of Thai culture.  Thai people do not shake hands and the typical greeting when meeting someone new is ‘wai’, which is accompanied by a bow, known as ‘sawadee’ – in fact, all greetings, ranging from hello to goodbye, are called ‘sawadee’. Thai people respect their elders and refer to them as ‘pee’ – younger people are referred to as ‘nong’. Despite so much formality, every Thai person has a nickname which, contrary to their long names, consists of a single syllable, such as ‘Gai’, ‘Pook’, ‘Tae’, etc. 

‘Sanuk’ - Fun
The most noticeable thing about Thailand is the light-hearted nature of its people. ‘Sanuk’ – fun – is a huge part of their lives – this is not an indication that Thai people do not like working; it’s just that they prefer to live for the moment. Thai people are famous for their lovely smile, which stems from their love of Sanuk.

Saving face
Thai people have a strong belief in saving face, which means that they do not like confrontation and prefer to avoid embarrassing themselves and other people. Curiously, Thai people will smile at another person’s misfortune – this should not be regarded as an attitude of callousness, but is merely their attempt to save face for the person who is suffering the misfortune.  The main source behind the famously-known Thai smile is saving face.

‘Phu Yai’ and ‘Phu Noi’ – Social Status
Social status plays a huge role in Thai culture – when meeting a new person, an automatic assumption is made regarding the ‘Phu Yai’ or ‘Phu Noi; standing of a person – ‘Phu Yai’ means ‘big’ or important people, while ‘Phu Noi’ refers to ‘little’ people.  Sometimes a Thai person will even ask a great deal of inquisitive questions, but this should not be taken as offensive, because all they want to do is place the person’s social standing. ‘Phu Noi’ must defer to ‘Phu Yai’ by demonstrating obedience and showing respect. In return, ‘Phu Yai are under obligation to assist ‘Phu Noi’. An example of how this works is that adults preside over children, managers preside over employees, elder siblings preside over younger siblings and even Thai preside over non-Thai.

‘Mai Pen Rai’ – Never mind
‘Mai Pen Rai’ - ‘never mind’ - is amply demonstrated in the way Thai people view time. In fact, you will find that a Thai person will have a vague or even inaccurate view of time and is often late for an appointment.

Feet
As feet are considered to be a no-no, you should never step over another person’s legs, even if you are in a crowded place, such as a train – rather wait for the person to move than having to step over their legs. Often food is eaten on the floor, so it is a huge faux pas to step over food.

Thai people consider it disgusting to wear shoes indoors – this practice even extends to some shops and guest houses – a clue to this is if you see shoes piled up at an entrance.

Calculator Action!
Thai traders are extremely skilled at striking bargains. Items sold in shops and by hawkers do not have price tags – you would need to ask how much something costs in order to find out the price. The usual way the vendor starts the ball rolling is by typing the price in a calculator and showing it to the potential seller, who is expected to participate actively in the haggling process.

Spicy cuisine
Thailand has excellent gourmet food, with fragrant rice being one of the main ingredients.  A typical Thai dinner comprises several dishes placed simultaneously on the table, where they will be eaten in no particular set order.  Small portions are taken from different dishes and eaten together with the rice.   Herbs, chilli oils, sauces and aromatic spices are all found in Thai cuisine. 

Marriage customs
Once a couple is engaged, the custom is to consult a Buddhist monk who will give them astrological advice which will help them set an appropriate wedding date.  The customary wedding dress is not the distinctive Thai clothing that you would normally see, it is more similar to the attire used in Western weddings.

 

So there you have it - a basic introduction to the customs and culture of Thailand, the land of ‘Sanuk’, ‘Mai Pen Rai’, gorgeous people and gorgeous smiles!

In Thailand, meals are traditionally eaten communally and it is common for there to be more dishes on the table than there are guests. This allows each guest, who is most likely seated on the floor around a table, to share all parts of the meal. Thai food was customarily eaten with the right hand, but today spoons and forks—but not knives—have become the status quo. Flatware was introduced to Thailand during a period known as Westernization in the middle of the 19th Century. Members of Thai royalty began using spoons and forks at their meals, and the trend soon caught on in the rest of the country. Chopsticks are also used, but generally only with noodle soups. In Northern and Northeastern Thailand people sometimes make sticky rice balls and eat their main course without flatware by dipping the rice balls into the main dish. 


Most food in Thailand is served with a range of sauces—sweet, salty, spicy, and sometimes bitter. The most popular herbs and spices are Thai basil, lemongrass, fermented fish sauce, and shrimp paste. Other common sauces and spices are: chili peppers and vinegar, crushed chili sauce, fish sauce with lime juice and garlic, dry chili flakes, sweet chili sauce, and monosodium glutamate. Thai food is famous for being incredibly spicy, and it is common for cucumber slices to be served with meals to help cool the mouth after eating. Rice and rice noodles are also served with spicy dishes to provide a contrast to a perhaps otherwise overwhelming spice.

Although cuisine throughout Thailand generally has many similar characteristics, Thailand’s regional cuisine reflects the country’s brilliant diversity and can be divided into four distinct regions: Northern, Northeastern, Southern, and Central. Thailand is roughly the size of Spain and has more than 40 distinct ethnic groups and many more languages. The geography of Thailand is equally diverse, consisting of tropical rainforests, river basins, high plateaus, and mountains. There are also over 3,219 kilometers of coastline. Cuisines vary depending on traditional agriculture, geography, climate, and influence of neighboring countries. Thailand also has a distinctive Royal Cuisine, which has continued with traditional methods of preparation for nearly 700 years and has thus had a great affect on the country’s food. 

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are generally composed of similar dishes and all include rice. Rice is a staple in all regions. Jasmine rice is native to Thailand and grows abundantly in the central plains. It goes well with curries and stir-fry, which are also common in Central Thailand. Sticky rice is the main staple in North and Northeastern Thailand. Rice is often served with various curries, which are another staple of the Thai diet.

Northeastern Thai food is heavily influenced by Cambodian and Chinese cuisine. Perhaps most important to note is the introduction of the Chinese wok for cooking, which was first introduced to the Northeast and is now commonly used throughout the country. Popular Chinese dishes that have been adapted in Thai culture include stewed pork with rice, stir fried noodles, and rice porridge. Soups often contain pork blood, and it is common to marinate meat in pork blood as well. Fried lizard, frog, snake, and field rat are staples among the working class whereas wealthy families enjoy pork, chicken and beef.  It is also common for people to eat deep fried insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, bee larvae, silk worms, ant eggs, and giant water bugs.

Chinese and Burmese cuisines have heavily influenced Northern Thai food. For example, ginger and tamarind are incorporated into many dishes due to Burmese influence. Like Northeastern Thailand, it is common for people to eat insects here. Sausage and pork are commonly eaten pickled or in soup with noodles. It is likely that a mid-day meal will include a noodle soup with some kind of meat. Northern curries are not as spicy as those from the Northeast, but they are also served with rice that is heavy in gluten.

Because of the extensive coastline, Southern Thai cuisine contains a lot of seafood. Fish, lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, crab, and scallops are harvested and eaten throughout the year.  Coconuts act as a staple of the diet in every meal including deserts and beverages. Stir fries and curries made with coconut milk help to balance the dominant spice that is common to the region. Coconut oil is used in many stir fries and coconut meat is incorporated into soups, stir fries, desserts, and many beverages. Cashew nuts are harvested in the region and thus can be found in many soups, stir fries, and sauces. Southern Thai food has a strong Middle-Eastern influence due to the high concentration of Muslims there. Dishes with strong Indian-style curry and noodles are common and saffron rice is popular as well.

Most Thai food eaten internationally originates from or is heavily influenced by the Central region, which is also the most productive agricultural region in Thailand. Thus the native white jasmine rice—which is more fragrant and less glutinous than the sticky rice of the North and Northeast—is served with nearly every meal. Fresh fruits such as mango and papaya are eaten in stir fries, salads, and deserts. Central Thailand is heavily influenced by the Royal Thai cuisine, which focuses as much on preparation and presentation as ingredients and recipes.

Essentially the Royal cuisine is a more elaborately presented version on the Central cuisine as it contains similar ingredients that are native to the region. It is traditionally served on colorful porcelain platters and is always delicately and precisely arranged. It may include hand-carved fruits and vegetables as the centerpiece of the table or particular dish. The Thai royal family continues to eat the traditional cuisine, but it may also be enjoyed at high-end restaurants in Thailand—particularly in Bangkok—and around the world.

Thai cuisine has become popular in the West. For example, the popular drink Red Bull was derived from the Thai drink Krating Daeng. Tom Yum Goong (lemongrass soup), Phad Thai (stir fried noodles with peanuts, meat, and lime), and Tom Kha (coconut milk curry) are the most popular Thai dishes served outside of Thailand.

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