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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. 

 

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