Top Tips For Coming To Chiang Mai
I hope you enjoy these top tips for coming to Chiang Mai.
Get travel insurance!
Walk! Walk a lot! Walk instead of ride if you have the time. You can see so much more when walking around. There are so many cool places you will find as you walk along. Be careful! When walking or trying to cross roads, ALWAYS remember that the cars have higher priority than YOU.
Look both ways when trying to cross the road, in Thailand they drive on the opposite side of the road to many places. Be careful! So many foreigners almost get run over by a car basically because they had no idea that Thai drivers give not worry about pedestrians. So, if you are trying to cross the road. Look at the road first, and the traffic light second. Car drivers do not respect pedestrian crossings.
You CAN learn from other foreigners here as most of us have made many ‘mistakes’ before you have arrived.
Look for local eateries that have old people eating there, it’s probably been there for a long time and will be pretty authentic food.
Get travel insurance!
Make sure your travel insurance covers you for riding motorbikes(especially if you are going to hire a motorbike).
If you have little or no experience riding a motorcycle, don’t rent one here. If you have an accident and have travel insurance go to the Bangkok Hospital or Chiang Mai Ram, if you don’t have insurance, then try McCormick Hospital or SuanDok/Maharaj Hospital.
Don’t bring, possess, use, or purchase drugs here. In Thailand a positive drug test is equivalent to possession. There is no right to trial by jury. We are under martial law, accordingly you can be arrested and held without charge for 7 days.
Book early! Chiang Mai always has festivals and this top tip will save frustration especially around Songkran time, when guesthouses are mostly full. Reservations are a very good idea.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and food market – Go to Muang Mai market. It’s not on any tourist map, just north of the US Consulate. Trust me on this. Mornings are the best time.
Smile and be polite in all dealings with Thai people. Dress modestly and respectfully. Ladies–if you’re not sure about this, look at the way Thai women dress for guidance. You should watch Thai faces as western girls walk thru shopping centers in short shorts and tiny tops as if they were on their way to the beach. Definitely frowned upon!
The Thai way is gentle, quiet and friendly. Please be quiet. People actually live here. Northern Thai’s are more “tone” sensitive than their southern counter-parts. Understand that getting upset, and yelling will get you nothing more, and may get you even less than you were asking, this applies even if it was the Thai who was at fault. “Mai pen rai”….learn it, understand it, and smile, and you’ll have a great time.
Thai people are extremely clean and most take multiple showers in one day, so practice excellent personal hygiene. And wear footwear too (both genders). Never will you see a barefoot Thai outdoors except in the rice paddy.
Be honored and humble to be visiting Chiang Mai. It’s an incredible city with an incredible culture. The best city in the world in my opinion.
Smile at everyone, stop expecting things to happen on time, or at all, and enjoy being in a culture where consequences are not really that important, as long as everyone has had a good time.
Have a nice holiday or stay in this beautiful place.
Top Tips for Road Safety
Never assume it is safe to cross at a pedestrian or zebra crossing or when the green ‘walk now’ light says you can cross the road. Chiang Mai has only had these crossings for a couple of years and many drivers still don’t stop.
Traffic turning left at a crossroads or t junction have the right to ignore a red stop light. So don’t assume it is safe to cross the road at the traffic lights or just around the corner.
If you are on a motorbike out of town on a country road at night beware of potholes, they can be everywhere as the government do not repair them immediately.
Cars will overtake you on the inside and outside lanes in Chiang Mai, so if you go too slow in the middle lane prepare to be made into a sandwich.
The most aggressive drivers tend to drive large pickups/SUV, avoid annoying them at all costs.
Never horn aggressively, make gestures or shout at another motorist – you might get shot (yes it has happened).
Don’t expect people to give way to you on a roundabout (or anywhere).
If hiring a motorcycle wear a helmet, even if it’s made of thin plastic, otherwise you might be stopped and asked to go to the police station, and or, expected to make amends financially ( but discretely).
If the driver looks even mildly confused when you ask a songtaow to take you to such and such a place, don’t get in as he will usually take you where he thinks you want to go rather than where you actually want to go.
The more people there are in a songtaow the more likely you will be taken miles out of the way before being dropped off – so try and flag down empty songtaows.
Red songtaows will take you to most places, green and yellow ones have specific routes that they stick to. If you are unsure that the driver knows where to take you, sit in the front and point.
No need to tip songtaow drivers or tuktuks.