We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Inoka, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Inoka lives in Sri Lanka, and submitted the following report about Chiang Mai. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Thai, English
Reasons to go to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand stole my heart. It's a mixture of everything you could possibly want in an Asian holiday. Chiang Mai spells out vibrant culture through and through. Being a novice photographer, I've realized that one way to explore a destination and improve photography skills is to do at least a day's photo tour. Exploring Chiang Mai with Chiang Mai Photography tours was a wonderful experience.
I realized that markets speak a lot about a destination's culture. The markets here have just about everything under the sun. Some of the vendors have been there for generations and you feel as if they've grown with time. It's amazing how day markets convert in to night markets after around 5:00 p.m. and buzz with music, street food, and various items that will catch the eyes of tourists and locals alike. It's beautiful to see members of hill tribes selling some of their produce in these markets as well.
The architecture and temples (called Wat in Thai) are amazing. Some, if not all are centuries old. Whilst each one has a story, the Silver Temple merits specific mention. The paneling for the temple has been designed and carved by generations of silversmiths. The detail in those panels is so intricate. It's a must visit.
The Old Chiang Mai square is a city on its own. Whilst catering to tourists with beautiful hotels and a multitude of coffee shops and eateries, the old world charm of spiritual Chiang Mai prevails. There are a number of Wats inside the square and it's recommended that some, if not all, should be visited as each one has something beautiful.
The other interesting things to do are to visit the the model tribal village to get a feel of the lifestyle and ways of Northern Thailand's hill tribes (e.g. the long neck), a visit to Tiger Kingdom to spend a little time with the big cats, the Bo Sang traditional umbrella village (now a craft village) to see the traditional umbrellas being made and hand painted, and the Chiang Mai Zoo (for which I didn't have the time). *Please see the comments below for other perspectives.
What's special about Chiang Mai is that there is something for everyone. Even children. There are artists, traditional bamboo tattooists, bars, both fancy restaurants and chains we are familiar with (e.g., McDonald's, Subway, Starbucks), sidewalk eateries serving very good food, and lots of street food and fruit. There are three massive shopping malls and a lot of small shops that sell good quality handicrafts and anything else one would need.
Finding accommodation is pretty easy. I stayed at Imperial Mae Ping which was easily accessible and known. But there are beautiful high-end properties as well as a multitude of vacation rentals.
Getting about is easy too. You can walk to most places if you stay in central Chiang Mai or there are tuk tuks and means of public transport to practically everywhere.
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is between November and February. The weather is cool and the place is simply beautiful.
Like any other destination, travelers will need to exercise their own safety measures and do their own research before traveling. It is recommended that you read reviews and other literature before you plan your visit. It all depends on what you want, for how long, and how far your wallet can stretch.
All in all, this is a must visit destination if you are into culture, people, and like the old charm with a flavour of the modern world. As you can see, I can go on and all this surely calls for another visit!
Go – explore – relax – basically, have a fabulous solo holiday in Chiang Mai.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)