One of the largest cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai is seen as a regional hub for most of Northern Thailand. Much of the region’s infrastructure, economic activity and culture centres on the city, known as the “Rose of the North”. Chiang Mai is widely acknowledged to be one of the most fascinating destinations for tourists on the planet. Over five million people head to Chiang Mai every year, hoping to explore its many World Heritage Sites, particularly the older part of the city which lies within its famous walls. Tourists are also attracted by the surrounding countryside, its numerous temples and the winding Ping River which meanders through the centre, offering gorgeous views along the way.
A family saloon car would be ideal for driving in this part of the country as other cars such as a hatchback might struggle on roads with a steep gradient.
Driving in Chiang Mai
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
The quality of roads in Chiang Mai is variable. While the main routes are fine, some of the minor rural roads and those going through the suburbs are plagued by potholes and cracks.
The 11 Highway is the main route leading to Chiang Mai from the south, attracting plenty of traffic.
Some of the locals in the city do speak English, although it’s advisable to learn a few basic phrases in case of emergencies.
Highlights & Hotspots
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the city’s most prominent temple, will dazzle you with its golden façade. Inside the temple, you’re likely to come across several small buildings, artefacts from as far back as the 14th century and the Royal Palace Gardens.
A little more modern, the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre will take you through everything you might want to know about Thai and Northern Thai culture. Traditional clothing, rooms dedicated to certain periods of time and murals are among the things you can see here.
Elephants are widely revered in Chiang Mai. The Baanchang Elephant Park is the best place in the city to see them in action. Aside from being a cheap place to visit, the park also has overnight accommodation where families can stay after chowing down on sticky rice.
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival, held every February, is one of the world’s biggest events of its kind. Here, you can gaze with wonder at some of the local exotic flora and fauna. Around the festival, there are numerous places to pick up a bouquet to take back to your hotel room.
Chiang Mai International Airport is less than a mile southwest of the city centre. As one of the busiest airports in Thailand, it serves destinations the world over. The airport has two terminals ‚Äì one for domestic passengers and the other for international flights.
The airport is located just west of the 108 highway, which leads north to the 1141. It ends around the ring road circling the city centre.