Thailand’s Chiang Mai is a hotspot for backpackers, long-term travellers and those looking for an adventure. Located in the northern part of the country with a more laid-back atmosphere compared to Bangkok, there’s little wonder why the small city is so popular. The five million annual visitors can enjoy culture, history and stay in traditional thai homes for next to nothing. Expect to find cheap food, good nights out and a thriving entertainment scene that will cost a fraction of what you’re used to back at home. If this sounds appealing, keep reading and discover how to travel to Chiang Mai without spending a fortune.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel to Chiang Mai?
It’s an open secret that Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most affordable destinations. Regardless of the type of trip you’re looking for, you can find it here. Visitors often describe Chiang Mai as both affordable and excellent value for money. You’ll see everyone from backpackers on a shoestring and long-term travellers looking to chill out for a few months to tourists getting some relaxation and recuperation in Chiang Mai.
Travellers can survive on less than $30 a day including accommodation, food and drinks as well as entertainment if they’re travelling on a shoestring. Flashpackers who are willing to spend a little extra will find comfort and luxury for as low as $60. Or if you want to splurge, it’s possible to get luxurious places to stay and enjoy a five-star vacation and get excellent value for money. Just to give you an idea of how budget-friendly this Thai destination really is, consider the cost of eating out. A typical meal in a local restaurant will usually come to less than $5 while a meal at a fancy restaurant rarely exceeds $30 for two including drinks.
Cutting the Costs
Despite Chiang Mai being an extremely affordable travel destination, it’s still wise to make sure you get the best value for money. After all, a few dollars here and there adds up quickly and can be used to have another experience.
Consider CouchSurfing if you’re travelling alone to meet locals, expats and to have a cultural experience. For those who are unfamiliar, CouchSurfing is a style of travel where local hosts let you stay at their house free of charge. As a tourist, this can drastically cut travel costs and provide opportunities to tap into a local source of information. Hosts have the chance to meet other travellers and give back to the world. Sign up to their website and join the community. It’s a great way to save money, get local tips and immerse in the local way of life. Some hosts in Chiang Mai are expats, digital nomads whereas or Thai families.
Several people fall in love with Chiang Mai and try to extend their stay. If you fall into this category, it might be possible to find a short-term rental. The cost of living is low and utilities such as electricity, water and Internet connectivity are affordable. This might offer tourists the chance to stay longer and get the most out of their money instead of spending on guesthouses, hostels and hotels.
And a final tip that applies to all of Thailand is to remember that most prices aren’t fixed. When you’re walking through the market or looking to buy anything outside of supermarkets and malls, the vendors are usually willing to bargain. And as a foreigner, it’s much more likely you’re going to be offered a higher price. Don’t be afraid to ask for less and for discounts. But at the same time, don’t be too worried about spending an extra dollar or two.
Affordable Things to Do and See in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has several activities and attractions to keep visitors busy and entertained. Expect to find everything from historical and cultural sites to adventure activities such as ziplining to visiting elephant parks and river cruises. Some are more expensive than others and it pays to research online in advance to find out what interests you. While visiting the Elephant Nature Park will inevitably be more costly than some of the other activities, it might also be a once in a lifetime experience. But regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to enjoy the old town, temples and hike to some of the nearby waterfalls.
A top tip for those who plan to spend more than a day or two in the city: Rent a motorbike. It’s possible to get a bike in reasonably good condition for as little as $10 to $15 per day. Having a set of wheels gives you the flexibility to explore more of the countryside and get off the beaten path by visiting the smaller villages and lesser-known attractions. And the roads are reasonably clear, safe and fuel is inexpensive. Be sure to make sure the camera is fully charged to snap the majestic landscapes and pack plenty of sunscreen for riding under the hot sun for several hours. Overall, having a motorbike will give you a different experience and the chance to enjoy the very best of Chiang Mai.
A Dream Trip Without Breaking the Bank
Hopefully, this article has shown you that Chiang Mai makes an ideal spot to go backpacking, for a vacation or to enjoy excellent value for money luxury. Whether you spend your time CouchSurfing and staying in guesthouses or splurging on your own Thai home or vacation rental, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find something to suit your needs. And most of all, you like so many others who visit, will fall in love with the town.