13 Diversions for Expats and Tourists in Low-Cost Chiang Mai

Located in Northern Thailand, just 85 minutes by air from Bangkok, the city of Chiang Mai has become a major draw for thousands of expats who, today, call this community on the banks of the Ping River, home.

Affectionately nicknamed the “Rose of the North,” Chiang Mai is a vibrant university city famous for its many Buddhist temples, rich cultural offerings, and good food. The warm climate, low costs and excellent, modern infrastructure have attracted expats in big numbers, and that includes thousands of retirees from all over the world.

“The city offers a great choice of lifestyles. Bang for buck, Chiang Mai is the best retirement haven in Southeast Asia,” says Eoin Bassett, editorial director of InternationalLiving.com.

But it’s not just the low cost of living that lures expats to Chiang Mai. It’s a buzzing university city and thriving tourist center…and that means lots of activities on offer make it easy for tourists and expats to stay busy and engaged.

“In just one day I met a 70-year-old Washington-native who had planned his afternoon around a free European Film Festival, a 36-year-old woman from Michigan heading north with her daughter to shop for hill-tribe crafts, and several expats off to a craft beer pub to watch a football game,” says Bassett.

Tourists and expats alike can enjoy many activities. Below are three of the 13 detailed in the InternationalLiving.com report:

1. Learn to Cook – Chiang Mai is home to dozens of cooking schools. The cuisine from this part of Thailand includes famous dishes like Khao Soi, a coconut-milk-based curry, spiraled lengths of Sai Ua, a sausage with curry powder and lemon grass inside, and hot and sour soup with jackfruit. But many courses teach the intricacies of dishes from other regions, too. One of the longest running is Thaicookeryschool.com  with an office on Moon Muang Roadd near the Thapae Gate.

2. Stay with a Hill Tribe – The north of Thailand is home to the country’s “hill tribes,” a term used to describe the folks living a traditional life in the mountains and border areas. There are six main ethnic groups, each with their own language. A home stay is a great way to get closer to these cultures.

3. Shop for Crafts – The artisans you see on hill-tribe tours make some outstanding crafts, and you can pick up anything from bells to rugs, musical instruments and pottery there and at the city’s markets.

The full report on things to do as a tourist or expat in Chiang Mai, which outlines 13 of the best activities, can be read here: 13 Ways to Keep Busy in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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