Bangkok and Chiang Mai are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Some love the capital city, while some love its smaller norther sister.
To be fair, both places have a lot to offer and will make you want to come back again and again. It’s all a matter of your personal preferences and the kind of traveler you are.
If you feel the need to decide right now, here are a few reasons why you might find Chiang Mai more appealing than Bangkok.
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. Traveling, no matter where you go, can get quite expensive.
You can minimize your expenditures by being strategic and patient in looking for deals, of course, but you can also choose places where it’s cheaper to travel.
In this case, Chiang Mai wins over Bangkok. From food to souvenirs, you’ll be able to save handfuls of baht in the New City (the literal meaning of the Chiang Mai’sname).
Even the more high-end hotels won’t hurt your wallets as much.
A simple search of ที่พักเชียงใหม่ or Chiang Mai accommodation on your browser can show you how much cheaper a room is in Chiang Mai compared to Bangkok.
Thailand is a tropical country, so it’s always going to be a bit hit.
Bangkok has temperatures averaging 26°C or 79°F during the colder months, which can be quite bothersome for those unused to the heat.
Chiang Mai, on the other hand, is located in northern Thailand, where the highest mountains in the country are located. Therefore, it’s a bit cooler.
Temperatures can reach about 22°C or 72°F during the “winter” months, which is still hot but not as unbearable.
In general, food in Thailand tends to differ in flavor as you go from region to region. For example, curries in northern areas like Chiang Mai tend to be less spicy compared to southern or northeastern locales.
What’s more, it’s good to remember that Bangkok is where a lot of people congregate, whether they’re locals or foreigners. This means that there’s greater variety and modified tastes.
If you’re looking for local specialties and authentic street food, go to Chiang Mai. The street food scene, in particular, is a lot more organized compared to Bangkok.
Vegans and vegetarians will also love Chiang Mai’s wide variety of affordable and delicious meat-free options.
There are also a vegan and vegetarian selections in Bangkok, of course, but they’re usually limited and a lot more expensive.
The Views and Day-Trips
Bangkok is a lively, busy city, with its greenery concentrated in its parks and temples.
Chiang Mai, on the other hand, is located in a mountainous region. This means you’ll be treated to more natural sceneries, like the mountains and rivers.
You also don’t have to travel far if you want nature-related excursions like trekking, rafting, and rock-climbing. There are also elephant sanctuaries and even a nighttime safari!
Finally, history and culture buffs will also find a lot to love in Chiang Mai.
The Lanna ruins, the Wat Phra That DoiSuthepup in the mountains, and the temples in the Old City like the Wat ChediLuang are only a few of the interesting historical and cultural sites in and around Chiang Mai.
Being a bustling capital, you definitely won’t run out of transportation options in Bangkok. However, the traffic can get quite horrendous.
This isn’t as big a problem in Chiang Mai. Songthaews ply multiple routes in the city center, so it’s easy to get anywhere you’d like.
If you prefer navigating on your own but don’t like walking a lot, renting a motorbike is a good idea.
The more forgiving traffic conditions in Chiang Mai means you can easily navigate the city streets.
Just remember to avoid major commercial areas like malls and markets during the busiest hours.
If you love visiting marketplaces, Chiang Mai has a lot of dedicated shopping areas for different products.
You’ll especially love shopping or even just seeing handmade Thai items like pottery, artworks, trinkets for souvenirs, clothes, jewelry, and more.
Of course, you can also find restaurants and a variety of food stalls in these markets, just in case you need more energy to shop and explore later in the day.
Of course, this list doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make that trip to Bangkok.
There’s certainly a lot to love in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is only the beginning.