Chiang Mai Life and Visitor Travel Tips
(Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Located opposite the Iron Bridge (Saphan lek), Chiang Mai's Tourism Authority of Thailand centre, often referred to as simply 'TAT', was the first local branch of its kind to open and dates back to the late 1960s. Today, TAT offices can now be found all over Thailand and always dispense a range of useful travel information and maps. Also worth noting, the Municipal Tourist Information Centre lies on the outskirts of the walled city and within the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, along with a number of banks, cashpoints and currency exchange outlets.
Also within Chiang Mai you will find a number of foreign consulates, with the UK and Northern Ireland branch being located along the Th Bamrungrat, and the USA office sited on the Th Wichayanon. Helpful travel tips about general life in Chiang Mai is shown below.
Tourism and Tourist Information
Around the city you will find a number of useful amenities and offices, including the main post office, which is just a short walk from the train station and close to the river.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
Address: 105 / 1 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, Chiang Mai, 50000, Thailand, TH
Tel: +66 053 24 8604
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 16:30
Municipal Tourist Information Centre
Address: 135 Praisanee Road, Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand, TH
Tel: +66 053 25 2557
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 16:30
Thai Immigration Office
Address: Route 1141, Th Mahidon, Chiang Mai, Thailand, TH
Tel: +66 053 20 17556
Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School
Address: 1 - 3 Th Moon Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, TH
Tel: +66 053 20 6388
Fax: +66 053 39 9036
Main Post Office
Address: Th Charoen Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, TH
Tel: +66 053 24 1070
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:30 to 16:30, Saturday and Sunday - 09:00 to 12:00
Language and Dialect
Spoken throughout Thailand, the language of Thai is believed to have originated from southern China. Chiang Mai is actually home to a notable English population, while many locals also often understand varying levels of English, particularly within hotels.
Worth noting, many of the road signs around Chiang Mai shown the destinations in both Thai and English. Here are some simple Thai phrases.
- mâi chái
- khor toat
What is your name?
- khun cheu aria?
How much is this?
- nee tao-rai?
Where is the airport?
- sanaam-bin yoo tenee?
What is this called?
- nii riak waa a-rai?
Where are you going?
- pai nai
How long are you staying here?
- ja yuu thiinii naan thao rai
I cannot speak Thai
- chan phuut phaasaa thai mai dai
Smoking has never been more unpopular in Chiang Mai and in general, Thailand has one of the lowest overall smoking rates in the whole of Asia. You will find that many public indoor spaces and air-conditioned buildings are now smoke-free zones, where harsh fines are enforced should you be found smoking.
The Thai baht is the country's official currency and therefore used in Chiang Mai. Around the city you will find various ways to obtain local currency, including ATMs and banks, many of which are clustered along the Th Tha Phae and open between 08:30 until 15:30 Monday to Friday. In the most tourist friendly areas, such as Th Moon Muang, some foreign exchange booths stay open as late as 20:00.
General Dos and Don'ts
Here are some useful tips to help you understand how to behave when visiting Thailand and avoid potentially embarrassing situations.
- Affection - you should always refrain from kissing and cuddling in public. Whilst the younger generation are more tolerant of this behaviour, older locals will find this behaviour offensive
- Alcohol - alcohol is freely available to be purchased all over Thailand, although between 14:00 and 17:00, and always during religious holidays, the sale of alcohol is restricted
- Buddha Images - all images of Buddha are regarded as nothing less than sacred. Therefore, you may not be able to take photographs of the most noteworthy. It may also be necessary to remove your shoes when visiting local temples
- Cinemas - at the cinema, you will be expected to stand while the national anthem is played, before the film actually starts
- Drugs - the drug laws in Thailand are harsh and strictly enforced, resulting in years of imprisonment and even the death penalty in some cases
- Greetings - locals in Thailand do not shake hands, they simply bow their head slights, with their hands placed together in front of their face. This practice is known simply as 'wai'
- Head - avoid touching the head of Thai locals. This is strictly frowned upon and Thais will be instantly offended should you even pat their heads, whatever their age
- Hotel Touts - hotel touts often gather at train and bus stations and should always be avoided. Similarly, be wary of cheap guesthouses, or those that come as part of a package when purchasing a Bangkok - Chiang Mai ticket. You will often find that you will be pressurised into signing up for one of their expensive hill tours
- Jewellery - always be careful when buying any kind of jewellery in Thailand, as much of it is quite overpriced and aimed at the tourist market
- Littering - do not drop litter under any circumstances. Large fines may be payable and are often enforced, particularly if the police are nearby
- Religious Beliefs - it is important that you dress appropriately when visiting temples (wats) and do not wear shorts, bikinis and tops that do not cover your arms
- Shouting - in general, Thais do not appreciate anger or shouting in any form. Therefore, whatever the situation, try to be calm and do not raise your voice