I’ve been in Chiang Mai for two days now. It reminds me a lot of Phuket without the beaches. It is very touristy, and I mean that in the worst sense.
The night market area is just an endless row of vendors selling the same crap. Everyone I’ve been in SE Asia has some sort of tourist focus, I get that. What you see in Thailand is sort of a step beyond what you see everywhere else. You can’t set foot on the street without being barraged with tuk tuk drivers. (at least you don’t have the massage girls pestering you here like you do in Phuket). I know it isn’t as bad as some places, but I think the last few months in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos has lowered my threshold for this sort of stuff.
That being said, I haven’t gone out to do any of the real Chiang Mai type stuff yet. Tomorrow and the day after I’ll be going out to see the long neck village women and do elephant riding. The food here isn’t as good as what I had in Laos or Vietnam.
At this point I just want to make sure to get to Bangkok by Christmas, which I don’t think should be a problem.