Gary is currently in Appleton, WI (May 15th, 2015)

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Life in Chiang Mai

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.

  • 3 Comments... What's your take?

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  1. I hear from friends that Chiang Rai is a lot less hellish than Chiang Mai has become. You might want to jump on the bus — it’s only a few hours away.

    –John at

  2. Anyway you do it, Chang Mai is extreme tourism, I agree with you, it is too touristy. However, ironically a traveler can enter any city and find a tourist bubble, a small area of the city where it is over the edge touristy. I became quite angry or frustrated when I went to a restaurant in Chang Mai with an American Expat. I had a good pizza at American prices, then they added a Tip to the bill. I said to the Expat friend, “last time I go there.” I just cannot handle tips included on a bill when the true world does not even tip. I had a good time in Pai four years ago, however I heard it is very developed.

    The all night bus from Chang Rai or Chang Mai is cake walk.

  3. Chinamatt says:

    I don’t remember Chiang Mai being too touristy (aside from the gigantic night market). If you head up Doi Sutep, which is a really nice place with a modern royal palace, be sure to skip the village–it was a bunch of shacks converted into vendors all selling the same stuff you could buy just as cheap in Bangkok.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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