Chiang Mai - The Cultural Hub of the North
Surrounded by mountains, Chiang Mai has a rich and ancient seven hundred year history. You will never be bored in Chiang Mai with the plethora of things to do and see there. From touring the old city and visiting historic temples to nature trekking or even visiting a hill tribe village, Chiang Mai has a very distinctive culture, arts, festivals, and traditions characteristic of the thrilling mix of local, ethnic and expatriate communities from all over the world.
Chiang Mai has never been more enticing – having been voted one of the top destinations to live in Asia and a modern and cosmopolitan city that nonetheless still maintains its traditional old world charm. The city boasts over 300 temples dating as far back as the 13th century.
The Lanna kings who ruled the north from ancient Chiang Mai built a moated quarter filled with many temples. These houses of worship are adorned with mirrored mosaics, tinkling bells and gabled rooftops soaring skyward as if in supplication to the heavens. Entering these sacred spaces you will find treasures in art, architecture and enlightenment. Many temples offer the opportunity to speak with the monks and /or meditation courses for a truly enriching tourist experience. Chiang Mai has been nominated Thailand’s representative of cities under a UNESCO scheme to promote local and creative cultures.
Chiang Mai has a more pleasant climate than most of the rest of the country. While the weather in Bangkok is hot and steamy all year round, Chiang Mai has a cool season. In December through the end of February temperatures are generally around 15°C.
A spectacular sight to enjoy for people of all ages is a trip to the Chiang Mai Night Safari, widely considered the most beautiful Night Safari in the world. Twice the size of the Singapore Night Safari, it stands on over 300 acres and is just 10km from the centre of Chiang Mai.
FLOATING LANTERN FESTIVAL
The Festival of Lights is celebrated all around Thailand with Loi Krathongs (lotus-shaped receptacles) released on water to bring luck and fulfill wishes. In Chiang Mai, the observation of the festival of lights, called Yi Peng, is uniquely different. Instead of water vessels, Chiang Mai residents release thousands of lighted lanterns in the sky while making a wish. The sky transforms itself in a wonderful and surreal sea of little lanterns floating away. The results are truly mesmerizing.
RETIRING IN CHIANG MAI
What’s most impressive about the city is the choice of lifestyles on offer. Bang for buck, Chiang Mai is the best place to retire in Southeast Asia. Testament to the variety of what’s on offer are the wide variety of folks moving here. You’ll find retirees from North America, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, but you’ll also meet families spending a year out with kids (there are good international schools), and lots of digital nomads—folks working on Internet startups, with portable incomes.
All told, a couple can live very comfortably on US$600 (~HKD4,800) a month. Many expats spend less, however on US$600 a month you can make the most of some impressive dining options and little luxuries you might otherwise only dream of at home.
Another important attraction to Thailand and especially Chiang Mai is the standard and cost of medical care. Thailand has become an important medical tourism destination. Medical tourists sometimes find it much less expensive to fly to Thailand and receive treatment than to have the same procedures performed in their home countries, even allowing for the cost of international travel.