Simplify Your Life in Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai, Thailand’s most famous northern destination, is worlds away from Bangkok.  The medium-sized city is so pleasant, so clean, and home to more wats than you can count.

Many travelers come to Chiang Mai to go trekking in the mountains, visit hilltribe villages, or learn a skill: Thai cooking, Thai massage, Thai language, yoga, meditation and more!

But there was a special reason why I was looking forward to Chiang Mai — it’s home to quite a few travel bloggers!

Image: GotPassport

Pictured, left to right: Jack from GotPassport, Adventurous Kate, Pam from Spunky Girl Monologues, Christine from Almost Fearless with husband Drew and baby Cole, Dan from Canvas of Light with girlfriend Lindsay, Kyle and Bessie from On Our Own Path, and Dmitry from Russia.  Behind the camera: Aye from GotPassport.

A few hours after arriving on my overnight bus, I met up for lunch with Team Chiang Mai — a group of expats, travelers, and travel bloggers currently based in this lovely city.

Some of them volunteer or work part-time.  Some are on a career or life sabbatical.  Others, like myself, are just passing through as part of a longer journey.

It’s not hard to see how people end up staying in Chiang Mai.  The city is much cheaper than Bangkok, the climate is pleasant and spring-like, and it’s super-easy to get around.  There are plenty of Western amenities (yes, we went out for Mexican food, and IT WAS SO GOOD TO EAT CHEESE!!!), and the city is quite pretty.  Once you get away from the tourist areas, you’ll find an amazing vibe.

But most of all, Chiang Mai is chill. It’s amazingly chill.  Despite the fact that this is one of Thailand’s major cities, Chiang Mai is incomprehensibly relaxing.  Walking through the city, I felt my worries slowly melt into nothing.

That’s why some of the best days in Chiang Mai involve doing very little.  Take a stroll.  Visit some wats.  Have some food.  And relax.

After being used to the American style of go-go-go, the fact alone that people would linger after lunch was an absurd concept to me.  But that’s what Team Chiang Mai does, and it makes so much sense.  Why not linger if you’re enjoying the company and you have nowhere to be?

That’s Chiang Mai.

Team Chiang Mai hangs out, in various iterations, several times a week.  They go out to eat, have parties, and plan special outings.  Bessie from On Our Own Path leads the group in yoga and Jack from GotPassport teaches tai chi.

Spending time with Team Chiang Mai has reiterated a concept that I’ve been thinking about for a long time: that people become happier when they simplify their lives.  By living a simpler life in a cheap location like Chiang Mai, people don’t have to work as much or as hard — so they can make time for things that truly make them happy.

I’m already feeling the pull.  Chiang Mai is a very easy place to put down roots for awhile.  Will it happen?  Who knows?

Just like Bangkok, it would be very, very easy to stay here.  🙂