Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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!
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. 🙂
29 thoughts on “Simplify Your Life in Chiang Mai”
And that is why I love Thailand so much. A life lived simply. When is the next plane?
You need to come back! 🙂
Awesome post Kate!
I’m really glad that you had an amazing time in Chiang Mai and that our presence made you feel comfortable.
Yes you are right, simplify your life and everything seems so much better. It reminds me of the story with the fisherman and the businessman.
Hope to see you again!
You’ll see me, Dan! I’ll be back tomorrow! 🙂 I want to eat at the Sunday night market again!
Ha ha.. awesome. I know you loved your time in Pai? Imagine, if you lived in CM, you are only a bus ride away from BKK, Pai, the islands in the south and a flight away from all the wonderful countries in SE Asia, you have yet to discover.
Our time was short so it’s nice to hear that you’ll be back. See you at the night market. Hopefully, you can make it to the Sat night market as well.
Great post, Kate! It sounds like my kind of place. Just reading about your experience there so far is inspiring me to simplify, slow down….things that everyone could stand to do. I think we would be happier. 🙂
Awesome post, Kate! I know very little about cities in that part of the world, so I honestly had no idea what Chiang Mai was like in comparison to Bangkok. I know tons of people travel to Chiang Mai, but this is really the first solid description of the place I’ve read. It sounds like my kind of city!
What a wonderful piece! Yes, CM is very laid back, yet at the same time the social/arts/events calendar can be filled up quickly, as there is so much one could do here. Oh, and the food, too. That’s covered under ‘events’ as well. =)
I’m not sure that we work less hard, but our hard work is for things that we enjoy and have passion & inspiration for- like teaching ESL, or helping out Freebird Cafe, or focusing on personal growth. Like Dan’s example, I’d rather be the hard working fisherman who lives as simple life on a beach, than the hard working businessman, giving his life to a corporation in hopes of one day retiring on that same beach…
The difference is that we’re working for ourselves, not for a faceless company…
Looking forward to many more great conversations!
I love Chang Mai and am relaxed just thinking about my time there. It’s one of the few places I’ve been to that justs felt like home the minute I’d arrived. Sounds like you had a fine time. 🙂
Hi Kate, Great information about Chiang Mai – sounds like a wonderful place. Oh to sell this house and take off for Chiang Mai! Only a dream right now, but I hope to visit one day. It was wonderful to see a photo of almost everyone you talk about at home- except Ay. It sounds like Chiang Mai has good energy. Hello to all in Chiang Mai! Mama
Enjoyed the post! There are a lot of benefits to leading a life that’s time rich. From deeper relationships to noticing the little points of life. It’s a great thing about being on the road – you can control those variables and live life just the way you like.
Excited to see where your travels take you!
Bessie, that’s a term that I haven’t seen before and LOVE — time rich. THAT is the secret to happiness!
This is good. Gonna spend the rest of tonight thinking about how to stay time wealthy.
OMG, I’m so jealous!!! How cool that you all got to meet up. 🙂
Hey Kate, it is great to catch up on your blog. After reading this, we are definitely going to carve out some time in Chiang Mai. I had originally planned a few days, but it sounds like we might want to stay a bit longer. I hope all is well and best wishes.
Would much rather be in Chang Mai relaxing with all of you than here at work! Can’t wait!
Whoo-hoo!! I’m on my way to Chiang Mai now (gonna arrive around the end of next week).
From what you’re saying, it seems like it’s just as cool, if not better than I remember it. ^__^
I’ll probably dig in and stay there for at least a couple weeks.
Do you have any recommendations for accommodations ?
Look forward to seeing you again soon~!! ^__^/
Philip, I’ll be writing a review of Rama Guesthouse on the site soon! The high season rate is a bit out of my price range, but they’re giving me a discount. I like it here a lot.
damn you Kate, i neqarly quit my job and booked a flight after reading this today, hehe :):)
Can’t wait to meet all of team Chiang Mai! Heading there in just under two weeks to stay for 2/3 months…. sounds wonderful!
Seriously — is EVERYONE in Chang Mai? Arrgggggg. 🙁
pretty much! Kate is right, it is THE place to be. 🙂
Hmm, Chiang Mai, eh? Maybe I should consider a relocation THERE…
Candice, you’d love it. I can EASILY see how people end up staying.
I’m glad you are having such a great time Kate! I have yet to visit Asia so I am living vicariously through you!! 🙂
Aww! Thanks so much, Cailin!
I fell in love with Chiang Mai when I went. I felt as if I finally found home. Hope to be back really soon