Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and was the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom (1296-1768) before being absorbed into the Kingdom of Siam in 1774.
There are so many reasons why you should visit Chiang Mai, especially when compared to Bangkok. But these below are my personal reasons, and I hope they’ll be yours too!
1. Chiang Mai was built by three sexy hunky kings
As can be attested by the Three Kings Monument, the symbol of Chiang Mai, the three guys who built Chiang Mai – King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai, his good friend King Ramkamhaeng of Sukothai, and another good friend King Ngam Muang of Payao – were nothing short of being the hunkiest rulers of all times.
2. Lanna cuisine is out of this world
What you normally get as “Thai cuisine” outside of Thailand is normally Siamese cuisine. In Chiang Mai, the food culture is more similar to the Shan culture in Burma. Note that the Northeastern Isan cuisine is also not to be confused with Lanna cuisine.
So, what do I like from Lanna cuisine? First of all, sticky rice instead of jasmine rice! Because it’s compact, filling, and I generally don’t like to eat too much rice, so it is very efficient.
Below are things you should definitely try out:
- Khao Soi ข้าวซอย: A curry noodles dish
- Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiao ขนมจีนน้ำเงี้ยว : Another noodles dish, topped with my favourite fried red cotton flowers
- Kaeng Khae curry แกงแค: without coconut milk so it’s much lighter
- Sai Oua ไส้อั่ว: These are called Chiang Mai sausages, generally spiral with a huge dose of chili, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass
- Miang Kham เมี่ยงคำ: My favourite Thai snack! It is a whole mixture of sweet, savoury, sour and spice all wrapped in a Cha Plu leaf.
- Tam khai mot daeng: Basically ant eggs and roasted vegetables. Ant eggs are a HUGE delicacy here and can be seen in the food markets for a high price.
3. People and Climate are chill in Chiang Mai
To be honest, service is so fake in Bangkok nowadays you start to think since they are earning as much as you so they practically consider you beneath them.
Not in Chiang Mai. People take the chill pill here every morning and you can feel that things moce slightly slower here. Also, the climate is better than in Bangkok. If you want to be in a city with no access to the sea, might as well do so one with in a better climate.
You still get the sun by the pool in the day, but the night-time breeze for that alfresco dining and lounging makes life worth living.
4. Chiang Mai has nicer temples and hunkier monks
For us non-specialists, Thai temples all look the same. But after some stern corrections by professionals, it does look like the Lanna architecture seems more intricate than the temples in central Thailand. Everything looks like delicate and refined.
On top of that, the monks obviously got the good genes from the Three Hunky Kings.
5. Chiang Mai has a kick-ass night market
Yes, Thailand is filled with wonderful night markets but what you don’t want is the crowd. I think Chiang Mai has a good balance, although I’m afraid that balance is soon going to be tipped by the daily tsunami of Chinese lower class tourists.
The Apusarn night market has all the street food at honest price, cooked on the spot. Just remember to order small portions so you can try everything! The best thing is the live drag show, to provide some entertainment while you gobble down the amazing Lanna dishes.
Before you go, remember to check out my experience taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai!