Coming to Chiang Mai in February, what can we do now to make it awesome?

Hi guys, my wife and I are planning on spending 2-3 months in Chiang Mai in February and wanted to know from experienced people if there is anything we can learn or do beforehand to make it a productive and exciting trip?

We’ve traveled together before so that’s all good, we know what to pack and have been spending time reading these forums and related blogs for ideas on living costs etc.

Also, Chiang Mai seems like the place to go if you want cheap living but we’re totally open to other suggestions in the area, for example looking at Saigon or other places.

Any suggestions or pointers would be most appreciated!

Well if you can stay during April you’ll have an awesome time for sure, since Songkran (new year) starts on April 13th and, in case you haven’t read about it already, it’s loads of fun to go out on the streets and experience the water fights for 3 straight days (maybe 4, since they usually start the day before here in CM).
What do you like to do? There’s so much to do here in CM; delicious food, beautiful temples, outdoor activities (hiking, rock climbing), day trips with many spots for sightseeing (specially if you have a motorbike).
One comment though, burning season starts somewhere around late February, so it’s gonna be smoggy during that period. Some people don’t mind, but if your sensible to air quality it can be a drag.

Thanks for the tips! We might try and avoid the burning season then, would you recommend spending a few weeks down near Phuket or on one of the islands until the burning ends? You mention the new year in April so I’m trying to figure out a good time to head into Chiang Mai before that? I’m guessing everything will be booked up around the new year?

Never been to Phuket so I don’t know how it is like down there doing that time. I’ve been to Krabi though, it was also super hot there but much more tolerable thanks to the sea breeze.
Burning season will probably still be winding down during Songkran, I was here last April and the smog was still there, but it wasn’t all that bad.
Regarding accommodation, it won’t be hard to find a nice place, it won’t be as crowded as it is now.

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I do recommend avoiding Chiang Mai during the burning season, it really is pretty damn bad. I visited two years ago and the air quality was worse on some days than in bad parts of China. Phuket doesn’t have this problem. Heck, even Bangkok has better air quality (year round).

If you go after the burning season it’s tolerable although I wish those damn songthaew were scrapped (they make walking around on the major roads unpleasant).

Thanks for your input nomadtax :slight_smile: I’m hearing various opinions about the burning season, some saying it’s not so bad and others like yourself recommending avoiding it completely.

The problem I’m having is that everyone raves about how good Chiang Mai is for quality of life and also for meeting other entrepreneurs. I guess there are lots of good places for that in South East Asia though - time for more research!

Chiang Mai is indeed great for meeting other entrepreneurs, good food and it’s chill vibe. It just doesn’t have clean air, especially during the burning season. For this reason, I recommend going before or after if possible.

My wife and I spent a week in Chiang Mai a dozen years ago in the Fall and loved it. The only thing I’d add to what’s been posted is to consider spending a few days in Mae Hong Son. It’s a remote village on the border of Myanmar and is a short flight away (or you can get there by bus). We stayed in Sang Tong Huts - really cool huts built into the trees with a common area for dining and meeting other travelers. The owner, Babs is German and had a Burmese housekeeper named Muk that cooked local, authentic meals for everyone. I’ve heard Muk has since left but assume the experience will be just as awesome. Babs also drove several of us up into the hills for a hike and swim in a mountain stream. It was incredible - highly recommend. We’ll be returning there in the Spring with our 3 children.

Air quality is bad most of the year, especially so during the burning season. Not only does it look and feel bad, but the data on the actual types of pollutants is quite scary.