It’s no secret that Chiang Mai has been a popular destination with tourists and expats for several generations now. With its hundreds of golden temples, wide variety of international restaurants, stunning surrounding countryside and large choice of outdoor activities, this city in northern Thailand has something to offer everyone. And the year-round tropical climate is an added bonus.
Chiang Mai offers all the amenities of a big city but at small town prices. Good quality rentals to fit any budget are easy to find in both the centre of town and nearby rural areas. Markets scattered throughout the city offer locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with a variety of ready prepared dishes for as little as a dollar apiece. Those craving favourites from back home can find a wide selection of imported goods at any of the large supermarkets in town.
For shopaholics, there’s five large modern shopping centres in the area housing a good mixture of local shops and international brand names. They also include large modern movie theatres where you can view all the latest blockbusters for a fraction of the price you’d pay back home. It’s not hard to find what you’re after in this cosmopolitan hub.
Thailand has long been known for its excellent healthcare and Chiang Mai is no exception. A variety of public and private hospitals, staffed by well-trained doctors and nurses, many of whom speak English, can be found here. A consultation with a specialist rarely costs more than $25 and most medical procedures are available at far less expense than in Australia.Some expats prefer to live along trendy Nimmanhemin Road, with its upscale apartments, swanky eateries, designer boutiques and popular bars. Others prefer being in or near the old gated city. But, for many, living in the nearby countryside is the ultimate retirement dream. There, they can have a big garden, grow their own fruits and vegetables and take in spectacular views of the nearby mountains.
Getting out of town is not difficult. Chiang Mai International airport is located a 15-minute drive from the centre of the city and has regularly scheduled flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Burma and Laos.
Chiang Mai is one of the main cultural hubs of Thailand. This, coupled with the fact it’s a university town, results in many art and cultural displays throughout the year, both at local galleries and at the large number of annual festivals. The more than 30,000 expats in the city have given rise to an active club that holds monthly meetings. The club also acts as the umbrella organisation for many local interest groups that meet regularly to partake in everything from hiking to computers to photography.
About the only thing lacking in Chiang Mai is the beach. However, for less than $100 and a two-hour plane ride, you can be sitting on one of several beaches in the southern part of the country keeping cool by sipping an ice-cold cocktail…
It is easy to live in Chiang Mai on a budget of $2,650 per month. The great part is it’s not just an inexpensive lifestyle, it’s a seriously high-quality one.