Hustlers, touts, dodgy guest house owners and rogue Tuk Tuk drivers can all be found in Chiang Mai, but there's no need to panic. here's how to navigate these possible encounters like a seasoned Nomad.
Chiang Mai is as polluted as any other Asian City, but the smog in Chiang Mai has been getting worse for more than 10 years.
There aren't any emission controls or regulations regarding vehicles, so if you are sensitive to air pollution, it's a good idea to keep your medication handy and on bad days, limit your time outdoors.
Between February and April is probably the worst to visit Chiang Mai if you are sensitive to smoke, as fields in the countryside around the city are burned off. Smoke from similar activities in Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia can also reach Thailand. It's often referred to as the "
Sufferers from eye irritation, respiratory discomfort, and headaches, should avoid a visit at this time.
The traditional Thai New Year's Day, every April, is especially popular in Chiang Mai, with celebrations lasting up to six days. A party sounds awesome to us, and Chiang Mai turns into a giant water fight, actually a water celebration. Celebrating Thais will throw buckets of water on you, hose you with water guns, throw water balloons and use any other way to soak every human and beast in the city.
It's a great way to cool off in the blistering heat, is a really good time and a great experience for travelers. but remember:
Everybody needs to make a baht, but some people make serious baht scamming Chiang Mai visitors. Here are some of the more common scams to watch out for:
Avoid, the ATMs near Warorot Market Kad Luang.
Keep your bank card safe, always try to use an ATM at your hotel or inside a bank. Learn how to avoid Thai baht scams, ATM/Card skimming & more.
Around Tapae Gate & Chang Mai Night Market. The usual travel safety rules apply: be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables stashed safely and watch your daypack or shoulder bag.
Somebody might strike up a friendly conversation and soon you will find yourself surrounded by mafia-types, asking you to take gems to your next destination. It can feel downright dangerous. If somebody makes you an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
These often involve multiple people, who may or may not even be a Thai national - "Yes, I know that tailor! I've been purchasing excellent suits from him for two years and exporting them to Belgium - he is amazing". The Tuk Tuk driver, the coincidental referee, and the smiling kid at the wat, they all get a cut. Whilst not a direct threat to your wellbeing, it’s not a nice feeling to be taken for a ride. Check out our larger article on scams in Thailand to avoid getting gouged.
You get into Chiang Mai on a bus from Bangkok and a tout takes you to a guesthouse. Arriving tired, you find out you need to book a nearby trek or tour as a requirement of your stay. This is how a lot of guesthouses make money. Don't take it personally, but find out beforehand and pre-book your accommodation.
Like elsewhere in Thailand, they aren't fond of using the meter. Read how to deal with Tuk Tuk drivers here.
"Oh man, I was sold a trip to Wiang Kum Kam for $100!” Always ask your hotel or guesthouse for a base price for any excursion you might be considering. Why pay $100 for an experience when you can pay $5. Do your research.
The serious pollution problem is caused by a serious traffic problem:
Some parts of Chiang Mai don't have sidewalks. Local drivers really don't care about the wellbeing of foot traffic. Remember what they taught you in school. Pay attention, look both ways before you cross and you will stay safe.
We don’t advocate drinking in public generally, but certainly, don't do it around Tapae Gate, it's a 1,000 baht fine. There are other places where you can't be publicly inebriated in Thailand. Getting caught can mean a bigger dent in your wallet and sometimes jail time.
You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.
Is it safe to go to Patong? Drink-spiking, photo scams, places to avoid and dodgy jet ski operators are just some of the things to watch out for.