If you are planning a visit to Chiang Mai, it’s worth noting these below travel tips!
1. Financial tips: How and where to exchange your money to baht (Thai currency)?
Thai government now only accept “baht” and “US dollar” so if you are planning to go to Chiang Mai, you have to exchange your country currency for one of the two kinds of currency above.
You can exchange money outside or in Thailand.
- If you are outside Thailand, it’s possible to get some “baht” or “US dollar” at big jeweler’s store which have been granted authority to buy & sell foreign currency, exchanging currency shops. Many airports also have places for passengers to get some THB or US dollar. The exchange rate varies depending on what form of money you are exchanging, where you exchange it and when it takes place. So you have to accept whatever rates offered in the place you happen to be.
- When arriving in Thailand, it’s wise to ask the agents at the airport to exchange a small amount of money first, because you are not accustomed to Chiang Mai yet so finding somewhere else to do that seems difficult. But don’t cash too much at the airport as the rate there generally is not as high as other places.
There are many places to buy Thai Baht when you are in Chiang Mai:
#1: Super Rich Money Exchange
This company has several different addresses for you:
- 25/4 Ratvithi Rd Lane 1, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
- 34/4 Loi Kroh Rd, Tambon Chang Khlan, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
- 63/41 Charoen Pratet Rd., A.Muang, Chiang Mai
Super Rich offer better rates than any Thai banks. Additionally, they usually have outlets in the area tourists most stay in Chiang Mai which is the Old City(near Thapae Gate) and near Night Bazaar. For more information about the exchange rate, please check at http://superrichchiangmai.com/
#2: Metro Money Exchange Chiang Mai and Metro Forex
Metro Money Exchange has been an active currency exchange agent since 2014. It offers a better rate than the standard market rate. You can easily exchange money there as well as Metro Forex as they post their daily exchange rates on electronic notice boards. They also provide other service related to currency exchanging such as bank notes verification.
- Metro Money Exchange Chiang Mai: The Plaza, Chang Khlan Rd., Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Metro Forex: Opposite Watthano Thai Payap School, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Check out the daily rates on their website: http://metromoneyexchange.com/
#3: S.K. Money Changer
This is one of the best currency exchange shop in town. The address is 73/8 Charoen Prathet Rd. Wat Ket Chiang Mai, Thailand.
#4: Exchanging money at hotels
The rates at the hotels are often poorer than those at banks or independent agents. So you’d better say “NO”.
2. Booking tickets tips: How to book a cheap flight to Chiang Mai?
One of the most popular ways to get to Chiang Mai is by plane. Normally, flight tickets cost quite a lot, but if you know where and how to get a deal then it’ll be easier. Below are top tips for you:
- Look for budget airlines: There is a variety of airlines providing pretty budget-friendly tickets such as Thai AirAsia, Thai VietJet Air, Nok Air, etc.
- Use flights search engines effectively: Before booking tickets, it’s better to compare different airlines to get the best deal. We suggest some good searching engines you can check out: Skyscanner, JetRadar, Google Flights, Momondo, Kiwi.com, Airfare Watchdog, etc.
- Identify the cheapest day to fly: By using above searching engines, you can search for the cheapest date to fly compared to other dates of the month. Sometimes the ticket will be cheaper at the time when there aren’t a lot of tourists such as from April to September.
- Buy flights in bulk: buying return or multi-city tickets can help you save an amount of money than buying a just one-way ticket. You can look for a flight ticket on websites such as www.expedia.co.th, www.traveloka.com or www.tripadvisor.com
3. Accommodation tips: Where to stay if you want to save money?
- Consider alternative hotels or hostels: If you want your trip to be something luxurious, you can choose to stay at a resort or a five-star hotel. However, if you are looking for a good but reasonable accommodation, there are still many choices for you. A lot of two-star hotels or hostels or guesthouses provide good service in Chiang Mai. A great number of tourists’ feedbacks say that even a lower star hotel make you feel comfortable as a four-star hotel.
- Join Couchsurfing community: Couchsurfing allows you to find a local (host) who can provide you with a room or a place to stay while you are in a specific area. In Chiang Mai, you can stay with one of more than 3000 hosts. Most of them are very friendly and enthusiastic. Thousands of tourists have met many other interesting people and fulfilled the time in this city thanks to their hosts.
But it’s necessary to see the profile of the host to make sure you will stay with a reliable person.
- Choose your location wisely: It’s better to choose an accommodation near the places you want to visit. For example, if your plan is to join Yi Peng (the lantern festival), you’d better book a hotel near the Old City. Hotels far from there can be cheaper but you will have to pay for transportations which may cost even more.
- Join rewards programs: If you travel regularly, it’s a good idea to join the rewards programs of hotel’s partner company. They offer many free rewards programs for loyal customers. Sometimes you will receive a free stay for having enough points.
- Look for hotels/hostels that offer last-minute price drop: Some of them drop more than 60% at the last minute. You can search on www.agoda.com or www.booking.com.
4. Transportation tips: How you can travel around at a cheap price?
- Make sure the car driver turns on the meter: otherwise, always try to bargain the price before jumping in a car. If you can, ask at the reception desk at the hotel for the distance between the places. Making friends with locals is also helpful because they can help you in many circumstances.
- Rent a motorbike: Traveling by taxis or tuk-tuk is quite cheap but it will add up after a while. If you have to travel regularly, you should rent a motorbike. It’s easy to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai especially in The Old City as there are many shops available there. A semi-automatic moped-style motorbike costs 150 baht per day, an automatic motorbike is 200 baht per day, and a full-on motorcycle “big bikes” is 1,500 baht per day. The longer the contract, the better the deal. You can rent a motorbike at Happy Day Bike Shops Chiang Mai, Mr. Beer Bike Rentals, Tony’s big bikes (in the Old City), Cat Motors, Red Ride, Mango Bike Rental (outside the Old City).
5. Shopping tips: How to save money when shopping in Chiang Mai?
These are some useful tips other travelers often use to save a large amount of money in Chiang Mai:
- Try to bargain hard: As you go to the markets in Chiang Mai, don’t accept at the first price. Just bargain hard and if they refuse your voice, walk away. Most of the clerks will call you back and sell the item with a far cheaper price.
- Eat at the street stalls: If you come to Chiang Mai without eating at the street vendors, it’s a loss. Because the food here is one of the best in Chiang Mai and ridiculously cheap.
- Skip the bars: In Chiang Mai, there are a number of bars with different kinds of drinks and coffees. But often they’re expensive. So if you don’t find a cheap one, just buy something from the street vendors and finds some place in the streets to enjoy.
- Before joining any festivals, make sure to look for somewhere you can join without fees. They may not be as crowded as the main festival but you can also enjoy the atmosphere.
In conclusion, Chiang Mai can be cheap or expensive depending on the way you spend on everything. Be a smart traveler and you will be surprised at how much money you save for the next journey!