Last updated on August 12th, 2021 at 12:58 pm
Chiang Mai has the heart of a big city with the feel of a small town. Plenty of bustling streets and quiet nights that would make any person could fall in love. No one wonder many expats move to Chiang Mai.
Although it’s a magical place—getting acclimated to a new culture, figure out what places to go, how to get around, where to get a haircut, etc can be difficult. But after reading this guide to you’ll surely feel like an expert because you’ll know the ins and outs.
So, whether you’re a visitor or an expat, this will definitely help you along the way.
Without a doubt, this is the most important information to know because your health is #1 priority. In Thailand, people go to the hospital when something is wrong, even if it’s not a dire emergency. But you can also make appointments with doctors at hospitals, which differs from America. So, if you’re under the weather, your best bet is to go to the hospital or a clinic.
My go-to hospital in Chiang Mai! The prices are all reasonable, and the quality of service is excellent. You could come here for injuries, sickness, or just regular ole checkups. At most I’ve spent 4,000 baht here ($125) and that’s because of ambulance fees. In the states, you’d spend $1000s without insurance — here will cost you a couple of $100 at most. For a checkup, I’ve spent 900 baht ($30).
Loi Kroh Clinic
If hospitals aren’t your thing or you need to see a doctor day of, this clinic is the place to go. Especially if you want a checkup, STI testing, or are concerned about sickness. It’s the most affordable and reliable place I’ve been to in Chiang Mai. The doctor speaks fluent English, but be mindful you’ll be waiting a few hours before you’re seen.
The clinic is open from 8:00 am-1:00 pm then 4:30 pm-8:30 pm, but the sooner you get there and fill out your forms, the sooner they will see you. FYI this place gets PACKED!
Health Care Medical Clinic
Very popular amongst expats, but definitely on the pricier side. Seeing Dr. Morgan is like seeing your primary care doctor back home. The services range from preventive care, treating acute and chronic illnesses, vaccines/shots, and STI testing, etc.
The prices are very affordable for foreigners but can get expensive depending on what you’re seeing her for. Your best bet is to get a quote before making an appointment.
Food and Household Items
Muang Mai Market
For all your fresh fruits and veggies, you must come here! It’s a gem that’s popular with the locals. I rarely see foreigners there, so you know the prices are inexpensive. You can get a kilo of mangoes for as low as 30 baht ($1), lettuce for 20 baht, and carrots for 15 baht. Yup, everything is CHEAP!
But you will have to hold your nose, it gets pretty smelly. The stench of raw meat and fish will have your stomach doing cartwheels.
100% organic fruits and veggies! I love that Giw delivers orders right to your door. Her options will vary based on the time of year and because of supply, but the quality is high. You can check in on her Facebook page for updates. She typically has mangoes, coconuts, papayas, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and MORE!
A Westerners paradise! Seriously though, they have imported items from the states which can make you feel you have a slice of home. If you want to cook a western meal, this is the place to get all your ingredients. It’s a grocery store with fresh produce, your favorite brands, and yummy snacks. Also products you won’t find at the average store like stick deodorant.
It’s uncommon to use stick deodorant here, and instead, people use roll-on or spray.
But you’ll end up paying more here than you would other stores.
Not to be confused with Tesco Lotus express. This is a department store with pretty much anything you’d need—household appliances, food, clothes… EVERYTHING. And their prices are unmatched. If you want a one-stop shop, then you’ll find it here.
Similar to Tesco Lotus, but there are more locations. It’s like the Walmart of Thailand and you could easily spend hours shopping here. Whenever I’m shopping, it’s my go-to place for sure. On average, I spent about 1000 baht ($30) on vegetarian groceries.
Depending on your hair type or style, this can get tricky.
Before coming to Thailand, I had long locs but switched it up. Not going to lie, it scared me letting someone non-black cut my hair. I didn’t know what to expect. I thought “would mess my hairline up?” or “could he make it feminine enough for me?”
But let me tell you… X (that’s my barber’s name) hooked me up! I told him what I wanted, and he gave me exactly that. He is experienced in cutting hair in various styles — I would recommend him any day. For 300 baht, he will have you looking just right.
Hair dyes, makeup, face mask, and any beauty products you think of—this is your place. It’s your typical beauty supply store. I’ve been able to dye my hair pink, blue, purple, blonde because they’ve got everything.
Transportation For Expats In Chiang Mai
Driving in Chiang Mai isn’t for the faint-hearted. Even if you think you’re a skilled driver, Thailand is a different beast. Not only do they drive on the left side of the road, but traffic can be chaotic with motorbikes weaving in and out of lanes.
People will purposely drive on the wrong side of the road to take a shortcut. Also, pedestrians will jet across lanes. It’s all A LOT, but once you get it down pack it’s pretty awesome to drive here.
Motorbike Rental — Chloe’s motorbike’s
*If you don’t feel confident in driving, I suggest taking a course. Also, get your international driving permit to drive*
Her service goes UNMATCHED! When I’ve had motorbike issues, she responded promptly. With quite a few mishaps like losing my keys, my mirror breaking, and my turn signal not working, she has been extremely helpful. The monthly cost will range depending on the bike, but the starting price is 2400 baht/month.
Songthaew aka Red Trucks
You’ll see these all over Chiang Mai and you wave them down just like you would any ole taxi. If you’re riding within old city, 30 baht is the standard price. But make sure you agree on the price beforehand. Unfortunately, taxis worldwide have a habit of overcharging people, and Chiang Mai is no exception.
If you’re going outside the city or if you’re picking one up from the airport, you’ll pay more. But in my experience, I’ve never paid over 100 baht and that was leaving from CNX. Songthaews are definitely one of the cheapest options.
The Uber of Southeast Asia brings a certain level of comfort because you know you’ll be paying the standard price. And if you’re someone who prefers using cards over cash, this is perfect (you can still use cash too)! You can also opt in to take a grab motorbike which would be the cheapest option — about 80 baht.
*Download the app before you leave your country or have access to SMS to confirm your account. *
You can find so many steals while in Thailand — if you’re at the market or simply at the mall. Every day there’s some sort of market with clothes and many products for you to indulge in. But if you’re specifically looking for shopping, there are 3 main malls people go to.
HUGE is an understatement, or should I say tall? This mall has 7 floors plus a rooftop with bars. If you’re looking for international name brands such as Adidas, H&M, American Eagle — then this is the place. But don’t go thinking just because it’s Thailand you’ll pay cheaper prices. Everything is the same price you’d pay in America except its baht. Coming to the mall is helpful if you’re someone who can’t fit into the clothes at the market (basically US size 8 or bigger).
Central Festival Mall
Another mall filled with international name brands, except this place is wider! Out of the two tourist malls, this is my favorite. More options to choose from for sure. Like Zara and the Levi store.
Kad Suan Kaew
Many locals or expats frequent this place in Chiang Mai, but most tourists haven’t heard of this mall. It’s known as a local mall and has no name brand stores. But if you’re financially savvy, it’s a great alternative.
Don’t get me wrong, this mall has a lot of cute apparel, so it’s worth checking out. Clothes range from 50 baht and up. But honestly, the most expensive thing I’ve seen was 300 baht. Not too bad if I say so.
These places for expats in Chiang Mai or if you’re just visiting for a little while. Drop a comment below and share with a friend or two.