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Living in Chiang Mai

Living in Chiang Mai

Thailand’s “Rose of the North” is a cultural and natural gem known for its welcoming hospitality. It is a crossroads for ethnic diversity, both international and local, and hosts a multitude of attractions. Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996.

Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old pagodas and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. Chiang Mai has grown rapidly into a large and dynamic city in recent years, but it still retains a great deal of charm within its ancient walls and has much to offer visitors. Today, Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural, and tourism center of Northern Thailand.


Transportation – On Campus

Each student is charged 400 baht per semester to fund the Chiang Mai University campus transportation system. Electric trams run on set routes on the Main Campus (Suan Suk) and the Health Sciences Campus (Suan Dok), while commuter vans shuttle students and staff between the two campus.

Make sure you have your student ID when riding CMU Transit.

CMU is getting stricter about checking IDs as many non-CMU affiliated people have been trying to ride the free transportation.

Health Sciences/Suan Dok Campus

The Line 6 purple electric trams run the perimeter of the Suan Dok campus and can take you close to Suan Dok Park Plaza and to the transfer point where you board the van to go to main campus. How to get an electric tram:
     - Wait along the route and flag one down (trams often go past Nursing Building 4 and definitely stop in front of Nursing Dormitory 1)
     - Check the real-time map for vehicle locations (click on the yellow “S” at the bottom of the page for the correct map): https://cmutransit.bda.co.th/

Shuttle van between Suan Dok and Main Campus Purple shuttle vans routinely run between Suan Dok and Main Campus. During the week, the vans leave approximately every 15 minutes during the day. Service is less frequent in the evenings and on the weekends.

The route goes past the Faculty of Pharmacy, Wat Suan Dok, CMU Convention Center, and CMU Art Center on the way to main campus - http://transit.cmu.ac.th/en/services.php. How to ride the shuttle bus:
     - The shuttle van picks up and drops off underneath the skywalk by the Faculty of Medicine’s Cadaver Research Center.
     - To return to the Suan Dok Campus, you can catch the van in front of the Old International College building across from the Faculty of Agriculture.
     - Check the real-time map for vehicle locations (click the middle button with green wording ABOVE the numbered route numbers at the bottom of the page for the correct map): https://cmutransit.bda.co.th/

Main/Suan Suk Campus

Purple electric trams run on several routes on the main campus Follow this link for information in English regarding each specific route (note that there is a drop down menu for each route (Green, purple, blue, etc.)

Online tools for using CMU Transportation Facebook page: This page gives regular updates to route changes. https://www.facebook.com/korsormorchor/

Real-time interactive map: This map shows you where the vehicles are on route and includes the number of available seats by car. https://cmutransit.bda.co.th/

Smartphone apps: These apps provide service maps and allow you to access the real-time map
     - CMU mobile:
        Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=th.ac.cmu.mobile.portal&hl=en
        iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/th/app/cmu-mobile/id946339651?l=th&mt=8

Transportation – Off Campus

Remember that in Thailand, people drive on the left-hand side of the road. This can be a considerable problem for those who are used to driving on the right-hand side of the road. While traffic can seem chaotic and confusing, in general, traffic moves smoothly and you will seldom hear a horn honk or experience any outwards signs of anger or road rage while negotiating traffic. It best to stay calm and proceed with caution.


Songtaew (meaning “two rows”), also known as “red cars” or “rot daeng,” are the most common form of public transport in the city. How to get a songtaew:
     - Flag one down on the street
     - Tell the driver where you are going
     - Negotiate the price before you go (base prices is 30 baht/person)

If the driver is not going in the direction of your destination, he or she will tell you “no.” Just wait for the next songtaew and wave that one down instead. Be patient, as you may need to repeat this several times.
Note: Songtaews are not usually as direct as other forms of transportation because they pick up multiple passengers when en route.

Chiang Mai City Bus

There are several bus routes available from the Chiang Mai City Bus. How to ride the bus: 
     - Check online for the appropriate route
     - Wait at the bus stop for the correct bus to arrive 
     - Pay the fare when you board (fare is 20 baht/person)

There is an app "CM Transit" which shows bus availability in real-time.  Download the app to make using the bus easier.

This website has QR codes for the apps Be sure to download the app with this logo: 

Tuk tuks

Tuk tuks are three-wheeled motorbikes and operate similar to a taxi. The tuk tuk will take you directly from point to point and may be cheaper than a songtaew if you are traveling in a group of 2-3. How to get a tuk tuk:
     - Flag one down on the street
     - Tell the driver where you are going
     - Negotiate the price before you go (base prices begin at 80 baht)
Note: Tuk tuks will not receive other passengers en route, so your travel is private and direct.


In Chiang Mai, taxis can be hired at the airport, train station, shopping mall, or can be reserved by phone. Expect to pay about 120 baht for a taxi to most destinations in the city. How to get a taxi:
     At the airport:
     Go to the “Taxi Meter” or “Airport Taxi” counter and book your taxi
     At the shopping train station or shopping mall:
     Go to the taxi stand and there will be a line of taxis waiting to pick up customers.

By phone:
     - Chiang Mai Taxi Meter 053-241-955 or 053-244-268


Grab is a smartphone application that allows you to directly book a driver to take you to your destination. It is convenient and can be cost-effective if you are traveling with several people. Grab can also be used to hail a songtaew if you are traveling with a large group.

Grab is available for both iPhone and Android smartphones. Download the app to begin use.

Local Attractions

As one of the premier tourist destinations in Thailand, Chiang Mai has innumerable attractions, including historical sites, temples, museums, natural features, arts & crafts, local and international food, textiles, markets, and much, much more. The following attractions are easy to get to using local transportation, biking, or walking.


Fresh Markets

Chiang Mai is the main commercial center of Northern Thailand. Because of this, there are wonderful open-air fresh markets (thalad) on any given night in Chiang Mai, selling a wideselection of foods, produce, arts and crafts, and more. The following are some of the highlights in marketplace shopping here in Chiang Mai:

Ton Payom
This small market sits not far from the corner of Suthep road and Canal Road, near CMU main campus and is the place to visit for fresh food and daily shopping needs.

Ton Lamyai Market
At the end of Thapae road, near the Ping River, you will find this colorful market, featuring cut flowers of every color and variety. The market is at its most active late at night.

Wororot Market
This labyrinth of shops and stalls is also known by locals as Kad Luang. It sits next to the flower market and is one of Chiang Mai's largest markets.

Muang Mai Market
This is the main wholesale area for fresh produce in Chiang Mai. Located along the Ping River adjacent to Wororot Market.

Anusarn Night Market
Pickled fruits and spices at the Anusarn Night Market.

Somphet Market
This small but lively fresh food market sits just north of Thapae Gate on Moonmuang Soi 5.

Tanin Market
This large fresh food market is located on Maneenoparat Road where it meets Chang Puak Road.

Weekly Markets

Hill Tribes Market
Held every Friday morning in a small lot near the Mosque on Chang Klan Soi 1, not far from the Night Bazaar. This humble market is where the ethnic minorities who live around Chiang Mai bring their own distinctive products to sell.

Saturday Walking Street
The Wualai Saturday Market runs from Chiang Mai Gate on the south side of the Old City in the old silversmith district of the city. The market opens at about 4 pm and runs until 11 pm. The market consists of traditional crafts and is known for the unique silver items that can be found alongside an array of food and drink stalls.

Sunday Walking Street
On Sunday evenings, Ratchedamnoen (the street running from Thapae Gate through the center of the old city to Wat Phra Singh) is closed to traffic for this weekly market. The streets are filled with stalls selling local handicrafts as well as food.

Sunday Farmers Market and Rustic Market 
On Sunday mornings, starting at 6 AM, many farmers and producers set up their booths at JJ Market. This is one of the few markets that regularly does random testing of the produce for chemicals to ensure the accuracy of organic and pesticide-free labeling of produce. The Rustic Market sells handmade items such as clothing, bags, hair accessories, scarves, toys, etc. In addition, there are many food stalls selling homemade local treats as well as baked goods.

Kad Sum Murd
This market, also known as the “Dark Market,” takes place from Thursday to Saturday in front of Kad Suan Kaew (Central) shopping center. The market is candlelit and atmospheric and buzzes with local shoppers. The market sells craft goods, clothes, and Thai knick knacks.

Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar is one of the most famous tourist markets in Chiang Mai and sells an array of foods and products. This bazaar is open nightly.


Chiang Mai is overflowing with ancient Buddhist Temples (Wats) dating back to when the city was originally founded in 1296. The intricate carvings and stunning hand-painted murals inside the Wats are treasured by locals and tourists alike. There are over 300 Chiang Mai Temples in and around Chiang Mai to see and experience. The old city and the surrounding area has several historic wats as well as museums. Just a short walk from the Suan Dok campus, these sights are easy to reach.

Cultural, Historical Sites & Museums

Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center
Old City

Chiang Mai National Museum
Old City
This museum sits near the center of the Old City, across from the 3 Kings Monument and highlights the history of the region and the Kingdom of Lanna.

Chiang Mai Zoo & Aquarium
On Huay Kaew road, en route to Doi Suthep, located on the western flanks of Chiang Mai University main campus.

Chiang Mai City Parks

Nong Buak Haad Park
Tucked into the southwest corner of the old city is the only park within the city walls, Suan Buak Hart. The park is fairly sizeable, with a large meandering pond in its middle, surrounded by large expanses of grass. There's a paved path around the perimeter that's good for jogging that is even marked off every 50 meters so you can tell how far you've gone.

Kanchanapisek Park
Just outside the southwest corner of the old city, not far from Buak Hart Park is the newer Kanchanapisek Park, built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the King's ascension to the throne. It stretches along Om Muang Road and lies between the road and the old outer ramparts of the city.

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