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Life in Chiang Mai


What makes Chiang Mai a nice place to live?

By Heather Allen

I was recently chatting with some visiting friends from home and they asked me how I liked living in Chiang Mai and I said that I loved it. They then asked me why and while I could easily begin the list of what makes it such a great place to live; the vibrant art and music scene, the friendly local people, the diversity of foods, the relative ease of travel, the low cost of living and the weather all topped the list. But after that I had to dig deeper, certainly it is a very good list and one that most people would accept as complete.

However, it is not complete, there is so much more to my life in Chiang Mai that makes it better than other places I have lived, back in my home country and in other parts of Thailand. We complain about traffic in Chiang Mai but compared to Bangkok, it is a dream when one factors in the other benefits we receive from living in a city of this size.

We complain about growth and construction noise but unfortunately change is inevitable and the notion that a place will not ever change, especially such a highly desirable place as Chiang Mai, will not change is laughable. I don’t appreciate the constant noise or the dust brought about by these projects, I suspect that many if not most of them are poorly thought out and not suitable for either their customers or their location but I also realize that this is not Chiang Mai specific and it would be na๏ve to think so. I would love to see more city planning, more construction restrictions and requirements but after reading the interview with the Mayor a few issues ago I learned that the current city government in Chiang Mai unfortunately is not in charge of these things. Seems a bit ridiculous but that is how things work (or not) here.

So, those are a few of the negatives and they can certainly be found most places in Thailand and the world. What are those other intangible positives? The friends I have made both Thai and foreign, the feeling of belonging to a community. Add in the fact that life is always interesting in Chiang Mai, something happens every day even if it is just some little thing that makes you laugh or smile at the day and it makes the place complete for me.


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What makes Chiang Mai a nice place to live?