Food4Thought, Chiang Mai: Blogger Review

Food4Thought Chiang Mai Review

Food4Thought's enticing aroma of fresh fruit, coffee, and savoury goodness welcomes everyone who steps inside. Big green ferns hang over rustic wooden tables, some of them just big enough for two and several large enough to seat a huge group of friends. I find a table and sit, and immediately a thin silver tabby cat strides over to wrap around my ankles. I scratch her head and she meows, seems disappointed that I don't have food yet, and stalks off. A waitress wanders over with a smile, and I flick to the drinks section and think about ordering a lemonade coffee (!), but at the last minute order a Limana shake instead - lime, probiotic, honey, and chia seeds. I turn to the food section and start to read.

But something distracts me.

"What's this?" I wonder, glancing at the tatty brown book on the table. I read the cover: Book for Thought.

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I glance again around the cheery, airy space, beautiful with grass, fairy lights, and vases of wildflowers. Sure enough, each table its own well-thumbed Book for Thought. The one in front of me is old, stained with the memory of a hundred fruit smoothies, stuffed wraps, and juicy burgers.

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Opening the book is like delving into the collective psyche of Chiang Mai. The comments and graffiti range from insightful to cliched, from annoying to inspiring, from serious to lighthearted. There are messages of gratitude for life, travel, and perfectly toasted bagels loaded with local avocados and cheddar. Poems about the life-changing nature of travel and declarations of love for friends, long-term partners, and new lovers. Illustrations of temples, Buddhist symbols, local fruit, logos of new online businesses, and caricatures of people we've all met on the streets and in the bars of Chiang Mai. I find notes scrawled in Thai with carefully penned English words scattered throughout the text, often next to extremely cute cartoons, emojis, and manga drawings. I see too many of the travel quotes that grace a million travel-and-lifestyle Instagram bios (you know). And over and over again I read the words "love", "thank you", and "amazing".

The menu is amazing.

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My eyes try to take it all in, and I smile. This is the kind of creative, healthy food I love - with plenty of not-so-healthy options if I fancy it. Including cake.

Fries: Locally grown potatoes tossed with rosemary, pepper, and sea salt, served with house ketchup and cilantro, garlic & lime aioli sauce.

Mushroom and Kale Ciabatta: shitake, kale, peppers, parmesan, and sundried tomato with chilli mayo.

The B.L.A.T. Bagel: Smoked bacon with sliced avocado, fresh tomato, lettuce & cream cheese on a sesame bagel.

The Black & Blue: Beef burger with garlic, onion, basil & parsley Topped with blue cheese, bacon, lettuce & tomato, served on a grilled brioche bun with roasted-chili-mayo.

Falafel Wrap: Falafel made from chickpeas, herbs & spices rolled with house tabouleh salad, tzatziki yogurt & garlic hummus.

The waitress comes over with my smoothie and asks what I'd like, informing me that they were out of avocado already. That's ok - avocado is delicious, but I know what I want already, and it doesn't call for avocado. I ask for the curried salad: chicken or tofu, apple, cranberry, raisin, cashew, almond, & pumpkin seed tossed in curry-yogurt dressing and served atop fresh greens with mango and cherry tomato. I've never had something like that before, and I'm excited.

This limana smoothie is so refreshing.

I flick through the Book for Thought and spy on other dishes being carried out. I have that familiar food-envy and order-panic combo: "Wow... that looks good... I should have ordered that."

Oats cooked with masala-chai tea, milk and local honey, then topped with apple, banana, raisins, cranberries, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.

Waffles served with brie, probiotic sour cream, smoked bacon, fried egg, mango chutney, and honey.

Thankfully, my salad doesn't take long to arrive.

Oh wow. It's beautiful. Those bright pops of yellow mango, red tomatoes, and creamy orange sauce. The bowl looks full to overflowing, and I can't wait to take a bite.

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Heaven. The greens are fresh and crunchy. The hint of spice in the yogurt dressing is gorgeous. The sweet mango cubes, cranberries, and almonds make it feel like a special-occasion meal. Food envy vanishes: this salad is delicious, and has so many exciting textures. This is absolutely one of the best salads I've ever eaten, anywhere.

As I eat I watch people drinking coffee at Bay's Cafe coffee counter. I've heard great things about his coffee, especially the cold slow-brew, chemex, and nitro coffee. I know I have to come back when I see the lemonade coffee.

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Want to go to Food4Thought and Bay's Cafe?

Food4Thought is open from 08:00 - 17:00 Sunday to Wednesday, and 08:00 - 21:00 Thursday to Saturday. It's pretty easy to walk to from Nimmanhaemin road, see a map here. Food is midrange prices, about 150 - 250 baht for most dishes.

Since I went this first time, I've tried the lemonade coffee (AMAZING, try it), falafel wrap, laab wrap, harvest salad, mexican salad, laab burger, rise n shine smoothie - everything is so, so, so, good.

Maybe this is my new favourite restaurant in Chiang Mai?

6+ YouTube Videos That Actually Help You Study Thai

Learning Thai is hard. These videos make it easier.

Are you trying to learn Thai? I am. I'm studying Thai at Chiang Mai University, and it's wonderful and frustrating in equal measure. It's worth it, though. I love being able to chat with Thai friends, read Thai signs, and understand when Thai people are talking about me when they think I can't understand (mwahaha!).

Finding reliable, effective resources to learn from can feel impossible, especially when you just want to get on with it. You can waste a lot of time filtering out all the useless stuff if you don't know where to look: the videos that have a great title but are actually too complicated, too fast, or too carelessly thrown together. The websites that make grand claims but are so boring and tedious. Also, I don't wanna learn textbook Thai unless I'm studying reading and writing. I want to speak Thai like how Thais speak it!

To save you wasting hours trying to find the good ones, here's a list of all the YouTube videos I actually use to study Thai.

Over the past year, I've watched a lot of YouTube videos that promised to help me. The videos that made the cut below are genuinely useful and easy to study with (though that purple cricket haunts my nightmares). It's a short list, but that's coz I'm really picky.

I highly, highly, highly recommend studying Thai with a real-life teacher. I don't recommend you try to learn Thai using YouTube videos alone - I just don't think it would work. It's beyond the scope of YouTube study videos to go into detail about the nuances of Thai language. Nothing beats being in-person with your Thai teacher. Read what it's like studying Thai at Chiang Mai University here.

My 'Study Thai with YouTube' Recommendations

This YouTube video has a consonant song, consonant story, consonant test, vowel practice, a very brief tones introduction. The song and character voices are incredibly annoying, but it's one of the best resources I've found. You, the listener, are referred to as 'Kun Nu Nu', which means little mouse. Because at this stage of learning Thai, you're a little mouse just starting out, geddit? Start the video at 34:53 minutes in to learn numbers.

2. Learn short and long vowels with very catchy songs
The list below is missing เอียะ, อัวะ, and เอือะ. If you have an easy video for them, please tell me in the comments section!

a อะ
aa อา
i อิ
ii อี
eu อึ
euu อื
a, aa, i, ii, eu, euu together! อะ - อา - อิ - อี - อึ - อื
u อุ
uu อู
ay เอะ
aay เอ
eh แอะ
ehh แอ
oh โอะ
oh เอาะ (rarer)
ohh โอ
ai ไอ
ai ใอ
ao เอา
am อำ
or ออ
er เออะ
err เออ
uuaa อัว
euu-aa เอือ
ee-aa เอีย
reu and ri masquerading as ฤ and ฤา (high level)

This video of Pororo the Little Penguin is super blurry and a bit laggy, but very useful. Basic vowels start at 3:58 and vowel clusters start at 26:30.

You've no doubt seen the meme going round about the importance of English grammar: it's the difference between helping your uncle, Jack, off a horse, and helping your uncle... yeah, you know where this is going. In Thai, tones are as important as English grammar. Sentence meaning changes SO MUCH if you get it wrong. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

5. ThaiPod101
ThaiPod 101 is really great at teaching vocab and useful phrases, especially at beginner level. I particularly like to use Learn the Top 15 Thai Questions You Should Know to review question words.

Remember how I said videos can't teach you the nuances of Thai language? It's important to bare that in mind when watching ThaiPod101. For example, some question words go at the end of a sentence, and some don't. You'd know that if you studied Thai or spoke Thai with a Thai friend, but you could easily miss it in the video because sentence order isn't explained.

English sentence order: Where is the bathroom?
Thai sentence order: The bathroom is where? - hong naam tii nai?

English sentence order: Why do you like pad Thai?
Thai sentence order: Why do you like pad Thai? - tammai kun chorp pad Thai?

English sentence order: What is your name?
Thai sentence order: Your name is what? - Kun chue arai?

Also, Jay and my uni teacher teach different things. For example, Jay uses chan to refer to herself:

Man: I = pom. pom chorp pad Thai. (I like pad Thai)
Woman: I = chan. chan chorp pad Thai. (I like pad Thai)

But my teacher says that chan is elitist and old-fashioned. These days, women only say chan when they are placing themselves socially above whoever they're speaking to. Since that's kinda rude, we should say our first name or nick name instead.

Jay's way: Chan chorp pad Thai. (I like pad thai) - you are socially higher than the person you're speaking to
My teacher's way: Amy chorp pad Thai. (I like pad thai) - you are socially equal to the person you're speaking to

Khru Mod is my favourite YouTube teacher to learn REAL Thai from - the Thai that Thai people actually speak to each other! Check out 10 Common Thai Interjections, Thai Lesson: 12 Most Common Mistakes, and Thai Lesson: Useful Thai Words and Phrases for Party! to see what I mean. I especially like when Khru Mod teams up with Khru Pear in Mod & Pear Videos.

Khru Mod has a YouTube channel and website. Most of her videos are about quite basic topics, but personally I think you need a little bit of understanding about Thai language before watching, like basic vocab and sentence structure.


So I hope this list helps you study. Do you use any 'study Thai' YouTube videos I haven't mentioned? Please tell me what they are in the comments section so I can check them out. Great ones are so hard to find! Thank you in advance ;)

February Festival: Go To Shambhala In Your Heart, Chiang Dao

Shambhala Festival: music, dance, arts, crafts, camping, campfires, yoga, meditation, food, alcohol, tea, and a few thousand revelers at the base of the mighty, mist-shrouded Doi Luang mountain in Chiang Dao.

Shambhala In Your Heart Festival is every February in Chiang Dao, just two hours from Chiang Mai. It's one of the best festivals in Thailand - a small Thai / Japanese / French celebration I've attended three times already, and I love it. This year it's on from 9 - 18 February.

Read on to find out what it's like and Shambhala in Your Heart 2017 details. If you want to stay in accommodation, book it now - there's a list of places to stay nearby at the bottom of this post.

Shambhala In Your Heart Festival Chiang Dao

South East Asia Backpacker magazine published my article about Shambhala Festival 2014, all the way back in 2015. Here's an excerpt, read the rest here starting on page 43.

"Teepees dotting the green field, prayer flags blowing in the incense-heavy breeze and happy people paddling in the stream – Shambhala in Your Heart is a beautiful festival.

Shambhala in your heart festival chiang dao

Chiang Dao is a gorgeous corner of Thailand with towering mountains, lush countryside, fireflies, caves, hot springs, and golden temples hidden in the misty forests. Shambhala in Your Heart festival offers a unique experience amongst Thailand's more infamous parties. Festival-goers take their kids, use only organic things, and take musical instruments – there are plenty of opportunities to jam, even if you can't play anything. The tiny festival promotes intercultural communication and the beauty of a simple life for all, free from greed, destruction, and war."

Shambhala In Your Heart Festival Chiang Dao 2017

The music keeps on getting better and better each year. In 2016 the final band was mindblowing. It had maybe fifteen different members, and the music was haunting, unsettling, fierce, and beautiful. Mesmorizing.

"My favourite musicians last year were a pair of intense Japanese guys playing crazy tunes on guitars with a load of effects pedals. They were introduced in Japanese, but I’m pretty sure they were called 'Ten Cape Hepopo'. They took us on an emotional journey - one moment super happy ska; the next moment the soundtrack to an apocalypse; the next into dark depths of despair and back again. Powerful."

Shambhala In Your Heart Festival Chiang Dao

Back then, Shambhala was mostly attended by hippies. And yeah, it's still pretty hippy. But in 2016 Shambhala attracted a much wider audience - over 2000 people. Shambhala is for all kinds of traveler, and people are incredibly welcoming. If you're still reading this post and think you might like to go, you won't feel out of place.

Shambhala In Your Heart Festival Hippies Chiang Dao

"Festival goers are friendly and welcoming; a smile is all it takes to strike up conversation. Anyone can go, and the divides between cultures dissolve as people from all over the world gather to socialise, learn, dance, and people-watch."

Shambhala in your heart festival chiang dao

Chiang Dao offers plenty to do during the day. Walk up the stairs to The Temple on the Hill, soak in hot springs, explore a huge and magically-illuminated cave, go on a jungle-hike through the forest and bamboo groves.

A photo posted by AmyLou ( on

Shambhala in Your Heart 2017

Shambhala Festival 2017 is at Chiang Dao Camp from 9 - 18 February. You can go for just a day or the whole 10 days. The weekend will be the busiest time with the most popular performers.

Entrance Fee
1-day general admission ticket: 200 baht
10-day general admission ticket: 1000 baht 
Children below middle school age: FREE
Thai ID card/Passport: 505 baht discount

All tickets sold at the door. No presales.
Must show your passport and visa to receive entrance.

 Shambhala In Your Heart Festival Chiang Dao Entrance Fee

Accommodation: tent or guesthouse

You must take your own tent or book accommodation in a guesthouse nearby. If you want to camp buy a tent from Decathlon Chiang Mai. If you want a guesthouse, book right now - rooms are going super fast as the festival approaches. List below:

The closest guesthouse to Shambhala Festival is The Teak House - about 10 minutes away in a car. I've stayed there before and it was pretty good. We hitchhiked to-and-from the festival by waving down passing pick-up trucks on the road to the festival and asking for a ride. Every single person who stopped said yes and wouldn't take money.

Other nearby guesthouses in Chiang Dao include, from closest to furthest away:
Azalea Village - midrange (has a beeeeautiful pool!)
Chiangkham Luang Resort - upper-midrange
Chiang Dao Hut - budget

How to get to Chiang Dao on a motorbike or in your car

Follow this map. It's easy. Drive up the 107 all the way. Signs will direct you. You'll see signs for Malee's Nature Lover's Bungalows when you get close - follow them as soon as you see them. Then, you'll see signs for Shambhala.

How to get the bus from Chiang Mai to Shambhala Festival

Buses leave Chiang Mai every 30 minutes between 5:30 until 19:30. Get a tuk tuk or red car to Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 1, here. Go to all the windows and explain you want a bus to Chiang Dao: "Ow bpai Chee-ang Dao". They'll tell you what to do, or point where you need to go at the very least. Tickets are 40 baht. Once you've purchased a ticket, ask where you should wait. Once you're on the bus, ask the driver to tell you when you reach Chiang Dao. The bus will take you to Chiang Dao bus station, here. From there, get a taxi, songthaew, or tuk tuk to Shmbahala Festival - whatever is available. The yellow songthaews run all day to-and-from Shambhala, so you can get one back when you want to go home, too - in the daytime only.

Facilities at Shambhala Festival

Facilities are kinda limited, to say the least. You can buy food and drink. The toilets are squat-style - take your own toilet roll if you need it. Showers are cold. The toilet and shower situation is why many people choose to stay in a nearby guesthouse!

Despite having few facilities, Shambhala is one of the best festivals I've ever been to - and it's so cheap. If you're in Chiang Mai from 9 - 18 February, you gotta go. You'd be stupid to miss out!

See you there? :)

P.S. Here's the unfinished Shambhala In Your Heart 2017 artist list!

Thai bands:
★Tuku (Didgeridoo Band from Chiangmai)
★ Woodoo (from Bangkok)
★ヘックススリー Hex Three
★Croissant band
★その他未定ですが多数出演予定 Other bands to be included.

Japanese bands:
★南 正人 Mimami Masato (Shambala Founder)
★知久 寿焼 Chiku Toshiaki
★劇団まほうつかい Gekidan Mahotsukai
★Nao Maui
★谷澤 智文 Tanizawa
★Genjiro hoshiya
★デリシャススイートス Delicious Sweets 
★サカイナミ Sakai Nami
★ぴょん Pyon
★高瀬 沙亜羅 Takase Sara
★おるもんで Orumonde sisters and brothers band
★Takeru Anbassa
★のり Nori
★yoko aiueo
★ねたのよい Netanoyoi
★高石純二 Takaishi Junji
★瀬尾颯太 Seo Souta
★すてきボーイズ Suteki Boys
★山田まこと Yamada Makoto
★Sayoko & Toru 
★光風 Mitsukaze
★しす Shisu
★All Good Comon (Osamu Sakurai

French bands:
★Alice (Accordion)
★Yannik (Accordion)

Dance classes in Chiang Mai

The dance scene in Chiang Mai is big, and growing. Classes cater to all levels, all the way from beginner to pro. Finding concrete information about class schedules is notoriously difficult, so I did it for you.

Like most things in Chiang Mai, venues and schedules change often. The best way to double-check if there are dance classes happening when you're in town is by looking on each group's Facebook page or website, and email or call the teacher/page admin. If you can't get hold of anyone, just turn up. The worst that can happen is no class, and you can go and have a lovely coffee or bowl of khao soy instead!

Where are dance classes in Chiang Mai?

Salsa dancing in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Latin Dance teach Salsa Bachata Kizomba every Tuesday from 7:45pm, followed by a party till midnight to show off your moves. They also host free Latin dance parties every month at luxury hotels. Check out their website and Facebook page for details.

Latin dancers might also want to check out Bangkok's international Latin festival 7th - 10th April 2017 here.

Hip hop dancing in Chiang Mai

Learn hip hop dance at the Chiang Mai Drama Center or Street Dance Studio Chiang Mai.

The Chiang Mai Drama Center
Adult mixed level hip hop dance class is on Saturday at 17:30 - 18:30. It costs 300 baht. Call 0801345502 or email for more info.

Street Dance Studio Chiang Mai
Adult mixed level hip hop dance class is on Friday at 18:30. It costs 200 baht. Teacher Kao's style is influenced by hip hop, street jazz, cover dance, K-pop, girl hip hop, reggae, and B Boy. Email for more info, or check out Street Dance Studio Chiang Mai's Facebook page.

Other hip hop dance classes in Chiang Mai
Call hip hop teachers Chaon Tse on 0879081002 and Mr Golf on 083618 7676 for up-to-date info about various hip hop classes around Chiang Mai.

Swing and Lindy Hop dancing in Chiang Mai

Swing Dance is every Thursday night at Sangdee Gallery. The free beginners class starts at 8pm, followed by social dancing from 9pm. Wear flat and comfortable footwear, such as sneakers. High heels and sandals are not recommended.

Join this Swing Dance Chiang Mai Facebook group, and check the infrequently updated Sangdee Gallery event calendar.

Contact and meditation dance in Chiang Mai

Yoga Tree hosts regular meditative and contact dance events, usually at least one a week. Anyone can join DANCEmandala, SheDance  Circle, BIODANZA, and Contact Improvisation Class & Jam. Check their website for scheduling and contact details.

Thai Dance in Chiang Mai

There are very few places to learn Thai dance in Chiang Mai. Which is weird, right? But I've found a reliable class for you!

Ban Rak Ram by Kru Toto
Teacher Toto teaches Thai dance for foreigners in private or group classes. You have to arrange it before you go.

Mon - Fri:  9:00 - 12:00 and 13:00 - 15:00
Private class: 700 baht for 2 hours.
Group (1-4): 2000 baht for 2 hours.

This dance studio is located near Big C Hang Dong at 31/19 Moo. 7 Tambon Pa Daet, Ring Road 2. I'm currently waiting for a Google maps pin of this address!

Call Kun Tongta on 097-3514452 or add Line id: tongtongtaa26 for more info or to make a booking. Check out the Facebook page here.

General dance info in Chiang Mai

The My Dance Space CNX Facebook group posts regular information about dance classes and events in Chiang Mai.

Do you know a class that I haven't listed? Let me know in the comments :)

How to Rent in Chiang Mai: A Guide

This comprehensive guide explains how to rent accommodation in Chiang Mai.

- How to rent a house or apartment
- How much it costs
- What you can get for your money
- Best areas to live
- Short term rentals
- How to get internet
- Where to find listings
- Useful 'rent in Chiang Mai' Facebook groups
- Documents you need
renting in Chiang Mai

1. Stay the first 2 nights in a guesthouse.
2. Make a list of at least five different potentials as close to your place of work or study, or one of these areas, as possible.
3. Contact owners via email or phone, ask about availability, make an appointment to visit.
4. Visit, in person, all available options and any you couldn't make contact with.
5. Note down and compare utility prices, internet availability, and anything else important to you.
6. Choose your sweet new pad and move in.

This guide is comprehensive and quite long, but covers everything you need to know.

Before we begin, I have three invaluable tips for you:

My Number One Tip:

Visit the places you're considering in-person to make sure they live up to online reviews.

You'll need two days to visit potential places to live. Book at least two nights at a guesthouse before you arrive in Chiang Mai. This will give you time to check out longer term options in person. Santitham is a great area to stay while you search, because it's right in the middle of Nimmanhaemin and the Old City and it's easy to hail down a red car or tuk tuk on Huay Kaew Road if you don't have your own motorbike. Sunshine House is the perfect two-night base. I lived there for 6 months and it was ideal. If Sunshine House is full, try nearby guesthouses Zzziesta Chaing Mai Bed & Breakfast or Fashen Poshtel, or Box Hostel-n-Cafe if you're on a tight budget.

My Second Important Tip:

It might seem obvious, but the location of your new home matters. I know this firsthand, and trust me, commuting for 40 minutes through Chiang Mai rush hour is not enjoyable.

1st priority: as close to your place of work or study as possible.
2nd priority: as close to your favourite of these main areas as possible.
3rd priority: don't live next to a temple because the bells and chanting will wake you up super early every day.

My Third Useful Tip:

Get a Thai sim card for your phone. 

You will need a Thai number to arrange viewings and receive call-backs. Simply take your passport to 7/11, show them your phone, and ask for a sim card with at least 100 baht credit. The staff will guide you through the process. Alternatively go to any shopping mall in Chiang Mai and visit an AIS shop to do the same thing.

How much is rent in Chiang Mai?

The Chiang Mai rental market has something to suit almost every need and budget. Factors that influence rental price:

Location. A basic house or studio apartment in the Nimmanhaemin area could cost twice or three times as much as a similar property on the edge of the city. As a general rule, the further out a place is, the more you get for your money.

Length of rental agreement. A one year contract is cheaper than a six month contract, a six month contract is cheaper than a three month one, and so on.

Size. A bigger house or apartment is more expensive than the smaller one next door, unless the interior is particularly beautiful/modern.

Interior. Beautiful, modern, or luxurious interiors cost more, and can drive the rental price of a small place up much higher than a basic large place in the same area.

Onsite facilities. Apartment buildings and gated communities with gyms, swimming pools, and security guards cost more.

Your negotiation skills. You can sometimes negotiate a lower price, but not always.

Utility bills. Utility bills are almost always excluded from rental price and vary wildly from place to place. Some landlords inflate utility prices, and some don't. Check how much 1 unit of electricity and 1 unit of water costs before moving in so you can compare, as it can affect your monthly rental price dramatically. Your biggest bill each month will be electricity, especially when you use aircon a lot. My electricity bill is between 700 to 2000 baht each month and my water bill is around 100 - 200.

How much is apartment rent in Chiang Mai?

Apartments range from 3500 baht a month for a very basic studio apartment to 50,000 baht for a luxury 3 bedroom penthouse. Cheaper apartments are sometimes available, but rarely. If you want a nice apartment with small kitchenette, budget at least 7000 baht but be prepared to spend more or make compromises. Sometimes apartment owners are unrealistic about their condo's worth, so look around before you decide.

The cheapest studio apartments in Chiang Mai are generally super basic, have no air-conditioning, and are in an old building in a less desirable area. Rock hard mattress guaranteed. There might not even be a laundry room onsite.

Pay 5500 - 7000 baht a month and things start looking a little better: newly renovated 30sqm studio apartments in older buildings, aircon, furnished, often with internet included. There might not be a laundry room onsite, but there should be.

Pay 7000 - 9000 baht a month and you can get a nice little place to live, mostly studios between 30 - 40sqm, but with a few 1-bedroom options available. In desirable areas like Nimman, the interiors are still not so great. Some units have kitchenettes. In more out-of-the-way areas, the interiors can be quite nice indeed. You should definitely expect a laundry room onsite, and maybe even a pool and gym. From this price point on, everything should work inside your apartment. If something is broken, it should be fixed before you agree to move in.

Pay 9000 - 10,000 baht a month and you'll get a mix 30 - 45sqm studio and one-bedroom apartments in pretty good locations with pretty nice interiors, with a few larger 50 - 60sqm apartments in less desirable neighborhoods and/or with old-style, basic, unrenovated or kind-of-ugly interiors. Most units have at least a kitchenette. Many buildings have swimming pools and gyms.

Pay 10,000 - 12,000 baht a month and options get a bit nicer, but are still generally 30 - 45sqm studio and one bedroom apartments. Apartments in desirable neighborhoods like Nimman are still small, nicely-decorated studios. You get a lot of bang for your buck if you choose a slightly out-of-town apartment in this range. Most units have at least a kitchenette. Many buildings have swimming pools and gyms.

Pay 12,000 - 15,000 baht and things start getting exciting. You'll notice that a small percentage of the smaller apartments you're looking at have been finished with an eye for style - original paintings, coordinated kitchenware, carefully chosen nice furniture. You can get nice modern 30-60sqm apartments in desirable neighborhoods, and those out of town have beautiful interiors. However, the larger apartments in this price range generally have old, not-so-nice furniture and a rather 'basic' feel to them, especially in more desirable areas. Most units have at least a kitchenette. Some apartments are serviced. Many buildings have swimming pools and gyms.

Pay 15,000 - 18,000 baht and you'll get a lovely place in any area you want. You'll notice that a lot more of these apartments are serviced, have luxuries like washing machines and full kitchens, offer one or two bedrooms, have been finished with a modern stylish interior, are in a more desirable location. It would be surprising if apartments in this range didn't have gym or pool access. Room interiors can still be surprisingly small and sparely decorated, but modern, in desirable locations.

Pay 18,000 - 21,000 baht and you'll get a large, lovely place in any area you want. You'll see more one-bedroom than studios in this price range. It would be surprising if apartments in this range didn't have gym or pool access. Many apartments have washing machines inside. At the top of this range you can get really stylish large apartments in slightly more out-of-the-way places, and beautiful modern smaller places in desirable neighborhoods.

Pay 21,000 - 29,000 baht and you'll get a spacious modern and/or luxurious pad in any area you want. It would be surprising if apartments in this range didn't have gym or pool access.

Pay 30,000+ baht and you can basically be living the stuff of dreams for many people. You'll get things like walk-in closets, gourmet kitchens, duplex apartments. It would be very surprising if apartments in this range didn't have gym or pool access. But even still you can find surprisingly un-luxury places in this price range, so shop around.

How much is house rent in Chiang Mai?

Houses in the main tourist areas are expensive for what you get, but you can get excellent value for money out-of-town. But remember my tip - stay as close to work or your place of study as possible. I lived a 40-minute drive out of town once in an incredible, unfurnished dream-house that cost just 11,000 baht... but the daily commute was horrible. The far-out location also meant I couldn't drink on a night out because I never drive drunk (and you shouldn't either).

House rental prices range from 3500 a month for a basic unfurnished house far away from the main tourist areas, to 200,000 baht + for five bedroom luxury residences with a private pool, gourmet kitchen, maid's house, and more.

You can get a decent, simple, furnished house that's not too far out for 10,000 baht. You can get a beautiful house with a huge garden that's quite far out for the same price. I would recommend staying in a house if you need more room, have a pet, or work in a non-central location such as an international school.

Furnished or unfurnished?

After staying in both, I would say always rent pre-furnished places. Buying nice furniture gets expensive fast. You might think "aha, but I can buy second-hand!" and yes, you can - but only when someone else moves out, is selling their stuff, and you hear about it. You can't just get everything you need secondhand at any time you please.

Is there house sharing in Chiang Mai?

House sharing does exist in Chiang Mai, but there's no easy place to find opportunities online. It's best to check or ask in the Facebook groups listed at the bottom of this post.

Which is the best area to live in Chiang Mai?

I wrote a whole post about areas to stay in in Chiang Mai here. Stay in or as close as possible to your favourite area, especially if you don't have your own transport. Stay away from them if you want to get away from it all.

If you do have a car or motorbike, you can get more for your money the further out you get.

I mean it about the transport thing. Even apartments and houses along Canal Road, near Central Festival Shopping Mall, or out towards Promenada Resort Mall are near-impossible to live in without your own transport.

How to rent an apartment for one month in Chiang Mai

Most contracts are for a year, and many offer six months. If you want to stay for a month or two check out this comprehensive list of monthly rental accommodation in Chiang Mai below. Remember to compare WiFi, utility prices, and maid services. Email the places below to ask for vacancies or go visit them in-person. As far as I know, short term rentals are not available in houses.

Here's a list of places that rent month-by-month in Chiang Mai ordered by price low to high. See a map of the areas mentioned here.

Mata Apartment in Santitham. Starts at 3200 baht per month.
Tip Top Thai in the Old City. Prices vary, rumoured to be as low as 4500 baht per month. Contact them via Facebook or visit them in person.
Huay Keaw Residence between the Old City and Nimman. Starts at 4500 per month.
Chiang Mai Lodge in Santitham. Starts at 4800 baht per month.
Buarawong Residence near Montfort Primary School, a little out of town. Starts at 5000 baht per month.
SB Residence @santitam in Santitham. Starts at 5500 per month.
Sunshine House in Santitham. Starts at 7000 baht per month.
Life in Town on the south side of the Old City. Starts at 7000 baht per month.
Chiang Mai Smith Residence, two locations. Starts at 7500 baht per month.
Vanilla Residence in Santitham. Starts at 9000 baht per month.
PT Residence in Nimman. Starts at 9000 baht per month.
Galare Thong in the Night Bazaar area. Starts at 9000 baht per month.
Green Hill near Maya Mall. Starts at 10,000 per month.
Chiang Mai Mansion in the Night Bazaar area. Starts at 12,000 baht per month.
The Opium Service Apartment & Hotel in Santitham. Starts at 12,500 per month.
Viangbua Mansion, a little out of town, near Santitham. Starts at 12,500 baht per month.
Sakorn Residence & Hotel, riverside area. Starts at 16,000 baht per month.
Frangipani Serviced Residences, north side of Old City. Starts at 37,000 baht per month.
The Dome Chiang Mai between the Old City and Nimman, monthly rates available on request.
Chiang Mai Properties is searchable by rent duration.
Most places on this listing.

How to get good internet in Chiang Mai

Hopefully your apartment or house will come with good internet. But, more likely, your internet will suck or not even exist. The easiest way to install internet is to ask your landlord / apartment building reception staff. Ask what your options are and if they can arrange it all, let them.

If you have to DIY, choose an internet provider. Popular internet providers in Chiang Mai include Sinet and 3BB. I use Sinet and it's great. Go to their office or kiosk in person:

Sinet: Maya Mall on the 3rd floor, Central Festival on the technology floor, or their main office near the airport here.

3BB: This map shows all 3BB Shop locations in Chiang Mai, simply zoom out to see them all.

Ask them:
1) Can you install internet at my address?
2) What's the minimum contract length?
3) How much?
4) Is there a promotion right now?

Alternatively, buy an AIS internet dongle from 7/11.

Where to find a place to live in Chiang Mai

1) Search online.
2) Ask in a Facebook group. There are so many rent in Chiang Mai groups and you'll see a lot of repetition, but you can often find exciting leads.
3) Use an agent. It makes it easy - tell them your requirements and they'll tell you what's available and arrange viewings. Finding services are free.
4) Drive or walk around and ask in person.

Useful Facebook groups.
Buy/Sell/Rent Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Real Estate
Chiang Mai Secondhand Property for sale rent
Houses & Land and condos for rent or sale in Chiang Mai, Thailand
House for rent in Chiang Mai
REAL ESTATE CHIANG MAI  ~ buy sell rent
Rent & Sale House in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Secondhand and Real Estate ChiangMai

Agents and websites to rent in Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai Apartment Rental
Chiang Mai Best Homes
Chiang Mai House
Chiang Mai Lanna House
Chiang Mai Open Realty
Chiang Mai Properties
DD Property
Jasmine Homes
Perfect Homes
Ping Property
Property Thailand
Rent Hub

Renting in Chiang Mai Terminology

Soi - a lane or a little street coming off a main street. For example, the main street Nimmanhaemin has several sois coming off it: Nimman soi 3, Nimman soi 15, etc.

Mooban - tiny neighborhood of houses, usually kind of self contained, often with a guard at the entrance. Kind of like a gated community or estate.

Serviced apartment - More expensive than other apartments, but they usually come with everything you need to live for a while except food, like internet, a pool, and maid services.

Documents you need

Please note that this stuff changes all the time in Chiang Mai and you should confirm any information you find, here or elsewhere.

Whenever you rent a place in Chiang Mai you and your landlord have to inform immigration. Your landlord must go in-person to immigration, where he/she will get a document called a tm.30. It is extremely important that you get a photocopy of the tm.30 from your landlord and staple it into your passport, especially if you want to stay for longer than two months - any extension requests will be refused with the tm.30.

Get a copy of your contract. Without one, you can't get Residence Certificates and other things you might need in the future.

I really hope this helps you find a place to live, and would love to hear from you if it helped :)

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