Experience real Chiang Mai: A Local Friend

15:08 Amy 10 Comments

You're either thinking about coming to Chiang Mai or you've already booked your ticket. Yay!

Travellers in Thailand who journey north are richly rewarded with lush mountains, cascading waterfalls and vibrant cities. Chiang Mai is the best city in Northern Thailand (though admittedly, I may be a little biased). This incredible, multi-faceted place has something to entice every kind of traveller. Families will adore 3D art museums, cat cafes and rainforest expeditions. Couples can spend languid days splashing around in waterfalls, taking care of elephants and dining by the river. Music lovers can listen to incredible live jazz, mosh to local metal bands and jam with Thais and travellers in sweet hippy hangouts. History and culture buffs can tour temples, museums and out-of-town historical sites. Foodies can find delicious, off-the-beaten local eateries and modern city-centre restaurants serving international cuisine.

➳ Psst! I got my readers a SWEET freebie, details are at the bottom of this post ;)

It can be difficult to experience the real Chiang Mai.

Especially if you're here for a short holiday. Spend any time at all trying to plan what you're gonna do in Chiang Mai, and you'll know that there's so. much. information out there. Websites, blogs, videos, forums and guidebooks – it's easy to get overwhelmed. Travellers here for just a short while simply don't have time to waste.

Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai off the beaten path

So, how are you supposed to explore the real Chiang Mai?

You've got three options:

  1. Have a friend in Chiang Mai.
    They'll share their knowledge about all the awesome things going on in the city.
  2. No local friend?
    You could spend a lot of time ploughing through those never-ending travel resources to create your own fabulous plan.
  3. But if you're too busy for that...
    (and let's face it – who isn't) there's a fantastic, super-easy alternative, and I freaking love it.
I was enjoying a glass of wine (or three!) last weekend with new friends, talking about how we had no clue what to do or where to go when we first arrived in Chiang Mai. We all made mistakes. Travel in Asia is phenomenally rewarding, but definitely frustrating at times. Beautiful, exotic Chiang Mai is no exception.

When I first arrived in Chiang Mai, I came directly from India.

Like a lot of you, I didn't have time for thorough research and planning. 

Though I did lots of amazing things like trekking in the rainforest and travelling to the summit of Doi Inthanon, my lack of preparation resulted in me grimacing my way through some pretty awful touristy situations… cramped tours, unethical elephant riding, and eating meal after meal of bland, boring food.

I experienced enough to fall in love with the city. But now I've discovered so much that I wish I'd known about back then.
Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai cooking school

Let's fast-forward to now – I know the city really well and when friends and family visit, I know exactly where to take them. My new friends and I all agreed that having a local friend is just the best. So one guy at the table, Paul, told us about his new company. Oh my gosh, I love it.

The alternative: Younique Travel

Younique are Chiang Mai experts. They're your local friend who knows the city inside out.

Do you like to befriend locals? Explore off the beaten track? Discover the best temples that Thai eople actually worship at? Eat and cook real local food? Experience the city's modern, real-life side? Meet people from all over the world? Younique is definitely your cup of tea.

I wanted to test Younique out for you guys, so I contacted them to arrange a free 15 minute Skype chat.

Katie asked me questions like "so, what do you love to do?” and "what kind of holiday do you enjoy the most?” I said that I loved independent travel, motorbiking, being in nature, meeting people, kayaking, live music and cooking. I could see Katie taking notes.

"How about a short self-guided hike through the rainforest to see a hidden Thai temple?"
"I know a great little place to eat local food – it's really friendly and they'll serve you truly authentic dishes, not tourist-style Thai food."

I was impressed. After excitedly sharing ideas, Katie said she'd be delighted to create an itinerary for me and arrange a second, more in-depth chat.

I was unsure… I like to be pretty independent, and itineraries sound way too restricting for my travel style.

Katie understood, and explained that the itinerary was going to be a list of experiences and events that she reckoned I'd love, but it was entirely up to me if I wanted to actually do them. I could be as independent, or not, as I liked. For example, if I wanted the experiences booked for me or hire a private local guide, they'd sort everything out for me. Sweet.

She explained that the itinerary would include a number I could call if I ran into any problems – like if something was unexpectedly closed. I liked what I heard, so I said sure - let's go for it.

At our next, more in-depth Skype chat a few days later, Katie emailed my personalised itinerary to me.

Woah – she'd really listened to what I wanted. She'd obviously dug deep to find experiences I'd like.

My itinerary was packed with things like motorbike rental, cycling at a local lake, Thai food with free desserts thrown in (heaven!), Thai massage, cooking at an orphanage, kayaking in the countryside, Latin dancing with Thais and peoples from all over the world, obscure art galleries, meet-up events, a cooking class, live music and a gorgeous local hike to a hidden rainforest temple. I was very happy to see that there was plenty of down-time factored in. Trying to do too much makes for a really crappy holiday, trust me.
Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai art village

Younique is like having a local friend help you out with the planning.

Some of the experiences listed on my Younique itinerary are things it took me years to hear about or discover for myself. Like, I only learned about Latin dancing a few weeks ago, I hiked up to gorgeous Wat Palad just a month ago and I still haven't been to Corner Bistro's popular hip hop and fries night.

I stayed in Younique's clean, modern accommodation in the fashionable Nimmanhaemin area. It's not everyone's favourite place, because it's increasingly Westernised - but I love the vibrant diversity. Being centrally located was great, too. It was light and airy, had freezing cold aircon and the work desk was wonderful. The little envelope of exclusive Younique vouchers on my bed was very exciting. Here's Andy modelling:

Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai accommodation

Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai apartment

I got you a FREEBIE.

I loved my experience with Younique so much that I've hooked up with them.

They've agreed to give the whole Chiang Mai travel planning service away FREE to the first five readers who like My Chiang Mai Everything's Facebook page and email Younique to say:

"Amy of My Chiang Mai Everything says hey!"

Those lucky five will get the 15 minute chat, a personalised itinerary, and the second in-depth chat. For FREE.

Yay! Get a move on and take advantage of this freebie.

You'll discover way more than what's in the guidebooks. You'll find out about places and activities recommended just for you. Your itinerary will include a number to call if you have questions or need help while you're in Chiang Mai. You'll spend wayyyyy less time trawling through Google search results.

Spend your extra free time with friends and family, eating ice cream sundaes and following me on Facebook – you'll get loads of insider tips from me, and a regular stream of photographs and updates from beautiful Chiang Mai to keep you excited.

Younique Travel planners Chiang Mai hill tribe

She's pretty sure these posts will be your cup of tea:


  1. Thank you Amy,
    Love your writing, coming soon (4.12 - 9.12) with my wife to visit Chaing May...can't wait....(:

    1. Wahooooo Uri! You must be excited :D What will you do here in Chiang Mai? And thank you very much ^_^

  2. Thank you Amy,
    Love your writing, coming soon (4.12 - 9.12) with my wife to visit Chaing May...can't wait....(:

  3. I think best way is just go and walk everywhere.Go to small roads an alleys. Go somewhere with local transport and get lost. We hae been 6 weeks now in CM. Here is much to see.

    1. Ahhh, I love aimless wandering - or motorbiking! - down all the little sois :) I think I'll do some of that tomorrow!

  4. Local hike to hidden rainforest temple sounds exciting. Will try to accommodate in my trip. Going to CM tomorrow, yayyy!

  5. Have all 5 been used up?! My friend and I are traveling to Chiang Mai in March and I am interested in potentially using Younique after reading your blog.


    1. You know, I'm not sure. Did you email and ask? :)


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