|Cheapest price||R157 100||From Johannesburg to Chiang Mai|
Due to the area’s tropical climate, it’s important to pick the right season to visit. You may be able to find cheap flights to Chiang Mai and accommodation during the hot and rainy seasons but keep in mind various festivals which take place throughout the year, such as Loy Krathong and Songkran, can also make prices rise.
Loy Krathong is the most romantic Thai celebration which is held on the full moon night of the 12th Lunar month. Join the hundreds of locals and visitors on the banks of the Ping River to release a lantern containing a candle. It is a tradition to write a message or wish on the lantern then let it go at the count of three. Watching hundreds of lanterns float into the night sky is spectacular and a must see.
If you do decide to take a flight to Chiang Mai during the hot season, you’re sure to cool down at the Songkran Festival, during April. This festival celebrates the New Year through a massive water fight. Thais believe that being bathed will bring good luck.
Chiang Mai may be Thailand’s second largest city, but it has a restfulness and beauty that is light years away from the bustle of Bangkok. Instead, it is a city nestled in the hills of northern Thailand which is filled with centuries-old Buddhist temples.
Travellers who book flights to Chiang Mai in search of art and culture should visit sights like the Wat Phra Singh temple, with its world-famous Lion Buddha image and walls that are covered in dazzling mural artworks. There are also fascinating museums to explore, such as the Lanna Folklore Museum.
Shopping is another highlight, and a trip to the market at Talat Warorot is an unforgettable experience for any visitor taking a flight to Chiang Mai (and a great place to buy unique souvenirs for those back home).
Although the city is a fine destination for history lovers, it also boasts a lively nightlife, courtesy of the thousands of students that it hosts, and party fans will feel at home right away. Chiang Mai is also a city of restaurants, from gourmet vegan curries to riverside diners, ensuring that all tastes will be catered for.
The area around Chiang Mai is filled with natural beauty and outdoor activities as well. Get to know some charismatic locals at the Patara Elephant Sanctuary, head out rock climbing under expert supervision or relax on a rafting expedition with a hamper full of food and drink.
There are adrenaline rushes to be had as well, with companies in Chiang Mai organising whitewater adventures, as well as the “Flight of the Gibbon” park, which offers 33 different of zip-lines in beautiful surroundings.
And if all of that sounds like too much excitement, Chiang Mai is also home to several relaxation spas, providing traditional Thai massage.
For a quintessentially Thai experience, you can navigate the streets of Chiang Mai via tuk-tuk (a cross between a small van and a moped). They are plentiful and cheap, but be sure to arrange a price before leaving. Other options include vans with covered areas for passengers (known as “songthaews”), as well as privately rented cars. Cycle-powered “samlors” are also a common sight and a relaxing way to see the city.
There is a Super-Highway connecting the city to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) and cabs or tuk-tuks will take no time to whizz into town. Negotiate a price beforehand for the best deal. Alternatively, many hotels will arrange for pick-ups, so check at booking if this service is available. Hire cars can be rented at the airport, but pre-booking is advised.