Chiang Mai – King of the North!

Andrew Leeson


Chiang Mai Thailand

For retirees in search of a more traditional Thailand, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and the glitzy beach resorts, Chiang Mai offers a wonderful, and incredibly affordable lifestyle. The city sits astride the Ping River, some 700 kms north of Bangkok, and has a population of 160,000 residents, although the greater metropolitan area is home to almost one million people.

Chiang Mai has a rich history, and is the former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296 to 1768). Surrounding the city are some of the highest mountains in Thailand, which during the dry season, offer a cooler climate than can be found anywhere else in the country. The city has a vast array of Buddhist temples, and celebrates a wide range of festivals. In addition to this, Chiang Mai is the location for at least half a dozen universities, which give the city a lively buzz.

Chiang Mai was recently listed as one of Trip Advisors ‘Top 25 Destinations in the World’, and its combination of history, culture, climate, affordability and food/entertainment, make it a fantastic home for retirees. 

Where to live?

The old city is often where new arrivals choose to stay. It’s close to everything and offers a wide range of cafes, restaurants, markets and entertainment. However, once retirees become accustomed to the city, they often find they can obtain far cheaper accommodation outside of the old city walls, but still within easy access to everything they need. Some popular locations include the Nimman area, Hang Dong (particularly for those who want a house rather than a condominium), in and around the ChiangMai University district, and Mae Hia (which has the city’s biggest shopping mall).


Local public transport is via tuk-tuk, songthaew and rickshaws. The fare for a songthaew is about THB 20-50 to get around the city.

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) has up to 28 flights a day to Bangkok, which takes just over an hour. The airport also serves a regional hub and has direct international flights to Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Myanmar.

The city has numerous intercity bus services and regular rail service to the Capital. 

Chiang Mai has excellent Private and Public Hospitals, in addition to many 24 hour health clinics, which provide world class facilities at a price significantly below what you would pay in Australia. Within Thailand, the range and quality of healthcare would be considered second only to Bangkok.

Cost of Living

The savings for a retiree in Chiang Mai are even greater than those offered in many other parts of Thailand. When compared to major Australian cities typically you can expect to pay 85% less in rent, about 77% less for restaurants, and your groceries would be around 60% cheaper.

Visa / Property

Thailand offers a retirement visa and foreigners can buy condominiums, although many prefer to rent (at least initially). The city has a broad range of accommodation options to suit various budgets.

More information on these topics can be found in the property and visa sections of the website.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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