Millennials Are Changing Chiang Mai Travel Trends
Thailand's Chiang Mai is famous as the “Rose of the North,” and is the Chiang Mai Province capital. The city is a culturally diverse community and is known for its hospitality to visitors. The city is famous in Thai history due to its proximity to the major trading routes in Southeast Asia and the Ping River. The metropolitan area of the city is home to more than one million Thai residents and a large number of expats from countries around the globe.
Thriving Tourism Market
A revitalized tourism market is attracting a new demographic to Chiang Mai. Millennials seeking an authentic travel experience are arriving in the city in larger numbers than ever before. Although Chiang Mai has the greatest population in the northern portion of Thailand, it has a small town atmosphere with many cultural attractions.
Influx of Chinese Millennials
In 2016, more than 4.6 million travellers arrived in the city. The only airport in the country with more arrivals was Phuket. The surge in low-cost airlines has been partially responsible for the upswing in the travel market. More than 5,300 flights arrived in Chiang Mai from China in 2016.
The increase in visitors to Chiang Mai has been on the rise for the last ten years. Lower airfare rates are making it possible for millennnials from countries around the world to travel further and experience the culture of destinations they might otherwise not be able to visit.
The Influence of the Film Industry
When the film “Lost in Thailand” was released, the tourism industry in Thailand exploded. The comedy about two scientists and a tourist exploring Thailand, grossed more than “Titanic” at the box office, taking in more than $200 million in China. “Notting Hill” and “Eat, Pray, Love,” were instrumental in contributing to the popularity of Chiang Mai, showing the effectiveness of destination marketing.
The Trend Toward Thai Culture
In the early years of the millennium, most visitors outside Bangkok were drawn to the beautiful beaches. However, the impact of films has peaked more interest in the culture of Thailand. More visitors from other Asian and Western countries arrived to immerse themselves in Thai culture. The government has responded by focusing on quality rather than quantity which has resulted in the construction of new boutique hotels and a thriving arts scene.
Digital Technology Plays A Role
Most tourists get their information about travel destinations from smartphones and social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. A lot of travellers post photos of their holidays on their social media page. Sites like YouTube allow people to post videos of their travels and have people subscribe to their channel to see their latest travel destinations.
An International City
Many of the millennials travelling through Thailand arrive in Chiang Mai to relax and enjoy the company of locals and expats from around the globe. Part of the attraction of the city is that it's not as Westernized as many other areas, even though you can browse English bookshops and dine on international cuisine. The low cost of living coupled with a transportation system that makes it easy to get around the city makes Chiang Mai an excellent destination for millennials for a brief visit or an extended stay.
The Neighbourhoods of Chiang Mai
The Old City, known as Tha Phae Gate, is where to find ancient Buddhist Temples, many of the temples are close to one another and easy to get to by foot. The neighbourhood is known for its abundance of antique shops and shops that sell local handcrafts. A lot of booksellers have shops that carry used books. The Old City is an ideal spot to socialize at the restaurants and bars.
One way to experience the culture of Chiang Mai is to stay in Old Town, an area inside the walls of the city. The southeastern portion of the city features a lot of historic monuments. Old Town is attractive to millennials due to the number of budget-friendly guesthouses, hostels, rooftop bars and restaurants.
The Night Bazaar District is between the river and the Old City. For millennials that love nightlife, this is the place to be. The district in the southeastern section of the city extends for about 1 km on Thanon Chang Khlan. The Night Bazaar is open all year-round until about midnight. Shops, hotels, and restaurants including Western franchises line the street. The district even has a few good places to stop for drinks including O'Mally's Irish Pub, the Red Lion Pub, or the Downunder Pub.
Explore the Temples of Northern Thailand
The historic temples around Chiang Mai reflect the religious traditions of Buddhists and Hindus. The Province of Chiang Mai's more than 300 Buddhist temples is fascinating to explore, whether you're a visitor or a resident. Three of the most elaborate of the temples to visit on a tour are Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Doi Suthep, and Wat Suan Dok.
Wat Doi Suthep is reached by driving up mountain roads. A dragon headed staircase of 300 steps takes you to the temple and fantastic views of Chiang Mai. The temple is one of the most sacred in Thailand.
Wat Suan Dok was built in the centre of a walled fortress. One of the attractions is a giant, bronze Buddha in robes from the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Wat Chedi Luang is a magnificent Buddhist Temple that has recently been restored by UNESCO.
Chiang Mai Arts and Crafts
Millennials love learning about the culture of Thailand and experiencing the arts and crafts of the country is a big part of that culture. One way to get a glimpse of the traditional arts is to visit craftsmen in their workshops to watch them as they work on their creations. The Sankampaeng District is where many of the factories are located that produce exquisite hand woven silks, gems, lacquerware, wood products, and fabrics.
One of the most fascinating processes to see is the Thai people weaving intricate patterns into silk by hand. The craft has been handed down through many generations and is very detailed. Visit a furniture factory to see how raw wood is converted into beautiful pieces of furniture. A visit to a local handcrafts market is always a treat. Displays of decor for the home, jewellery, and native-style costumes are worth seeing. The crafts markets have fantastic bargains on Thai handcrafts.
Market Tour and Cooking School
Traditional food is outstanding in the Thai culture, and you can learn how to prepare Thai dishes under the expertise of a professional chef. Visitors meet at a local cooking school then take a boat down the Ping River to visit one of Chiang Mai's local markets. Whilst touring the market, your chef explains about the various foods and spices that he uses to create traditional Thai dishes.
After the visit to the market, you board your boat and return to the school where you have the opportunity to create delicious Thai cuisine. You'll learn how to prepare five different dishes and enjoy complimentary drinks to go along with the meal you'll share with the class. Three different categories are available and include Siam Delights, Chiang Mai Favourites, and Chef's Favourites.
Khantoke Dinner and Traditional Thai Dance Performance
At one time, the Khantoke Dinner was an event reserved for dignitaries and special guests. Today, the dinner is hosted for all travellers to Thailand to express the hospitality shown to visitors. Delicacies of Northern Thailand are served to guests who sit at low tables called toke, which is a Lanna tradition.
During the dinner, dancers in authentic costumes perform traditional dances of Northern Thailand for the entertainment of the guests. The event takes place at the elegant Khum Khantoke Restaurant in Chiang Mai.
Loi Krathong celebrates the Goddess of Water and is a celebration that usually takes place in November. The date is determined by the Thai lunar calendar. Songkran is the commemoration of the Thai New Year and is one of the biggest celebrations in Chiang Mai. The Flower Festival in February celebrates the blooming of the tropical flowers.
The Lure of Chiang Mai
Thailand is a favourite destination for expats looking for a carefree lifestyle. Chiang Mai has a more relaxed atmosphere and slower pace than many of the big cities. Lush, tropical forests and nearby Doi Inthanon National Park with Thailand's tallest mountain, are ideal for hiking and backpacking. Cultural attractions include elaborate temples, the Chiang Mai National Museum, and the Tribal Museum, which chronicles the history of Thailand's mountain tribes.