Chiang Mai is a small city located in northern Thailand, roughly 700km from Bangkok. It is the perfect place to visit if you want to enjoy a modern Thai city without spending a fortune.
Surrounded by majestic mountain scenery this is Thailand’s fifth-largest city; a great mix of the old with the new.
While it features all of the conveniences you would expect from a modern metropolis it also has many quaint historical touches such as the 300 temples found within the city limits.
Most international dating sites don’t discuss Chiang Mai because it’s not Bangkok or Pattaya. But that’s part of the charm of this city – it’s as far away from those places as possible. And that means you can enjoy a very different experience when visiting here – both for dating and just hanging out.
Chiang Mai is a city you won’t forget in a hurry.
Why Single Men Should Go To Chiang Mai
Wait… why aren’t we telling you to start your international dating adventure in Bangkok or Pattaya?
Simple – because that’s where 99% of other guys go to find single Thai women.
Chiang Mai, on the other hand, is off the beaten track…700km, to be precise. So, most tourists simply don’t bother making the trek to get here, although lots of digital nomads do. In fact, so many digital nomads live in and visit Chiang Mai each year that it’s become a separate industry.
It’s also not a party city – not in the way Pattaya is – so it’s ideal for guys who are either looking to find a wife or guys who want to meet women who don’t’ view every farang as a pickup artist.
There are girly bars here though, so bar girls are definitely part of the city’s makeup. But they’re in the minority to the extent that all bars here are officially meant to shut at 1 am.
Are Women From Chiang Mai Open to Dating Western Men?
The constant influx of backpackers and digital nomads has created a different atmosphere in the city.
Women obviously know you’re still a farang (foreign guy), but they’ve seen so many of them that it’s become normalized.
It’s also affected the age demographic here – girls know they’re more likely to meet a young entrepreneur than a 65+-year-old retiree looking for a “young” wife.
That makes women in Chiang Mai that little bit more open to dating Western guys.
Just bear in mind that doesn’t give you carte balance to act like an ass-hat. You’ll enjoy far more success on the dating scene here if you act like a masculine gentleman at all times, including after a few beers.
Thai women dig that approach way more than anything else, including flashing your cash.
Chiang Mai Tourists Attractions
As with most destinations where tourists are an important part of the local economy, there is a lot to see and do.
One of the most popular tourist attractions are the elephant sanctuaries, some of which you can even volunteer to work with.
Just be really careful to never visit or contribute to a sanctuary that offers elephant rides to tourists. The reason is that elephants have to be “broken” to accept this, which means literal beatings and starvation to make them comply.
When visiting Chiang Mai you will definitely want to take a trip to Doi Suthep, a mountain on the outskirts of the city. At the top, you will find one of the holiest wats which is a spectacle in itself.
This incredible temple has to be seen to be believed, but you’ll need to take a songthaew (truck taxi) to get there.
The temple is famous because it once contained the shoulder bone of the Buddha, and the name of the temple roughly translates to “Buddha Relic”.
This temple tends to get fairly crowded although the many other temples in city do not attract anywhere near as many people. What makes the trip really worthwhile however is the panoramic view of the city from the mountain top.
If you head further up the mountain you can also visit the traditional hill village of Doi Pui. You may also want to visit Mae Rim valley where you can enjoy orchid and butterfly farms.
Cruises down the Ping River are popular, as are night safaris – both are extremely affordable and a lot of fun.
You also owe it to yourself to visit the “Sticky Waterfalls”. We have no idea how this works, but the stones are so sticky that you can literally walk up the falls against flowing water.
And lastly, you can spend a few Baht buying vegetarian food to present as alms (offerings) to Buddhist monks. Except on rainy days because the monks stay indoors on those days.
The other great attraction in this city is the night market on Chang Klan road. From seven pm to midnight this area is thronged with all kinds of stalls where you can buy pretty much anything you can imagine.
From handcrafted goods to clothes to gems to electronics you will be able to find it at the night markets.
Dating In Chiang Mai
Your Dating Competition
There are two basic categories of guys you’re going to be up against here:
- Local guys
- Digital nomads
Now, the digital nomads usually aren’t out on the dating scene every night. They’re actually in Chiang Mai to work, and they’re often in a committed relationship with either their Western girlfriend or a local girl.
You’ll be in the vicinity of some very wealthy guys, so unless you’re making at least mid-6-figures per year, don’t try to impress local girls with your spending power. They’ve already seen bigger wallets than yours.
As for the local guys, cheating on their girlfriends is pretty much their primary hobby.
Do they really cheat that much?
Yup, to the point where most guys have a side wife, or “gik wife” in Thai slang. His actual wife usually knows about the gik wife, but just stopped caring.
Women here dislike being cheated on as much as women anywhere, so showing that you’re loyal to her is step #1. And you do that by not having 4 or 5 girls on the go at any one time.
Apart from that, just remember that women in Chiang Mai aren’t after you for your money or a “green card”. They just want to find the right person to fall in love with. Which is the exact same reason you’re considering traveling to Thailand.
Cultural Barriers to Dating
All cultures have their quirks. The things you can and cannot do with people, or in their presence. So when you’re around Thai women here are some things to avoid.
Public Displays Of Affection
These are a real no-no, not because she doesn’t like you but because it’s just not the norm here. Holding hands in public is fine, but playing tonsil hockey while you’re out having dinner is not.
Chiang Mai is no different from most countries in Asia in that good manners are expected at all times.
In Thailand your feet are considered to be literally untouchable, so all of your foot fetishists are out of luck.
Seriously though, do not put your feet (shoes or not) up on a sofa, or a chair anywhere, for any reason. Doing this instantly identifies you as a clueless tourist.
Never, ever, ever touch the top of your girlfriend’s head, or at least not until you’ve been together for a while. Touching this part of a person’s head is considered beyond rude. We have no idea why, but the moral of the story is to avoid it.
Apart from these, there are zero cultural or religious barriers to prevent you from dating or marrying a Thai girl. Getting married to foreign guys isn’t frowned upon, although you will have to convince her parents that you’re the real deal.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, so they’re very chilled in their spiritual and religious beliefs. And if you’re not sure why it’s because they believe that the world we see around us is just samsara – a waking dream.
So now you know where they got the “plot” for The Matrix movies.
Communicating with Women in Chiang Mai
At a guess, one of your biggest fears is meeting the woman of your dreams, only to realize that she doesn’t speak English. And that you spend the entire evening smiling at each other, but that’s it.
The good news is that probably won’t be an issue for you. You see, the number of expats and digital nomads living in Chiang Mai has kind of linguistically gentrified the city.
Basically, you’ll find that most Thais working in the service industries (hotels, bars, and restaurants) speak at least passable English. So you can get by without learning Thai.
But you shouldn’t.
There will come a time when you’ll need it, and if your girlfriend took the time to learn your native language, it would stand you in good stead to return the favor.
Plus, you’re here looking for a wife, so it might be handy to be able to read marriage and other legal documents when the time comes.
Meeting Women in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the perfect place to meet a nice Thai girl as it doesn’t have the same seedy reputation as say Pattaya or Bangkok. And with its large expat community, the local women are used to meeting and dating foreign men.
When dating Thai women you are going to have to find women who speak English.
Trying to conduct a date with a Thai woman with no English is more trouble than it is worth and you will find it difficult to pick up the language quickly in the way that you could with Spanish for example.
Typically Thai women who speak English either work in the entertainment or tourism industry or are university educated.
If you visit the area around Chang Mai University you should be able to find plenty of available young women who can speak English. These women are often eager to practice their English language skills and will be happy to have a conversation with you.
From there, of course, it is a natural progression to an actual date and possibly romance.
If you are used to Bangkok or Pataya were many women are either working full time or part-time in the entertainment business (Bargirls) you will need to learn to adjust your pick up routine a little in Chiang Mai. The women in Chang Mai are, for the most part, not professionals and are just nice, normal girls.
This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily difficult to pick up but just that their agenda is going to be different to someone who only sees you as a wallet.
This means that you will have to work a little harder to impress but it also means that you have the possibility of a real relationship or at the least of a fun companion during your time in this marvelous city.
The Humble Cell Phone – Your #1 Dating Tool in Chiang Mai
When picking up women in Chang Mai your biggest friend is going to be your cell phone. Make sure that you either pick up a cheap local one or bring a phone that will work in Thailand.
During the day you can collect phone numbers of girls that you would like to date. The best way to approach them is to ask for directions or tourist advice.
It is a good idea to have a follow-up question that you can ask them. Once you have engaged them in conversation spend a couple of minutes talking and then ask for their phone number.
Generally, she will give it to you as Thai women are friendly and generally intrigued about the possibility of dating a western man.
At the end of the day, you should have a few phone numbers and some good options for asking a local woman out on a date.
If you are picking up a lot of women use the camera on your cell phone to snap a picture of the women that you have gotten the number from.
If you have collected dozens of phone numbers trying to remember exactly who goes with which phone number can be easier said than done.
Best Places to Meet Women in Chiang Mai
Yes, there are lots of bars and clubs here but they’re not always the best place to meet a Thai girl.
Because there’s a good chance you’ll wind up hooking up with a bar girl. Or worse again, drinking too much and almost falling for the charms of a ladyboy. So bars and clubs should be your last resort and not your first option.
Instead try spending time at some of the local malls, like Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center or Promenada Chiang Mai.
You stand a better chance of meeting a regular Thai girl this way – the type that wants to get married and not just go dancing with your wallet.
Oddly enough, banks are another place where you can meet single women. Women with their own bank accounts.
You also have the option of bypassing this particular issue by signing up for a few of the better Thai dating sites, like ThaiCupid.
The goal shouldn’t be to find the woman of your dreams online, but rather to set up a few dates so you can get to know the city. And maybe even wind up with a female wingman to help you find the right Thai woman for you.
A Note On Girly Bars
Although this article is geared more towards guys looking for “Good Thai Girls” – we know that many of you may also want some seedier options as well, so here ya go…
There are roughly fifty girly bars in Chiang Mai that specifically target foreign men with most of them centered around Thapae Gate. If you want paid entertainment then this is a good place to start.
While there are a lot of bars orientated to western males, many of these close when the tourist season is over and are quite small.
The best place to go if you are looking for female entertainment is Foxy Lady Bar.
The girls here are highly attractive and much better than at many of the other bars in the city. Happy hour is from eight to ten during which drinks are 60 Baht making it a good time to visit.
Best Places to Take a Date in Chiang Mai
So you’ve done all the groundwork, met a nice girl and it’s time to take her out on a date.
The good news is that there are plenty of great places in Chiang Mai to enjoy either a quiet night out together or the buzz and vibe of live music.
Chiang Mai Restaurants
Most dates start with a meal and then drinks later, so we’re going to cover some eateries first. Now it’s a case of choosing where to go.
Your options are to either take the lead or ask her for suggestions.
We would strongly recommend asking your date to recommend a few restaurants – she’ll appreciate that you value her opinion. But if she’s not sure/doesn’t care, then you’ll need to be decisive.
Also, never assume that she’s just dying to eat at some posh Western restaurant. A lot of the women in Chiang Mai are just as happy to dine at a local family-owned restaurant. Probably someplace she knows and visits regularly.
Samsen Restaurant is also very popular with both expats and locals alike.
Chiang Mai Bars
Maya Rooftop is pretty much the most popular bar in Chiang Mai among expats and locals alike. It’s one of many rooftop bars in the city, but people tend to flock here in large numbers.
One word of warning is that this bar is exposed to the elements, so don’t bring a date here during rainy season.
Furama Rooftop bar has breathtaking views of the city because it’s on the 17th floor. You can choose to stop here for a quick drink or a full meal, depending on how the night goes.
Basically, there’s a bar to suit every taste, and pretty much every budget. Just don’t expect to get $1 beers in any of these bars.
Other Dating Options
You could also arrange a daytime date because there’s less pressure when you’re meeting up for coffee, or just taking a walk together.
You can also see what she looks like in natural sunlight. And if she has an Adam’s apple…for example!
A good way to start the date is to ask her to show you some of her favorite parts of Chiang Mai. Most Thai women are extremely proud of their country and culture and are usually happy to show it off to visitors.
But if she’s a bit more reserved or shy, then suggest going to Nong Buak Public Park, or maybe the Royal Park Rajapruek.
River cruises and safaris are another option, or you could check out the night market together if you want to try something a bit more authentic.
Remember to haggle at any market stall you visit – it’s expected and most of the prices are massively inflated for “tourists”.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
This will come down to how much you can afford to spend, but there’s a lot of value for money to be had.
If you’re basically flat broke then you’ll be staying in a hostel, but you can usually get a private room at the better ones.
Prices for a private room start at around $25 per night, but once you stray into that territory you’re usually better off paying for a hotel. In fact, you can get hotel rooms for as little as $20 per night, so don’t assume hostels are your cheapest option.
Always rent an apartment if you’re going to spend more than a week or two here, by the way.
Even the budget hotels come with free Wi-Fi , but many of them are really nothing more than large guesthouses. With that being said, they’re clean, tidy, affordable, and get great reviews.
It’s worth mentioning that smaller hotels and guesthouses tend not to be fans of single guys bringing Thai girls back to their rooms. There’s no law against it – it’s just a kind of social faux pas you’re best avoiding.
If we bump your budget up to $50 per night, then you’ll get that little bit more luxury, and breakfast included as standard.
Some of our top picks for mid-range hotels include the iWualai Hotel, Thannatee Boutique Hotel, and Baan Hanibah. These are a pretty big upgrade on the budget hotels, for just a few bucks more per night.
The language always changes when you spend more on a hotel. Terms like boutique are replaced with words like “Resort” and “Grand”.
Just bear in mind that a 5-star hotel in the city will cost 5-star money, by local standards. This means your daily accommodation budget will rise to $150 – $200 per night.
Each of these hotels is luxury personified and would cost 5x as much per night in North America or anywhere in Europe.
What Are the Women Like in Chiang Mai?
The women in Chiang Mai are very different to what you expect, especially if you’ve already spent time in Bangkok.
And we mean different in a good way.
For example, they’re not nearly as materialistic as girls in other bigger cities in the South. Many of those cities have become highly Westernized, so women kinda expect to have the latest gadgets i.e. you have to pay for them.
Chiang Mai women are still exposed to Western influences, but only because the city has become pretty much the biggest hub for digital nomads in Asia. So it’s far more subtle than in other parts of Thailand.
And that leads on to the fact they’re accustomed to meeting and talking to guys from North America, Europe, Australia, etc. There are so many farangs in Chiang Mai that nobody bats an eyelid these days.
In terms of looks and personality, women here are again unique.
They tend to have much lighter skin than girls you’d meet in Bangkok. This is due in part to Chiang Mai’s proximity to the Chinese border (more genetic diversity) and that the climate up North is that bit colder.
So their ethnic mix and less exposure to sunlight means women in Chiang Mai are pretty pale by Thai standards.
Another big thing is they’re conservative in a way that’s both charming and a bit frustrating. There’s a very good chance the girl you’re going on a date with is not only a virgin but has never kissed a guy before.
The flipside of this is there are now lots of women here who are far more liberal and sexually adventurous because they’ve already dated a digital nomad or three.
If you’re looking for college-aged girls then you should spend time in the bars and cafes near Chiang Mai University.
One word of warning though is that college-aged girls tend to only date guys their own age. They’ll allow for maybe a 10-year age gap, but after that, they’ll view you as the creepy older guy in the bar.
And if you do see a female college student with an older guy it’s because they’ve come to…an… arrangement of some kind.
How to Get to Chiang Mai
Unless you’re already traveling around Asia, then the only way to get to Chiang Mai is to fly there. Fortunately, Chiang Mai has an international airport, with numerous flights landing each day.
The downside to this is that direct flights from Europe and North America are non-existent. So you’ll need to fly to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Taiwan and catch your connecting flight from there.
That means you can fly with a major airline to any of the above locations, but you’ll need to take a connecting flight with a smaller regional airline after that.
In terms of flight time, it’s a long-haul – you’re looking at between 20 and 22 hours to get there. And that’s the shortest possible timeframe.
Some of the cheaper flights have long (1 day) layovers so watch out for that when booking.
The good news is that flights aren’t insanely expensive, so you can book a roundtrip journey for around $700 for an economy class seat.
Once you land in Chiang Mai you’ll be introduced to the fact that there’s no public transport system. So you’ll be taking a songthaew from the airport to wherever your hotel is unless your hotel offers an airport pickup or shuttle service.
Please do get good travel insurance because it’ll cover you for everything from getting your wallet snatched to illness. Neither of which are likely, but you can’t get this insurance retrospectively, so don’t cut corners.
One final note: Do not attempt to bring any form of narcotics into the country with you – not even weed. The penalties for smuggling even “soft” drugs into Thailand are instant and severe.
Living in Chiang Mai
So what do you need to know if you decide to go “all in” and relocate to Chiang Mai, like so many other expats and digital nomads?
Well, the first thing is that you’ll need to learn Thai.
Yes, most people here speak at least some English, but learning the language of your new home country is the smart (and polite) thing to do.
When in Rome, and all that.
Plus you’ll need it to understand your application for residency, if and when that happens.
You have a few choices here, depending on your age.
For example, anyone over 50 years of age, who intends to live in Thailand, can only apply for a ‘Retirement Visa’, and you also need to prove that you have the financial capacity to pay for your retirement.
Or in other words, you need a monthly income of at least $2,000 and you must also have at least $23,000 in savings.
For younger guys, you can choose between a ‘Tourist Visa’ which allow for stays of up to 60 days, with a 30-day extension possible. This visa makes perfect sense if you’re just visiting Chiang Mai to do some meeting and greeting with cute Thai girls.
If you decide to relocate to Thailand to be with your new girlfriend, then you’ll most likely need to apply for a ‘Business Visa’ because you’ll likely wind up working for yourself.
You can apply for this visa at your nearest Thai embassy or consulate, and you’ll need to bring the following:
- Your current passport
- Completed application form
- Two photographs
- A current bank statement
There’s a lot of red tape involved with getting a ‘Business Visa’ so you might also need the following:
- Proof that you have your own business e.g. documents of incorporation
- A letter of invitation from a Chiang Mai business association
Your other option is to apply for a ‘Work Visa’, in which case you’ll need to be offered a job by a Thai company that’s allowed to employ foreigners.
Other documents you will need include:
- Your approval letter from the Ministry of Labour
- A contract of employment
- Your CV
- Pre-college educational records
- Degree or Diploma and proof that you attended that college
- A contract of employment
- References from previous employers
One word of warning here is that it can take up to 3 months for your visa to be approved and delivered to you. So plan your trip/relocation well in advance.
Dating Sites Where You Can Meet Women From Chiang Mai
Some guys are happy enough to land in Chiang Mai and simply figure things out. But the smart money is on using a handful of Thai dating sites to set up some dates before you get here.
As we mentioned earlier, these don’t have to be the women of your dreams. You’re just acclimatizing to the local scene, and getting to know what the dating landscape looks like.
Basically, don’t get roped into a long-term relationship before you even land.
So what Thai dating sites should you sign up for?
This is part of the Cupid Network of sites and has been helping foreign guys meet cute Thai girls since 2002.
As dating sites go, ThaiCupid is best suited to guys who are looking to meet professional Thai women. Or in other words, you’re not just looking for a hookup. Yes, they exist on ThaiCupid but they’re in the minority.
A single month of membership costs $34.99, but you can test the site out with a ‘Standard membership’ first.
This is the current “must-have” app for the Thai Dating scene. It’s completely free, so you can chat with as many girls as you want without having to pay a cent.
But the downside of apps like this is that you’re going to have to filter out the ladyboys, bar girls, “professional” ladies and general freak shows to find a Thai girl worth dating.
So you save money but it cost you time – you have to decide which is more valuable to you.
With that said, it is a good way of getting a feel for the dating scene in Chiang Mai, and the types of women you can expect to meet.
This dating site is probably Thai Cupid’s biggest competitor and with good reason. Thai Friendly claims to currently have over 1.5 million members.
What’s different is that Thai Friendly is aimed squarely at guys looking to hook up with girls in Chiang Mai, or elsewhere in Thailand.
Membership costs $24.95 per month, but there’s also a free account option if you just want to take the site for a test drive.
Chiang Mai is more like the Thailand Western guys expect than what they see when they arrive in Bangkok. It’s a modern city in the middle of a tropical rainforest valley.
There are no concrete skyscrapers or high-rise apartments here, but it’s not a rural backwater either. If anything it’s a hub of technology and creativity that is improving and changing the city in many ways.
The pace of life here is more sedate, and the women are as pretty and mesmerizing as any other Thai girl.
So if you want a real taste of Thailand, Chiang Mai should be at the top of your list.
Chiang Mai Resources
Chiang Mai Guide – If you are planning on visiting Chiang Mai this little downloadable PDF is a great way to get familiar with the city. It lists hotels, restaurants and other info that will help you get the most out of your stay.
American Consulate in Chiang Mai – Hopefully you won’t get into any trouble while visiting – but if you do, and are an American, this is the place to call.