Congratulations on making the decision to live in this lovely city. This short guide is intended to introduce you to Chiang Mai and help you to get settled here a little more easily than you might manage without it.
What follows are suggestions from other parents and teachers who have gone through the same transition. It is by no means definitive. Not only does Chiang Mai grow and change, but each family is different and is looking for different things.
Chrissy has also written her own personal introduction to Chiang Mai.
Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand
Thais are generally very polite, helpful people who almost always aim to please. They respect restraint and dislike direct confrontation, so:
- Take it easy, don’t get flustered; not easy when sorting everything out in a new city.
- Don’t raise your voice – ever!
- Smile, specially when dealing with mistakes or misunderstandings.
Finding a Place to Live
This is very difficult to do from afar. If at all possible, come here in advance and stay in temporary accommodation (monthly rental apartments are freely available) whilst you work out exactly where you want to live. Everyone has different needs and budgets, hence this one is very hard to give advice on.
In general you will be looking at paying somewhere between 10,000 and 25,000 Baht/month for a 3 or 4 bed-roomed home, although of course you can pay less, or a lot more than this.
Take a look at this online map. The School can be found on that map at reference 167 NC.
Yes, we are very close to the airport… but we are also very conveniently situated for easy access to the city centre, the main shopping mall (Airport Plaza), the major supermarkets, many nice housing developments, and also the unspoilt hills and countryside to the West. Planes do not fly over the school; they head immediately out over the Hangdong Road.
The small number of planes that come and go from the small Chiang Mai airport do so in both directions, effectively halving the traffic, and in practice we hardly notice the occasional plane going in and out.
Some people prefer mixed ungated communities. These typically have grown up slowly and will have a mix of housing styles, ages and sizes (and people/income brackets). They can be found all around the area, with many on either side of the hwy 108, all of which are within easy reach of the school.
These houses will usually be cheaper than in the newer gated communities, but generally need to be found by driving around the areas of interest looking for signs; very few will be rented out through agents. Good deals are to be had with this type of housing – if you can find them…
Some people prefer more uniform gated communities, with the additional facilities that they typically offer. There are a wide range of these within easy reach of the school, at all price points. Some of these gated communities within easy reach of the school are:
- Ban Nai Fun (ref. 141 N0) – very popular with our families; well maintained, good facilities
- Land & Houses (ref. 150 MR) – popular nice newer development, pool and fitness centre.
- Koolpuntville 5, 6, and 7 (ref. 163 NT through to 148NJ) – huge, slightly older development
- Koolpuntville 8 (ref. 138 OI) – very nice newer development with clubhouse and pool
- Kwan Wiang (ref. OI 177) – off both sides of the main road; nice fairly newish development
- Lanna Thara (ref. 154 OC) – very nice newer development; large houses, leafy
World Club Land (ref. 146 OD) – large; mix of old/new large/small; American community
- Ban Wang Tan (ref. 177 NR) – large leafy development; mixed styles, lots of open space
This list is far from exhaustive, but covers most of the major developments close to the school. If you prefer to be a little further out from the city two popular developments found a few kilometres further south down Highway 121 (commonly called the “canal road”), beyond the limits of this map, are “Lanna Pinery” and “Home in Park”.
There are also a number of newer developments, such as Koolpuntville 9, further south on Highway 108 (commonly called the “Hang dong Road”).
Note that many of the developments listed above are along the “canal road”. This is popular because it gives easy access to town (a largely uncongested two lane highway), easy access to school through a series of minor roads with very little traffic, and a nice view of the nearby hills (as well as a cooling breeze coming down off them at some times of year).
One last thought on choosing your home. Make sure that wherever you choose it is not in an area prone to flooding. In the vicinity of the school we are too far from the river to worry about flooding from that source, but individual streets that are lower than the surrounding streets can flood directly from the rain on occasion. Just be aware of this and talk to the neighbours before signing anything.
For good advice about buying and renting properties in Chiang Mai see: chiangmai.thaivisa.com/property-in-chiang-mai
Renting houses from agencies is generally much more expensive than arranging rentals privately (sometimes as much as 100% more expensive). Ideally you should come to Chiang Mai and arrange for a guide to take you around the areas that you are interested in, looking for rental signs on gates. This is how most people find homes here.
There are many rental agencies in Chiang Mai. You may like to look at them to get an idea of their (inflated) prices. If you do rent through an agency, be aware that you should be looking to get a significant discount from the price quoted – if you are good at bargaining. A substantial discount is often to be had if you agree to take a rental term of two years or more, or if you pay the whole years rent up-front; of course with the associated loss of money if you have problems with where you live and end up cutting the contract short. Read your contract carefully before you sign!
The requirements change frequently, so please check with the school before doing anything about visas.
At the time of writing, you will need to have committed to joining the school and received the necessary documentation in order to go to your local Thai embassy to arrange visas in advance of coming to Thailand. Note that if you enter Thailand on a tourist visa, it will be necessary sometime soon to leave the country to go to a Thai embassy outside of Thailand to obtain the correct long-term visas.
Things to See and Do
There are lots of things to see and do in and around Chiang Mai. We have put together a guide that you may like to print off and use to give you some ideas when you first get here.
If you have any ideas for additions to this document please let us know and we will add them to the next edition. Your help is much appreciated – it only gets better if we all help each other…
Enjoy your time in Chiang Mai and we hope to see you at the school sometime soon.