Chiang Mai is Thailand's second biggest city and is said to be the cultural capital. Our first impression of Chiang Mai was the somewhat relaxed atmosphere compared to the chaos of Bangkok. Although the atmosphere is relaxed, tourism still hits you over the head harder here than even Bangkok.
It seems Chiang Mai is equal parts culture and massage shops. If you're walking along and look to your left (or right) you're equally likely to see an absolutely beautiful Buddhist temple or some room lined with beds and nibbling fish tanks.
With that said, if you are willing to explore a bit, you can still really enjoy all the beautiful cultural things Chaing Mai has to offer and steer clear of most of the more obnoxious touristy traps. The culture here really does outshine the not-so-cultural things.
Once again, we really enjoyed the food, but I guess that's no surprise. There is al
so great furniture and art in the Chiang Mai surrounding area. Chiang Mai is world famous for amazing wood working craftsmanship. Most of these places do not allow photos, sorry, you'll have to take our word for it.
Definitely the highlight of Chiang Mai for us was visiting many, many Buddhist temples. The architecture, the artwork, the details and the people at these sights are really beautiful. It goes without saying that we were having way too much fun with our cameras. Every evening when the light was good we were running around taking photos. We'd probably be doing the same early morning too…if we (definitely NOT morning people) could get out of bed.