A beautiful, ancient riverside city deep in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a laid back destination known for its temples, wildlife and, today, buzzing food, cocktail and local art scene. It’s well worth a visit, but before you go, pack these essentials for your trip.
We walk you through what to do if you visit Chiang Mai in our local guide, but we also talked to Ria Misra, an editor at Wirecutter, about some of the things you might want specifically for the trip, based on our itinerary. She checked with Candy Krajangsri, spokeswoman at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to make sure her picks were on point. Here are their suggestions:
Lots of Layers
Above all, and perhaps most obviously, you should prepare for tropical weather, Ms. Krajangsri said. Wear loose and breathable clothes that will be comfortable in the heat and dry quickly when wet from either sweat or rain. Average temperatures in the area can soar above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or well over about 33 degrees Celsius, and that’s even in the soaking rainfall of the rainy season.
But Ms. Krajangsri also cautions that in December and January, Chiang Mai can get chilly enough that you’ll be grateful to have a warmer layer tucked in your bag for the evenings. Ms. Misra recommends the trusty Arc’teryx Squamish jacket, which packs down small, and will provide some protection from wet weather. If you’re visiting between July and October, when rains are heavier and temperatures are higher, Ms. Misra suggests you opt for an actual rain jacket, like the Patagonia Torrentshell, a Wirecutter favorite, especially if you plan to go out hiking or explore Chiang Mai’s natural beauty.
Everything You Need to Go Birding
Only a couple of hours’ drive from Chiang Mai, the mountainous, waterfall-filled Doi Inthanon National Park is home to more than 360 bird species, making it one of the country’s best spots for bird-watching, particularly during the spring and summer months.