Chiang Mai International Airport, established in 1921 as Suthep Airport, is the main airport serving the Chiang Mai Province of Thailand. Chiang Mai Airport is the fourth busiest airport in Thailand, serving over 5.3 million passengers annually and operating on average 130 flights each week to over 50 destinations worldwide. The airport consists of two terminals, a Domestic Terminal and an International Terminal, conveniently located in one airport complex. The airport has all the basic passenger amenities, including free wireless Internet, a business lounge, luggage storage services, and a number of dining and shopping options both in the airport complex and in the departure hall. Passengers wanting to kill a few hours can even visit the sauna and spa at the International Terminal. Travellers may also want to get some local currency, Thai baht, at the ATMs or currency exchange counters. In 2014, Chiang Mai Airport was upgraded to introduce 24-hour operating hours and larger arrival and departure halls in order to better serve passengers.
The airport is located approximately 4 km, or approximately 15 minutes, from the city center of Chiang Mai. The most common form of transportation from the airport to the city center is via taxi. As of 2015, Chiang Mai Airport does not permit public transport vehicles or motorbikes to enter the airport. After exiting the arrival hall, passengers can head towards the airport taxi counters near the entrance to be assigned a taxi driver. The total taxi fare will consist of an airport surcharge and the metered fare. If cost is a factor, passengers can consider walking out of the airport to the main road to hail a taxi to avoid the airport surcharge. In April 2015, Chiang Mai Airport also introduced an airport shuttle bus service which costs 40 baht per person. There are two shuttle routes that cover the most popular hotels, resorts, and tourist destinations in Chiang Mai. Within the city, the most common way to get around is on a tuk tuk, a kind of open-air three-wheeled motorized vehicle, or a songthaew, which means ‘two benches’ in Thai. The songthaews, which are bright red mini-buses, do not have fixed routes and you will have to try your luck flagging one down to check if your destination is on the way. The fare for a songthaew is typically 20 baht per person within the downtown area, and 40 baht for a further distance. Virtually all the forms of transportation in Chiang Mai require some haggling for the best prices, so start brushing up on your negotiating skills!
Known as the “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Despite this, it has managed to retain its small-town charm, cultural diversity, and natural beauty. There are so many things to see and places to explore that you’ll probably leave the country wondering where the time went. For example, there are numerous of historical temples, such as the Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wiang Kum Kam the Underground Ancient City, that have given Chiang Mai its iconic skyline. Chiang Mai is also a haven for nature lovers – the Doi Inthanon National Park is famous for its rich diversity and lush greenery, and for having the highest peak in Thailand. There are also several world-class zoos and elephant sanctuaries that will allow you to immerse yourself in the animal world. Last but not least, Chiang Mai is home to several indigenous tribes that have their own unique cultural traditions and history going back centuries. For instance, travellers can visit the Padung Village where the ‘Long Neck Karen’ ethnic hill-tribe, famous for the brass rings around their necks, wrists, and ankles, reside.
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