Chiang Mai Accolades

This page collects the accolades and positive rankings for Chiang Mai. They have gotten more frequent in recent years as the world discovers the unique attractiveness of Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand for leisure and business.

Friendliest city in the world

December 2020 - Chiang Mai was ranked as the friendliest city in the whole world by a Conde Nast readers' poll. It's indeed a heartwarming experience to come back to Chiang Mai after a trip abroad and be welcomed by the locals' warm smiles, inspite of their lives often filled with endless toil and hardhip, especially during tourism downturns, such as the covid-19 pandemic.

Second Healthiest City in the World

In a survey counting parks, gyms, spas, vegan restaurants and yoga studios among other health facilities, Chiang Mai came in second in the world with a score of 59.57 out of 100. Paris was first with a score of 61.87.

Best City in Asia, Again

Travel and Leisure's readers have once again voted Chiang Mai to the top spot of Asia's Best Cities.

Chiang Mai Museum Wins Museum Oscar

The Maiiam Contemporary Art Museum, located in Baan Ton Pao, a 15-minutes drive from central Chiang Mai, won the "Best New Museum in Asia Pacific" award at the Leading Cultural Destination (LCD) Awards. Judges of this prize are cultural experts from around the world, recipients are the most visionary art institutions of their respective regions. This awards puts Chiang Mai, a haven of traditional arts and handicrafts, on the global map of Modern Art destinations. More info:

Chiang Mai is "Thailand's spiritual capital"!?

An article about a "monk chat", a spiritual and personal conversation with a Buddhist monk that can be readily held in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai increasingly trumps outshines beach destinations

Domestic and international travellers are increasingly spurning the beach destinations of southern Thailand in favor of "impressive new boutique hotels, a rampant art scene and budding culinary offerings" found in Chiang Mai, the new hot spot for the culturally aware:

Hipster Guide to Chiang Mai by The Independent

A comprehensive guide for the hipster digital nomad staying just 48 hours which is of course ridiculously short. The article discusses some up and coming places that may or may not have disappeared when you get here. The accolade here is that it calls Chiang Mai "South-east Asia's creative capital". Not bad.

Chiang Mai is second best city in the world 2016

Chiang Mai has again been voted second best city in the world by Travel+Leisure readers. This is a repeat of the 2010 vote. Since then, Chiang Mai has attracted many new expats, retirees and digital nomads and natives. The city has been positively booming and the unique magic is still there.

Chiang Mai is still digital natives' favorite

The Forbes Article is certainly spot on, but scratches the surface and focuses on short-term money making ("drop shipping" and similar scams). Some genuine and ambitious start-ups are already visble in Chiang Mai and more are on the horizon.

Due to difficulties establishing companies, requiring entrepreneurs to have local majority partners and generally being unwelcome for the long term by some conservative Chiang Mai natives, there is still a dearth of fully registered IT companies with operations on the ground. One of the exceptions is Yogatrail.

One of the 25 cities you should visit in your lifetime

In the April 2014 ranking by web site Chiang Mai is at number 24, and by far the smallest city (meaning most laid back and easiest to navigate) of the lot. So much so that two of the three pictures posted for Chiang Mai are if fact not of Chiang Mai, but Chiang Rai and Ayutthaya, respectively.

January 2015 - Daily Telegraph - Chiang Mai is the Best Place in the World to Work Remotely

Reasons are "low cost of living, a warm climate", the relaxed atmosphere that helps to focus and finishing projects, as well as the cheapness of it all and the growing community of digital nomads.

New York Times, Valentine's Day 2014

Not sure if coffee making is an art form outside of lifestyle magazines, but the New York Times have an article expounding the artsy and crafty scene in the sois (side alleys) of Nimmanhaemin Road. Chiang Mai is called a "Hub for Creative Types" (!). Right on, a self-fulfilling prophecy as artists will just attract more artists and other creative folk!

Huffington Post, July 24, 2013

Chiang Mai has (again) been chosen as one of the world's best places to retire by Live and Invest Overseas. Strong points for Chiang Mai were the extremely low cost of living in general as well as the excellent and affordable health-care facilities.

The only other place in Thailand to make the list is Hua Hin based on its affordable beach-front living and low-pollution small-city environment that can be easier to navigate for older folk.

Perhaps the most high-profile accolade for Chiang Mai in recent years has been being rated as the second best city in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine, ranking right after the chart-topping Thai capital Bangkok. The Daily Yomiuri picks up on this in November 2010 and makes a hotel recommendation for the Veranda Chiang Mai - The High Resort.

Travel and Leisure Chiang Mai 2010

Secret Retirement Haven

A June 2010 issue of has sees Chiang Mai as one of the 8 "secret" retirement destinations in the world:

**Chiang Mai, Thailand** - Population: 1.6 million in the province; 250,000 in the city. - Climate: Tropical; from March to May, temperatures reach 100 degrees; average high for the year is 89 degrees and the average low is 68 degrees; dry season typically runs from mid November to early May. - Proximity to water: The Ping River runs through the city, but otherwise it's landlocked. - Proximity to major airport: Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is less than ten minutes from the city center.

The Draw: Far from the civil unrest in Bangkok, this city in northern Thailand offers cooler temperatures and a calmer environment. Renowned as a medical-tourism destination, it is home to an ample supply of private hospitals, state-run clinics and full-service pharmacies that provide high-quality health care at bargain prices.

Tip: As an outsider, you cannot own land in Thailand without a local partner -- but you can buy a condo or an apartment.

Top Retirement Haven

And another article expounding the benefits of Chiang Mai for retirement, making an important point: Chiang Mai is safe but not boring, offering new experiences every day in a safe environment largely free of crime. Quote:

The World’s Top Retirement Havens For 2011

Super Affordable

[...] Thailand: specifically Chiang Mai. This exotic and adventure-filled country can be, in parts, extraordinarily affordable and even peaceful.

Chiang Mai Creative City

Recently Chiang Mai has shifted its focus for a sustainable future to becoming a "Creative City". As local services, tourism, agriculture and traditional handicrafts may not be able to offer sufficient employment for a growing and increasingly university-educated population, using the natural creativity of an artisan culture may indeed be the way forward.

One of the Best Destinations

Chiang Mai is the only destination in Thailand to have made it onto TripAdvisor's list of the 25 Best Destinations in the World at rank, well, 24.

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