As soon as we arrived in Chiang Mai, I knew I was going to fall head over heels in love with this city. Now I understand why so many digital nomads call Chiang Mai home, albeit temporarily. From the pedestrian friendly streets to a variety of quirky restaurants, cafes, and juice bars, to a healthy population of tourists and expats alike, Chiang Mai manages to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar in a way that provides both an exotic yet tame experience.
Having lived in two challenging and distinctly Asian cities, I was relieved to find a city in Asia that caters to the Western expat. In Chiang Mai I did not stick out like a sore thumb but rather blended beautifully with my surroundings. While this was an extremely pleasant experience and a welcome relief from my often polarizing existence in Malaysia, it felt sort of wrong. Was I in Thailand or an expat utopia?
Over the course of our 5 days in Chiang Mai, I whole-heartedly embraced the quaint cafes, juice bars, printed college t-shirts, and beloved bottles of kombucha. However, I also welcomed uniquely Thai experiences including elephant riding, foot massages, glittering temples, and cheap beer. As a perpetual expat in Asia, I forgive myself for a little inauthenticity. Sometimes it’s good to feel at home.
Here’s a little glimpse at Chiang Mai through my iphone: