1) If you want to make money online, this is the place to be
The community of location independent internet entrepreneurs, or “digital nomads”, here is absolutely incredible.
After just a week, I’ve met a large network of people who are either making a full-time income online, or on their way towards it. There is everything from guys fresh out of school bootstrapping their first business to guys doing very well financially (and I mean very well, by any standard).
On my third day, I visited a coworking space and overheard some guys joking around about business ideas they thought wouldn’t work. I learned more overhearing those few minutes of conversation than I would have reading 20 generic “How to Make Money Online” articles.
Everyone here is a creator, working to make something from nothing. And everyone is focused on making money. In fact, right now as I type this I am sitting with an entire group of people who are all building profitable eCommerce stores.
There are probably hundreds of coffee shops in Chiang Mai, a growing number of coworking spaces, and there is Wifi everywhere. The city is excellent for meeting other foreigners with similar interests, or just grinding out work. This is the place to be if you want to make money online.
2) Driving a scooter around is convenient and fun
When I first arrived, I noticed that there was hardly anyone walking around in Chiang Mai. I now see several reasons why:
- It’s way too hot
- Nothing is that close together (think 25 minute walk vs. 5 minute drive)
- You literally cannot cross the roads on foot, because there is too much traffic
- It’s extremely easy to get a scooter bike
You walk into a bike shop, sign a form, and they take a photocopy of your passport. You pay the monthly fee and deposit, and then 10 minutes later you’re on the road, no questions asked.
3) There are no traffic rules
Not only had I never ridden a bike before coming to Chiang Mai, I had never really driven before either. I was confused about the traffic rules (and driving on the left side of the road), so I asked this Dutch guy to explain a bit more to me. Everything suddenly made sense when he exclaimed, “There are no rules!”
Driving in Chiang Mai is basically a giant free-for-all. Bikes weave in and out of traffic, people pull U-turns when they feel like it, and no one stops for the (rare) pedestrians trying to cross the street. Depending on how you look at it, you can basically do a) whatever is safe, or b) whatever you can get away with.
My first day on the bike I got completely lost, and ended up driving around for almost 2 hours looking for my apartment. At one point, stuck in traffic, I accelerated too hard and rear-ended some guy’s pick-up truck, smashing one of my headlights.
I was a little worried, but besides a couple hundred baht in repairs and some Thai kids laughing at me, there was no real damage done. Overall, getting lost turned out to be a good thing because I got a ton of driving practice, and by the next day was completely comfortable on the bike. However, I did crash my bike later when life told me to slow down.
4) The cheap food is good, but it comes at a cost
From what I had heard before coming here, the cheap food was one of the great things about living in Thailand. And yes, it’s true, you can get a meal for less than a dollar, and it tastes pretty good.
But is it good for you? Probably not.
Unfortunately (and understandably), the Thais don’t really know anything about nutrition. Especially not that guy with the SARS mask cooking out of a restaurant with a tin roof and concrete floor.
Thai meals are usually 60-80% carbs, and loaded up with sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Literally everything is cooked in this nasty vegetable oil. The first Thai I’m going to learn is “No sugar, please” and the second is “No oil”.
On the plus side, eggs are a huge part of the Thai diet, and you can get them with everything. Because the portions are quite small, 5 or 6 eggs on the side (for about 5 baht a piece) makes for a decent meal with pretty good macros. Ultimately, though, I’m going to get an electric burner in my apartment and cook the majority of my own food for optimal nutrition.
So there you have it; a condensed version of my experience so far in Chiang Mai. I’m planning to be here for a while, so there will definitely be more to come.
Ever been to Thailand? How does my experience compare with yours? Or compare to your other travel experiences? Do you have any questions about Chiang Mai? Let us know in the comments section below.