The city and its province have a sizeable population, with 1.65 million people registered in the 2007 census. Outside of the urban center, some people retain a rural lifestyle, with hill tribes living in around 1,000 villages making up 13% of this number.
The province sits around 696 kilometers north of Bangkok (about an hour’s travel by air) and is situated at about 300 meters above sea level. The total size of the province, with its 22 amphurs or counties, is 20,107 square kilometers. The city of Chiang Mai enjoys an important status as it is the second largest city after Bangkok, and produces a number of fine items in its craftwork industry such as umbrellas, silverware, hand carved wooden furniture, and pottery.
Chiang Mai benefits from a tropical climate all year round, with hot and wet conditions. The rainy season comes from June to October, the cool season from November to February, and the hot season from March to May. The temperature averages around 28°C for the year. This may be a little cooler up on the highest hills, while in winter nights can get quite chilly. The hottest month is April with temperatures hitting up to 40°C.
There is a variety of accommodation options available to expats, ranging from condos to apartments and houses. There are several English-speaking search engines available to make relocation easier, including:
Prices tend to be very reasonable, with competitive insurance rates, and you could pay a fraction of what you would pay in Bangkok for a similar property. Condos are the best option if you want to buy, as non-nationals are not allowed to own land in Thailand. New condos in the suburbs go for around 25,000 THB per square meter in the suburbs, up to around 60,000 THB and higher in the city center. These new properties are often aimed towards the tastes of foreigners.
Renting is also a great choice if you are staying for a shorter time, or perhaps while looking for a place to buy. A new condo is rented out for around 12,000 THB per month, while for the same price you could opt for a comfortable house out in the suburbs with pleasant outdoor space. The city center is of a compact size so most neighborhoods are good for living in, with local amenities, bars and restaurants to discover, but the area around Nimmanhaemin Road is particularly popular with international movers. Other great places are around the Airport Plaza Mall and the Payap University area.