Welcome to The Chiang Mai Guide! My name is Jef van de Graaf and I’ve fallen madly in love with Chiang Mai since my first trip in 2020. TheChiangMaiGuide.com is where I share my experience on living, navigating, and enjoying my life in this wonderful city. If you’re a tourist passing through or a digital nomad like me, here you’ll find honest and practical advice to help you plan an experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
LET’S BE FRIENDS
Thailand is a beautiful and safe country with Chiang Mai offering a cost-effective and exciting lifestyle for both tourists and digital nomads. However, every destination has its dark sides and it’s common to feel bewildered and frustrated when confronting a new (and often contradictory) culture.
Beyond the challenges you may first encounter, there’s a reason why Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.”
And that’s what The Chiang Mai Guide aims to reveal as you navigate the wild yet wonderful world of Thailand. For anybody planning a trip to Chiang Mai, I truly hope you can discover its beauty and make the most of your time here — whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-term regular.
I truly hope the tips, advice, and information you find here provides you with a memorable experience.
MY CHIANG MAI JOURNEY
I’m a freelance copywriter and website maker with a passion for unfiltered, real-world adventures. My first epic journey involved hitchhiking across Western Canada near the end of my university career. This led to a series of crazy trips after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Biomedical Sciences.
In 2014, I sold everything and flew to Japan with a bicycle and enough money to survive until I could find a job Teaching English. While I loved this country and my community of students, I wanted to continue my adventures around South East Asia.
For the next six years, I traveled without any interest or desire to visit Thailand. But why? Believe it or not, I carried a few Thai Stereotypes that killed all interest in this beautiful country.
But then it was time for another visa run and Thailand was one of the few remaining counties on my adventures in Asia. I first stayed in Bangkok before taking a train to Chiang Mai. While taking a Grab ride to my Airbnb, I instantly fell in love with this ancient looking city.
Upon my arrival, the covid pandemic was erupting and ss the world locked down, Chiang Mai became my base of operations. I enjoyed two years in a bubble paradise but I was stubborn and short-sighted. My business and life goals were aimed at Indonesia. However, I was deported back to Canada due to complications with my visa sponsor and immigration officers.
Unable to wear flip-flops and short-shorts — I spent the year freezing my ass off in my first Canadian winter in over eight years. While it was nice to see family and friends again, a nomadic lifestyle had been hardcoded into my DNA. So I focused on my work and saved money to return to my happy life in Chiang Mai the following summer.
Making of The Chiang Mai Guide
Every city has a personality. Some of us will resonate with it, others just want to GTFO. For me, coming back to Chiang Mai felt like a return home. After all my travels in South East Asia, I finally found a place where I could feel good, live good, and be happy.
In April 2023, I started TheChiangMaiGuide.com with the sole purpose of writing about my life in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is also the month that celebrates Thai New Year – which some may interpret as the “beginning of a new era.”
❤ ยินดีต้อนรับสู่เชียงใหม่ (welcome to Chiang Mai)
THE CHIANG MAI GUIDE