So you’ve decided to move to Chiang Mai and want to meet some expats? Easy, just walk down any street in the old town and talk to the first white person you bump into. Seriously! This town is heaving with expats and you just have to walk into any establishment that serves Western food to meet and chat with your fellow countrymen. However, it’s not like Phuket where the amount of tourists actually detracts from the place itself. Chiang Mai still maintains it’s character despite the number of tourists. Remarkably it’s still a very chilled out place where you can relax and escape from the manic pace set by other tourist hot spots. We love it and I’m sure you will too.
First a little bit of education. Expat comes from the latin words ‘ex’ meaning ‘out of’, and ‘patria’ meaning ‘country’ or ‘fatherland’. So technically speaking, for me as an Australia, expats are only those who come from Australia and are living in a foreign land. But I and most of my countrymen also refer to our friends from the UK and New Zealand as being expats too. At a stretch some of us may consider Americans and Canadians ex-pats as well.
The reality is, even when travelling nomadically and immersing yourself in the local community as much as possible, sometimes it’s just nice to talk to someone from home. Or someone who talks fluent English. Or someone who speaks just a little bit of English! Whenever we meet someone who speaks English we almost always strike up a conversation. It’s nice to find out where people are from, what they’re up to here and what their plans are for the future. Sometimes we swap contact info, sometimes we don’t. But it’s just comforting to chat to someone from home occasionally.
So without any further ado, here’s six places (eight really as I’ve rolled three pubs into one option below) you can meet expats in Chiang Mai (if you want to):
Buak Hat Public Park (Cnr Arak and Bumrung Buri Roads – SW corner of the Old Town)
If you’ve got kids this is a great place to go and meet expats in Chiang Mai. It’s a centrally located park with playground equipment, a lovely lake, cafe and a path around the periphery that many people use as a running track. Just take your kid there and play on the swings, or buy some feed for the fish and start chatting!
Bake and Bite (Kaew Nawarat Soi 3/2)
I know I’ve already said just go into any place that serves Western food and you’ll meet expats, but this place is a particular favourite. You have to search a little as it’s off the beaten track, about 1km north-east of the old town, but it’s worth the trip. It’s particularly famous for it’s big breakfasts, bagels, and delicious desserts. As with all Western food you pay a little more than Thai food, but you won’t leave hungry or disappointed.
There are three pubs in particular where you can find expats galore
- O’Malleys Irish Pub (Anusarn Market, Chang Klan Road)
- UN Irish Pub (24-24/1 Ratwithi Road)
- Downunder Pub (186/1 Loi Kroh Road)
At each of these venues you’ll get a good feed from home, watch all of the international sport you want, and meet plenty of people from the Western world. You can also find noticeboards with plenty of worthwhile expat community information that might help to make you feel a little more at home here. If you fancy spending thousands of dollars flying around the world to go to an Irish or Aussie pub, then these are the places for you!
Chiang Mai Expats Club – The name says it all right!
They meet on the fourth Saturday of every month, currently at Le Meridien Hotel (108 Chang Klan Road, in the Night Bazaar area of town), but check their website www.chiangmaiexpatsclub.com to confirm the location if you’re thinking of attending. Here you can meet some expats living in Chiang Mai who will help with understanding the laws, language and lifestyle of local Thais. They will also liaise with local immigration and law enforcement officials, medical and insurance providers, business and property services, among others to help with any needs you may have.
Fancy donning the whites and joining a cricket club while you’re in town?
Head along to the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club (cnr Ratuthi Road and Old Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road) and sign up with the Lanna Cricket Club. The team takes part in the Chiang Mai Senior League as well as a few friendlies against touring teams from Hong Kong, Singapore and other areas in Thailand. Net sessions are held every Monday and Wednesday at 4.00pm and everyone is invited to come along regardless of age or ability. Head to www.lannacricket.org for more information. The Gymkhana Club also has a nine-hole golf course, tennis and squash courts in a beautiful setting by the Ping River (Mae Ping).
If cricket isn’t your go, how about rugby?
The Chiang Mai Tigers Rugby Club was formed in 2005 and plays against touring teams, as well as competitions around Thailand and other South-East Asian countries. There’s a mix of Thai and foreign players originating from a plethora of nations, and they’ve hosted visiting teams from Russia, Australia, the Philippines, Laos, and Singapore. They’ve also been invited to competitions in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Pattaya, Phuket and Bangkok. Check out their website at www.chiangmaitigers.com for more information.
So there you have it, if you play cricket or rugby, like to eat or drink, enjoy a trip to the park with the kids or fancy joining an expat club, we’ve got you covered here.
If you know of any other places expats congregate in Chiang Mai, please leave details in the comments below.