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Retire to Chiang Rai compared to Chiang Mai ?


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Straight forward answer, Chiang Rai is a much smaller town (Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city) and consequently, Yes, Chiang Rai is cheaper than Chiang Mai.

How much cheaper depends on how you plan to live, will you buy or rent your home? how do you spend your time? your money?

The people at the Immigration office in Chiang Rai are an absolute pleasure to deal with, they always have a smile for everyone, I don't have any experience with the Immigration officials in Chiang Mai, but I have heard it's not so pleasant.

Obviously Chiang Mai Immigration Office is busier than the Chiang Rai one due to the size of the city but there is nothing to complain in particular, at least as far as I am concerned after 4 years of dealing with it....

After BK Immigration nightmare.....Chiang Mai was a dream.......after Chiang Mai I found Heaven...Chiang Rai Immigration. Last time on its new office I open the front door and I had to ask if was a day off...I was the ONLY ONE inside...and took exactly 3 minutes to do the 90 days report, even joking that I will stay longer to enjoy the AC and the confi seats.

One of my bad experiences with Chiang Mai was that after waiting 2 hours for my number be called, I saw a farang openly given 300THB to the young attendant to pass his documents to the officer...I faced the young Thai guy asking in loud voice if I need to give him money too...He pass my papers to the officer very fast without a word. I felt bad for the others waiting their turn...

But..was my last time with them..I was already in the move to Heaven...

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Here are a few of the things that I enjoy about Chiang Rai....I suppose you could find some of these in CM but there is something about the small town feel that makes CR more special in my eyes. I oft

I was living in Chiang Mai for 2 years and I am living now in Chiang Rai. I am not into bars and tourist environment, and I think that busy traffic and markets are OK just for a week end... or for a

Clearly those of us who live here, have made our declaration for Chiang Rai over Chiang Mai. Far more people have chosen Chiang Mai, however, and one could argue as to why that is, but I view that as

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Straight forward answer, Chiang Rai is a much smaller town (Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city) and consequently, Yes, Chiang Rai is cheaper than Chiang Mai.

How much cheaper depends on how you plan to live, will you buy or rent your home? how do you spend your time? your money?

The people at the Immigration office in Chiang Rai are an absolute pleasure to deal with, they always have a smile for everyone, I don't have any experience with the Immigration officials in Chiang Mai, but I have heard it's not so pleasant.

Obviously Chiang Mai Immigration Office is busier than the Chiang Rai one due to the size of the city but there is nothing to complain in particular, at least as far as I am concerned after 4 years of dealing with it....

After BK Immigration nightmare.....Chiang Mai was a dream.......after Chiang Mai I found Heaven...Chiang Rai Immigration. Last time on its new office I open the front door and I had to ask if was a day off...I was the ONLY ONE inside...and took exactly 3 minutes to do the 90 days report, even joking that I will stay longer to enjoy the AC and the confi seats.

One of my bad experiences with Chiang Mai was that after waiting 2 hours for my number be called, I saw a farang openly given 300THB to the young attendant to pass his documents to the officer...I faced the young Thai guy asking in loud voice if I need to give him money too...He pass my papers to the officer very fast without a word. I felt bad for the others waiting their turn...

But..was my last time with them..I was already in the move to Heaven...

I totally agree with your comment about Chiang Rai Immigration. In their new office there are only 3 staff but they are very helpful and friendly.

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Personally the question of where Chiangmai Mai or Rai can only be answered internally

Right where you are living now, what makes your week exciting and fulfilling ?

Chiangmai Rai for ...

Are you comfortable hanging out alone, watching movies alone , eating quiet meals and comfortable being among nature without panicking your device is running out of juice. Does having a few good friends and the company of your significant other sufficient and you enjoy quiet reads and going to perhaps a few fav places for hanging out, dinners etc

Chiangmai Mai for ....

Do you have an inherent need to Instagram , tweet or talk to everyone about what you do ? Feel your life is fulfilling when you are organizing something, the buzz of discovering a new restaurant , shop.

I have always felt comfortable in the north ...as time passes and I visit CM more often the traffic, the malls and the restaurants does give me some things to think about.

It's comfortable but I have always been comfortable alone with nature ..having a smaller group of friends so I am thinking it's more likely I am going to head off to Chiangrai and stay there longer and make it a permanent home

Sent from my iPod touch using Thaivisa Connect Thailand

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Thanks Rottweiler

Sorry to hear that though I may make the move of official address sometime.

My pal also told me there were only three people in immigration last time he went in CR.

Seems to me it wouldn't take long to get one's face known, and after that it seems to be plain sailing.

Sent from my iPad using ThaiVisa app

Edited by cheeryble
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One should keep in mind that CM and CR really aren't that far from each other. You can live in CR and take day trips to CM, like we are doing today. It is a lovely drive through the mountains.

Sent from my iPhone.

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We did the same. Just got back. Raining at the Wiang Pa Pao Summit - several accidents as usual at the shrine hill, one right in front of the shrine entrance.

Chiang Mai has many positives, but the less crowded, more-related lifestyle of Chiang Rai - especially the more rural areas of the Province, cannot be beat. Chiang Mai is getting very crowded, very "touristy", and the traffic is bizarre.

If you still want a rack of lamb (my craving of the day) and can't find it in CR, there;s always that short jaunt into Chiang Mai.

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On the drive over there was hardly a drop of rain but the ride back was a different story. You could hardly see the road for a kilometer or two and then the road would be dry for awhile before another blinding downpour.


Fortunately we didn’t witness any accidents, then again, I always keep a safe distance from the crazies. I seem to be one of the few people who actually like driving in Thailand and don’t get all worked up about what other people do.


It would be great if CM were a little closer but I love where we live, so an extra hour is no big deal. For us it is 3 hour drive, and with the driving we do around Chiang Mai, it ends up being a 500 km day.

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I went yesterday in chiang mai

alwayes be carefull

in raining season and not

in the sharp between

mae suei and mae lao

the classic incident involving pick up

always happen and so

try to put down a little your speed.

the speed is also the problem

the cars drive very very fast

and i have one problem

i don't like thai drive in front of me

and i don't like they are in my back

in one word

is a race.

is sad but cannot do different with motorcicle

is not beautiful make sandwich between them

only who drive know about

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Apart from housing i think that living expenses are very similar across Thailand. The big things you buy are all a standard price - electricity, gas (petrol), satellite TV, insurance, electrical goods, cars bikes. The only things that vary are beer and some food costs, but even there if you shop around there is very little difference. I can drink or eat in Pattaya for the same price as Chiang Mai, Udon, Korat etc.

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Although the OP does ask if accommodation and general way of life would be cheaper in Chiang Rai than Chiang Mai, the focus might better be put on lifestyle over cost. A few posters have made a good point about many standard costs being the same in different parts of the country.


Lifestyle if a very personal thing and we all have different needs and wants, so I find it hard to advise about that. I believe in making a budget and prioritizing based on what is most important to you. If one place doesn’t feel right after giving it reasonable go, then there is nothing wrong with trying the other.


The choice between CM or CR doesn’t have to be a permanent one and many people move from one to the other based on their own circumstances.

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On the drive over there was hardly a drop of rain but the ride back was a different story. You could hardly see the road for a kilometer or two and then the road would be dry for awhile before another blinding downpour.
Fortunately we didn’t witness any accidents, then again, I always keep a safe distance from the crazies. I seem to be one of the few people who actually like driving in Thailand and don’t get all worked up about what other people do.
It would be great if CM were a little closer but I love where we live, so an extra hour is no big deal. For us it is 3 hour drive, and with the driving we do around Chiang Mai, it ends up being a 500 km day.

I seem to be one of the few people who actually like driving in Thailand and don’t get all worked up about what other people do.

expect if they post on thai visa one of the few hahahahahahah there are hundreds of thousands of people who like driving here you are so full of it

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I've started going regularly between CM and CR.

For me personally I find driving a bit onerous and have preferred to go by bus....my bike goes underneath and we can often borrow a car. I like the opportunity to read undisturbed.

However have you noticed the speed the buses go?

I gotta say I feel unsafe, and sometimes when I'm driving the car what I consider to the limit of safety, one of the buses will overtake.

Fact is they do it in 3 hours and you've gotta really move to do that.

Sent from my iPad using ThaiVisa app

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