When I first arrived in Chiang Mai, I had no idea where to start in terms of becoming a healthier person (and a well-coiffed one, too). It isn’t difficult to find places which cater to expats or western travelers in Chiang Mai, thanks to its ridiculously huge digital nomad scene, and its unending supply of english teachers.
But, the key is to find the places other expats/travelers recommend.
It took me years of living in Chiang Mai to discover all the city had to offer in terms of health and beauty.
If you’re planning a trip to Chiang Mai, or living/looking to live as an expat, here’s your Chiang Mai Health and Beauty Guide.
//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsHands down, the best hair stylist in the city for hair (doesn’t matter what type of hair you’ve got) is Vera at New York – New York Hair Salon. This Aveda salon in Nimmanhaemin offers all the gorgeous hair services a person needs, from the generic cut/color to ombre to color dips to digital perms. I love this salon, not only because how super model my hair would come out, but because of the level of pampering you get while in the chair. I’m talking four people highlighting, an incredible (and long) head massage, how towel wrap, hand massage and then a blow-dry with another few people. It’s decadent. And, for the price (around $20 for a cut, more western prices for the color), it’s worth it.
There are more and more gyms popping up in Chiang Mai. In Nimmanhaemin, there is the popular Power House. Near the Night Bazaar is Duangtawan Hotel, which has a smaller gym, but also gives you access to its pool with spectacular views of the city, plus a hot tub and steam room.
Then, there is my gym, Fitness Thailand. It is a little more gritty, housed in an ugly building just across from the Old City. Located on the 8th floor, it’s got floor-to-ceiling windows which deliver some serious views of Doi Suthep and the city below.
While some of the equipment is a bit outdated, and some of the equipment is in need of repair, for 1500 baht a month (cheaper if you purchase bulk months), it’s got what you need to work out. Plus, it offers heaps of classes included in the cost of membership. The instructors are Thai but they do switch up to English. Fitness Thailand is a nice mix of locals, expats and random travelers who purchased a 200 baht day pass to get some fitness on without overheating outside.
It seems that there are yoga studios everywhere in Chiang Mai. And, there are.
My favorite is Yoga Tree, located on the south side of the moat. Set back from the main street, this is a little sanctuary with wooden floors, walls of windows and helpful instructors who speak English. You can pay-as-you-go or purchase a 10-pass for 500 baht.
In the past few years, Chiang Mai’s shopping malls selection has grown rapidly. When I arrived, there were two — Airport Plaza a little outside of the main city, and Kad Suan Kaew, just northwest of the moat, en route to Nimmanhaemin. Then, it was like every developer decided to open up shopping centers and now there are five. For upscale shopping, head to Maya in Nimmanhaemin.
For general western store shopping, my favorite is Central Festival. I could spend hours in this mall, largely because it’s got the only H&M in town. It’s also got Zara, Mango, Uniqlo and others. It isn’t in town, but there are shuttles which take you there, or you can hire a songthaew for around 100 baht or a tuk tuk for a bit more. When leaving Central Festival, there are both options available to transport you home. The songthaews offer a fixed price if you are willing to wait until they fill up to take you home.
Major cosmetic stores exist in Chiang Mai, whether you’re looking for MAC or Bobby Brown or other lines. Head into Central department store to be overwhelmed by the options, or hit up The Body Shop or others at Airport Plaza.
If you’re into organic, natural products, there is a great shop, Good Health Market, southeast of Pantip Plaza. Here you can buy all the supplements, organic teas, health foods and more.
Wat Phan Tao, located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City (and next to Wat Chedi Luang) is a magnificent and old teak temple. Unlike newer temples, here you can just feel the energy.
A photo posted by Diana Edelman (@dtravelsround) on
Because of the laid-back scene in Chiang Mai, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your mind. Facebook groups will post mandala events, meditation events and more. Plus, many of the yoga studios offer meditation and retreats.
If you really want to get into meditation, temples around the city also offer donation-based meditation courses for three, seven, 10 or 28 days.
There are also a couple of book stores which have english-language books. My favorite is Suriwong Book Center, located on the same street as Good Health Market.
Massage shops are easy to find in Chiang Mai, but not all are created equal. My favorite is Green Bamboo, located on Moon Muang Soi 1. This spot is all organic and the team is amazing. If you want to experience the treatments here, make an appointment, especially in high season.
For instant gratification, head to Lila Massage. With numerous locations throughout the city, this spot consistently delivers.
What kind of massage is right for you? The traditional Thai massage is a lot of stretching, elbows and deep tissue work. I personally prefer the head, neck, back and shoulder massage. There is also the oil massage, but be prepared ladies, it isn’t like the western massages you are used to.
For foot massages (and they are incredible) head to Loi Kroh and one of the spots which has seating on the “sidewalk.” An hour is cheap and the ladies there are strong.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to stay — either long or short term — check out Smith Residence.
For books on Thailand, check out my favorites:
Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide)
Moon Living Abroad in Thailand
Please note some of the links in the post are affiliate partnerships. If you purchase/book anything with these links, I make a small percentage from it. Your purchases help me live in Spain as a writer. Thank you for your support.
24 thoughts on “Chiang Mai health and beauty guide”
Wow you just sold me on Chiang Mai, it has everything I could ever want living there.
And, it is CHEAP!!!
You couldn’t have timed your post any better – I’m just trying to research all of this stuff now for my stay in Chiang Mai. Thanks for putting it all in one place and saving me some time! Will look forward to checking some of these places out.
Excellent! I am glad it could help! I know I searched for a lot of these things and it was difficult to nail down what was actually good versus mediocre versus not good. Let me know how your trip goes!
Wow, it has been SO long since I was there. It looks as though it’s changed so much.
It has changed a lot. Even in the time I was there, it was constantly changing. Very different today than it was in 2012 when I first moved!
You really have to stop writing about Thailand Diana! We’re so tempted to book flights back again! 😉
We fondly look back on all of the massages we had in CM and how inexpensive they were!
Pretty sure we recognize the massage lady in your photo too!
CM definitely has a good balance of mind and body to keep you healthy during your travels ❤
I am tempted to book a flight immediately! I need a good (and cheap) massage!!!
I 2nd NYNY I go to Milk and have never been let down!
Such a good salon!!
I’ve read a lot of Alex’s posts about fitness in Thailand and was always surprised by how many options there are! Is that close-minded of me? I guess I just don’t think of many Asian countries as being as fanatical about having a bevy of fitness options available as we are in big city America.
You should see what they have in BKK!!
If only I had discovered this place sooner!! I ended up visiting Green Bamboo 4 times during my stay.. Twice in one day! The staff are wonderful at what they do! The room was air conditioned and guests are offered a glass of cool water before the massage and a herbal tea at the end.
The treatments are very well priced for the quality massage you receive. I visited massage places double the price, however the massage was never as good as at Green Bamboo.
I’ll definitely come here on my next visit to Chiang Mai!! 🙂
Green Bamboo ROCKS. I used to get so upset when I wanted to go spur-of-the-moment and they didn’t have appointments available! I love that their products are all organic and their staff are wonderful.
Are there any of the temples that offer meditation retreats that you would recommend? My boyfriend and I are a little bit overwhelmed with info on the Internet at the moment!!
Yes. The most popular one is Doi Suthep.
I agree completely with Green Bamboo! Best value for the baht.
They are SO good!!
you’ve gotta love those foot massages on Loi Kroh!
Can you recommend any beauty salons for lashes etc?Do you mind emailing me?
Hi, I don’t know about any lash spots, sorry.
I am leaving for Chiang Mai on Thursday for at least 3 months and cannot wait! I came across your post as I am trying to figure out what to do about my hair dryer situation. Yes, I know we can just let it air dry, but I really would prefer to dry it every once and a while since it’s curly.
Anyway, did you find a place to buy a GOOD dryer out there? The one I have in the states dries my hair in 8 minutes, would prefer it not to take 30 min to dry it with a cheaper dryer… 🙂
Any help you can provide would be great!!
PS We are also trying the vegan life… lots in common!