You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to flights, with dozens of 90-minute trips between the Thai capital and Chiang Mai’s international airport (+66 (0)53 2702 2233) each day, as well as direct journeys from Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. From here, it's a mere 15-minute cab ride to Puripunn.
One of the most memorable ways to travel to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is by train (www.railway.co.th). Book a two-berth sleeper cabin and ask your hotel to pack you a picnic for the 12-hour trip.
You can visit most of Chiang Mai’s sights on foot, but to explore further afield, rent a private car and driver for the day from Limousine Thailand (www.limousinethailand.com). Driving to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, though possible, is not advisable.
Worth getting out of bed for
Chiang Mai is a hub for the intrepid: zip across the jungle canopy with Flight of the Gibbon
(www.treetopasia.com); scale a few mountains or explore caves with Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures
(www.thailandclimbing.com) – they have equipment to hire. Raid local markets, then learn to turn your ingredients into tasty northern-style curries in a traditional Thai home, with Baan Thai Cookery School
(+66 (0)53 357 339; www.baanthaicookery.com). The Sunday Walking Street Market
runs the length of Ratchadamnoen Road from Tapae Gate in the Old Town and is the perfect place to people-watch among stalls selling crafts, bric-a-brac and Buddhist mementoes.
Above the quiet, torch-lit banks of the Ping River, with outdoor tables arranged around a traditional sala, Baan Suan (+66 (0)53 854 169), at 25 Moo 3 San-Phi-Sua, is a magical dining destination – matched only by its moreish menu of northern Thai delicacies, such as sweet pork curry with sticky rice balls. Another riverside restaurant is the Gallery (+66 (0)53 248 601), at 25–29 CharoenRat Road. Its tree-shaded terrace is ideal for a sunset cocktail, or try the laab plan (minced fish with spices and herbs) – a regional favourite.
Not far from Puripunn at 291 Thapae Road, Art Café (+66 (0)53 206 365) is more of a diner than a café. Go for the fantastic breakfasts, or the only decent Mexican food in town, as well as its tempting choice of local dishes. Supermodels and Hollywood stars are often spotted at casual eatery Mango Tree Café (+66 (0)53 208 292), hidden in the heart of the city’s expat enclave at 8/2 Loi-Kroh Road. The pad thai and coffee are especially good.
Laid-back drinking hole the Writers’ Club & Wine Bar (+66 (0)53 814 187), at 141/3 Rachadamnoen Road, initially opened as a meeting place for journalists and writers – and the scribes in town still congregate here on Friday nights.