The CAMP AIS Workspace / Cafe

If you are looking for a cool place to get some work done in Chiang Mai, then CAMP AIS has to be at the top of your list.

This large cafe can be found on the top floor of Maya Shopping Center, near Nimmanheimen Road, and is open 24 hours a day.

It is usually packed out with expats, digital nomads and students from the local universities, and has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere that is ideal if you have to complete some projects, for example.

It is also ideal if you just want somewhere to chill out for a few hours because there are large wooden steps at the end with cushions available so that you can lie down and relax.

CAMP stands for Creative and Meeting Place, and AIS is the Thai internet company that provides the internet service (and are the people that created this project as far as I understand).

You can buy a variety of drinks from the cafe to fuel your work sessions, and there is also a varied food menu for you to choose from, which includes a mixture of Thai and western food.

To use the AIS internet for two hours, you just need to buy something that costs at least 50 baht, but if you have AIS wifi on your phone, which I can highly recommend, you can access the internet for as long as you like, completely free of charge.

Then you can do what I do, and just order a bottle of water for 20 baht, and maybe the occasional snack if you get hungry.

Another good reason to go to CAMP if you work online is that it is a good opportunity to get to know other bloggers and digital nomads. The Thai student population far outnumber the farangs (as the locals call us), and so if you happen to be sat next to a fellow farang, it is easy to strike up a conversation with them.

This is a very large workspace that can accommodate lots of people, but it is still not large enough because there are often times when it is really hard to get a table.

Many people will leave their things at their desk, and then wander off to do some shopping or get something to eat, so that no-one can take their table when they are away, which is really annoying.

Another slight problem is that they have a tendency to set the air conditioning really low, so it can sometimes get really cold in there if you are just wearing a t-shirt and shorts, for example.

Overall, though, CAMP AIS is definitely one of the coolest places to work online in Chiang Mai, particularly if you happen to live nearby in the hip and trendy Nimman area.

Fitness Options In Nimman And Chiang Mai

I am currently living in Nimman (short for Nimmanhaemin), which is a trendy area of Chiang Mai that is full of students and affluent young Thais, but today I want to discuss some of the fitness options that are available in both this area and the rest of Chiang Mai.

Gyms

The most obvious way to fulfil all of your fitness requirements is to join one of the local gyms that are available. In Nimman you have Powerhouse Fitness Gym Center, for example, which is probably the best equipped and most professional gym. However it’s also the most expensive.

You have also have gyms in hotels such as Lotus Hotel and Kantary Hills Hotel, which are more reasonably priced, and I think that there are also gyms in some of the shopping centres, such as the Airport Plaza and Kad Suon Kaew Shopping Centre. So there are no shortage of options.

Home Gym Equipment

Exercise Spin-Bike Aerobic Fitness Training Spin CycleIf you are living in Thailand permanently on a retirement visa, for example, and have your own house or apartment, you also have the option of buying your own home fitness equipment.

You will find a range of different exercise machines at many of the large shopping centres in Chiang Mai, and they are generally cheaper than in western countries.

If you’re not sure which ones to buy, your best bet is to learn about some of the top spin bikes, or whatever fitness machine you wish to buy, and then see if you can find the same model in one of these stores.

Cycling

Cycling is not necessarily the safest activity you can do in Chiang Mai because of all the traffic, but it’s very cheap to rent a bike in this city, and if you venture out of the city in either direction, you will find that the roads are a lot quieter.

Plus of course the hills and mountains surrounding Chiang Mai will give you a challenging and demanding test, whilst rewarding you with spectacular views.

Walking

A less rigorous activity is of course walking. As you probably know, it is really easy to walk wherever you want to go if you live in the Old City, and because it is so hot, just a 15-30 minute walk will help burn off a fair amount of calories and keep you in shape.

Hiking And Trekking

If you are an outdoors person, one final option is to take up hiking or trekking because there are lots of opportunities to do these activities outside of Chiang Mai.

These will be very demanding, particularly during the hottest part of the day, but they will definitely help to keep you in good shape.

The 5 Best Ways To Get Around Chiang Mai

Red Songthaew In Chiang MaiI have been living in Chiang Mai for a while now, and have also been on holiday here before, so I am obviously aware of some of the transport options that are available in this city.

The first thing to say is that there is no public transport system as such. For example, there is no metro or bus service that everyone uses. Instead you will find a number of different transport options for you to choose from.

So here are some of the best ways to get around Chiang Mai:

1. Walk

One of the major benefits of living in and around the Old City is that you can walk pretty much anywhere on foot. The center of the city is surrounded by a square moat and it doesn’t take very long at all to walk from one side to the other.

Plus if you are near Thapae Gate, for example, which is where many tourists gather, you are just a short walk away from the Night Market and the trendy riverside area.

2. Motorbike / Car

If you are too lazy to walk, or if you are living outside of the Old City, then your best option is to use your own transport.

A car is always very useful, and obviously a lot safer than riding a motorbike, but the traffic can be horrendous at certain times, and it can be really difficult to find somewhere to park a car in some areas of the city.

So renting a motorbike is a really good option because you can zip around the roads a lot quicker, and you will find that it is a lot quicker to find somewhere to park.

3. Songthaew

A songthaew (pictured above) is essentially a converted pick-up truck that has two benches in the back to hold passengers. These are very common in Chiang Mai and are one of the cheapest ways to get around.

All you do is hail them over and tell them where you want to go. If it is a common route, then the price will be very cheap, but if he needs to take a detour or go somewhere a little further afield, then the price will obviously be more. It is also more expensive if it is just you or one other person, and there is no-one else in the back, but the price will still be pretty reasonable.

4. Tuk Tuk

Tuk-tuk drivers are notorious for ripping off tourists, but if you haggle with them and know the price you should be paying, it is still a quick and easy way to get around the city.

If you can speak Thai and act as if you live here, you should get a reasonable price, ie 100-120 baht for most journeys around Chiang Mai, although it can get more expensive at certain times of the day.

5. Taxi

The final option is to get a taxi. I have to admit that I don’t use taxis very often, but they are useful if you want to get to the airport, for example, because they will have a lot more space for all your luggage and will offer a more comfortable ride than other modes of transport.

They can also be hired out for the day, which is useful if you are visiting Doi Suthep, for example, or are planning a day trip somewhere else because you will travel in comfort and won’t have to put up with traffic fumes, like you would if you were to hire a songthaew.

So these are some of the top ways to get around Chiang Mai if you are new to the city, or are just passing through.

3 Things I Have Missed About Thailand

As I have already mentioned, I am now living in Chaing Mai in the north of Thailand, which is second in size only to Bangkok.

There are many great things that I love about Thailand, such as the girls, the cost of living and the weather, for example. However it is the little things that I have missed since I was last here, which are as follows:

Electricity Sparks

One thing that I completely forgotten out was the electric sockets in Thailand. In western countries you take it for granted that nothing will happen when you plug something into a socket, but in Thailand you nearly always get some small sparks, which is always a bit of an adrenalin rush.

This can be pretty scary at first, but it’s completely normal in Thailand, and someone actually told me that this is a good sign because it means that the electricity is working normally.

The Smell

Another thing that instantly strikes you as you leave your room and head outside is the smell because this is very different to any other country that you may have visited.

Of course this smell is heavily influenced by the abundance of food that is available everywhere you go because there are restaurants and food carts wherever you look.

It’s also worth noting that this smell isn’t always that pleasant in some places, but it’s still one more thing I love about Thailand.

Friendliness Of Locals

The third and final thing I love about Thailand is that fact that everyone is so friendly towards you. Whenever you go into a bar, a shop or a restaurant, a member of staff will always greet you with a sawadee ka, but it will also be the same when you pass someone in the street, for example.

Even though many of the locals might not have a lot of money, they seem happy with their lot and are always friendly towards us foreigners. Of course there may well be some hostility at times, and there will always be people looking to rip you off (yes I’m talking about you tuk-tuk and taxi drivers), but by and large they really welcome you into their country.

So as I say, these are a few of the things that I have missed about Thailand since I was last here.

A 20-Something Man In Chiang Mai

I have been thinking about starting a personal blog for quite some time now, so when I discovered that the domain name jamesvaughn.org was available, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

Just to give you a little bit of background information about myself, I’m 29 years old (very nearly the big 30, which I’m absolutely dreading), and have lived in Australia and Canada in the past.

However I’m now living just on the outskirts of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, which I can currently recommend if you have never been there before.

For not very much money you can rent a good sized condo with a gym and a swimming pool, or you can rent a decent sized house if you need a little more space.

The city is steeped in history, with stunning temples everywhere you look, and it has some of the best night markets in the world.

Plus it is also surrounded by beautiful mountains, so if you rent a motorbike and head up in to the hills, you will be treated to some breathtaking scenery.

As I mentioned earlier, prices are cheap here, so this is a great destination to visit if you are on a budget. The most expensive part is the actual flight over because it’s obviously a long haul flight if you live in Europe or America, for example.

So anyway back to myself, I have created this blog as an outlet for my adventures, and to basically show my family back home that I am alive and well.

I shall be writing down some of my thoughts and experiences regarding life here in Chiang Mai, which will hopefully show what life’s really like here in this city when you’re living here as opposed to holidaying here.

I’m certainly not the only one doing this because the coffee shops and cafes are full of expats and travelers working on their laptops, but I shall do my best to make this one as interesting as possible.