Retirement Life in Chiang Mai Activities | Events | Community

Many expats have made Chiang Mai their home, making it a melting pot of people with interests in a variety of activities and sports. Moving to a new city can be the perfect catalyst to pick up new skills or meet new people while continuing to enjoy your favorite hobbies. The expat community is truly a mix of nationalities, cultures, and ages, with an interest in meeting new people and trying new things. With over 40,000 expats, Chiang Mai is full of people looking for fun things to do. Most people bond over common interests and passions rather than age, nationality, or job history. You will learn of other culture's traditions and views, and have the opportunity to share what you love doing.

chiang mai explore nature stream

Explore the city's natural beauty

Chiang Mai’s tropical landscape provides countless natural wonders within 15 minutes of the city center. The magnificent waterfalls, breath-taking mountain views, and lush neighborhoods provide an abundance of scenery and places to explore. The natural environment will keep you active and connected with nature. There is always somewhere new to discover.

In the heart of the city is a perfect combination of development and tropical paradise. close to bustling Nimmanheiman area is Huay Kaew waterfall. Two minutes away from Maya mall, it is easily accessible by motorbike, bus, or songthaew. The waterfall is located next to the parking lot, so a strenuous hike is not required to experience the peace of the flowing water and shaded sitting areas.

Chiang Mai is nestled against Doi Suthep, a majestic mountain that overlooks the city with iconic temple at the peak. Hidden hikes and waterfalls are located along the road or tucked away on dirt paths. For those that appreciate outdoor fitness, you can cycle or hike up the mountain and surrounding areas, savoring the panoramic views and sounds of nature along the way. 

Outside of the city heading any direction, you will find yourself even more immersed in the natural landscape. The booming tourism industry mixed with the country’s natural beauty provide excellent options for weekend trips away - luxurious resorts, bamboo bungalows, and even homestays on rural farms can be appreciated only one hour away. Go for a scenic motorbike ride or trek through the traverse jungle. Take a Thai cooking class on an organic farm or learn about local herbs at a tea plantation. Enjoy the relaxing years of your retirement and relish in the simple beauty of Chiang Mai.

Markets in Chiang Mai

Fresh produce at a local market

Chiang Mai hosts a diverse amount of markets around the city that can be enjoyed daily, weekly, or yearly around special holidays. Rather than heading to an air-conditioned grocery store, produce and local foods are purchased from the neighborhood open-air market. Local markets are full of color and scents, lined with piles of fresh mango and tubs of fresh fish. Every time we head to the neighborhood market we are filled with joy as we are exchange smiles with the joyful locals and snack on a banana-sticky rice snack wrapped up in a natural leaf.

Warorot market, the largest and most well-known market in Northern Thailand, is open every day and is alive with food carts and souvenir shops. Many markets rotate throughout the city depending on the weekday. One of our favorites, the Sunday Walking Street market (pictured above), is conveniently located in the center of the city and complete with local handicrafts and cheap cuisine. You can cycle to purchase organic produce at Chiang Mai University on Wednesdays or head to a quaint forest neighborhood for baked goods and local treats on a Saturday. 

Local Events in Chiang Mai

Thai people are humble and proud, and love to share their culture with each other and interested Western expats and travelers. Thais love festivals and often showcase cultural traditions and local talent. Thailand has many holidays and hosts some of the most iconic festivals to celebrate them. Lucky for us, our home of Chiang Mai is known to be the best city in Thailand to experience the festivities and join in the fun. Learn about Loy Krathong (lantern festival), Songkran (water celebration), and other Thai holidays and cultural traditions here.

There is never a shortage of local events, and you will often find yourself choosing between five different events on the same day. The city is known as the artistic hub of Thailand, showcasing galleries, art shows, and local handicraft markets. Enjoy a Symphony Orchestra showcasing students in the College of Music, or learn about Thai wedding ceremonies at the Bridal Expo. The traditions practiced in weddings and stunning young Thais adorned in cultural Lanna dress are sure to bring a smile to your face and warm your heart. 


Expat Community Events & Gatherings

Chiang Mai welcomes expats from around the world, creating a magnificent melting pot of people with different viewpoints, religions, interests, and cultures. You can expect a plethora of international holidays and festivities hosted by expat communities and restaurants. In the same weekend you can enjoy an Indian buffet and Bollywood dance performance to celebrate India's Independence Day, then head to a Swiss National Day celebration for a Swiss-Thai dinner and the opportunity to win a weekend getaway through the Charity Raffle.


One reason why people stay in Chiang Mai is the amazing community of expats. It is easy to make friends and find groups of people that share your interests. If you are a social butterfly, your week will be filled with numerous community groups and meet ups. Join a theater group, share your creative writing, perform at an open-mic, or find support in Over-Eaters Anonymous. Chiang Mai has something for everyone.


Sports and Games

You can keep your body active and have some fun with friends with some light-hearted competition, whether it be a round of golf or a weekly game of Bridge. With over 40,000 retired expats, it is easy to integrate with the built-in community and have some fun.

Thailand is known for the substantial number of world-class golf courses, and Chiang Mai alone has 8 courses within 30 minutes of the city center. The green fee for a round of golf (9 holes) surrounded by lush greenery is an unbeatable 200 baht ($6)!

Many groups meet weekly for various sports, and there is no shortage of classes, such as yoga, zumba, and salsa. Hailey and Ae enjoy weekly aquatic zumba and body combat classes for a good workout and some energetic social time with their workout group of Thais that live in the neighborhood. 

When you relocate with us, you will stay up to date with a weekly newsletter featuring the city’s community gatherings and events.

Yoga, Wellness, and Spirituality

Chiang Mai is known as a holistic and wellness hub, with community groups meeting regularly for meditation and mindfulness events. Buddhism, the prominent religion of Thailand, is ingrained in Thai culture. The innate spirituality can be felt in daily life, with gold Buddha statues and temples bringing peace to the city on every corner. Values of understanding and acceptance drive the kindness that is apparent in every Thai’s contagious smile, attracting Westerners interest in their mindset and way of life.

Traditional Thai Massage is arguably the best in the world (and can be enjoyed regularly for only $5!) and there are many herbal remedies concocted by locals that have been passed on for generations. Many travelers passing through seek activities based around this kind of lifestyle, adding positivity and joy to the atmosphere (unlike the partying backpackers at the beaches in the south). It is common to see groups practicing yoga and qi-gong in the park, or a group of cyclists ride through the small forest covered sois. The constant flow of people with the mix of inherent wellness in Thai culture makes the city pop with events to quiet the mind and connect with the body.

Volunteer Opportunities

One of the best parts of living in a city with a high exchange rate is the ability to give. Chiang Mai neighbors undeveloped countries with disadvantaged people, providing excellent opportunities for expats to share their wealth and knowledge. You will learn of the obstacles of minorities and the struggles of refugees. You will have the chance to take part in programs and initiatives that directly impact the communities of the people you interact with every day. 


Sunday market