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Chiang Mai

Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Upon arrival in Chiang Mai by bus or train, most waiting sǎwngthǎew and túk-túk (motorised pedicab) drivers will try to get you to a particular hotel or guesthouse so that they can collect a commission. Since the better guesthouses refuse to pay any commissions, this means if you follow the driver’s lead you may end up at a place with less appealing conditions or an out-of-the-way location. A handful of guesthouses now maintain their own free shuttle services from the train station. At any rate, if you call a guesthouse from the bus or train station, staff will be delighted to arrange a ride to avoid paying such exorbitant commissions.

Beware of bus or minivan services from Th Khao San in Bangkok, which often advertise a free night’s accommodation in Chiang Mai if you buy a Bangkok–Chiang Mai ticket. What usually happens on arrival is that the ‘free’ guesthouse demands you sign up for one of the hill treks immediately; if you don’t, the guesthouse is suddenly ‘full’. Sometimes they levy a charge for electricity or hot water. The better guesthouses don’t play this game.

Theft is also more of a risk on the Th Khao San buses than on legitimate buses that leave from Bangkok’s Moh Chit terminal.

Many less expensive guesthouses in Chiang Mai will evict guests who don’t engage trekking or tour services through the guesthouse, or who don’t eat meals regularly at the guesthouse. We’ve tried to avoid listing guesthouses where this practice is known to happen, but if in doubt, be sure to ask before checking in whether it’s OK to take a room only.

Take care in the unlit backstreets around the Night Bazaar. We have had a few reports of women being attacked and robbed.

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While you're there


Thailand has a very good reputation for its dental care, and it is cheaper than at home. Most offer cosmetic dentistry too. The following have been recommended.

Dental 4U (0 5387 4149; www.dental4uchiangmai.com; 382-384 Th Tha Phae)

Grace Dental Care (0 5389 4568; www.gracedentalclinic.com; 45 Soi 11 Th Nimmanhaemin)

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Medical services

At most hospitals in Chiang Mai, many of the doctors speak English.

Chiang Mai Ram Hospital (0 5322 4861; www.chiangmairam.com; 8 Th Bunreuangrit) The most modern hospital in town, with higher-than-average prices.

Lanna Hospital (0 5335 7234; www.lanna-hospital.com; Hwy 11/Th Superhighway) One of the better hospitals in town and less expensive than Chiang Mai Ram.

Malaria Centre (0 5322 1529; 18 Th Bunreuangrit) Offers free blood checks for malaria.

McCormick Hospital (0 5326 2200; www.thai.net/mccormick; 133 Th Kaew Nawarat) Former missionary hospital; good for minor treatment, and inexpensive.

Mungkala (0 5327 8494; www.mung kala.com; 21-27 Th Ratchamankha) Traditional Chinese clinic offering acupuncture, massage and herbal therapy.

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