My first visit to Chiang Mai was in 1981 when I was posted to the U.S. embassy in Bangkok as the Security Attache. Chiang Mai was one of the constituent posts I covered in Southeast Asia. It was (and still is) a beautiful city set in the mountains of Northern Thailand. It was a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok! I have returned to Chiang Mai several times since then and find the experience enjoyable --- and affordable. The people, cuisine and amenities are all first-rate. Speaking of ratings, Chiang Mai typically ranks among the top retirement spots for expats.
On that first visit, I had dinner at a very local restaurant. This was before the ubiquitous McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger Kings made their way into the city. The eclectic menu featured grilled monkey brains, snake meat and similar culinary delights. I passed on these and had Pad Thai instead.
There's much more to Chiang Mai and I'd be happy to reply to your questions or thoughts. Just drop me a line.
Dick Avery is a Northern Illinois University grad with a BA in English. He got started in the investigative and security biz at a young age as a private investigator in Chicago and later moved up the career ladder and retired as the Director of Investigations for the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. His many foreign assignments around the globe provide much of the material for his books.