Thanks in no small part to the climate, Chiang Mai is a popular destination for fitness seekers. For a city, there’s a strong outdoor lifestyle vibe.
The mix of terrain, a population large enough to serve almost any activity, and there being a lot of low-cost ways to stay active also play their part.
But what does it cost to keep fit and active while you’re in Chiang Mai?
Walking, Running and Cycling
The core activities that almost anyone can partake in for virtually free almost anywhere, are also thriving in Chiang Mai. If you have a pair of decent running or walking shoes, you’ll never be bored of your surroundings as you walk or run around the city.
If we’re honest, the roads and pavements aren’t particularly safe, in that they are not kept in the best condition, and you are usually sharing them with vehicles. You can definitely find safer and prettier places to get your steps in than the middle of town, though.
Ang Kaew Lake at the university, Huay Tueng Thao Reservoir just north of the city, as well as the roads and trails around the mountains watching over Chiang Mai offer some peaceful, natural surroundings. And all for free (though there is a small entrance fee for Huay Tueng Thao).
The main university campus, as a whole, is a popular place to walk and run around, and there are designated sports grounds and running tracks there and around the city where you can safely pound the track.
Cycling is increasingly popular too. The mountain roads and long highway roads offer the best of both worlds for cyclists, and there is a thriving cycling community in the city.
Buying the right equipment (bicycles, running shoes, apparel, etc.) will be largely similar in price worldwide when shopping for the established brands. Decathlon has stores here to bridge the price gap, and there are plenty of Thai-owned stores for most sports.
If you are happy to compromise on quality or brand however, this is Thailand, and you’ll find a cheaper “similar” version of virtually anything!
There is a big gap in price from top to bottom when it comes to finding a gym in Chiang Mai.
Like most countries nowadays, there are gyms everywhere, and they are popular amongst Thais. This popularity means there are some very budget-friendly gyms in the city.
Local gyms – so no air con, older equipment, and limited facilities – will start at 50 baht a day. Monthly (from 700 baht) and up to annual memberships (from 5500 baht) are available at virtually all gyms. Expect to pay a little for local gyms nearer to the city or expat areas.
Whilst they are often basic, some of these gyms will also offer classes too.
For a little more comfort, there are more modern gyms, mostly in the malls around the city. If you are after air conditioning, more modern machines, and equipment, and in some cases saunas and steam rooms, then you’ll find yourself paying for it. Maxx Pro in Maya mall starts from 500 baht for a day pass, and 1750 baht for a month, and has amongst the most comprehensive facilities.
The popular nationwide gym chain Jett’s have a location at One Nimman, and it is open 24 hours. They have similar pricing as Maxx Pro.
Most condo buildings will have gym facilities too. They are usually limited in terms of equipment and space, compared to a full gym, but use of them will be included in your rent – or part of the building fees if you own a condo.
Most participation sports are represented in Chiang Mai. From golf or soccer to badminton to padel tennis, or disc golf, there will be a community or club that you can join.
Many of these might be run by, or even just for, the expat community, but a quick search on Facebook or Google and you will likely find an outlet to refine your skill – or to just expand your social circle. Many often find a activity or sport they’d never tried before.
Local clubs might charge as little as 25 baht to participate or to just use their facility, but a round on a decent golf course (including caddy, buggy and “sunbrella”, which are often mandatory) could set you back more than 4,000 baht.
Despite the heat of Chiang Mai, it’s an attractive destination for people wanting an active lifestyle. There is a thriving gym scene, and cycling, running and sports groups and clubs across the city.
You can always find ways to participate in something, and most priced with locals in mind. For a little more cache, you’ll equally find pricing that wouldn’t look out of place in Europe or the US. Whatever the budget, there is little excuse not to stay active, or find a new way to do so, once you land in Chiang Mai.
For more on the cost of living in Chiang Mai, we have a series of articles to help new or prospective residents and visitors be more prepared for life here. These are just some of the more popular ones:
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Maxx Fitness , Jetts Thailand , Gogym Fitness