Thailand’s splendid Chiang Mai is a semantic oxymoron: the new (Mai) city (Chiang) is actually quite old. Exactly 723 years old. Not cragged and wrinkled but laid-back, beautiful, loaded with history. And stories. Of the Buddha who sits in many a temple; of the valiant King Meng Rai, the city’s founder; of a monk so good looking that he turned himself fat and ugly so that others weren’t distracted; of the old city hemmed by 1.8 square kilometre moat; of the 300 temples within the old square; of elephants; the hill tribes…There many a reasons to visit Chiang Mai (700 kms from Bangkok). From the airport, take a shuttle (nearly 20 baht), call a Grab taxi (there is no Uber; roughly 200 baht) or take blue/yellow taxis. Within the city, use the red cab (30 baht from one point to another), tuk-tuk (it is not metered, so haggle) or blue public buses (very affordable but not available on all routes). For budget travel, there are hostels (dorms start as low as 150 baht a night). Several options are available online (check free Wi-Fi & free breakfast). If you choose roadside eateries, food courts within markets, 250 baht is good for a day (three meals, no alcohol). Legal drinking age is 18; carry a photo ID for entry into nightclubs. Currently, visa on arrival is free for Indians. For quick visa, pay premium fee of 200 baht/person. 1 baht = Rs 2.21. Here are a few must-dos.