I just came back from a roadtrip from Phuket to Chiang Mai and the whole experience was much more than I had expected. The drive up north took roughly 22 hours with a quick stopover in Bangkok for a few hours of sleep and some caffeine. I had never been so far up north in Thailand before and I was really excited to see what it would be like. My knowledge of Chiang Mai prior to the trip was nothing to brag about, I knew they had good trekking possibilities and some hilltribes…
Chiang Mai went directly into my top 3 destinations in Thailand without a doubt.
We had a couple of busy days going around the city interspersed with some studies and in-between exercise. To help our sightseeing we had friends who patiently guided us around the local scene, they showed us their favorite hangouts and go-to´s. There were many things that I enjoyed in CM but especially the food (my first taste of Khao Soi*), the coffee, the relaxed people, the artistic feeling that was all over the place, the general vibe, the architecture and lastly to be able to enjoy the cool mountain air in the morning and evenings.
I highly recommend a visit if you haven´t been there before, it is definitely a different experience from southern Thailand and the big bustling cities.
* = a soup-like dish made with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles and boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chillies fried in oil, and meat in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk.
(Source Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khao_soi)