The city of Chiang Mai, located in the north, is one of the top destinations in the country and is home to an estimated 40,000 (rated behind Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket) ex-pats from many countries around the globe. It offers an amazing variety of restaurants, shopping, live music, activities, events, nature, and more. Surrounded by mountains, and containing the “old city” cordoned off by the moat, Chiang Mai is charming, has a lower cost of living than the aforementioned cities, and has many universities to support its economy; Chiang Mai University, Far Eastern University, Payup University, Maejo University, Ratchapat University, just to name a few. Tourism runs rampant in the city and English is spoken (while sometimes broken) with ease for those who don’t speak Thai. Whether you have an interest in learning how to cook Thai food, learning Thai massage or Thai language, visiting an Elephant camp, going river rafting or trekking, visiting a hill tribe, mountain biking, doing a zip-line course, or many other activities, it’s all here. Aside from the activities, there is shopping galore, ranging from the numerous open-air day and night shopping markets to the famous Saturday and Sunday night walking streets where food, arts, crafts, clothing, etc. can be purchased at cheap prices.