Chiang Mai is a historic city located along the Ping River, nestled within some of Thailand's tallest mountains, which are dotted with Buddhist temples. The city hosts several festivals, including Loi Krathong, where residents launch decorative lanterns whose heat sends them skyward, and the Flower Festival, which takes place when the city's tropical flowers are in full bloom.
Chiang Mai bustles with unique cafes and markets but quiets down once you step outside the city center. It's an extremely affordable place to live, with monthly expenses clocking in at under $1,000 a month. Large homes in gated communities in this city cost a fraction of their American counterparts. Many retirees live here; you can see an English-speaking doctor in Chiang Mai for as little as $20. The Chiang Mai Expats Club, with 650 members, is one of the best ways to become acquainted with the city and tap the knowledge of retirees already living in the area.