A quick look at a map tells you most of what you need to know about Chiang Mai. The “Old City” is nestled in the heart of a mid-sized major city, surrounded by an actual moat and crumbling remains of a former wall.
And as you’d expect, it’s much sleepier and laid back once you get inside after a walk or furious tuk-tuk ride.
And hell, maybe you’ll even stumble upon the most un-Chiang Mai of things, an actual organized parade.
You don’t really “need” a plan for old Chiang Mai beyond wake up, find coffee, and explore.
Relief map of the old city.
Lots of art, modern and traditional, to be found almost everywhere.
And sure, there are vendors, but they’re much less pushy that what you’d find in Bangkok. You’d have to be pretty ignorant and/or drunk to get scammed here.
“Charming” is over-used to describe the Old City, but I’m sticking to it.