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Chiang Mai Citylife > Articles > When the well of tourism dries up

When the well of tourism dries up

In the months following the global outbreak of COVID-19, the number of tourists in Chiang Mai has drastically declined. With increased travel bans and growing fear surrounding COVID-19, popular attractions in Chiang Mai are left empty. Chinese tourism has consistently made up a significant number of travellers in North Thailand, and with nearly all flights cancelled between China and Thailand, the city is empty leaving venders, tour guides, and transportation services without customers. This decline is exacerbated by the peak season for air pollution in Chiang Mai that prompts people to stay inside and off the streets due to poor air quality.

In this collection of photos, the normally bustling city of Chiang Mia is seen in its current state: a silent city.

Empty streets of Chiang Mai, in front of the normally bustling Wat Chedi Luang


A street performer dances without an audience around 8pm on the normally busy Sunday Walking Street.


A vendor waits for customers on the Sunday Walking Street around 8pm


“All the tourists have disappeared,” said Pi Tam, who says business has ground to a halt at Wat Phra Singh


Three Kings standing all lonesome at 8pm on a Sunday


Even Nimmanhaemin Road has gone quiet…on a Saturday night


Tha Pae Gate on a Sunday night


Entrance to Wat Phra Sing on a Monday morning. There are normally quite healthy queues


So much food and no one to feed at Tha Pae Gate.


“I have expenses and need to make a living, so I am here trying my best,” said this vendor near the Three Kings Monument.


“I normally sell out by 4pm-5pm but now have to keep working until 10pm-11pm to sell my daily quota,” said Keaw, 36, ice-cream vendor.


A lone street vendor sits in the normally bustling Pavilion square in the heart of the Night Bazaar.


Eerie silence in the Night Bazaar.


“I normally just drive in the day time, but now have to drive at night too,” said Noi, 59, a tuk tuk driver who blames the government for his current financial woes.


“My rental fees are the same,” Nun, 48, seller Chinese tourists have disappeared almost 80% since the outbreak. The rental fees are the same but income is reduction.


Quiet city streets.


Street performance with no audience at Tha Pae Gate on a Saturday night.


A few people to appreciate the street performance.


Saturday night light traffic on Moon Muang road.


The normally bustling Zoe in Yellow after 9pm on a weekday night.


T-shirt vendors on Night Bazaar street without customers, Saturday.


Tuk tuk driver waiting for passengers on an empty Nimmanhaemin road.


Stalls stocked and no one to sell to at Wat Phra Singh.


Phra Pok Klao street left empty not long after the lunch hour which is normally filled with parked cars.