Re: Chiang Mai as Thailand’s heaven for backpackers (PM Saturday, 15 March 2014) – I’m not sure where you’re getting your facts. Yes Chiang Mai is low cost. Dorm rooms from 50 baht a night. Easy to find a guesthouse for 3000 baht a month. Burgers are from 20bt, street food from 10bt.
Want a motorbike for exploring a little farther? Red Ride will deliver one for as low as 50bt a day. In my travels, I find this a better deal than Hanoi. And more to see and do around northern Thailand, too.