Actually, for me, it has been a lot easier to meet people here than it has in any other place I have lived. Chiang Mai is friendly. You have to go out of your way not to meet folks here.
InterNations has played a significant role in my social life as an expat in Thailand as well as in Hong Kong where I lived previously. InterNations is an international social (in person and online) network, that sponsors events around the globe. I have belonged to InterNations since moving from America to Hong Kong in 2010. Chiang Mai now has a fledgling chapter.
Through InterNations in Chiang Mai, I have made several meaningful connections. One was with an adventurous woman named Colleen who has been traveling around the world this past year. She sent me an email me through the InterNations message board. We then met at an InterNations event when she was in Chiang Mai and got together for lunch a few days after. Colleen and I hit it off and ended up going to Hanoi together. After she returned to Thailand from Vietnam, I made sure I went to Bangkok to see her off on her trip to Europe. It's pretty much a sure thing that we will travel together again.
Through InterNations, I also met Christina, an international development consultant. We share a lot of values about how to demonstrate respect for people living in poverty. Together, we have embarked upon an adventure that we hope will help a community of people living on a garbage dump near the Thai Burmese border.
So, if you are planning on relocating to a new country or just passing through, I encourage you to make connections through InterNations. It's free. There are no meetings, dues, or obligations. Solo travelers are welcome and warmly included at events.
And it's not just an American thing. Through InterNations, I have met expats and travelers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, Austria, Germany, the UK, Korea, Mauritius, Panama, Thailand, Denmark, Australia.....you get the picture.
If this sounds like an infomercial, it's because it is. But no one paid me to publish this. InterNations events are interesting, welcoming, and fun. Check it out at http://www.internations.org
Also see this article about international women in business. http://www.internations.org/magazine/international-women-15279