Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai - Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai

The second-largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is touted as the ‘Rose of the North’ for the beautiful flowers that flourish in its cooler mountain climate. This small city offers a much more pleasant atmosphere than Bangkok, but still has all the modern amenities. Additionally, the location of the city lends itself to excellent trekking and exploration of the lush surrounding nature areas. The heart of Chiang Mai is its old city, circled by ancient walls and moats and offering an old-world feel, despite the heavy traffic circling it.

Chiang Mai Attractions
There is much to see and do in Chiang Mai, and one of the simplest and cheapest tourist activities is to wander the windy, narrow lanes of the old town and seek out the pretty moat with its ancient bastions. The city dates back 700 years and many historic structures have been well preserved. Perhaps the most distinctive is the 42m high ruined Chedi Luang which stands in the town centre.

The Tribal Museum, which offers a glimpse into the culture of the major hill tribes of Thailand. Here, you’ll find a massive collection of handicrafts, costumes, jewellery, ornaments, utensils, tools, musical instruments and ceremonial paraphernalia.

Wiang Kum Kam was the earliest historical settlement in the Chiang Mai area and the excavated ruins are worth seeing. Established around the 11th century, the city was flooded and abandoned in the early 18th century. A four-sided chedi and the layered brick pediments of Wat Kan Thom remain. An important four-piece inscribed stone slab from Wiang Kum Kam is on display at the Chiang Mai National Museum.

Bo Sang village is almost entirely devoted to the manufacture and sale of beautiful umbrellas and visitors can see how the umbrellas are made and decorated. A particularly good time to visit is during the colourful annual Umbrella Festival in mid-January.

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s tallest mountain (2,563m), which is just 47kms south of the city centre. The park covers 932 square kilometres, encompassing magnificent waterfalls and wild orchids. It is an ideal spot for some walking and picnicking, and camping is also permitted.

Chiang Mai Temples
One of the main attractions of Chiang Mai is its many temples. Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple in the city, dating from 1296, and was created using typical Northern Thai temple architecture. It houses two key Buddha images: Phra Sila, which reputedly came from Sri Lanka or India 2,500 years ago, and Phra Satang Man, a crystal seated Buddha that dates from about 1,800 years ago.

Doi Suthep mountain (1,676m) lies 16kms northwest of the city centre and is topped by one of Thailand’s most sacred temples, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, dating back 600 years. The area around the wat features several other interesting attractions. Visitors who make it up the 300 steps to the temple are rewarded by great views.

Wat Chedi Luang is located near to Tha Pae Gate, where many travellers begin their visit of the city. This complex at one time housed the Emerald Buddha, which is now located at Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo. Wat Phra Singh is the site of many important religious ceremonies, particularly during the Songkran Festival. More than 700 monks study here. Wat Chet Yot (Wat Maha Photharam) features a chedi constructed during the late 15th century; it is considered an architectural marvel.

Chiang Mai Trekking
Many visitors use Chiang Mai as a base for mountain treks, especially to visit the hill tribes that live in the surrounding area. Treks can last anywhere from one day to a month and may include bamboo rafting and elephant rides. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) publishes a list of licensed agencies and there is a Professional Guide Association which issues accreditation to guides. Wandering around the touristy areas of town, you'll discover plenty of companies offering treks operating out of small shops, but the quality of these does vary wildly..

Chiang Mai Thai Massage
The art of Thai massage has been refined during hundreds of years of practice and passed down through generations. Masseuses use hand pressure and their own body to apply forces that aim to work pressure points and re-align energy lines in the body. After receiving a massage, you might decide you want to learn how to give one, and there are many excellent places in Chiang Mai offering massage courses. The Old Medicine Hospital offers two 10-day courses a month costing 3500 baht; the focus here is on traditional Northern style massage. You can also try Baan Nit (near the northeastern corner of the moat); Lek Chaiya on Ratchadamnoen rd; or International Training Massage.

Chiang Mai Thai Cooking
Thai food is popular with most people, and Northern dishes are especially powerful and spicy. There are several cooking schools that offer excellent one-day courses in preparing Thai cuisine. They usually take you to the market to learn about unique vegetables, herbs and spices commonly used in this region, and teach you how to prepare an array of dishes. Afterwards, you’ll sit down and eat what you cooked!

Chiang Mai Meditation
Chiang Mai is also a great place to learn about Buddhism and mediation. You can enter Wat Rampoeng, near the foot of Doi Suthep, for a strict 30-day programme, living as a monk or nun. There is no charge, although a donation is welcomed. Wat Doi Suthep also offers a programme, with a more flexible stay. Another option is Wat Chom Thong, which provides strict but popular two-week minimum meditation programmes, under the direction of well-known monk Ajarn Thong.

Chiang Mai Shopping
Chiang Mai has an international flair and serves as home to many Westerners. There is accommodation, food and shopping to suit all tastes and budgets. The Night Bazaar is a popular and famous place to shop for bargains and souvenirs. It takes up several blocks between the eastern moat and the river. Here, shops and street vendors offer a huge variety of Thai goods and handicrafts at bargain prices. Chiang Mai is especially famous for its beautiful handicrafts of silk, silver and wood. The Anusarn Night Market, down Charoen Prathet road, carries more hilltribe goods in authentic traditional styles.

Chiang Mai Nightlife
Those who are interested in seeing a Thai cultural performance should head to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre, which offers a live dance performance and khantoke dinner at 19:00 every night. There are plenty of restaurants, and the Good View and the Riverside are two of the most famous along the Mae Ping River. Additionally, you’ll find a good assortment of bars, pubs, nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Chiang Mai Hotels
Chiang Mai Hotels

Chiang Mai Guesthouses
Chiang Mai Guesthouses

Chiang Mai Car Rentals
Chiang Mai Car Rentals- Chiang Mai Car Rental
Chiang Mai Car Hire- Car Hire Chiang Mai


Chiang Mai Travel Information
Chiang Mai Flights
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Chiang Mai to Tha Ton Bus Times
Chiang Mai to Bangkok Train Times

Chiang Mai Trekking
Chiang Mai Trekking
Whitewater Rafting


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