Chiang Mai is the regional centre of northern Thailand and capital of the similarly named province. International tourists are attracted to this idyllic destination for its peaceful, laid back style and tropical setting. Surrounded by mountains and lush rainforest, Chiang Mai’s natural surroundings are ripe for exploration. The city itself is filled with historic and architecturally significant shrines and temples while park lands and lovely water-side pathways along the Ping River and historic moat make this a welcoming place where visitors can immerse themselves in the welcoming Thai culture.
Chiang Mai is located approximately 700 kilometres north of Bangkok. Built in the late 1200’s, the old city is surrounded by a moat. Covering an historically rich area of 1.5 square kilometres, this interesting section of city contains intact portions of the ancient walls and structures from hundreds of years ago, including the imposing bastions on each of the moat’s four corners. The new city is considered to be outside of these walls and contains many historic sites along with the shopping and entertainment districts. Chiang Mai is also famous for its food and excellent restaurants serve up the best in traditional foods and international cuisine.
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The city is divided into districts for local government and administration purposes. The main shopping, business and tourist destinations are located mostly in central Chiang Mai surrounding the Old Town area. There are many historic, leisure and entertainment sites throughout the outlying region including adventure and outdoor activities as well as tours of secluded temples and remote villages.
This historic 1.5 square kilometre section of Chiang Mai is the city’s historic epicentre. Surrounded by its original 700 year moat and intricately built stone wall, Old Town is a delightfully inviting area for a leisurely stroll. Its ancient streets, traditional bazaars and ornate temples are a step back in time.
To the east of Old Town and just blocks away is the city’s Night Bazaar area, an expansive market area filled with jewellery, clothing and many other Thai designed products. Predominantly a market place for tourists, these markets are a great place to find the perfect souvenir or remembrance.
There is so much to do in Chiang Mai that you can choose how adventurous you’d like to be. Take a leisurely strolls through inviting
With over 300 impressive temples dotted around the Chiang Mai area, visitors would be hard pressed to visit them all, but collectively they are a key part of this city’s great history. Just two of the most visited temples include the over 700 year old Wat Chiang Man Temple in Old Town with its two thousand year old Buddha images, and the unique forest temple of Wat Umong. Wat Umong is fascinating in that it is surrounded by thick bush land and lovely ponds. The temple is made all the more interesting by its tunnel like entrance and pathways as well as a unique skin and bones like statue of a fasting Buddha.
The stately building of Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre is a fitting venue for the many displays and exhibits housed here, all of which tell the story of Chian Mai’s and Northern Thailand’s past. With a host of interesting exhibits, films and interactive displays the museum documents thousands of years of history in the region taking visitors on a journey of exploration. Located in the heart of Old Town and situated on an attractive plaza, this is a great place to learn about the development and culture of this ancient place.
Just some of the most popular outdoor activities in the area include river rafting, rainforest walks, and visits to the many waterfall areas of the surrounding bush land. A great place to see native flora and fauna in a more planned environment is in the beautifully landscaped setting of the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. These lovely gardens and wetlands are set in a lush valley setting in the surrounding mountains.
Chiang Mai is famous for their smaller, more intimate boutique style resorts which feature a handful of rooms or separate guesthouses. These typically include individual courtyard areas with private plunge pools, spas and Jacuzzis. In typical Chiang Mai fashion prices for these are usually quite reasonable and offer a secluded, romantic setting.
Hotels in Chiang Mai range from the small budget oriented properties to luxury high rise locations, some with international brand recognition. Located mostly around the Old Town area, luxury hotels offer a range of conveniences and amenities, from fine restaurants, spas and concierge services.
The cool season in Chiang Mai lasts from November to February, with hot weather during daytime but cool evenings dropping to 10°C at night. Starting from April, the weather becomes hot and humid with daytime temperatures soar to 40°C. Rain season begins around June and continue until October. Rainstorms are expected so avoid these months if you are not a fan of rainy holidays.
Thai Baht (THB)