Experiencing the merging of the past into the present in Chiang Mai where locals are proud of the city’s 700-year history. Its rich traditional heritage and unique culture is a perfect foundation for the development of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to find in the heart of the city centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. The original city layout still exists as a neat square surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and its four main gates offering prime access to the old town.
Chiang Mai, with an altitude of approximately 310 meters above sea level, is situated approximately 700 kilometers from Bangkok on the Mae Ping River basin. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, the city covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometers and is the country’s second largest province. Chiang Mai borders Myanmar on the north, Lamphun and Tak Provinces on the south, Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lamphun Provinces on the east and Mae Hong Son Province on the west. The terrain is mainly comprised of jungles and mountains, which are home to the hill tribes. In addition, wildlife and exotic flora may be found in the national parks.
Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources of mountains (dois), waterfalls, and other nature-based tourist attractions. At the same time, Chiang Mai residents are warm, gracious and congenial providing authentic hospitality making visits memorable and meaningful. Moreover, visitors from all walks of life can collect handicrafts of silk, silver and wood produced locally as timeless souvenirs. Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Locals would say, You haven’t really gone to Chiang Mai unless youve been to Wat Phratat Doi Suthep. Truly,the place is the most important and famous Chiang Mai landmark. Built in 1383, this mountaintop temple has a chedi (pagoda) that houses holy Buddha relics. The gold-plated chedi lies in the middle of a square marble-tiled courtyard. The four corners of the chedi are adorned with parasols which represent royal regalia. The temples courtyard is lined by a cloister, which contains images and murals depicting Buddhas life. There are also two viharns situated in the middle of the east and west sides of the cloister.
This temple is 15 kilometers from town and is 3,520 feet above sea level. It is the perfect place to get a birds eye view of the city. The temple can be reached via a steep Naga staircase comprised of 290 steps or railcars. The temple is open daily from 6 am. to 7 pm.
To get there, drive along Huay Kaew Road up the mountain. Alternatively, there are song thaew services available at the foot of the mountain. It costs 30 baht/head to go up to Doi Suthep and approximately 50 baht/head to go further to Doi Pui and Phu Phing Palace. Note that these are one-way fares.
Doi Inthanon National Park
This national park which covers an area of 1,005 square kilometers is located on Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain which is 2,565 meters above sea level. Located between Mae Chaem and Chom Thong, the park is comprised of the largest tract of upper mountain forest which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends in Northern Thailand. The mountain ranges gave birth to the main tributaries of the Ping river and formed the beautiful waterfalls, namely Siriphum, Wachirathan, Mae Pan, Mae Klang and Mae Ya. The moist and dense evergreen forest is abundant with lichens and wild orchids. The park is also a paradise for bird lovers.
Attractions in Doi Inthanon National Park include Doi Inthanon Peak, Napha Methanidon and Naphaphon Phumisiri twin pagoda. Mae Ya waterfall, Mae Klang waterfall, Wachirathan waterfall, Mae Pan waterfall, Siriphum waterfall, Huai Sai Lueng waterfall, Bori Chinda Cave, natural study trek, Ang Ka Luang nature trail and Doi Inthanon Royal Project.
Chiang Mai Walking Street
The Wualai has been so far known for good quality of silver and lacquer wares. On Saturday evenings, the open-air market will be set up for the famous handicraft area. Do not miss a chance to shop for authentic northern silver, lacquer wares and unique handicrafts. Tourists are enjoy the local foods and Thai traditional performances. The market start from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Starts from Tha Phae Gate through Ratchadamnoen Road every Sunday from 7.00 p.m. until midnight. There are variety kinds of local products on a reasonable price along both side of the street where Thai and foreign tourists are enjoy walking & shopping without exhaustion.
Ton Kong Market is convened on Saturday mornings in the Sansai-Tonkok community of Tambon Fa Ham, Mueang, Chiang Mai. Visitors could view and purchase local goods, local delicacies, organic vegetables, flowers, and decorative plants. There are demonstrations of quail farming techniques and cultural presentations by the community’s local youth group, vegetable cultivation by the agricultural group, and the ancient drum presentation by the folk handicrafts group. Visitors could also take a boat trip to observe lifestyles of communities along the Ping River.
Handicrafts Walking-street in San Kampaeng is a great place to view and purchase handicraft goods, foods, souvenirs, and enjoy the ancient San Kampaeng music show. This walking-street takes place every Saturday from 15.00 to 22.00 hrs.
Maesa Elephant Camps
In the lush tropical jungle of Chiang Mai’s Maesa Valley, a big family of elephants lives side by side with their mahout caretakers. Maesa Elephant Camp is home to one of the largest assembly of elephants in the north of Thailand.
Maesa Elephant Camp’s philosophy is to create a natural and healthy environment for the elephants while working to conserve and breed them,due to the dwindling number of Asian elephants left in the wild.
Maesa Elephant Camp, as well as several nearby elephant camps in Chiang Mai, offer a number of exotic activities such as mahout training courses, elephant shows and elephant trekking.
San Kamphaeng and Bo Sang Handicraft
The village is located 13 kilometers the east of Chiang Mai town in a district that is famous for silk and a cotton weaving. The silk and cotton souvenirs produced in this village are high quality. Factories and souvenir shops selling woodcarving, silverware, earth ware, lacquer ware and cotton fabrics are located along the way from Chiang Mai to San Kamphaeng.
Located in San Kamphaeng is Bo Sang a village that produces handmade umbrellas. In addition to umbrellas, visitors will also be able to find various woodcarving and Thai silk products here.