Chiang Mai – The ‘Jewel of Northern Thailand’
Chiang Mai is a city that effortlessly blends traditional charm with contemporary vibrancy.
Home to a substantial urban hub and lovingly refered to as the “Jewel of Northern Thailand”, Chiang Mai sits approximately 700 kilometers from the bustling metropolis of Bangkok.
Sandwiched between some of Thailand’s tallest mountains and the tranquil Ping River, it’s a locale that has something for everyone.
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Short History of Chiang Mai
Over 700 years ago, a king named Mangrai built a city and called it Chiang Mai. The original people living there, the Lawa, had a different name for it, Wiang Nopburi1.
Chiang Mai was not just any city. It had a giant wall and a moat around it, like a huge castle, to protect it from attackers. Even though it had some hard times, like being invaded by enemies and abandoned for 15 years, Chiang Mai always came back stronger.
In 1933, Chiang Mai was made into a ‘province’ and then became an official city in 19352. It kept growing and getting better, changing from a tiny old city into a big, busy one that people love to visit.
Today, Chiang Mai is more than just a city. It’s a place where you can see Thailand’s history and culture come to life. It has been recognized as a UNESCO Creative City, which means it’s really important for art and culture.
Plus, I think it’s one of the best places to visit in the whole world!
Sure, it might not outshine Bangkok in terms of metropolitan grandeur, but Chiang Mai dances to its own tune. It’s a progressive city that embraces modernity while preserving its heritage.
From world-class resorts that pamper guests with luxury, to traditional markets buzzing with life, Chiang Mai captivates millions of tourists every year.
What to See and Do in Chaing Mai
Some of the popular attractions in Chiang Mai include:
Historical Sites – Chiang Mai
|Wiang Kum Kam||Explore the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam, once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, now an archaeological site.|
|Wat Chedi Luang||Marvel at the massive chedi (pagoda) at this historic temple, partially damaged in an earthquake.|
|Wat Chiang Man||Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, renowned for its beautiful Lanna-style architecture.|
|Wat Jet Yod||Visit this “Seven Spires” temple, home to a significant Buddhist sculpture.|
|Wat Phra Borommathat||Admire the elegant chedi in this revered temple, said to house Buddha relics.|
|Three Kings Monument||Pay your respects to the founding fathers of Chiang Mai at this symbolic monument.|
Nature & Outdoors – Chiang Mai
|Nature & Outdoors||Description|
|Doi Ang Khang||This mountainous region is known for its cool weather, beautiful gardens and tribal villages.|
|Doi Suthep||Visit this mountain overlooking Chiang Mai, topped by one of Thailand’s holiest Buddhist temples.|
|Chiang Dao Cave||Explore this impressive cave system, part of a Buddhist temple.|
|San Kamphaeng Hot Spring||Soak in these natural hot springs, known for their relaxing and therapeutic properties.|
|Elephant Nature Park||Volunteer at this ethical elephant sanctuary and help care for these gentle giants.|
Cultural Experiences – Chiang Mai
|Baan Thai Cookery School||Learn to prepare traditional Thai dishes at this popular cooking school.|
|Bo Sang Umbrella Village||Witness the making of Thailand’s iconic handmade umbrellas and fans in this craft village.|
|Meo Tribal Village||Get a glimpse into the unique cultures of Thailand’s hill tribes in this rural village.|
|Chiang Mai Night Safari||Experience the thrill of observing wildlife at night in this adventurous nocturnal zoo.|
|Chiang Mai Flower Festival||Revel in the stunning display of local floral species at this vibrant annual event.|
Recreation & Adventure – Chiang Mai
|Recreation & Adventure||Description|
|Chiang Mai Night Safari||Experience wildlife in a new light during this night safari adventure.|
|Chiang Mai Speedway||Satisfy your need for speed at this popular kart racing track.|
|Chiang Mai Trekking||Embark on a hiking adventure through the mountains, jungles, and hill tribe villages.|
|Mae Sa Valley Craft Village||Visit local artisans, see beautiful gardens, and experience a local elephant camp.|
|Mae Ping River Cruise||Enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Mae Ping River and witness the local way of life along the riverbanks.|
Educational Institutions – Chiang Mai
|Thai Massage School||Hone your skills in traditional Thai massage at this renowned institution.|
|Chiang Mai University||Join students from around the world at one of Thailand’s top universities, renowned for its diverse programs and beautiful campus.|
Travelling to Chaing Mai
Traveling to Chiang Mai is pretty simple. The city is well-connected by air with Chiang Mai International Airport serving as a bustling hub for flights from all over Thailand and beyond.
If you’re a fan of scenic journeys though, consider taking a train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The railway station, conveniently located on Charoen Muang Road near the Ping River, hosts trains from all around the country. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly journey or a luxurious travel experience, the trains have you covered.
Road trips more your style?
Various bus services operate from different regions of the country, connecting Chiang Mai to other popular tourist destinations.
Plus, an array of national highways link Chiang Mai to other major cities, making road travel an accessible option.
So whether by air, rail, or road, reaching this vibrant city is a hassle-free experience!
- “Mangrai”. Encyclopædia Britannica. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mangrai) ↩
- Askew, Marc; Logan, William; Long, Colin (2012). Vientiane: Transformations of a Lao landscape. Routledge. p. 163. (https://www.routledge.com/Vientiane-Transformations-of-a-Lao-landscape/Askew-Long-Logan/p/book/9780415596626) ↩