Introduction of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai the Great founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom on Thursday, April 12 1296 around the same time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai even conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded. Henceforth, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also to be the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand, King Meng Rai himself a very religious leader who even founded many of the city’s temples that remain important to this day.
Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. This dichotomy is best appreciated within the moat-encircled old city, which retains much of the fortified wall that once protected the city center as well as the four main gates that provided access to the former Lanna capital city.
Strangely, for many years tourists had mistaken Chiang Mai simply as the base from which they could plan trekking and rafting trips to hill tribe villages and explore other provinces. Once in Chiang Mai however, tourists are surprised by the fact that there are so many things to discover other than its beautiful and historic temples.
Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, a number of elephant camps, many cooking & massage schools, numerous outdoor activities, a variety of handicrafts workshops, various cultural performances, and breathtaking scenery make Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations. The phrase "a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around town" was once a common expression. Today, two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for travelers to experience all that Chiang Mai has to offer.
The old city of Chiang Mai is a showcase of the north’s fascinating indigenous cultural identity that includes diverse dialects, a delectable cuisine, distinctive architecture, traditional values, lively festivals, numerous handicrafts workshops, northern style massage, and classical dances. Chiang Mai city features old-world beauty and charm as well as modern luxury and convenience.
In addition to centuries old temples and some outstanding shopping opportunities, Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources including mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. The presence of numerous hill tribes that feature a wealth of unique cultures enhances Chiang Mai’s distinctive diversity. Hill tribe trekking, often combined with river rafting and elephant riding has always been one of Chiang Mai’s greatest tourist attractions. Nowadays there are innumerable activities and attractions both in the city and the surrounding province, including massage instruction and golf.
Moreover, visitors can visit workshops where they can learn about the production of silk or silver, and purchase memorable, hand crafted souvenirs. With such a diverse range of attractions and an equally grand selection of dining and accommodation options, Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy the ultimate Thailand holiday.
Below are the attractive places in Chiang Mai:
Located on the Chiang Mai-Lampang Super Highway near Wat Chet Yot, the museum has been designated by the Fine Arts Department as a regional center for education and preservation of the art and culture of Chiang Mai and upper northern Thailand the Lanna Kingdom. Their Majesties the King and Queen graciously presided over the opening of the museum on 6 February 1973. The museum was built according to traditional northern architecture, with a Lanna Thai rooftop. Interesting exhibitions include:
The Chiang Mai National Museum offers a peak into the area's native Lanna culture in the form of artifacts and artist exhibits. Ancient jewelry and pottery are showcased and each exhibit is written in both English and Thai.
Opened in 1972, Chiang Mai National Museum (a little further north along the Super Highway has many fine sculptures in the Chiang Mai, Dvaravati, Lopburi, U Thong and Sukhothai styles (mainly the former), also terracottas from Haripunchai. The footprint of Buddha with mother-of-pearl intarsia also deserves mention. The upper floor houses a collection of tools and other artifacts used by the hill tribes.
Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai-Lampang Super Highway, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
9am-4pm; Closed: Mon, Tue
Chiang Mai Zoo
Chiang Mai Zoo is located next to Huai Kaeo Arboretum. It is a well-managed large zoo, which occupies the lower forested slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain. The zoo contains more than 200 types of Asian and African mammals and birds. The most popular star here is a couple of panda, the friendship Chinese ambassador. The zoo provides mono-rail service within the area of 2 kms. Additional, the twilight zoo is open 6.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. The newly aquarium on its area 10 rais, which housed the longest underwater automatic tunnel of Asia with 133 meters, and will accommodate both sea and river fish and animal from various areas; such as the upper mountain ranges of Northern Region, Khong River Basin, Amazon River Basin, the plain land of mangrove and from the underwater world. Moreover, the Nakhon Ping Bird Aviary, a large bird aviary with an area of 6 rai that is also the largest one of its kind in Thailand. This offers an opportunity to see and study about the nature of more than 132 local and international species of bird in the midst of a natural environment with a waterfall.
Admission Fee: Adults 100 baht; Children 20 baht.
Operating: 8am-9pm; Daily
Address: 100 Huai Kaeo, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Night Safari
Chiang Mai Night Safari is located in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Tambon Mae Hia and Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai and Tambon Nong Khwai, Amphoe Hang Dong, covering an overall area of approximately 819 rai. This is an abundant night safari. Visitors can see various kinds of animals such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, Asiatic black bears, tigers, hyenas, crocodiles, etc. by open-air tram. There is also a trekking route to see the wild animals surrounded by a beautiful atmosphere on the lake’s bank that is full of various trees.
To get there: It is 10 kilometres from Chiang Mai. Go along Huai Kaeo Road, turn left into Highway No. 121 toward Amphoe Hang Dong for around 10 kilometres, then turn right and continue for 2 kilometres.
Admission Fee: Adults 500 baht; Children 300 baht
Operation: 1pm-4pm, Mon-Fri; 6pm-11.30pm, Daily
Adreess: Chiang Mai Night Safari, Tambon Mae Hia and Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai Chiang Mai Night Safari
Wiang Kum Kam
Wiang Kum Kam is an ancient city that was built in the reign of King Mengrai in 1286. The city was surrounded by ditches in every corner and they were used as reservoirs. From the discoveries, there are 20 ancient remains in and around Wiang Kum Kam include buildings and temples of Wat Chedi Liam, Wat Chang Kham, Wat Noi, Wat Pu Pia, Wat Ku Khao, Wat E Kang, Wat Hua Nong, and Wat Pu Song. The remains are dating from 21st –22nd Buddhist centuries.
Wiang Kum Kam is located in the southeast of Chiang Mai, between Km.3-4 along Chiang Mai-Lamphun route, Tambon Wang Tan, Saraphi district. Take the road at Nong Hoi Polce box to the Ko Klang Pa Kluai intersection and en route to Chedi Liam Police box.
Wat Chedi Liam or Chedi Ku Kham was built in 1288 in the reign of King Mengrai after he had authorised an administrative responsibility of Lamphun town to his minister, Aey Fah. King Mengrai established a town in the northeast of Chiang Mai for 5 years and then resettled a town near the Mae Ping River in 1277 and renamed it “Wiang Kum Kam”. In 1287, the stupa of Wat Jamthewi, Lamphun was rebuilt in Wiang Kum Kam for the locals to worship.
After that for hundreds years, the temple was left abandoned. In 1908, a Burmese tycoon renovated it, thus the temple has influences of Burmese architecture instead of its former Khmer style. Only some parts were rebuilt in Khmer architecture.
Operating: 8am-5pm, Daily
Address: Lamphun route, Tambon Wang Tan, Amphoe Saraphi, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park is Thailand’s highest mountain, 2,599 metres above sea level. Doi Inthanon is a part of the Himalayas, which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends at Northern Thailand. Complex mountain ranges and a mild climate characterise an area with a moist and dense summit forest. Doi Inthanon is very intersting for ornithologists. Summit forest is the source of important tributaries of the Mae Ping River. Meo and Karen hilltribes inhabit the park.
Visiting Doi Inthanon is possible throughout the year. The best period for viewing waterfalls is May through November. The best period for viewing wild flowers is December through February. The best period for ornithologists is November through March.
Operate: 6am-6pm, Daily
Travel 58 kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Highway No. 108 to Chom Thong, then turn right into Highway No. 1009 and continue a further distance of 48 kilometres along Highway No. 1009 to the summit. A good asphalt road takes visitors up but is rather steep, thus the vehicle must be in a good condition. Visitors could pay for the entrance fee at Km. 8.