Described as the “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai is a city in Thailand worth visiting. It earned its name from the surrounding green countryside and the nearby mountains. Culturally there is much for a visitor to learn and explore. Once the capital of the Lanna kingdom, the ancient quarter is a walled city and the remains of this boundary houses many temples and Thai architectural delights. The modern city has lots to offer too, in terms of activities and night-life and the many excellent Chiang Mai Thailand hotels will cater for your every whim during your stay in the city. If you are a shopaholic you will be delighted to visit the famous Night Bazaar in the city, or perhaps take time out on your Sunday evening to walk along Ratchadamneon Road.
Much to learn
There is much to learn about the culture and history of the city in the many museums. The Chiang Mai City Arts&Cultural Center documents the story of the region from pre-Muang period right through to present times, including the early river settlements and the wars with Burma. Museum guides dress in traditional costumes. The Hilltribe Research Institute Museum was created by anthropologist Professor Geddes from his studies of Thai tribes. You can also visit the University Art Museum (occasionally giving musical performances too), the National Museum and the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders. There are also a plethora of galleries if you would like to see more artistic exhibitions.
Temples abound in the city – there are in fact over 300, from the famous tourist destinations to quieter more discrete temples, demonstrating architecture from Lanna Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka amongst others. Wat Phra Singh, constructed over 600 years ago, is one of the most well-known temples with excellent murals and decorative lacquer. The most ancient Royal temple is Wat Chiang Mun and the two resident Buddha images are rumored to be up to 2500 years old. The ‘Pillar of the City’, an ancient fertility aid, can be found at the remains of the Wat Chedi Luang temple, destroyed in a sixteenth century earthquake. If you would like to search out a less ‘touristy’ temple within the city walls, why not try Way Phra Jao Mengrai, constructed out of wood. There are many temples outside the city too.
Chiang Mai Elephant Camp
Animal-lovers will love the presence of elephants in the area. The Elephant Nature Park (a little way outside the city) is a rescue sanctuary for elephants. You can see performing elephants at the Maesa Elephant Camp in various shows. The Baanchang Elephant Park is an excellent place to see elephants treated well and visitors staying overnight can join in local entertainments including sending fire lanterns up to the starry skies.
For those interested in spending some time in nature, there are some splendid gardens to visit such as those surrounding the Bhuping Palace or the Dokmai Garden with many plant species and the nearby Opkhan National Park. Travel guides unusually recommend the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery for some peace or, for a more lively outing, why not visit the animals in the Zoo?
The national sport of the country is Thai boxing – you can see fights in various stadiums around the city including the Kawila Boxing Stadium, the Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium and the Thapae Boxing Stadium. If you want to try a little sport yourself, local options include rafting along the Maetang river, elephant riding, rock-climbing and mountain biking. There are also rainforest canopy walks to enjoy and river cruises on the Ping River.
For a more relaxing past-time, there are many professional massage salons practicing traditional Thai massages, such as the Green Bamboo Massage, or Let’s Relax.
To experience some of the local festivities, try the January Bo Sang Umbrella&Sankampang Handicrafts Festival, with street parades and the iconic umbrellas, the 2nd Orchid Fair, the Royal Flora Exposition or the splendid Chiang Mai Flower Festival which takes place each February.
Chiang Mai Thailand hotels are well-equipped to make your stay in this vibrant city a comfortable one. Guest facilities can include swimming pool, excellent hotel restaurants serving local and international cuisine, spas offering massage and beauty treatments and cocktail bars and cafes with live music. The room services in these Chiang Mai Thailand hotels can also include air-conditioning, internet access and beautifully designed interiors.