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Travel Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

By Preety Gupta

Away from the glittering essence of Bangkok, Chiang Mai offers a window to the cultural heritage of the Thai kingdom. The cultural capital of Thailand, Chiang Mai is filled with beautiful architecture, historic temples and a distinct Lanna ambience. The city has a personality of its own and is among the best preserved in the country. Here are a few areas you can visit and sights you can explore and immerse yourself in the wonders that unfold around you.

Chiang Mai City and Old City: Located within the walled area and about a kilometre west of the River Ping, the old city encompasses various Lanna temples and cultural attractions within its walls. Walk down the Sunday Walking Street or visit the Night Bazaar with its dense warren of shop houses sharing space with a multitude of contemporary and traditional merchandise shops, cafes, spas and riverside restaurants. Go further west from the Old City and you will come to Nimmanhaemin Road which is Chiang Mai's hippest area, complete with boutiques, galleries and great dining choices. 

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Chiang Mai's old city wall by Jonathan Aubrey 

Riverside-Wat Ket: The riverside promises an old-world charm that the city is renowned for. The area is dotted with affordable eateries, boutique craft shops and live music venues. There is an element of luxury to the river bank; however, the area is less elitist than Bangkok's Chao Phraya and you are more likely to see locals and tourists mingling together.

Nimmanhaemin Road: The road is Chiang Mai's hippest area with boutiques, galleries and dining options. If you have an interest in handicrafts and antiques, you can spend an interesting day rummaging through the various stores, especially those on Soi 1. You can visit the nearby Huay Kaew Road has a night market jam-packed with students and teenagers shopping for the latest fashions at reduced prices. The road also has several cafes, restaurants and cool bars with live music. 

 Celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai by Takeaway

Hang Dong: As one of Chiang Mai's main craft centre, the area houses Baan Tawai woodcarving village and Muang Kung Pottery Village. Both the villages offer all kinds of hand-carved wooden furniture, home accessories, decor pieces and custom-made crafts made to order.

Night Bazaar: Located at the intersection of Chiang Khlan and Loi Khroh, the Night Bazaar is the main venue for shopping and nightlife. The area comes alive around sun set and the action continues unabated till around 8 AM in the morning or even later. The area is home to a number of accommodation options from budget guest houses to luxury Thailand villas. If you want to stay in Chiang Mai's busiest commercial section, a stay around Night Bazaar would be

Preety is a travel writer with Eats & Retreats a modern online magazine with unique travel articles, photo galleries and a selected portfolio of holiday villas and apartments featured by Web Perspective Ltd.

Author: Preety Gupta

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