Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai by Seashell

Located 700 km north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand and with a city population of over 170,000 (more than 1 million in the metropolitan area), it is Thailand's fifth-largest city. This cosmopoitan city is located on a plain at an elevation of 316 metres, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside. Chiang Mai has a significant expat population, factors which have led many from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "Rose of the North".

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Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai (City is "chiang" in the northern Thai dialect and "mai" is new, hence Chiang Mai - "New City") is a culturally and historically interesting city, at one time the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai's historical centre is the "walled city" and inside the remains are more than 30 temples (dating back to the founding of the principality) influenced by a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles. The temples are decorated with beautiful wood carvings, "naga" staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree.

Chiang Mai's old city wall by Jonathan Aubrey

Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions from the "walled city", particularly to the east towards the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Thanon Chang Klan, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guesthouses are located. Loi Kroh Road is the center of the city's nightlife. Ratchadamneon Road hosts the main Sunday night walking street market from Tha Pae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh. Locals say you've not experienced Chiang Mai until you've seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten a bowl of kao soi, and purchased an umbrella from Bo Sang.

Market in Chiang Mai by Papa November

Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of South Thailand. As with the rest of the country, there are three regarded seasons in Chiang Mai:

  • A cool season from November to February.
  • A hot season from March to June
  • A wet season from July to October
Guide to
Chiang Mai
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