Chiang Mai

"The Rose of the North"

The "Rose of the North" blooms in the north - this is how the city of Chiang Mai is affectionately known by its residents. Chiang Mai not only offers adventures in the rough mountains, but also hill tribes of ethnic diversity and a culture that differs significantly from that of the rest of the country.

The city is not only the starting point for round trips through northern Thailand, the city itself also attracts with numerous Buddhist temples, exotic night markets and more. If you learn more about the exciting past of the region and that against the imposing backdrop of the green mountains, then Chiang Mai will enchant you!

Cultural center of the north
Cultural center of the north

General information about the region around Chiang Mai

The geographical location on the southwestern foothills of the Himalayan mountain region and north of the central lowlands of Thailand, directly on the Ping River, gives the Chiang Mai region a multifaceted variety of picturesque landscapes and special characteristics. Fauna and flora thrive here very lush and the various biotope regions combine ideal climatic conditions with this biodiversity. Chiang Mai is just the right destination for an adventure vacation! From Chiang Mai, the visitor can take tours in every direction and be impressed by this splendor. The most beautiful sights of nature are very close by and only your time and budget limit exciting excursions.

 

Chiang Mai has always been a melting pot of cultural characteristics of the different ethnic communities in the area, with many of them (especially in the highlands and more remote valleys) certain characteristics and customs have been preserved to this day. The most important religion here is Buddhism, whose over 200 temples also dominate the appearance of the city. The best time to travel to Thailand for a vacation in the north are the months of November to April with little rain. The most frequent precipitation falls from July to September. The average temperatures are around 25 ° C, but they can fall into single digits during the winter months. At the end of the dry season (March, April, May), poor exchange weather conditions can impair the breathing air due to widespread slash and burn in the surrounding area.

Rich in history - The "Rose of the North" and Lan Na

Chiang Mai itself has been an important town since the early Middle Ages. It was founded in 1292 A.D. documented at the instigation of King Mengrai, whose former capital (of the Lan Na Kingdom) Chiang Rai, was difficult to defend due to the proximity of aggressive enemies. Several relocations of the royal seat in quick succession before the construction of the new capital (Chiang Mai literally means: new city) did not help to achieve the desired stability. As a result, Chiang Mai received not only real city walls but also a surrounding moat in front of it and also became the location of the powerful Lan Na armed forces. Lan Na kings dominated the region for a long time and the empire experienced its greatest expansion in the 15th century under King Thilokaraj. Constant wars and skirmishes with the neighboring Burmese and Laotians often shifted the actual border,

With the early Thai kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, there were only rarely peaceful phases in the medieval history of Lan Na. An 18-year war between Lan Na and Ayutthaya (1456 - 1474 A.D.) weakened both sides and prevented the civilizations involved from flourishing. It mainly revolved around the area of the early medieval Sukhothai, where the traces of war on the former sanctuaries and buildings of the time can still be traced. Lan Na was the preferred prey of the belligerent Burmese until the 18th century and was rarely independent in the future. A permanent liberation from Burmese oppression was only possible with Siamese help from 1774 A.D., from then on Lan Na was a region with increasingly declining autonomy from Siam, the predecessor of today's Thailand. Since 1899 all former Lan Na districts belonged to Siam.

The "Things-to-do" list of Chiang Mai's top attractions

  • The mighty Doi Suthep temple, a splendid temple on a mountain directly in front of Chiang Mai with a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding area, is right at the top of the popularity list among travelers. The highest mountain in Thailand is Doi Inthanon with its 2,565 m high peak. Its surroundings are one of the first 14 national parks in Thailand (since 1954). Trekking is very popular with visitors, numerous paths in all levels of difficulty invite you to do extensive trekking.
  • The picturesque Mountain villages of the hill tribes of Thailand (also called hill tribes) can be visited. The Akha, Lahu, Hmong, Karen and Lisu tribes demonstrate their customs and cultures to tourists there. The commerce in this sector is not always beneficial for the native or immigrant peoples, please get detailed advice from a specialist for Thailand in the north and take a critical look at the tours offered locally
  • The Huay Nam Deang National Park on the road to Pai with its Pong Duet geothermal springs is one of the uncrowded destinations in the area, and there are also numerous waterfalls in the Chiang Mai area.

The best Attractions in Chiang Mai

As early as 1296, Chiang Mai was named the capital of his Lan-Na empire by the legendary King Mangrai. It would be more than 400 years before Chiang Mai actually became part of Thailand, and even then the proud residents were largely autonomous from Bangkok.

 

 

Many of the temples from this period are located in Chiang Mai's old town, which is separated from the rest of the city by a moat, but can be reached in many places by bridges.

 

  • Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai's first temple and, according to legend, is the place where King Mangrai is said to have prayed. It is built in the typical style of the Lan-Na period, which can be clearly seen from the gilded tip of the chedi worn by stone elephants. The temple owns two of the most valuable statues in the empire: on the one hand the Phra Sila statue, an approx. 30 cm high stepping Buddha and Phra Kaeo Khao, the legendary crystal Buddha. Both are said to have magical powers and watch over Chiang Mai.
  • To the west of the old town is Wat Phra Singh, home to the holy Buddha statue Phra Phuttha Sihing, which is highly venerated throughout the country. Spicy? Rumor has it that the statue's head was cut off and stolen in 1920 and only a copy of its head has taken its place today. The statue makes its grand entrance every year for the Songkran Festival (April 13th - 15th), the traditional Thai New Year festival. Then Phra Phuttha Sihing is carried through the streets so that the believers can douse him with water. (In the meantime, by the way, this festival has developed into one of the biggest water battles ever and is one of the best parties in the country!)
  • Wat Chedi Luang is an imposing temple in the middle of Chiang Mai. Built between 1385 and 1402, the massive chedi or pagoda is an important part of the city's skyline and is clearly visible from afar - no wonder, after all, it is around 80 meters high!
  • In no case should you miss a visit to the Nightmarket. Here you will not only find numerous examples of the unique craftsmanship that is cultivated here in the north, but also exotic delicacies. The Thai food in the north is sometimes even hotter than in Bangkok and Co. and presents you with completely new taste experiences. Perhaps one reason why cooking classes for vacationers in Chiang Mai are booming!

Arrival and onward travel

By airplane: The journey takes a good hour by plane from Bangkok. Domestic flights are currently dominated by the "old" Don Mueang Airport, which offers both Thai Airways scheduled flights and low-cost providers (Nok, One-two-go, etc.).

 

By train: the state railway company SRT has several connections every day with different train versions. Although these all have fast-sounding names (such as: Sprinter, Express, Rapid Train and Special Express), they are really just better slow trains and need between 12 hours and 15 hours for the route at best. The narrow-gauge track is only single-lane in some areas, so waiting times and stops on the route are not unusual. The SRT operates 3 different classes, the 1st class has individual compartments with 2 beds one above the other. The so-called Sleeper 2nd class is very popular for night trips and is often fully booked.

 

By bus: Long-distance buses from Mor Chit bus terminal take around 10 hours and can also be booked in several comfort levels. To travel to other destinations in the north, we recommend the bus company Green Bus, which is safe

 

Round trips & tours: Do you actually know what the country between Bangkok and Chiang Mai looks like?
How much do you miss if you drive through / fly in one go?


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