Chiang Mai Facts
- Country: Thailand
- Region: North of Thailand
- Area (km²): 20,107 km²
- Population: 1,763,742
- Area Code: 53
- Major Attractions: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chiang Man, Doi Suthep, Nimman Road, Tha Phae Gate, Maeklang Elephant Conservation Community
Chiang Mai, the capital of Chiang Mai Province, is the largest city in northern Thailand. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, near the highest mountains in the country. The old city gate, ancient city wall and moat have been guarding this ancient town of Chiang Mai for more than 700 years. The completed repaired Tha Phae Gate welcomes visitors from all over the world with its orange-red brick walls. More than 300 temple pagodas, as a witness of history and the sedimentation of culture, are scattered all over the streets. The pure and vicissitudes Wat Chedi Luang and the splendid Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are one of the famous representatives.
In Chiang Mai, every few steps, you can meet a shop full of art and cultural atmosphere. You'll see people leisurely enjoy coffee, desserts, or choose jewelry, aromatherapy, and even treasure hunting vintages, old books to kill their leisure time. It is worthy of spending half a day or one day to stroll in the Nimman Road from inside the old town to the west where there are gathering most of the shops.
The bustling and inexpensive night bazar has been a business card of Chiang Mai. People buy handicrafts, ethnic costumes, taste special snacks, and even experience street massage in the market, which is close to the authentic local people's life. Some weekend markets like Wualai Walking Street (open on Saturday) and Sunday Walking Street in the old city, are the most famous night bazars for both tourists and local people!
Tha Phae Gate
Chiang Mai is a province in northern Thailand which can be subdivided into 25 districts: Mueang Chiang Mai, Chom Thong, Mae Chaem, Chiang Dao, Doi Saket, Mae Taeng, Mae Rim, Samoeng, Fang, Mae Ai, Phrao, San Pa Tong, San Kamphaeng, San Sai, Hang Dong, Hot, Doi Tao, Omkoi, Saraphi, Wiang Haeng, Chai Prakan, Mae Wang, Mae On, Doi Lo, Galyani Vadhana. Today, when we say Chiang Mai, actually it means Mueang Chiang Mai, which is the capital city of Chiang Mai province.
History of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an ancient cultural city with a long history. In the early 13th century, King Mangrai was settled here. At 4 a.m. on April 14, 1296, Chiang Mai was founded under King Mangrai's leadership, surrounding by thousands of miles of farmlands and guarding the Maeping River. Chiang Mai became the base of Thai golden period, and gradually grew into the largest province and second-largest city in Thailand today. Later, it had become the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom for a long time. In addition to its important geographical significance, it is also adjacent to a branch of the ancient Silk Road in the south.
There is a statue of the three kings in front of the hall in Chiang Mai, stating that the city of Chiang Mai was helped by two other kings. Legend has it that King Mangrai found a white sambar, white deer, and white mouse during his hunting, which was considered auspicious symbols, so he decided to build the city here. King Mangrai and King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao concluded a treaty of friendship and brothers; they helped King Mangrai to build the City by gathering 90,000 people to participate in the construction of the city. After finished, the city of Chiang Mai was surrounded by an 18-meter moat, which is a rectangle with a width of 1800 meters from east to west and 2000 meters from north to south.
The golden age of Chiang Mai was during the reign of King Delokara (AD 1441 to 1487). He built Wat Chet Yot and completed Wat Chedi Luang, and the eighth World Buddhist Conference was held at Wat Chet Yot in 1455, bringing the culture of Lanna to its heyday.
Chiang Mai Tourism
Chiang Mai is a cultural and historical city and more relaxing than busy Bangkok. Every few steps, you will see the sacred temples. The pure and vicissitudes Wat Chedi Luang and the splendid Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are one of the famous representatives. Strolling in Nimman Road, you will find a lot of surprises hiding in the small shops. If you are tired of the bustling city life and want to close to nature, you won't miss the Maeklang Elephant Conservation Community, where you will have a close touch with the adorable elephants, feed elephants, clean their houses and shower with them, etc. In a word, Chiang Mai is such a fascinating city that you can find everything you want here.
Wat Chedi Luang
Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai
The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from November to February, with less rainy and lower heat.
Best Places to Visit in Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang, also known as the Great Stupa Temple, it was founded in 1411. It is the largest temple among the six major temples in Chiang Mai. It also ranks the highest level the same as Wat Phra Singh. The temple belongs to a typical Lanna (old Thai kingdom) construction style. It is composed of the main hall, a small Buddha hall, and a monk's house. The entrance of the temple is decorated with snakes and peacocks. When you enter the fate, you can see huge Buddha statues. The great stupa is the oldest building in the temple. After the 1545 Chiang Mai earthquake, the steeple of the stupa is collapsed overnight, so the steeple you see now is flat-topped. Only one side of the ancient stupa has steps, and the other three sides are slopes. Visitors cannot climb the stupa. When entering the main hall, you must take off your shoes, do not take photos of the Buddha directly, and do not wear clothing with bare limbs.
Wat Phra Singh, founded in the 14th century, is the largest and prosperous temple in Chiang Mai. It ranks the highest level the same as Wat Chedi Luang. The inside of the temple is decorated splendidly with murals showing local ancient costumes and customs, which is regarded as the representatives of north Thai traditional arts. Buddha Statue of Phra Singh is enshrined in this temple. During the Songkran Festival in April every year, it is one of the main places to celebrate in Chiang Mai.
Wat Chiang Man, built in 1300, is the first temple and the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, the most representative symbol is a stupa carried by 15 elephants. There are two Lanna-style monasteries in the temple. The larger one was rebuilt in 1920. There is a standing Buddha built in 1465 in front of the altar, which has been the earliest Buddha statue found in Chiang Mai so far. In the smaller monastery, there are two precious Buddha statues, Phra Sila and Phra Sea Tang Khamani, both of which are capable of making rain. They are lifted by believers to participate in the parade during the annual Songkran celebration ceremony. Wat Chiang Man is a small temple with fewer tourists but more local people.
Doi Suthep is located in the west suburb of Chiang Mai with an altitude of 1667 meters, and it is a famous Buddhist shrine in Thailand. The five-colored roses are blossoming in the mountain with white clouds surrounded, Bhubing Palace is the summer resort of the royal family which is built on the top of the mountain. Three hundred steps to reach the observation deck of the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you can enjoy the panoramic view of Chiang Mai city. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple (wat) in Chiang Mai. The temple is often referred to as "Doi Suthep" although this is actually the name of the mountain where it's located. It is a sacred site for many Thai people.
Maeklang Elephant Conservation Community is a Non-tourist & Eco-friendly tourism community where the elephants are taken good care, no hook, no riding. All that you do is to play with elephants, prepare food, feed elephants, or enjoy a mud spa with elephants. This community aims to provide medical care and a natural environment for rescued elephants and raise support for the protection and conservation of other endangered species here in Thailand. They do this by providing elephant tours from their camp that offer people the chance to interact and learn more about elephants, which helps them rescue more elephants with our elephant program.
The air pollution in Chiang Mai is severe, the haze there is usually caused by regional forest fires, farmers burning land to clear it for the next harvest especially from February to April, so if you come to Chiang Mai, please kindly prepare a mask in advance to avoid any discomfort in respiratory.
Shopping in Chiang Mai
As the second-largest tourism city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is not only a tourist resort but also a paradise for shopping. We would highly recommend you to have a shopping day in Chiang Mai!
MAYA is the largest shopping center in Chiang Mai, which sits beside the Nimman Road; you can find top international brands and also local goods there with low price and good quality. Sunday Night Market, also called Sunday Walking Street, is the largest night market in Chiang Mai and opens every Sunday. It stretches from Tha Phae Gate to Wat Phra Singh. Varieties of Thai handicrafts, delicious Thai snacks, and ethnic costumes are displayed by the vendors for tourists to choose from. If you come on Saturday, there is also a Saturday Night Market, besides the handicrafts and snacks, you can also do a street massage on Saturday market.
Warorot Market, the China town of Chiang Mai, is famous for the local snacks and local specialty. If you want to buy some souvenirs or specialties for your friends or families before go home, Warorot is a good choice.
There is only one airport in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), it is an essential passage for tourists to northern Thailand.
Chiang Mai railway station is located in the east of the old city.
Songthaew is a unique public transportation in Thailand, which is a retrofitted trunk by adding two lines of seats and sunshade in the back. There are two types of Songthaew; one is with fixed itineraries and stations; another one is flexible. You can see it on the street everywhere, and they can take you wherever you want to go. Don't forget to bargain with them first!
Tuk Tuk is a mechanized three-wheeled taxi that can transport you to everywhere in the city. Generally speaking, tuk-tuk is about 30% cheaper than a taxi. It is better to bargain with the driver before getting on.