December 2012
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Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand – Part 1

Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand.

Overview of Chiang Mai

• It is Thailand’s fifth-largest city.
• It is located on a plain at an elevation of 316 m.
• It is surrounded by mountains and lush countryside.
• It is much greener and quieter than the capital.
• This is also called “Rose of the North”.
• It was founded in 1296 AD.
• Chiang Mai is a culturally and historically interesting city.
• It was at one time the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom.
• It is located among the rolling foothills of the Himalayan Mountains 700 km north of Bangkok.
• It could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant back trip until 1920s.
• Chiang Mai’s historical center is the walled city.
• Sections of the wall dating to their restoration a few decades ago remained at the gates and corners.
• Inside Chiang Mai’s remaining city walls, there are more than 30 temples.
• These temples are in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles.
• These temples are decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree.
• The most famous is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.
• This overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.
• Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east towards the Ping River.
• Here, Thanon Chang Klan, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai’s hotels and guesthouses are situated.
• Loi Kroh Rd is the center of the city’s nightlife.
• Kao Soi, Bo Sang umbrellas and Doi Suthep are important cultural icons for Chiang Mai residents.
• Ratchadamneon Rd hosts the main Sunday night walking street market which is from Thapae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh.
• Chiang Mai has over 300 Buddhist temples (called “wat” in Thai). These include:

1. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
– The city’s most famous temple stands on Doi Suthep which is a hill to the north-west of the city.
– This temple dates from 1383.
– The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gold-plated chedi is visible from the city on a clear day.
– Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is 18 km from town, sitting at a 1,073 m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep.
– The temple is and offers grand views over the city.
– One must accent the 300-plus steps of the Naga lined stairs to reach the temple.

2. Wat Chiang Man
– This is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai that dates from the 13th century.
– King Mengrai lived here during the construction of the city.
-.This temple houses two important and venerated Buddha figures which are made out of the marble Phra Sila and the crystal Phra Satang Man.

3. Wat Phra Singh
– This is located within the city walls that dates from 1345.
– It offers an example of classic northern Thai style architecture.
– It houses the Phra Singh Buddha which is a highly venerated figure that is brought here many years ago from Chiang Rai.

4. Wat Chedi Luang
– This was founded in 1401
– It is dominated by a large Lanna style chedi which took many years to finish.
– An earthquake damaged the chedi in the 16th century and only two-thirds of it remains.

5. Wat Chet Yot
– This is located on the outskirts of the city.
– This temple was built in 1455.
– The temple hosted the Eighth World Buddhist Council in 1977.

6. Wiang Kum Kam
– It is at the site of an old city which is on the southern outskirts of Chiang Mai.
– King Mengrai lived there for ten years before the founding of Chiang Mai.
– The site includes many ruined temples.

7. Wat Umong
– It is a forest and cave wat in the foothills in the west of the city which is near Chiang Mai University.
– Wat U-Mong is known for its fasting Buddha.
– This idol represents the Buddha at the end of his long and fruitless fasting period before he gained enlightenment.

8. Wat Ram Poeng (Tapotaram)
– This is located near Wat U-Mong.
– It is known for its meditation center known as the Northern Insight Meditation Center.
– The temple teaches the traditional vipassana technique.
– Students stay from 10 days to more than a month as they try to meditate at least 10 hours a day.
– Wat RamPoeng houses the largest collection of Tipitaka, the complete Theravada canon, in several Northern dialects.

9. Wat Suan Dok
– It is a 14th century temple that is located just west of the old city-wall.
– It was built by the king for a revered monk visiting from Sukhothai for the rains retreat.
– The temple is also the site of Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya Buddhist University, where monks pursue their studies.

Best time to visit / climate

• Thailand is largely tropical.
• Chiang mai’s northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of the south.
• A cool season is from November to February.
• A hot season is from March to June.
• A wet season is from July to October.

Location on Google Maps

View Larger Map

Or click and paste the URL below on your browser:,+Thailand&gl=in&t=m&z=8

How to get there?

• Bus, train and air connections serve Chiang Mai well.
• A number of bus stations link the city to central and northern Thailand.
• The Central Chang Pheuak terminal (north of Chiang Puak Gate) provides local services within Chiang Mai province.
• Chiang Mai Arcade bus terminal north-east of the city provides services to over 20 other destinations in Thailand.
• These include Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Phitsanulok.
• There are several services a day from Chiang Mai Arcade terminal to Bangkok.
• The state railway operates 14 trains a day to Chiang Mai Station from Bangkok.
• Most journeys run overnight and take approximately 12–15 hours.
• Most trains offer first-class (private cabins) and a second-class (seats fold out to make sleeping berths) service.
• To get to cities such as Mae Hong Son or Chiang Rai, a plane or bus must be used.
• No trains are available to cities north of Chiang Mai.
• Chiang Mai International Airport receives up to 28 flights a day from Bangkok.
• It also serves as a local hub for services to other northern cities such as Chiang Rai, Phrae and Mae Hong Son.
• International services also connect Chiang Mai with other regional centres, including cities in other South East Asian countries.
• The local preferred form of transport is personal motorbike and, increasingly, private car.
• Local public transport is provided in four forms: tuktuks, songthaews, less frequently rickshaws and Chiang Mai Bus service.
• Local Songthaew fare is usually 20–50 Thai baht per person for trips in and around the city.
• If the group of people is larger, the fare per person will be less.
• Tuktuk fare is usually at least 20 baht per trip fare increases with distance.
• Chiang Mai’s local bus service was relaunched in 2006.
• It serves routes in and around the city.
• The service itself lacks the frequency and route mass as is available in other major cities.

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at
Hotels at
Hotels at

Blogs / Sites about Thailand – Chiang mai

Blogs at
Blogs at
Blogs at
Blogs and reviews at

Images and photos of Thailand – Chiang mai

Images at
Images at
Images at
Images at

Videos of Thailand – Chiang Mai

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