December 2012
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Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand – Part 2

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.

Attractions in and around Chiang Mai

10. Waterfalls and natural pools – at the foot of Doi Suthep on Huay Kaew Road
• Look out for a large Buddhist Shrine on your left after travelling past the the entrance to Chiangmai Zoo.
• Turn left into the market at the back of the Shrine, and keep walking up the hill.
• You will come to the waterfalls after about 5 minutes.
• There is no charge for entry.
• The pools at the bottom of the water falls are not really big enough for swimming.
• This is a great place to cool off at the height of the summer.
• During the dry season some of the water falls dry up – head for the high ground.
• This is about 7 kilometers from the city center and it takes 10-15 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi to get there.

11. Churches
– “First Church”, Chiang Mai, was founded in 1868 by the Laos Mission of the Rev.Daniel and Mrs. Sophia McGilvary.
– Chiang Mai has about 20 Christian churches.
– Chiang Mai is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chiang Mai.
– Muslim traders have been travelling to north Thailand for many centuries.
– Chiang Mai has the middle of the 19th century mosques belonging to Chinese or Chin Haw Muslims.
– In 2011, there were 16 mosques in the city.
– Two Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) serve the city’s Sikh community, Siri Guru Singh Sabha and Namdhari Sikh Temples.
– Hindu temple Devi Mandir serves the Hindu community.

12. The Lake at Huay Tung Tao
• This is a reservoir within surrounding woodlands.
• It is located further along the Irrigation Canal Road than the Center of the Universe.
• The lake is about 12 kilometers from the city center and takes 15-20 minutes by tuk-tuk/taxi.
• 20 Baht is the entrance fee.

13. Museums
– Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center.
– Chiang Mai National Museum highlights the history of the region and the Kingdom of Lanna.
– Tribal Museum showcases the history of the local mountain tribes.
– Mint Bureau of Chiangmai or Sala Thanarak, Treasury Department, Ministry of Finance, Rajdamnern Road (one block from AUA) has an old coin museum open to the public during business hours.

14. Bhuping Royal Palace Gardens
– The Bhuping Royal Palace gardens are 4km further along the road from Wat Prathat.
– This is a reasonable easy walk along the meter-wide road shoulder.
– You can get a shared Songthaew from Wat Prathat for B30.
– Further along the road is a hill tribe village.
– There are many shops for local handicraft etc.
– These are the people from the far north of the country, many originally from Myanmar.

15. Hilltribe market
– Clearly marked songthaews leave from Pratu Chang Phuak.
– Prices are fixed at 40 baht up and 30 baht down.
– Most guidebooks advise taking a sawngthaew from Th Mani Nopharat.
– Another option to get there is to take a songthaew from your hotel to the northern gate of Chiang Mai University for B20.
– Here, there will be several waiting on Huai Kaeo Rd to get a full load of passengers for a trip up the mountain.
– They seem to congregate around the Chiang Mai zoo.
– Prices range from 40 baht for a one-way trip to Wat Prathat to 180 baht for a full round-trip tour.
– The journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing.
– The final 12 km from the zoo on-wards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling.

Festivals of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hosts many Thai festivals, including:
1. Loi Krathong (known locally as Yi Peng)
– This festival is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, being the full moon of the 2nd month of the old Lanna calendar.
– In the western calendar this usually falls in November.
– Every year thousands of people assemble floating banana-leaf containers (krathong) decorated with flowers and candles onto the waterways of the city.
– This is to worship the Goddess of Water.
– Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom fai or kom loi), which are hot-air balloons made of paper, are launched into the air.
– The sky lanterns are believed to help rid the locals of troubles.
– They are also taken to decorate houses and streets.

2. Songkran
– This festival is held in mid-April to celebrate the traditional Thai new year.
– Chiang Mai has become one of the most popular locations to visit for this festival.
– A variety of religious and fun-related activities take place each year.
– The festival also has parades and a Miss Songkran beauty competition.

3. Chiang Mai Flower Festival
– A three-day festival is held during the first weekend in February each year.
– This event occurs when Chiang Mai’s temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom.

4. Tam Bun Khan Dok, the Inthakin (City Pillar) Festival
– This starts on the day of the waning moon of the six lunar months and lasts 6–8 days.

5. Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival
• This festival takes place 20th-22nd January at Ban Bo Sang, Sankampang.
• The festival is in the form of a “street fair” in which the central road of the village is used.
• They have shops on both sides.
• Shops are decorated in Lanna style, most with the well-known umbrellas, as well as with traditional lanterns.
• In addition there are contests, exhibitions, cultural performances, local entertainment and assorted shows day and night.
• There is a grand procession decorated with umbrellas and local products.
• There are a variety of handicrafts for sale, northern-style kantoke meals and the Miss Bo Sang pageant.
The inhabitants speak Kham Muang among themselves, though Central Thai is used in education and is understood by everyone

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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