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Destination Guide in Thailand

Chiangmai

The city of Chiang Mai was capital of the Lanna kingdom after its founding in 1296. During the same period of time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northern Thailand and King Meng Rai built innumerable temples. In 1599 the kingdom lost its independence and became part of the Ayutthaya kingdom. This ending the dynasty founded by King Meng Rai which had lasted for 300 years. The occupiers Burma, had a powerful Burmese influence on the architecture which can still be seen today. It was only in the late 18th century that Burma was finally defeated with the leadership of King Taksin. In 1932 the province Chiang Mai became the second level subdivision of Thailand when the administrative unit of Monthon Phayap, the remains of the Lanna kingdom, was dissolved.

Attractions

  • Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park The park consists of forests and mountain ranges. Major mountains include Doi Suthep, Doi Buak Ha, and Doi Pui. This is a main source of tributaries and streams in Chiang Mai. Sacred places, religious attractions and historical sites are located in the park complex.

    Walking Street Chiang Mai municipality has organized, since 2006, the Chiang Mai Walking Street at the Three Kings Monument Courtyard. It has turned into a thriving Sunday market for locally made handicraft products, all of which are displayed on the street.

    Chiang Mai Zoo is located next to Huai Kaeo Arboretum. It is a large zoo, which occupies the lower forested slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain. The zoo contains more than 200 types of Asian and African mammals and birds.

    Doi Inthanon National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติดอยอินทนนท์): standing at over 2,500 meters, Doi Inthanon is Thailand's highest mountain and one of the coolest peaks. Besides the actual mountain itself, there are a variety of other attractive locations such as Mae Ya, Wachirathan and Siriphum waterfalls and Bori Chinda Cave.

    Pang Chang Mae Sa: The elephant shows are a demonstration of the elephants’ abilities in log-hauling. After the end of the performance, visitors are able to have a go at riding an elephant.

    Wat Phra Singh (วัดพระสิงห์วรวิหาร), houses the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha (พระพุทธสิหิงค์) image cast in Subduing Mara. The Buddha image is now enshrined in Viharn Lai Kham. The temple compound includes the lovely Viharn Lai Kham featuring exquisite woodcarvings and northern-style murals paintings, a magnificent scriptural repository with striking bas relief, and a circular stupa (in Lankan bell shape).

    Mae Sa Waterfall (น้ำตกแม่สา) The famous 8-tiered waterfall in Amphoe Mae Rim occupies a natural setting among towering trees, covered with a lovely breeze all year round.

    Night Bazaar: Every evening the center of the provincial city holds one of the provinces biggest markets, selling a huge variety of goods to tourists, both foreign and Thai. The market is 3 blocks long and is surrounded by restaurants, cafes and travel agents.

    Entertainment/Activities

    The city of Chiang Mai has a wide variety of activities.

    Elephant Show The show begins with elephants bathing to cool themselves then mahouts would place a log harness on their backs. Finally, elephants will demonstrate their forestry skills. Elephant riding and rafting are the most popular activities. Some of the Elephant training centers are:

    • Pang Chang Mae Taeng (ปางช้างแม่แตง)
    • Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre (ศูนย์ฝึกช้างเชียงดาว)
    • Pang Chang Mae Sa (ปางช้างแม่สา)
    • Pang Chang Pong Yaeng (ปางช้างโป่งแยง)

    Mountain Biking Mountain biking is done on several routes in Chiang Mai including around the old city moats.

    Homestay at Ban Mae Kampong The village is situated in a mountainous area with jungle surroundings. Nearby attractions include waterfalls, a cotton weaving village and the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Agricultural Station.

    Hilltribes Trekking Of particular interest to most are the six major hilltribes which inhabit the Northern Highlands. The largest group is Karen, followed by the Meo, Lahu, Yao, Akha and Lisu. They share animism beliefs and honour numerous forest and guardian spirits. Each tribe has distinctive ceremonial attire, courtship rituals, games, dances, agricultural customs, languages or dialects, aesthetic values and hygienic habits.

    Bamboo Rafting-Whitewater Rafting Bamboo Rafting along the Mae Taeng River (ล่องแพลำน้ำแม่แตง) is very popular because the river zigzags along the valleys. The river tide is not too rough and the surroundings on both sides are admirable.

    Cruising along the Ping River Maenam Ping is the main river in Chiang Mai. While cruising, people can witness the atmosphere of Chiang Mai, as well as the local lifestyle on both sides of the Ping River.

    Artificial Rock Climbing Artificial Rock Climbing (ไต่หน้าผาจำลอง) can be practised at the Peak Rock Climbing Plaza.

    Golf Courses Due to the pleasant natural surroundings and climate, Chiang Mai is popular for playing golf. There are many courses in the province.

    Spa Spa treatment in Chiang Mai includes both traditional remedies and healing arts alongside modern techniques. This treatment, in terms of service available, has escalated over the past few years and there are now innumerable locations offering spa service – often including a Jacuzzi and steam bath.

    Shopping Shopping in Chiang Mai is one of the most popular activities of the region. Besides the usual abundance of shopping malls and department stores, there is a huge variety of local markets. The Night Bazaar in downtown Chiang Mai is the most popular location for shopping.

    Local Products

    Chiang Mai is the center of handicrafts with a variety of antiques, silver jewellery, and embroidery, Thai silks and cottons, basketry, celadon, silverware, furniture, lacquerware, woodcarvings and parasols. Major Chiang Mai products include:

    • Cottons & Silks
    • Umbrellas/ Parasols - These are inextricably associated with Bo Sang where villagers have been engaged in their manufacture for at least 200 years. All materials, silks, cottons, Sa paper (manufactured from the bark of the mulberry tree) and bamboo are produced or found locally.
    • Silverware - Traditional skills and a guaranteed content of at least 92.5% pure silver invest bowls, receptacles and decorative items.
    • Lacquerware - This decorative are enhanced items made of wood, bamboo, metal, paper and baked clay, in the form of receptacles, ornaments and various souvenirs.
    • Furniture/ Woodcarving - Major woods and materials include teak, rosewood and rattan. Items may be unadorned or, especially with teak and rosewood, carved in traditional or modern designs. Woodcarving is a traditional northern Thai art featured in numerous temples. In recent years, woodcarving has increasingly embellished furniture, gracing screens, chairs, tables, beds, figurines, carved elephant indeed anything bearing a wooden surface large enough to be carved.
    • Hilltribe Products - These include silver ornaments, such as bracelets, necklace, pendants and pipes of intricate design, and embroidered items including tunics, jackets, bags, purses, caps and dress lengths.
    • Gold Plated Orchids & Butterflies - Orchids and butterflies are preserved and plated with 24-carat gold to create unusual gift items such as necklace pendants, hairpins and earrings.
    • Pottery - Chiang Mai is the major centre of Thailand’s pottery industry. Prized items include high-fired celadon which is produced in many forms, including dinner sets, lamp bases and decorative items.
    • Sa (Mulberry) Paper Products: Chiang Mai is also famous for its Sa paper products a handmade, multi-purpose natural fiber. Sa products that come in different, distinctive designs include cards, notebooks, stationery, boxes, bags, photo frames, lanterns, gift wrapping paper, etc.
  • Nightlife

    For those who love nothing more than a decent night on the town, then Chiang Mai has one of the land’s funkiest nightlife. Types of nightlife available include:

    • Discos are popular with the younger trendier crowd.
    • Live music pubs/restaurants playing either Thai folk music and/or international pop classics.
    • Karaoke clubs can be found all around.
    • Barbecues are large open-air restaurants which play music and serve alcohol.
    • Bar Beers are popular with foreign male tourists.
    • Thai Pubs are not like Western ones, they are usually huge.
    • Western pubs serving draft beer.

    Events and Festivals

    Bo Sang Umbrella Festival (งานเทศกาลร่มบ่อสร้าง) is held in January at Bo Sang Handicraft Centre. The festival features paper products, paper parasols in particular, cultural shows, a parade showing traditional ways of life, and several contests.

    Flower Festival (งานมหกรรมไม้ดอกไม้ประดับ) is held in February. The festival includes ornamental garden flower contests, floral floats parade in the morning and beauty pageants. The parade begins at Chiang Mai Railway Station and passes Nawarat Bridge and ends at Nong Buak Hat Park.

    Songkran Festival (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์) is held annually from 13 to 15 April. The 13th of April is the Great Songkran day featuring the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing (พระพุทธสิหิงค์) Buddha image parade around Chiang Mai town for bathing, sand pagoda forming, blessing of elders, and water splashing.

    Doi Suthep Pilgrimage (งานประเพณีเดินขึ้นดอยสุเทพ) On the night of Visakha Bucha Day, worshippers gather to light candles and make the 7-kilometre pilgrimage up to the temple on Doi Suthep.

    City Pillar Inthakin Festival (งานบูชาเสาอินทขิล) is held to invoke blessings of peace, happiness and prosperity for the city and its residents. Buddha images are paraded around the city. It is held at Wat Chedi Luang for 7 auspicious days and nights in the 7th lunar month.

    Yi Peng Festival (งานประเพณียี่เป็ง) is held annually on Loy Krathong day (วันลอยกระทง). The festival features the release of lanterns into the sky to worship the gods. There are also fireworks, lantern contests, and beauty pageants.



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