Capital of the North of the Thailand and located close to the highest mountains of the country, Chiang Mai is a city that is more and more appreciated by visitors for its simplicity and authenticity. Recognized and known for its temples, including Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai is a city where life is good, for a little stay to enjoy a massage and relax. Chiang Mai is also the city that has the largest number of elephants’ sanctuaries.
Chiang Mai means “new city” because it has succeeded to Chiang Rai as the new Capital of Lanna region.
The city is also really famous for trekking, as there's national parks ( the Doi Inthanon Park for example, which is the highest mountain of Thailand ) and because of it's good and fresh weather.
The city of Chiang Mai has been founded in 1296 by the King Mengrai.
It has quickly been fortified by a square wall, all around the city, and the temple named Wat Phra Singh has been built. The defensive wall was to defend against the nearby Burmese armies and some of the Mongol Empire.
The emblem of the city is the stupa of the temple Wat Doi Suthep, with clouds below to represent the moderate mountain climate of the Northern Thailand. As often, there is also a Naga, the mythical snake, who is known as the source of the Ping river.
Chiang Mai has a tropical wet and dry climate. The maximum temperatures ever recorded was 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) in May 2005.
Chiang Mai is a city to visit if you like temples ( Wat in thai language ), as we count more than 300 temples here. These include : Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep - the golden temple - , Wat Chiang Man – the oldest temple -, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang...
The city host many festivals. The most famous are:
- Loy Krathong: during 3 days when happens the full moon of the 12th month of the traditionnal Thai lunar calendar, people assembles floating banana-leaf containers ( know as Krathong ) decorated with candles and flower, and deposit them on water ( river, canal... )
- Yi Peng: celebrated during the Loy Krathong festival, this festival invite people to release lanterns in the sky during the 3 nights.
- Songhran: know also as the Thai new year, held in mid-April, is really famous in Chiang Mai because of the canal all around the old city and because of so many tourists there.
- Chiang Mai Flower Festival: during 3 days at the beginning of February.
- Markets: Chiang Mai hold one of the biggest traditional market of Thailand, every Sunday night inside the old city. A smaller one, starting close to the South gate, is every Saturday night.
- Shopping Center : the city has many big and new shopping mall, as Central Airport Plaza, Central Festival, Promenada...
- Thai cookery: many schools propose to visitors to learn basics of thai cooking, especially the Lanna Style.
Chiang Mai is easy to join. It has an International Airport, really close to the old city, several bus stations and a railway station with up to 10 trains per day from Bangkok.