In Thailand's northern highland, the environs are green, the weather cool, the people genteel, the cultures age-old. A good part of the country is mountainous terrain, barely accessible and still unchanged with time. Such that several indigenous hill tribes in remote areas are still going on their age-old ways of life, unmindful of developments down in the plain.
Chiang Mai, 700 kms straight up from Bangkok, is generally regarded as the Capital of the North. Situated at an average of 300 meters above mean sea level, on undulating terrains of verdant hills and green valleys, Chiang Mai is pleasant and cool for the most parts of the year.
It takes only an hour's flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai International Airport, or an overnight ride on the northern express which en routes at Chiang Mai station. The city serves as air and bus junctions for communication and transportation with nearby provinces.
Chiang Mai, built in the late 13th century, was the capital of the former Lanna Thai Kingdom, a sister kingdom of Sukhothai which was the first capital of Thailand. The Lanna kingdom then occupied a large part of the present day's Thai northern territory-bordering with Burma in the west; Mekong River, at precisely the present Golden Triangle, in the north and east; and Lamphun in the south. In dependent Lanna Thai flourished in arts, cultures and commerce until the middle of 16th century, when it was forcibly annexed by Burma. Then, Chiang Mai was alternately under Lanna Thai dynasty rulers and Burmese governors until the 19th century, when Chiang Mai was incorporated into Thailand after Bangkok was founded.
Highlights of Chiang Mai
The city is noted for centuries-old temples with Lanna Thai architectural style. The flowing eaves with magnificently carved wooden panels and pediments, intricate stucco works and murals connote a unique, ancient native art form. Each temple has an interesting niche in the history of Chiang Mai. Yet, most of the ancient temples, instead of being left in limbo, are still in operation, nowadays in the same role as when they were built hundreds of years ago.
In addition to the old temples, other attractions are the age-old handicraft villages of the descendants of the craftsmen of the royal court of Lanna Thai, who still turn out fine pieces of craftsmanship, such as woodcarving works at Harngdong district, classic silverwares at Wualai Road, parasol-making at Bor Sarng.
For the nature lovers, Chiang Mai's countryside offers wide open opportunities. Chiang Mai has the highest mountain peak of Thailand, Doi Inthanon, 8,514 feet above mean sea level, picturesque waterfalls, remote stretches of jungle rivers and hiking country all over the province.
For the adventure lover, the trek to visit the hill tribes at their own habitats should be addealing. Now, a variety of tours can be picked, from hoofing it yourself to elephant back riding and rafting along remote river stretches to reach the destinations. The intrepid visitor should visit the many tour agencies in Chiang Mai to arrange a trekking tour of his liking..
Chiang Mai Temples | Chiang Mai Festivals | Chiang Mai Attractions